Here are what we believe to be the 10 most interesting new features in Windows Server 2008.
1. Virtualization: Although it will not be available with the initial launch of Server 2008, Microsoft's Hyper-V hypervisor-based virtualization technology promises to be a star attraction of Server 2008 for many organisations.
Although some 75 percent of large businesses have started using virtualization, only an estimated 10 percent of servers out are running virtual machines. This means the market is still immature. For Windows shops, virtualization using Server 2008 will be a relatively low-cost and low-risk way to dip a toe in the water.
At the moment, Hyper-V lacks the virtualized infrastructure support virtualization market leader VMware can provide. Roy Illsley, senior research analyst at U.K.-based Butler Group, noted that Microsoft is not as far behind as many people seem to think, however. "Don't forget Microsoft's System Center, which is a fully integrated management suite and which includes VM Manager. Obviously it only works in a Wintel environment, but if you have Server 2008 and System Center, you have a pretty compelling proposition.
"What Microsoft is doing by embedding virtualization technology in Server 2008 is a bit like embedding Internet Explorer into Windows," said Illsley. "This is an obvious attempt to get a foothold into the virtualization market."
At launch, Microsoft is unlikely to have a similar product to VMware's highly popular VMotion (which enables administrators to move virtual machines from one physical server to another while they are running), but such a product is bound to available soon after.
2. Server Core: Many server administrators, especially those used to working in a Linux environment, instinctively dislike having to install a large, feature-packed operating system to run a particular specialized server. Server 2008 offers a Server Core installation, which provides the minimum installation required to carry out a specific server role, such as for a DHCP, DNS or print server. From a security standpoint, this is attractive. Fewer applications and services on the sever make for a smaller attack surface. In theory, there should also be less maintenance and management with fewer patches to install, and the whole server could take up as little as 3Gb of disk space according to Microsoft. This comes at a price