Lowe is a senior product manager with Microsoft’s Windows Server division. My colleague Margie Semilof caught up with him at Tech-Ed 2008 Europe late last year to learn what to expect from R2, where he said that he thought the big new R2 features would be BranchCache and Direct Access. BranchCache is designed to augment file services with over-the-wire caching of files, which speeds up the effective connection between branch and main office by reducing the amount of data that is passed over your WAN wires. Direct Access basically creates a clientless and “always-on” VPN between your laptops on the Internet and your internal network. You can listen to the full interview with Lowe via the podcast below.
The Microsoft post cites major enhancements to Server Manager as another big improvement to R2. These additions include Best Practice Analyzers for specific roles, a bunch of new PowerShell cmdlets and the ability to connect to remote servers as well as local ones.
Lowe also mentions a brand new feature – File Classification Management – which he describes as “a new storage capability whereby an administrator can create classification properties for files, such as “Confidential”, “Operational”, “Sales Data”, or indeed anything that matters to their business.” This feature is included with the RC, but is news to most folks outside of Microsoft. I’ll try to get some more details on it in the coming weeks.
You can download the Windows Server 2008 R2 beta here. For a quick rundown of what’s new with R2, check out this article from Greg Shields, where he explains why R2 is a “functionally different operating system” from Windows Server 2008. Greg will drill down deeper into each of the major R2 improvements leading up to the official release, starting with the changes to Terminal Services.]]>
As one analyst put it, lack of interoperability has been one of the most common criticisms of System Center. It looks like Microsoft has finally resolved this by including native Linux and Unix support to the RC for Operations Manager 2007 R2, which was released this week.
It appears the beta for the long-awaited System Center Service Manager product will be out by the fall. The big news here involves the Service Manager portal, with was removed from beta 1 but seems to be back and better than ever this time around. According to a post from Microsoft Program Manager Dan Boldo, the company has spent the last few months rebuilding the portal “from the ground up”, and the second beta will include the ability to view global anouncements, create and view service requests and reset passwords via Identity Lifecycle Manager, among other things.
This one comes from Information Week. During his keynote, Brad Anderson, general manager of Microsoft’s Management and Services Division, announced the development of System Center Online Desktop Manager. The tool is being desinged to integrate security and management in a way that will provide desktop management in the form of a service. A CTP will be available within 60 days, with a public beta due out before the end of the year. Once people start playing around with this I’ll post again with the initial reactions.
I spoke recently with Laura E. Hunter, an author and identity management guru based in Pennsylvania, who has spent a lot of time recently at Microsoft headquarters. She said that the current RC is feature complete, and the company is currently working on tweaks and bug fixes to get it ready for RTM.
She stressed that ILM “2” is still an incremental build, much like Identity Lifecycle Manager 2007 was. However, in addition to all the functionality of its predecessors (including Exchange Server support), the new version will include some interesting new capabilities. Most notable of these new features is a SharePoint-based Web portal designed to create a unified front end for managing not only users and groups, but policies as well.
I also asked her about some of the self-service capabilities being touted by Microsoft, which should simplify group management (users can request to be added to groups themselves) and of course, password reset. For the latter, a cool new layer has been added recently. Basically, if a user needs a new password for whatever reason, they’ll still have to answer some verification questions (the old “What’s your mother’s maiden name?”), but will not have the ability to create their own new password. Instead, the system will create a new one for them and text it to their cell phones, adding a little more security to the process. That is unless your computer happens to be hijacked on the same day that your cell phone is stolen — but that’s hopefully not too likely.
She also said that ILM “2” should fill in a few of the holes that some IT pros have complained about regarding lack of certain functionality in previous versions. Another source I spoke to concurred, saying the workflow alone makes it worth checking out. He added that this is the first time Microsoft has really addressed identity-level change control.]]>
Pete is an MVP and founder of both System Center Forum and the System Center User Group, so needless to say, he knows a thing or two about Operations Manager. Despite being in Scotland for business, Pete was kind enough to speak with me a few weeks ago about AD Integration and what it means to admins.
It’s a short interview, but definitely worth checking out for those who work in SCOM-based environments. Here is a little sample of what Pete had to say about the feature:
“What this feature does is allow us to fully automate agent deployment for Operations Manager-based environments. So part of what is baked into the Operations Manager agent is that as the agent is started up, it will actually query it’s local Active Directory domain to see if configuration information has been published for an Operations Manager management group.”
According to Pete, AD Integration is designed to not only minimize administrative effort (hooray!), but reduce TCO as well, with large enterprises standing to benefit the most.
I’ll be adding more posts on what to expect at MMS and Tech-Ed this year as we get closer to both events, but if there is anything in particular that you’d like to know about, leave a comment and I’ll see what I can dig up.]]>
Hyper-V Server 2008 R2 will have all the functionality of the version included with the Windows 2008 R2 operating system, most notably the live migration capability that was previously absent.
While quick migration got its fair share of positive press (only lasting a few seconds in some instances), the fact remained that no downtime was better than a little, and many of the experts I spoke with over the past year cited the lack of live migration functionality as one of the top barriers Microsoft would have to overcome in order to truly challenge VMware. The question now is, will live migration for Hyper-V R2 really work, or is Microsoft rushing it out just to keep pace in the server virtualization market?
The cost factor along with the new features could go a long way in convincing more people to deploy Hyper-V over the next couple years. Softpedia spoke with Microsoft about some of these improvements, citing host clustering and performance/scalability enhancements specifically. Greg Shields will get into much more detail as to what’s new with Hyper-V as part of his running series on Windows 2008 R2 next month on SearchWindowsServer.com.
Greg’s latest article, however, deals with Terminal Services for R2 (now officially known as Remote Desktop Services, for those not aware). The article includes details on the Remote Desktop Virtualization feature, which Greg describes as being designed to broker “connections between users and hosted desktops running atop of one or more Hyper-V servers.”]]>
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