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Chapter 1. Windows Server 2008 R2 Techno... > Windows Server 2008 R2 Benefits for ...

Windows Server 2008 R2 Benefits for Administration

Windows Server 2008 R2 provides several new benefits that help organizations better administer their networking environment. These new features provide better file and data management, better performance monitoring and reliability tracking tools to identify system problems and proactively address issues, a new image deployment tool, and a whole new set of Group Policy Objects that help administrators better manage users, computers, and other Active Directory objects.

Improvements in the Group Policy Management

Windows Server 2008 R2 introduces over 1,000 new Group Policy Objects specific to Windows Server 2008 R2 and Windows 7, along with several new components that expand on the core capabilities of Group Policy management that have been part of Windows 2000/2003 Active Directory. The basic functions of Group Policy haven’t changed, so the Group Policy Object Editor (gpedit) and the Group Policy Management Console (GPMC) are the same, but with more options and settings available.

As mentioned earlier, the Group Policy Management Console can either be run as a separate MMC tool, or it can be launched off the Features branch of the Server Manager console tree, as shown in Figure 1.7. Group policies in Windows Server 2008 R2 provide more granular management of local machines, specifically having policies that push down to a client that are different for administrator and non-administrator users.

Figure 1.7. Group Policy Management Console.


Additionally, applications can now query or register with a network location awareness service within Group Policy management, which provides the identity where a user or computer object resides. As an example, a policy can be written that allows users to have access to applications and files if they are on a local network segment, but blocks users from accessing the same content when they are on a remote segment for security and privacy reasons. This addition to group policies adds a third dimension to policies so that now administrators can not only define who and what someone has access to, but also limit their access based on where they are.

Group policies are covered in detail in Chapter 27, “Group Policy Management for Network Clients,” as well as in Chapter 19, “Windows Server 2008 R2 Group Policies and Policy Management.”

Note

When running the Group Policy Management Console to manage a Windows Server 2008 R2 Active Directory environment, run the GPMC tool from a Windows Server 2008 R2 server or a Windows 7 client system to have access to all the editable objects available. If you run the GPMC tool from a Windows 2003 server or Windows XP client, you will not see all the features nor have full access to edit all objects available.

This is because Windows Server 2008 R2 now supports new template file formats (ADMX and ADML) that are only accessible from Windows Server 2008, Windows Server 2008 R2, Windows Vista, and Windows 7 systems.


Introducing Performance and Reliability Monitoring Tools

Windows Server 2008 R2 introduces new and revised performance and reliability monitoring tools intended to help network administrators better understand the health and operations of Windows Server 2008 R2 systems. Just like with the Group Policy Management Console, the new Reliability and Performance Monitor shows up as a feature in the Server Manager console. By clicking on the Performance Diagnostic Console, the tool shows up in the right pane, as shown in Figure 1.8.

Figure 1.8. Windows Reliability and Performance Monitor.


The new tool keeps track of system activity and resource usage and displays key counters and system status on screen. The Reliability Monitor diagnoses potential causes of server instability by noting the last time a server was rebooted, what patches or updates were applied, and chronologically when services have failed on the system so that system faults can potentially be traced back to specific system updates or changes that occurred prior to the problem.

By combining what used to be three to four tools into a single console, administrators are able to look at system performance, operational tasks, and historical event information in their analysis of a server problem or system operations instability. You can find more details on performance and reliability monitoring in Chapter 34.

Leveraging File Server Resource Manager

File Server Resource Manager (FSRM) was a feature pack add-in to Windows 2003 R2 and has been significantly improved with the release of Windows Server 2008 R2. FSRM is a quota management system of files on network shares across an enterprise. Rather than allowing employees to copy the entire content of their laptop to a network, or potentially back up their MP3 audio files onto a network, FSRM provides the ability to not only limit the amount of content stored on network shares, but also to set quotas (or limit storage altogether) on certain file types. So, a user could be limited to store 200GB of files on a network share, but of that limit, only 2GB can be allocated to MP3 files.

FSRM, shown in Figure 1.9, in Windows Server 2008 R2 has been improved to allow the nesting of quotas to ensure the most restrictive policy is applied. Quotas can also transcend subfolders, so as new folders are created, or as policies are applied at different levels in a folder hierarchy, the policies still apply, and the rules are combined to provide varying levels of quota allocation to user data. Additionally, quotas are now based on actual storage, so if a file is compressed when stored, the user will be able to store more files within their allocated quota.

Figure 1.9. File Server Resource Manager.


File Server Resource Manager is covered in detail in Chapter 28.

Leveraging the Best Practice Analyzer

Included in Windows Server 2008 R2 is a built-in Best Practice Analyzer. Found in the Server Manager console tool, the Best Practice Analyzer runs a series of tests against Active Directory roles, such as the Hyper-V role, the DNS role, and the Remote Desktop Services role, to assess whether the role has been installed and configured properly and to compare the installation with tested best practices.

Some of the results from the Best Practice Analyzer could tell an administrator they need to add more memory to a server, to move a role to a separate server to improve role optimization, or to shift a database to a different drive on the server to distribute disk performance demands on the system. More details on the Best Practice Analyzer are covered in Chapter 20.

Introduction of Windows Deployment Services

Windows Server 2008 introduced a new tool called Windows Deployment Services (WDS), which was effectively an updated version of the Remote Installation Services (RIS) that has been available for the past several years. Unlike RIS, which was focused on primarily scripted installations and client images, WDS in Windows Server 2008 R2 can distribute images of Windows 7 clients or Windows Server 2008 R2 servers in a significantly more flexible and modifiable deployment process.

Like with RIS, Windows Deployment Services allows a client system to initiate a Preboot Execution Environment (PXE), effectively “booting” to the WDS server to see a list of images that can be deployed on the system. Alternately, an organization can create a Windows PE boot disc and have an image initiated from a CD or DVD.

With Windows Server 2008 R2 and Windows 7, the image can be created in Windows Imaging (WIM) format, which allows for the injection of patches, updates, or even new code to a WIM file without even booting the image file. This provides the organization with more than just static images that get pushed out like in RIS, but rather a tool that provides ongoing and manageable updates to image files.

WDS also supports the imaging of Windows 2003 servers and Windows XP client systems in the same manner that RIS did in terms of pushing out images or using an unattend script file to send images to systems.

Windows Deployment Services is covered in detail in Chapter 26, “Windows Server 2008 R2 Administration Tools for Desktops.”

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