Windows Server. What, Why and Which.

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Description

  1. What is a network and a Server?

         A network is composed of wires, workstations, printers, hubs, routers and others.

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There are more types of computer networks, like: LAN ('Local Area Network' is the most used network), MAN, WAN, Internet (is the best known network), Intranet, Extranet. Although we use networks almost everywhere now days, very few people are aware of networks and their advantages.

            A Server is a program that offers services to other applications. These applications are called 'Clients' and they can be on the same computer with Server' or other computers in the same network.

  1. Do I need a server?

            You may need a server if you plan to have a network with more than two workstations. If you have in your house a computer, a laptop, a smart phone and a printer, for example, and you have Internet on all these devices through a router (with wireless for smart phone), you should know that you have a LAN inside your house.  But, do you need a server in this situation? Not necessary.

            Let's say that you add to you network another computer that is almost full with movies. And you want to see all those movies from your other devices. In this case, the simplest way is to share the entire hard drive with movies with any device in the network. This will let you to see everything on that drive, with any device connected to your network. What happens if you add on that drive a folder with important files that you also want to access them from any device you have, but you don't want your friends to see them?

And what if a stranger would enter into your network? He can see your important files and this is not the worst that can happen. He might modify or delete those files. He can put them on the Internet and those files won't be so secret anymore. He can also attach a virus to a file and will be able to see everything you do. Does it sounds like a security break to you? Because it is! And your computers will look like this:

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            Now, let's presume that you own a company with three departments. Everyone inside a department needs to access a specific set of files, but do not need to see the files specific to the other departments. And of course, you need to see any file from any department.

            How can you do that? And how can you keep anything safe? Using a server. You could use Windows Server 2012.
This way, you will access all your data, and anyone else can only access that needs to access.

  1. Why Windows Server 2012?

            Because it's cool and much easier to use than the previous versions of Windows Server.

            WS 2012 is using ReFS ('Resilient File System'). ReFS is better than NTFS when it comes for servers because:

                        * It allows files and folders with a bigger size

                        * Protection against latent disk errors

                        * Provides metadata integrity with checksums.

            I was talking earlier about the fact that anyone should access only what needs to access. This thing can be done using Active Directory. You can install this and any other feature or role using a wizard. That means that you check/uncheck some boxes and press 'Next" button until you get to 'Finish'. Some features or roles requires a restart after the install. For installing Active Directory, you should the next steps.

  1. Open Server Manager Window
  2. Click on "add roles or features"

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      3.  In "Before you begin" page, press Next
      4.  In "Installation type" page choose "Role based or feature based installation", then Next

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     5.  In "Server selection" page, let as it is because the default selection is the current server. Click Next

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     6.  In "Server role" page, choose Active Directory Domain Services. It may appear a notice that informs you that other roles or features are required to install Active Directory. Click on Add features

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     7.  In "Features" page, you can review or install other features. Just click next for now.
     8.  This page is here to make sure you reviewed all you want to install. Click Next.

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      9.   Now you have a confirmation page where you should check the automatic restart. If you don't want to, you may restart it later.

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     10.   Click Install.

After restart, you have to configure the Active Directory. First, you need to create a new forest (if you have one, add it to that forest). Follow the instructions that the wizard will give you and your Active Directory will be set and working.

Now, you'll find "AD DS" in the left menu of Server Manager Window. You will also find in the Start menu "Active Directory Administrative Center". This is the magical place where you can configure which user or which computer can access certain files.

            WS 2012 has a very nice and friendly user interface, close to Windows 8. It also has a command prompt window and windows power shell. There is the core version of windows Server 2012 that is only command line mode in case you like to do everything by yourself.

            With WS 2012 you can virtualize operating systems and you can migrate them on another server (far, far away) while they are running ('live migration'). This option comes very handy when you need to shut down a server for maintenance, but you don't want to stop the machines that are running on it.

            You can do this, using Hyper-V. This should be installed as I showed for Active Directory. I like to compare Hyper-V with a Virtual Machine Manager. It allows you to install/ configure/ uninstall virtual machines (even Linux machines, not only Windows machines), and it also allows you to "Live migrate" one or more virtual machines. You may want to set the destination address when you try to migrate a machine and also you should set how many machines can migrate simultaneously.

  1. What edition should I choose?

              Edition

Specs

Foundation

(less or equal)

Essentials

(less or equal)

Standard

(less or equal)

Datacenter

(less or equal)

CPU

1

2

64

64

RAM

32GB

64GB

4T

4T

Users

15

25

Unlimited

Unlimited

DHCP

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

DNS

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Active Directory

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Server Manager

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Hyper – V

No

No

Yes

Yes

Server-Core Mode

No

No

Yes

Yes

 

            This table means to say that if you have a small network with a limited number of users that work with a small amount of data that needs to be processed by the server, you can choose one of the first two Editions of WS 2012. You will still have the security you need and the possibility to choose for each user (or computer) what is allowed to access.

            If you have a larger network, you will need one of the last two editions of WS 2012. In this case, you might consider hiring a network administrator too because a good system is nothing without someone that knows how to use it and to get the best from it.

                                                                                                           Diana Botez

Tags:

Hyper-V, Server

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