TechEd Announcements: New Windows Server, SQL Server, Azure, and more

We’re here in hot and humid New Orleans to learn all about the latest products that Microsoft has to announce. Although the conference doesn’t officially kickoff until today at 8:30am CT, we sat down with Eron Kelly, General Manager of SQL Server, a little early and he shared some of the high level announcements to expect at TechEd.

In what will be a surprise to practically nobody, Microsoft will release Windows Server 2012 R2 (aka: Blue) for public preview “sometime in June.” Although there won’t be any sweeping changes, the update will bring improved Hyper-V networking virtualization, allowing bursting into the cloud as well as site-to-site VPN connections. Server 2012 R2 will also provide automatic storage tiering, common in expensive SAN arrays offered by companies like EMC and NetApp, allowing admins to roll their own storage solutions. Lastly, improvements in overall virtual machine portability between Windows on-premise installations and Windows Azure will be put in place, improving global management and backup capabilities.

System Center 2012 will also receive the R2 update in June. Now, with a single pane of glass, administrators will be able to use a single pane of glass to manage both local installs, as well as servers running in Azure. Device management will also span across practically any mobile device, giving a single user interface for Windows Phone, iOS, and Android, in addition to desktops running Windows and MacOS.

SQL Server is being updated to a full blown 2014, skipping past the R2 designation, although no explanation was given. The latest update will give database administrators the ability to pin tables in memory to improve response time. Power View for analytics in Excel will also be improved upon.

Kelly stated that Azure is experiencing 210% year over year revenue growth, an amazing feat with all of the competition available in the cloud space, and the company is looking to improve the experience. Microsoft is changing the pricing model, charging per minute instead of per hour as they do now. In addition to the Azure features being upgraded/implemented in Windows Server 2012 R2, System Center 2012 R2, and SQL Server 2014, Microsoft will also be announcing a preview of Biztalk in the cloud and everyone with a Visual Studio Premium and Ultimate MSDN subscription will receive $150/month of Azure consumption.

While none of these are ground breaking announcements, it continues to show Microsoft’s plans on “cloud-enabling” all of their products. We’re sure we’ll learn more specific details during Brad Anderson’s keynote, so stay tuned as we live blog it starting at 8:30 am CT.

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Man I'm starting to wonder about their accelerated release schedule, especially on their server products. Feels like we just recently adopted SQL 2012, VS 2012 (hell we're still rocking Server 2008 R2) and they're already pushing SQL 2014, VS 2013, Server 2012 R2, etc. Who can keep up with testing, upgrading and maintaining all these new server products just 1-2 years time in between???

Obry said,
Man I'm starting to wonder about their accelerated release schedule, especially on their server products. Feels like we just recently adopted SQL 2012, VS 2012 (hell we're still rocking Server 2008 R2) and they're already pushing SQL 2014, VS 2013, Server 2012 R2, etc. Who can keep up with testing, upgrading and maintaining all these new server products just 1-2 years time in between???

I'm running our infrastructure on 2008R2, and whilst 08R2 was a noteworthy upgrade, I don't think 12R2 is really a big deal unless you are doing a lot of hybrid datacenters..

Rather annoyed at VS2013 getting pushed though. Means we need to do a ton of ****ing about to get all our development onto the same platform again :\

If you are doing anything with either Hyper-V or SANs, Server 2012 WILL be worth the upgrade, even without R2. For me, Hyper-V was the big driver (I skipped 2008 AND R2 due to Hyper-V's unwieldiness, which 2012 decidedly fixed) - which is why I'm curious what R2 brings to the Server 2012 table. Unlike a lot of other Neowin server admins, I work with SMBs and even home server admins; for them, I am recommending Server 2012 Standard as an upgrade from Small Business Server (SMBs) or WHS (home servers) - again due to Hyper-V (both groups) and SANs/NAS (SMBs and non-profits).

Server 2012 R2 will be worth the upgrade for Hyper-V alone as well. It'll be really nice if the RemoteFX aspects of this are included with Windows 8 versions of Hyper-V, but I don't know if they are doing that.

Anyway…

Generation 2 VM's: No BIOS, No legacy / emulated devices. UEFI Firmware, UEFI Secure Boot, faster boot times, GPT partition booting supported. Boot to Virtual SCSI devices (network or VHDX) now supported.

Hyper-V console now has full RDP support over the VMBus. USB Redirection, Smart Card Redirection, Copy and Paste, video redirection and 3d redirection now supported.

Hyper-V now supports USB device pass-thru to VM's.

Live migration significantly improved in performance due to both network compression and SMB direct.

Live VM export.


And other stuff: http://windowsitpro.com/hyper-...012-r2-hyper-v-new-features

I get enough with the 2008/2008 r2 nonsense. We don't need a workstation os / server os duality that most system admin are not willing to follow (windows server 2003 is still kicking).

About Azure : "Microsoft is changing the pricing model, charging per minute instead of per hour as they do now" I hope for a cheap Azure.

Windows Server 2012 R2? How does one improve on what is practically the ideal server that can scale down as low as you need to - even to a desktop OS? (No - I am NOT kidding; unlike previous versions of Windows Server, which required some to substantial modification to use as a workstation/desktop OS, Server 2012 requires little to none. In fact, if you don't have EPT support in your CPU, but it does support VT-x, Windows Server is the only way you can use Hyper-V - and once you experience it, going back to any other form of desktop virtualization - including vmWare - won't be easy.)

I can think of a few ways, because while Server 2012 is awesome, it's not perfect. There are definitely some issues that need fixing.

When the Desktop Experience is installed, they still need to provide 100% feature parity with the Desktop version of Windows. Currently it's at around 98%, and that last 2% is sometimes frustrating. In particular, the newer dxinput DLL's from Windows 8 need to be bundled into the Server 2012 Desktop Experience, otherwise all ModernUI apps that utilize 3d instantly crash on Server 2012 unless a user manually injects the DLL's from Windows 8.

Focus on more PowerShell cmdlets. There are still far too many aspects of Windows Server that cannot be automated with the built-in functions. Active Directory Certificate Services in particular needs PowerShell functions so it can completely replace all aspects of the GUI for template/certificate management as well as replace the old Certreq.exe and Certutil.exe. CertReq and Certutil are cumbersome and annoying executables that need modern loving. They also need to add more automation functionality for editing GPO's from PowerShell. Heck, they even need to include a command to add and remove subnets from Active Directory Sites and Services.

Fix issues with Features on Demand on “cleaned” images. There are some notable problems in Server 2012, where if you build a base Windows Server install and then “properly” delete the entire non-installed feature archive, certain features can no longer install over time due to Windows Updates. Most notable are features related to adding GUI functionality. Even if you patch the Windows WIM media so its 100% up to date, you currently must remove all patches if your Server 2012 install requires Features on Demand to install any GUI elements to Server Core.

I'm sure I've encountered some other things that I could critique about Server 2012, but really, it's literally the best Server OS I've ever used. Server 2012 Datacenter Core is usable 75% of the time, and the PowerShell commands needed to management most features are at least 75% complete. If R2 contains nothing but PowerShell improvements I'd upgrade everything for it.

GPMC needs a huge update.

Id love a new "preferences like ui" that lets me check boxes like in the server manager ui to effortlessly install these roles and features when the gpo is applied to a ou instead of relaying on dism and powershell.

As PowerShell 4.0 brings Desired State Configuration, I'm wondering if the plan is to eventually replace Group Policy entirely.