Hmm.....I have a very under utilised Blog. Very sad indeed. Not sure if that's because I have nothing to say or I am just too lazy to put it up. Probably the latter.
Anyways, I attended a Windows Server 2008 Technical Readiness event yesterday in Melbourne. As I was too busy in the past, I never had a chance to look into what new goodies Windows Server 2008 will bring, so I thought this would be a good opportunity to find out more.
Surprisingly, the session was quite informative and did not turn into a marketing event.
The presenter was Anthony Borton and you can get the slides from Anthony Borton's Blog
Quite a broad range of topics were covered, but below are my notes of the more relevant and interesting topics.
Windows Server 2008 will ship towards the end of the year. No exact date as yet.
Windows Server Core
Currently, when you install Windows Server 2000/2003 etc, you get a lot of services and applications which you really often do not need for a server. Eg. Why is Internet Explorer installed on a server class machine?
Windows Server Core provides a minimal installation option which offers a small server footprint and attack surface to reduce management and servicing needs. It also requires less system resources - the foot print for Windows Server Core was about 200MB (I almost fell off my chair at this stage)!!! Its quite small compared to today's 2003 minimal install or my Vista 8GB install.
You then install server roles which then installs the only services required to perform the following roles: Active Directory Domain Services, Active Directory Lightweight Directory Services (AD LDS), Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) Server, DNS Server, File Services, Print Server, Streaming Media Services.
Server Core does not have a graphical user interface. You can manage Server Core on the command line or if you prefer a graphical user interface, remotely with the usual Administration tools (this is the recommended way). So when it boots up all you see the black command window....there is no task bar or system tray, nor any icons on the desktop. I felt like a nostalgic trip back to the good ol' days of DOS.
W2K8 adds TS Gateway and TS Remote Programs. This provides W2K8 an enhancement to the current way Terminal Services work in 2003.
Over the Internet, the protocol TS uses is standard web (HTTPS; port 443). Once the connection is made with W2K8 that has TS Gateway, it then uses the RDP protocol (Port 3389) to communicate internally to the machines that has the hosted applications. This essentially will provide access to server hosted applications from anywhere on the Internet as it uses web protocols. There is no need for VPN. The wire is secured using X.509 certs.
The presenter went through a demonstration where he used his laptop to connect to the internet via his mobile phone using Telstra's 3G network to connect to his W2K8 Sever at home. This server has Terminal Services setup and he was then able to launch Microsoft Word/Powerpoint/Excel etc. The application opened up on his laptop as if the application was installed on his laptop. There was no "container window" (ie RDP window) and the application appeared in Task Manager's list of applications as well as the Windows Taskbar. If you were not aware of Terminal Services, you could be mistaken that the application was running locally. The performance was quite good too. Overall, a very cool demo.
Windows Server Virtualisation (WSV)
The virtualisation role provides an entirely new deployment and licensing paradigm to enable multiple operating system instances—from both Microsoft and potentially third party operating system vendors-to run in a virtual infrastructure separated from the hardware by a slim "hypervisor" based virtualization technology. This hypervisor sits above the hardware but underneath the OS, in a similar architecture to VMWare ESX Server. As such it is hardware dependent and requires Intel-VT or AMD-V chipsets as well as BIOS Support. WSV will support OSP (open Soecification Promise)
One of the enhancements is that the management of the VMs is done via MMC (rich interface) rather than the clumsy web interface which I despise so much.
One attraction of WSV is the licensing model that Microsoft will provide. It seems that a Enterprise Core will come with 4 additional sever class licenses. The details of this are to be confirmed. It will be interesting to see what Microsoft does with this.
VMWare ESX Server is not cheap and depending on the licensing model Microsoft releases and the performance of the hypervisor, it may have significant implications to how we Architect solutions and deploy hardware for small to medium enterprises. If it works well, I suspect the Virtualisation market may grow quite significantly for small to medium enterprises over the next 3-10 years.
IIS 7.0 is an enhancement over the existing web server. Currently, .NET is "added-on" to IIS - i.e. calls to IIS are first run through the IIS Request pipeline and then any requests made to ASP.NET resources is then passed onto the ASP.NET runtime for further processing via an ISAPI extension.
In W2K8, .NET 3.0 (or whatever the latest version is - the presenter dropped v4.0 but did not give details) will be part of IIS. Therefore, there will be only one request pipeline broken up into 40 processes or modules. This will allow easier developer access into the request pipeline at various stages of the request processing. Furthermore, modules can be removed quite easily, and thus improving performance and resource utilisation. A simple static web site will only need about 6 modules.
Also administration settings will now be centralised within the web.config file as opposed to today where some settings are within the IIS Admin console and others within the web.config files.
Management of multiple servers can be automated using Windows PowerShell, which consists of a new command line shell and scripting language designed specifically to automate administration tasks for server roles. Windows PowerShell is an add-on for Windows Server 2003, but will be a core part of Windows Server 2008.
Microsoft Management Console (MMC)
All administration will be centralised via MMC. Currently, there are still many administration tasks done outside of MMC and in W2K8, everything will be brought together in one place. No biggie here (from an Apps perspective).
However, one thing I did find an improvement is that there will be now an API into the MMC. In the past, it was difficult to write MMC consoles. With W2K8 developers are now able to easily write managed code (C#, VB.NET) and develop a consistent management experience by writing application management screens/applications as part of the MMC. This is little more than writing a Windows Forms application. This will have an architectural impact on how we look at writing admin applications. Also, I can see the ability to build custom GUIs that can call PowerShell Commands to be of potential great use.
As one of the slide says, this is Transactions + NTFS.
You might have heard about this in Vista. Essentially, Transactional NTFS groups file changes together into a transaction. The transaction will guarantee that all changes happen, or none of them do, and it will guarantee that applications outside the transaction will not see the changes until the precise instant they're committed.