Top 10 Windows Server 2012R2 Tips For The Smaller Business

If we are to believe the marketing from any of the cloud services providers, we don’t really need any in house infrastructure to run a modern business, as our e-mail, collaboration and line of business systems can all be hosted for us.  However in the UK there are several challenges not least the appalling lack of connectivity, so while any business may move some of its services to the cloud there will still be a need for some in house IT infrastructure. So in this post I want to look at using the art of the possible for small and medium sized businesses and my definition of small is where physical hosts + server Virtual Machines(VMs is less than 100).  I have covered the 'how to' do some of this on my own blog, I've provided relevant links to keep this post short and sharp

10.  DHCP Failover: - a simple mirrored pair of servers for DHCP means that if one fails the other takes over

9. VPN & Direct Access: it’s just another role that you can turn on to provide secure remote access to your infrastructure.  You don’t need to do anything on the remote clients to get this to work.  I mention both because to use Direct Access the remote machine needs to be domain joined and running Windows Enterprise edition (7 and later).  On the other hand a VPN can be used by any tablets and phones running any old or new OS.1. Basically life is good if you have Windows Server 2012 or R2 as there are two key utilities to make managing your servers really easy, Server Manager In fact form a monitoring perspective you can do a lot with just one 2012/R2 server.

8. Active Directory: We may well have a domain controller or two and one stop management in the Active Directory Administrative Center (ADAC) which includes an AD recycle bin as a safety net (you do need to enable it though Smile)

7. Remote Desktop Services:  You can provide secure virtual desktops with or without a VPN provides a Windows desktop from wherever you can get an SSL connection.  RDS covers both the good old terminal services style session based virtual desktop as well as Virtual Desktop Infrastructure based on a collection of VMs each running Windows 7/8/8.1 on top of Hyper-V.

6. PowerShell. For those who like to have procedures in place for doing things in predictable way then PowerShell 3/4 (depending on which OS you have) is a lot lot easier to learn and once you get it you’ll be wondering how you managed without it.  I don’t have one post on this I have a series called Lab Ops.

5. Multi-server management Multi-server management. Windows Server 2012 & R2 have remote management setup by default, so it’s the work of a moment to add all your servers into Server manager to see what they are doing, how they are doing it, and to run the appropriate tools to manage whichever role they are running. You can also manage older servers (as early as 2008) though not quite to the same extent.

4 . MinShell and Server Core MinShell and Server Core. Now that we can centrally manage servers  (maybe from a Windows 8/8.1 desktop with the Remote Server Administration Tools) I can rip the management tools out of the other servers so they run like server core or have a MinShell to save patching, memory and make them that bit more secure (i.e. no IE!).

3. Deduplication. We probably need to store data on our servers and by turning on this feature on you could save up to 80% of your disk space on a non system volume.  Just make sure your backup provider supports this before enabling it

2.  Hyper-V. You may not be a fan but Microsoft’s type 1 hypervisor is sitting inside of Windows Server waiting for you to give it a go.  Server Manager doesn’t care whether your servers are physical or virtual, and your PowerShell skills will become even more useful

1.  Like most Microsoft software there prerequisites for installing Windows Server, and one that isn’t often mentioned is YOU.  If you are going to use this new OS effectively you are going to need to understand it and I would recommend a few MVA Courses like this Jumpstart, downloading it and building your own lab and if you are serious then get certified!

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