7 Server Management Improvements in Server 2008 R2

Server 2008 R2 is the latest and greatest server operating system from Microsoft. It is chocked full of new enhancements to make creating and managing your network easier.

Server 2008 is easier to deploy and has added reliability. Security has increased enabling you to create a policy driven network that will keep your servers, data, and business safe.

Improvements in virtualization help to consolidate servers and make more efficient use of hardware.

There are also many enhancements to terminal services. Web administration is much easier from diagnostics and development to applications. Plus there are enhancements with the latest version of Internet Information Services.

Those who are creating a new Server 2008 R2 network from the ground up, can take advantage of all of these enhancements and more.


Today we’ll focus on seven improvements in managing your network, which is one of the most time consuming tasks for any network admin. Fortunately, Server 2008 R2 has several improvements in server management that will make your job much easier.

Here are the 7 server management improvements we’ll cover today:

  1. Server Manager — the first one is the improved server manager itself, which makes administration of a single server a snap using the integrated Microsoft Management Console (MMC).
  2. Windows PowerShell — management of multiple servers can be automated using the Windows Power Shell command line scripting language.
  3. Windows Deployment Services — is an updated version of the Remote Installation Services which is used to set up new workstations and servers.
  4. Windows Reliability and Performance Monitor — makes it easy to monitor system performance.
  5. Data Center Power Consumption Management — improvements in the methods of reducing power consumption.
  6. Remote Administration — enhancements for remote management through graphical management consoles that integrate with Server Manager.
  7. Identity Management — which helps keep your network as secure as possible.

Server Manager is installed by default as part of Server 2008 and it is available to you as long as you are logged on to the computer as a member of the Administrators group. Using the new Server Manager streamlines the process of installing and configuring servers in an enterprise environment. When you first begin server installation, the Initial Configuration Tasks (ICT) will guide you through the initial process of setup.

In the past when installing and configuring a new server you would have to use different components such as Configure Your Server, Manage Your Server, or Add or Remove Windows Components to add or remove server roles or other software. Configuring new servers also took a lot longer because dependency components needed to be installed manually and server roles could only be installed one at a time. Also each installation had to be completed before the next one could start.

Using the Server Manager console in Server 2008 you can view all of the information about your servers, server configurations, and installed roles and features. You can also install new servers, add roles, and change configuration settings in one place at one time. Not only that but the Add Roles Wizard will automatically check for dependencies and install required services.

If the installed server role requires additional configuration then the Add Roles Wizard will provide configuration pages that allow you to correctly configure the role as part of the installation process. This is especially useful when installing Terminal Services or Active Directory Certificate Services.

Recommended security settings are also configured by default allowing you to have your server completely ready for deployment in one session. These improvements in Server 2008 make server installation and configuration easier and faster.


2. Windows PowerShell

Windows PowerShell is a scripting environment that uses Cmdlets. Having the power to run scripts can increase automation and make large scale configuration fast and easy.

Because PowerShell has standard Cmdlets that can be combined to create powerful functions, you can run scripts without having to know how to program. To find out more about Windows PowerShell you can always visit the Windows PowerShell Script Center where you will be able to find Cmdlets for common administration tasks as well as information on how to create your own Cmdlets.

To use PowerShell you need to install it and then run PowerShell.exe after which you will get a command screen that looks a lot like a DOS window and all you’ll have to do is type in the Cmdlets you want to run. If you would like a list of Cmdlets you can always type in Get-Command and you will get a list of all of the Cmdlets.

PowerShell is especially useful for remote desktop management and configuring Internet Information Services 7.5.


3. Windows Deployment Services

Windows Deployment Services, the updated and redesigned version of Remote Installation Services (RIS), is a suite of components that work together on Server 2008 R2 to enable the deployment of Windows operating systems.

WDS can be used to set up new computers using a network-based installation, which means that you don’t have to be physically present at each new computer and you don’t need to use a CD or DVD. The new service also has imaging capabilities which means you don’t have to use a third party software such as Symantec Ghost to copy your configured OS onto each new machine.


4. Windows Reliability and Performance Monitor

In order to maintain a network you need to know how well it is functioning, this is where the new Windows Reliability and Performance Monitor really shines. Instead of having to scour over several different tools such as System Monitor, Performance Logs and Alerts, and Server Performance Advisor, you can now collect all of your data from one single tool using a graphical interface.

Other enhancements include Data Collector Sets which are reusable and make scheduling and collecting data, fast and easy. There are also easy to use wizards and templates for creating logs, a resource view, and a reliability monitor with user-friendly diagnostic reports.


5. Improved Data Center Power Consumption Management

Power consumption in data centers is increasingly becoming an issue, not only because of cost considerations, but because there is only a limited amount of power for all of the computers in the larger data centers.

Windows Server 2008 R2 has three main methods of reducing power consumption. The first method is Core Parking which tries to reduce the number of processing cores used with multicore processors. Power consumption is also reduced by adjusting processor speed to reduce consumption while still maintaining maximum effectiveness. The final method used to reduce power usage is centralizing storage though the use of a Storage Area Network (SAN).


6. Improved Remote Administration

Server computers are rarely administered locally, that is why improvements in remote administration are so important. Server 2008 offers several enhancements for remote management through graphical management consoles that integrate with Server Manager.

And the improvements in PowerShell make remote administration using scripts much more efficient and easy to implement.


7. Improved Identity Management

Identity management is always a huge security concern. Server 2008 R2 includes identity management improvements in the Active Directory Domain Services and Active Directory Federated Services roles. The purpose of these enhancements is to keep the network secure on-premises and off-premises, keeping all access points secure from all users while extending security across the entire network, while at the same time simplifying user account management.

Managing a network is still a lot of work and a big responsibility but with the new improvements in Server 2008 R2 that responsibility is beginning to get a little easier. Having a single console for server administration along with an easier to use scripting tool and easier remote deployment will make the daily admin tasks easier.

Combine that with improved performance monitoring, power management, and increased security and remote administration and the upgrade to Server 2008 R2 will begin to make sense.


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