This is the first post in my series about the new features in Windows Server 2008 R2. As in my series about the new features of Windows 7, I will update the articles when I learn about new features. I will discuss some of the new features in more detail soon.
Essentially, the term “virtualization” covers three different technologies in Windows Server 2008 R2: Server Virtualization, Desktop Virtualization, and Presentation Virtualization. Server Virtualization is based on Hyper-V 2.0, which will get quite a few interesting new features. The virtualization technology behind Desktop virtualization, i.e., Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI), is also Hyper-V.
This is probably the most important new feature in Windows Server 2008 R2. Presentation Virtualization is nothing but the good old Terminal Server. Technically, I find it a bit odd to use the term “virtualization” in this context, but from a marketer’s point of view, it probably makes a lot of sense. Note that Microsoft renamed the “Terminal Services” as “Remote Desktop Services” in Windows Server 2008 R2.
Let’s start with the new features in Server Virtualization.
Hyper-V Live Migration
- Moves virtual machines between two hosts without interruption (slight performance drop)
- Uses the new Cluster Shared Volumes (CSV) file system within Failover Clustering in Windows Server 2008 R2
- CSV volumes can only be used for the Live Migration feature
- Requires failover clustering of Windows Server 2008 R2
Cluster Node Connectivity Fault Tolerance
The CSV architecture supports dynamic I/O redirection (I/O can be rerouted within the failover cluster) for three types of failures:
- Failure of a cluster node connection to the shared storage between cluster nodes
- Failure of network connectivity for a cluster node
- Failure of a cluster node
Other Hyper-V 2.0 features
- Support for 32 logical processor cores in a single virtual machine
- Hot add of VHD and pass-through disks
- Second Level Translation (SLAT): Support for Intel’s Enhanced Page Tables and AMD’s Nested Page Tables (improves performance, especially for large applications, due to better memory management; it also reduces the memory requirements for the Windows Hypervisor from approximately 5% to 1% of the total physical memory)
- Boot physical machines from .vhd files: Allows you to deploy Windows Server 2008 R2 to physical and virtual computers using the same .vhd files.
Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI)
Desktop Virtualization is a new feature in Windows Server 2008 R2. I will write more about this topic soon.
- Windows clients (XP, Vista, Windows 7) run on virtual machines on a centralized server
- VDI includes the following technologies: Hyper-V, Live Migration, System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2008, Microsoft Application Virtualization version 4.5 in Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack (MDOP), and Vista Enterprise VECD licensing
Note: It is unclear to me in what way VDI is dependent on these products, e.g., I am unsure whether VMM will be required. Do you know more?
RemoteApp & Desktop Connections (RAD)
RemoteApp was introduced with Windows Server 2008. It allows end-users to launch a single application on a remote server via RDP. Desktop Connections are common sessions on a Terminal Server.
- RAD control panel applet: Allows end-users to connect to RemoteApp programs and Remote Desktops
- Single management console for RemoteApp, Desktop Web Access, and Remote Desktop
- RemoteApp and Remote Desktop also work for standalone computers (non-domain members)
- New apps are automatically populated to users’ desktops and Web Access page
- Single sign-on (I guess only for domain members)
- Almost all Remote Desktop Services administrative tasks can now be scripted using PowerShell 2.0
- Profile cache quota and Group Policy caching speed up user logon
- Improved compatibility with Microsoft Installer (MSI); no need for “install mode” where users had to log off
Remote Desktop Services Gateway (formerly Terminal Services Gateway) (improved)
- Silent Session Re-authentication: Ensures that changes to user profiles are enforced
- Secure device redirection: Device redirection settings are always enforced
- Pluggable Authentication: Allows corporations to use their own authentication and authorization technologies
- Idle & session timeout: Allows admins to disconnect idle sessions or limit the connection time
- Consent Signing support: Remote users have to give their consent to corporate terms and conditions
- Administrative messaging: Broadcast messages to remote users
RAD enhancements for third parties
- Support for Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) and XSL Tranformations (XSLT) to customize the Web Access portal
- Support for protocols other than RDP
- Session broker extensibility: Policy (determines the proper farm or VM for a connection), Load Balancing (chooses the proper endpoint based on load), Orchestration (prepares a VM to accept RDP connections)
There are also many new features related to the Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP). I covered some of these in my article about the new networking features in Windows 7.
Note: I installed Windows Server 2008 R2 Build 6801. The administration tools of the components discussed in this post look pretty much the same as in Windows Server 2008 RTM. Even the term “Terminal Services” is still used in this release. It seems to me it is a bit too early to explore R2 now. However, I didn’t install Hyper-V because I am testing with VMware Workstation and its virtual CPU doesn’t support VT.