Part 4 in the Windows Server 2012 series tells you about the new virtualization features: Hyper-V 3.0, Remote Desktop Services (RDS), Server Core, and Failover Clustering.
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Virtualization is still the hottest topic in data centers. There is no doubt that Hyper-V 3.0 is a milestone in Windows Server virtualization. But let’s not forget that new Remote Desktop Services features will play an important role in VDI (Virtual Desktop Infrastructure). I included the new Server Core features in this post because the GUI-less Windows Server edition is mostly used in virtual environments. Failover Clustering also becomes more and more important in virtualized environments.

Hyper-V 3.0

Many say that with Hyper-V 3.0 in Windows Server 2012 and System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2012, Microsoft gets one step closer to catching up with VMware in enterprise virtualization. Some say that Microsoft is now on the same technical level, although VMware’s price level is a bit higher. The main new Hyper-V 3.0 features are improved scalability (32 vCPUs, 512GB RAM per VM, 16TB VHDX format), minimum and maximum bandwidth guarantees, native NIC teaming, 63 node clusters, multiple concurrent Live Migrations and Storage Live Migrations, Hyper-V Replica (asynchronous replication of VMs), and affinity and anti-affinity rules (prevent specific VMs from running simultaneously).

Windows Server 2012 - Hyper-V

Windows Server 2012 - Hyper-V

Remote Desktop Services (RDS)

Remote Desktop Services (RDS) has been improved in three major areas: RemoteFX, infrastructure related functionality, and RDS management features. As you will notice, most of the new features target Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI).


RemoteFX was first introduced with Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1 to improve the visual experience of Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) over slow network connections. The major enhancements in Windows Server 2012 are adaptive graphics (optimized codecs for multimedia, images, and text); automatic TCP/UDP selection; network type auto detection; DirectX11 support with vGPU; simplified Single Sign-On configuration; Chrome, Firefox, and Safari support for Remote Desktop Web Access; multi-touch support; USB redirection without vGPU; and Metro-style Remote Desktop.

Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI)

The VDI enhancements listed here are related to infrastructure functionality. New are full support for the pooled Virtual Desktop Collection model (single virtual desktop template for a large number of VMs), User Profile Disk (access to user profiles with pooled Virtual Desktops), support for low-cost storage options, Fairshare of resources in RD Session Host (resource consumption limited for a single user), and removal of a dedicated RD Session Host server running in redirection mode.

RDS Management

RDS management has been improved as well. ntegrated into Server Manager, scenario-focused wizard for RDS deployment, RD Connection Broker now supports active/active clustering (whereas before it supported only active/passive) and PowerShell support.

Windows-Server-2012 - Server Core

Windows-Server-2012 - Server Core

Failover Clustering

Failover Clustering is another area with major enhancements in Windows Server 2012. Aside from the compulsory scalability improvements (64 nodes, 4000 clustered roles or virtual machines per cluster, 1,024 clustered roles or virtual machines per node), I find these enhancements most interesting: Scale-Out File Server (store server application data, such as Hyper-V virtual machine files, on file shares), Cluster-Aware Updating (maintaining availability during the update process), and Dynamic Quorum (as nodes leave the cluster the quorum reconfigures itself).

Please let me know if I forgot a virtualization related feature in Windows Server 2012. In my next post I will discuss Windows Server 2012 Active Directory features.


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