Tuesday, January 9, 2007

New Windows Server OSs

In the past few days, I've heard about two new Server OSs that Microsoft is producing. The first, well, we've all known it was coming for some time now: Longhorn. The second, for me at least, popped up almost out of nowhere, but it think it could be a very cool addition to many homes and/or small offices: Windows Home Server.

Windows Home Server

Watch this video. WHS is a server "appliance" that will basically have power, ethernet, and some USB ports. It promises a central repository of drive-letterless, raid-like disk space. Just add a new drive, whether it's PATA, SATA, or USB, and it will be incorporated into the existing internal spaciness of WHS. This in itself is a godsend...no more worries that drive D is running out of space, so you'd better put that movie on drive E, even though all the other movies are on D. It also claims to be able to backup every computer in your house overnight. I don't know how many hard drives I'm going to have to put in this thing so that it can store all my media and back up every computer in my house, but at least it's smart enough to use a single-instance-store; i.e., if two computers are both running XP SP2, they probably have some files in common, so WHS will only store one copy.

The feature that both excites me and worries me is that WHS will automatically organize your files. I typically abhor automated systems of organization (read: iTunes) because they don't often match up with mine ;) But since it will probably have some sort of Windows Desktop Search integrated into the interface, I'm sure I'll still be able to find everything I put on it.

Overall, the concept of a headless box that I can stick in the closet, or somewhere equally discrete is appealing. I mean, it's pretty much what I have at home now, but the ability to just add drives and have it incorporate the new space automatically is a feature that I would be willing to pay for.

Longhorn Server

I recently read this ComputerWorld posting about Longhorn Server and I was intrigued. It seems that Active Directory is going to become a hybrid of a Windows 2000 style multi-master domain controller system and an NT 4.0 style of primary and backup domain controllers. This "new and improved" Active Directory will have the concept of a "Read Only Domain Controller" (or RODC). On the surface, that sounds a whole lot like a BDC with a different acronym, but it's actually more complicated than that.

From the same article:

  • The RODCs will not cache administrator credentials. I'm still not clear on whether it just won't cache the domain or BUILTIN\Administrator credentials, or the credentials of any account with administrative access, which would make more sense.
  • The RODCs can be run without a GUI since they require little to no administration on their own.
  • RODCs can have their own set of "administrators" so that the guy in the branch office where the RODC lives doesn't have to be a domain admin.
Longhorn also promises an updated DFS replication algorithm, which should be good news for anyone who has experienced SysVol replication problems (Why aren't that GPO's settings being applied?). But probably the most significant enhancement is that you can now restart the services responsible for Active Directory without actually restarting the entire machine.

I'm looking forward to both these new server products...Guess I'll have to buy some more hard drives.

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