6 Reasons for Upgrading to Server 2012

Adam Lawson, Cloud Solutions Architect | 4/25/2013 | 9 comments

Adam Lawson
The decision to upgrade to server 2012 isn't an easy one. But here are six reasons you might want to make it a priority:

VDI extends internal infrastructure services to remote workers by provisioning low-latency virtualized workspaces. With Server 2008 and below, support for USB redirection was limited and performance significantly degraded for users that were assigned to pooled virtual machines, since most if not all locally saved preferences and settings were lost on logout due to the static nature of the pooled image.

Display rendering was also performed by the GPU physically installed on the VDI server, which also impacted performance. With Server 2012, these disadvantages are eliminated, which results in a speedier VDI performance. User preferences are more easily made persistent. RemoteFX, with its virtualized display adapter, achieves much higher rendering performance, and USB device output is redirected seamlessly to the client without the need for custom drivers.

Extending asset life
Microsoft revisited some common management challenges with a series of useful, built-in solutions for Server 2012. IP Address management (IPAM) is a new feature of Server 2012 that addresses not only IP management but IP discovery and auditing, DNS, and DHCP even if these services do not sit on the server. Also new to Server 2012 is data de-duplication and Server Message Blocks, which is now a true SAN protocol that achieves 6 GB per second. Deploying Server 2012 might lower your footprint, and at the very least it won't mean new servers.

Automation and scripting
Powershell was always capable of managing many aspects of Windows Server, but it is now a major emphasis. Server 2012 focuses on the use of commandlets, which increased from around 230 in Server 2008 R2 to over 2,300. Couple this enhanced automation framework with Microsoft's increased emphasis on centralized management, and the upgrade to Server 2012 starts to make a lot of sense from a scripted management perspective alone.

NTFS isn't good enough
Server 2012 addresses concerns about limitations associated with NTFS with the new file system aptly named Resilient File System (ReFS). If file system limitations are preventing you from upgrading, ReFS is completely backward compatible so the new features won't break a file migration that started on an NTFS structure. When an integrity check is desired, CHKDSK is now dual-phased and takes significantly less time to complete even though using it isn't typically necessary anymore.

The new file system has increased reliability with the use of B+ trees; volumes can expand up to 1 Yottabyte; individual files can grow up to 16 Exabytes; independently-stored checksums are built-in; and ReFS leverages something called integrity streams, which facilitate a new layer of resiliency. This area could be a subject unto itself, but suffice it to say, Windows-based file servers can be worthy contenders where enterprise data is concerned.

Disk and storage management
Disk management received a major overhaul in Server 2012. Storage spaces and pools provide different types of disk abstractions that make storage management easier for admins. And they represent now-native storage concepts that have been previously achieved only with third-party plug-ins. This development is huge for the Windows world and with a lessened dependence on third-party plug-ins, the cost of upgrading almost pays for itself on this point alone.

Enterprise functions
There are a host of smaller but possibly very important features that might make the decision to upgrade easier. Hyper-V replicas, shared nothing live migrations, Dynamic Access Control, and Direct Access are all examples of specialized technologies new to Server 2012.

While they may not be particularly applicable to smaller IT shops, quite commonly they are of eminent concern to enterprise-class infrastructures. If your organization has special security or operational requirements, or has an immediate use case for ReFS, data de-duplication, and even the ability to install Server 2012 Core and add a GUI later, one or several of these features could be exactly what justifies an upgrade.

Like everything in IT, Server 2012 obviously isn't appropriate for every situation and every solution. So upgrading doesn't make sense if your priorities and requirements just don't line up. With all things Microsoft, upgrading will become necessary eventually to keep support. But in the meantime, take the time to look closely at both your business and the OS and deploy if and when it truly makes sense.

View Comments: Newest First | Oldest First | Threaded View
anthony.nima   6 Reasons for Upgrading to Server 2012   4/29/2013 10:23:14 AM
Re: Trust ReFs for Your Enterprise Storage Needs ?
@RPatrick: Why not? Any specific reason as such ? I know 3 companies who are using it right now and according to them it runs really smooth it seems.           
RPatrick   6 Reasons for Upgrading to Server 2012   4/28/2013 11:27:23 PM
Re: Trust ReFs for Your Enterprise Storage Needs ?
"Though I like the potential of the new file system, how many companies are actively using it for their enterprise storage needs ?"


Good point. I'd wager not many to be honest.
StaceyE   6 Reasons for Upgrading to Server 2012   4/28/2013 5:37:18 PM
Re: Upgrading
Thanks for the information Adam. These seem like six very good reasons to upgrade to Server 2012. It still seems like a big endeavor.
Zaius   6 Reasons for Upgrading to Server 2012   4/28/2013 4:19:24 PM
Re: Trust ReFs for Your Enterprise Storage Needs ?
I believe, I can rely on ReFs. Usually, the file systems tend to be based on a rugged framework. This is new, I agree but I believe we can give it a try.  File system failure is not a common phenomena, I think.
Tuscany   6 Reasons for Upgrading to Server 2012   4/28/2013 1:07:56 AM
Trust ReFs for Your Enterprise Storage Needs ?
Though I like the potential of the new file system, how many companies are actively using it for their enterprise storage needs ?
Tuscany   6 Reasons for Upgrading to Server 2012   4/28/2013 1:04:04 AM
Re: Upgrading
@Trek  I agree Server 2012 will be much easier to convince than the adoption of than Windows 8.  
Zaius   6 Reasons for Upgrading to Server 2012   4/27/2013 10:47:36 AM
Re: Upgrading
MSFT has poured their devotion in Server 2012. This product has so many appealing points that IT world has a good amount of 'couriosity'. We would definitly love to have these features/advantages mentioned here. I believe, Server 2012 is a big impact.
Susan Fogarty   6 Reasons for Upgrading to Server 2012   4/25/2013 4:06:37 PM
Re: Upgrading
Yes, Server 2012 seems to make a lot of sense for many IT departments. I notice VDI is highlighted again in this article. Microsoft seems to be hitting that pretty hard, is anyone implementing it?
Trek   6 Reasons for Upgrading to Server 2012   4/25/2013 3:45:16 PM
There are many good reasons to upgrade to Server 2012, not to mention simplified licensing and clearer costs.   It seems that upgrading is not nearly as divisive  as upgrading to Windows 8. 

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