Why Windows 8 server is a game changer!

Windows Server “8” beta is out!!! So it is time to sit up and take notice. Windows Server 8 redefines the server landscape.

The name Windows Server 8 is a working title, and Microsoft has yet to give it an official name. But I like the name, so fingers cross it will stick, but I doubt that it will. Windows Server 8 is a radical approach that provides us with the ability to do whatever we want to do in as open and standards-compliant a way as is possible.

The Windows Server 8 storage team are using Standards-Based Storage Management and they are active participants within the Storage Networking Industry Association (SNIA), which involves working closely with all major storage players (including open source teams) to make sure that SMB 2.2 did not end up a proprietary protocol.  Windows 8 includes a NFS stack rewritten from the ground up. It solves a lot of the compatibility issues suffered by previous implementations and offers massive performance increases.

The storage team have also produced the best PowerShell reference sheet yet. PowerShell scriptability is another important marker of Microsoft’s growing commitment to openness and standards.

As for Powershell support, everything in Server 8 can be manipulated via APIs and PowerShell scriptlets. GUIs are simply ease-of-use layers that offer a visual method of scriptlet control.

That means that anyone can build an interface to control any aspect of Server 8 from any operating system they wish. If you want to run a fleet of Windows 8 servers from Linux, Microsoft has already built components to let you do that.

Windows Server 8 is set to break some very important barriers by commoditising traditionally proprietary (and expensive) technologies and integrating them into the core OS. Long overdue features like NIC teaming join game-changers like deduplication, virtual HBAs and a thoroughly tested, enterprise-ready iSCSI target. Storage Spaces offers Drobo-like functionality, and Cluster Shared Volumes have moved beyond “Hyper-V only.”

Hyper-V, now supports Hyper-V Replica, Cluster Aware Updates, SMB 2.2 storage, and more. Start putting the pieces together and you get affordable HA Scale Out Storage, something that will radically redefine midmarket virtualization deployments.

Hyper-V has gained forward momentum with live migration being enhanced to the point where clustered storage is no longer a need.

Branch Cache has improved, it now uses a bittorrent like technology to access files that may live on the local client, a nearby file server or out across the WAN.

CHKDSK has been rewritten and is faster, smarter and better.

Bitlocker now supports clustered disks.

For those people who have said that Hyper-V is not ready for the enterprise I say take a look at the following numbers and reevaluate your opinion.

1 Terabyte of Virtual Machines RAM
You can max this to 1 terabyte of RAM per Virtual Machines, VMware vSphere 5 has the same limit.

160 Logical Processors per Host
You can now have 160 Logical Processors per Host matching VMware vSphere 5.

1024 Virtual Machines per Host
You can now have 1024 Virtual Machines per Host, VMware vSphere 5 has only 512 Virtual Machines per host.

64 Nodes per Cluster
In Server 8 Microsoft has increased the maximum number of nodes in a cluster from 16 to 64, which is huge for datacentre environments that really need that scale. VMware vSphere 5 has increased their Nodes per Cluster to 32.

4000 Virtual Machines per Cluster
This has been capped at a staggering 4000 Virtual Machines per cluster. VMware have increased their cap as well, but Microsoft have a massive lead on this as vSphere 5 has a cap of 1000 virtual machines per cluster.

32 Virtual CPUs per Virtual Machine
This is capped at 32 Virtual CPUs per Virtual Machine and matches VMware vSphere 5 32 Virtual CPUs per Virtual Machine.

64 Terabytes per Virtual Hard Drive
The previous limit was two terabytes per VHD file. The new and improved VHDX file format shoots through the ceiling and will support larger volumes up to 64 Terabytes per Virtual Hard Drive. While most of us have no need for volumes this large, there are customers who have been using either pass-through disks (or RDMs or extents in VMware) to support large database files. VMware’s VMDK files will still be limited to 2TB, but can be expanded to 64TB using extents. As well, they also offer support for 64TB volumes in Raw Device Maps, but in Physical Compatibility Mode only.

Technologies that last year were only accessible to most well-funded of enterprise IT departments, or the most dedicated of open source administrators, will now be available to everyone.

Microsoft’s openness means that you are not forced to use Windows 8 for administration, but after using Windows 8 Beta I would not use anything else.

Windows Server 8 beta is a versatile and feature-rich backend for non-Microsoft client operating systems. Whether your business chooses Linux, Windows, Apple or BYOD client deployments, the case for Windows Server 8 as the backend is easily made. If the beta is this good, I cant wait to get my hands on the final build.


About Joseph Leon Hall
I am a Systems Administrator, Network Engineer and Senior Technical Support Analyst and Microsoft evangelist. I spend my work time looking after networks, servers, desktops, laptops, and people. You ask wy people? That’s because in any network people matter. ”I am a PC! I am NOT a Mac nor a I a Chrome”

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