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Overview of Windows Server 2003 R2 Datacenter Edition

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Unlimited Virtualization RightsUnlimited Virtualization Rights
Built for ReliabilityBuilt for Reliability
Built for ProductivityBuilt for Productivity
Built for Best EconomicsBuilt for Best Economics
Key FeaturesKey Features



Designed for the highest levels of virtualization, scalability, and reliability, Windows Server 2003 R2 Datacenter Edition, supports large-scale virtualization and mission-critical solutions for databases, enterprise resource planning software, high volume real-time transaction processing and server consolidation. Windows Server 2003 R2 Datacenter Edition is available in x86/32-bit and x64/64-bit versions through Volume Licensing agreements from Microsoft resellers and account managers, in addition to original equipment manufacturer (OEM) partners. Windows Server 2003 Datacenter Edition is also available in IA64/64-bit through OEMs only.

In addition to the support provided through the usual Microsoft channels, customers of Windows Server 2003 R2 Datacenter Edition can join the Datacenter High Availability Program through their OEMs. This program provides an integrated hardware, software, and service offering delivered by Microsoft and qualified Datacenter Service Providers (DSPs), such as OEMs.

Windows Server 2003 R2 Datacenter Edition provides support for:

  • 2 TB of RAM (64-bit versions, SP2)
  • 1 TB of RAM (64-bit versions, SP1)
  • 64 GB of RAM (32-bit version)
  • Multiprocessor servers: scalable to up to 64 processors (64-bit versions) and 32 processors (32-bit version)
  • Intel Hyper-Threading Technology
  • Symmetric multi-processing (SMP): 64-way (64-bit versions) and 32-way (32-bit version)
  • Non-Uniform Memory Access (NUMA)
  • Cluster service for up to 8-node clusters
  • Windows Sockets: Direct access for SANs
  • Terminal Services Session Directory
  • Windows System Resource Manager (WSRM)

Also see Windows Server 2003 Datacenter Edition with SP1 for 64-bit Itanium-based Systems or Overview of Windows Server 2003 R2 Datacenter x64 Edition.

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Unlimited Virtualization Rights

Windows Server 2003 R2 Datacenter Edition licenses now include unlimited virtualization rights, meaning customers can run an unlimited number of virtualized instances of Windows Server on processors licensed with Windows Server 2003 R2 Datacenter Edition without having to purchase additional licenses. The use rights also allow the choice of running Windows Server 2003 R2 (or previous version) Standard Edition, Enterprise Edition, and Datacenter Edition as the host operating system and in the virtual instances. In addition to Windows Server and Microsoft Virtual Server, the use rights apply to any virtualization technology or host operating system, although they may need to be acquired, licensed and supported separately from third-parties.

The unlimited virtualization rights significantly simplify the licensing of Windows Server for large-scale virtualization, and make it more affordable to consolidate on the Windows Server Platform.

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Built for Reliability

Organizations expect technology to provide business value in the form of systems that are always up, always responsive, and that provide a level of security that meets today's challenges. Windows Server 2003 R2 Datacenter Edition includes new features and improvements that make it the most dependable, enterprise-ready server operating system Microsoft has ever created. The emphasis on security is a reflection of the Microsoft commitment to trustworthy computing.

Technologies introduced in Windows 2000 Server have been improved, such as network load balancing, server clusters, and the Active Directory service. In addition, Windows Server 2003 R2 Datacenter Edition introduces new technologies, such as a common language and the Windows System Resource Manager (WSRM).

Microsoft has also made leaps forward in the area of security with new and improved security for Internet Information Services (IIS) 6.0, public key infrastructure (PKI), and Kerberos, as well as support for smart cards and biometrics.

Active Directory performance and flexibility is now faster and more robust over unreliable wide area network (WAN) connections due to more efficient synchronization and replication, as well as caching of credentials in branch office domain controllers.

The Datacenter High Availability Program

Microsoft developed the Datacenter High Availability Program to provide customers with a list of qualified server configurations that have been thoroughly tested and proven to be highly reliable. The Datacenter High Availability Program provides the support you need to ensure maximum uptime for your applications. Microsoft qualifies only OEMs whose hardware has passed rigorous requirements and compatibility tests. Only then can they license and support Windows Server 2003 R2 Datacenter Edition with the Datacenter High Availability Program.

Although the x86/32-bit and x64/64-bit versions of Windows Server R2 Datacenter Edition can be purchased through Volume Licensing agreements, Windows Server 2003 R2 Datacenter Edition with the Datacenter High Availability Program is only available preinstalled on an OEM system. The Datacenter High Availability Program offers:

  • A single point of contact for support, provided by a joint support team comprised of both OEM and Microsoft personnel.
  • Rigorous system testing and qualification of hardware and software to ensure they perform optimally together.
  • Coordinated maintenance and change control for hardware and software updates.
  • Strict reliability assurance through new Microsoft Certified Support Center (MCSC) requirements designed for this program.

In contrast to proprietary systems offered by some vendors, Windows Server 2003 R2 Datacenter Edition is available from a wide variety of vendors that sell high-end systems that are able to run your organization's existing applications. These vendors provide a range of platforms and services to help you meet your mission-critical requirements.

The Datacenter High Availability Program includes a qualification process and the Enterprise Catalog, which extends and enhances the current hardware compatibility requirements from Microsoft. Through this process, all server components are tested together in a high-stress environment, assuring that the overall system will operate without hardware or software conflicts among components of the configuration.

The Role of Windows Hardware Quality Labs

Windows Hardware Quality Labs (WHQL) ensure that OEMs produce quality hardware and software that interact efficiently and optimally with Microsoft products and technologies. OEM products must pass appropriate hardware compatibility tests. If successful, they are listed in the Enterprise Catalog and receive the "Designed for Windows" logo.

The Windows logo on hardware and software products lets customers know the products meet Microsoft standards for compatibility with Windows operating systems. Hardware intended for use with Windows Server 2003 Datacenter Edition must be designed to the specifications of the Hardware Design Guide.

Customers who receive servers validated by the Windows Datacenter High Availability Program know they are receiving a complete configuration that has been rigorously tested with all hardware components and kernel-level software products. Windows Server 2003 R2 Datacenter Edition with the Datacenter High Availability Program can be sold only by OEMs who are willing to do this extra testing and configuration control.

The testing that OEMs must undertake helps ensure that the following components will work together smoothly on servers running Windows Server 2003 Datacenter Edition:

  • All hardware components.
  • All hardware drivers.
  • All software that works at the kernel level, including virus software, disk and tape management, backup software, and similar types of software.

High Availability Resolution Queue

The High Availability Resolution Queue (HARQ) for Windows Server 2003 R2 Datacenter Edition is staffed with the most senior and expert Microsoft support personnel. They ensure tight collaboration between a hardware vendor and Microsoft. This team of experts supports the most business-critical solutions. The HARQ has access to all OEM Datacenter Hardware Compatibility List hardware configurations and Windows Server 2003 R2 Datacenter Edition, source code to enable rapid problem reproduction, isolation, and resolution.

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Built for Productivity

Organizations want computing technology to improve productivity for information workers, who want powerful tools that are easier to use, as well as for administrators, who want services that are quicker to deploy and easier and more flexible to manage.

Windows Server 2003 R2 Datacenter Edition and other members of the Windows Server 2003 family share many features that help make your organization and employees more productive. Windows Server 2003 enables greater productivity for both IT administrators and users through its enhanced capabilities in system management and storage. Microsoft has made great strides in evolving manageability. The new task-based design in the Windows Server 2003 family makes it easier to carry out common tasks. Improvements to the Microsoft Management Console (MMC) and Active Directory improve performance and make remote system and domain management easier.

The Windows Server 2003 R2 family contains several important new automated management tools, including Windows Server Update Services (WSUS) and server configuration wizards, to help automate deployment. Managing Group Policy is easier with the new Group Policy Management Console (GPMC), which enables more organizations to better use the Active Directory service and take advantage of its powerful, cost-saving features. In addition, command-line tools let administrators perform most tasks from the command console.

Other new management and administration features in the Windows Server 2003 family include domain renaming, cross-domain and cross-forest management, and Resultant Set of Policy (RSoP) options. Enhanced Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI) providers and command-line tools give administrators greater granular control of server tasks.

Windows Server 2003 R2 also makes storage and backup easier, while significantly reducing the demands on system administrators. The Volume Copy Shadow Service, which provides point-in-time backups of networked shares, is one of many new and improved file services.

File and print services have also been improved by the addition of the Web-based Distributed Authoring and Versioning (WebDAV) remote document sharing technology, while enhancements to the Distributed File System (DFS) and Encrypting File System (EFS) allow for powerful, flexible file sharing and storage. Support for 64-bit printing and print clusters has also been added to Windows Server 2003 R2 Datacenter Edition.

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Built for Best Economics

Maximize Business Value by Leveraging the Largest Partner Solution Ecosystem

PC technology provides the most cost-effective chip platform, a considerable economic incentive for adopting Windows Server 2003 R2. But that is only the beginning of the story. Windows Server 2003 R2 Datacenter Edition is a cost-efficient choice for both scale-up or scale-out purposes. With multiple essential services and components already included in Windows Server 2003, organizations can quickly benefit from an integrated platform that is easy to deploy, manage, and use.

When you adopt Windows Server 2003 R2, you become a part of the global network that has helped make the Windows platform so productive. This network of global services and support provides the following benefits:

  • Extensive ISV ecosystem. Microsoft has a huge number of independent software vendors (ISVs) worldwide who support Microsoft applications and build certified custom applications on the Windows platform.
  • Worldwide services. Microsoft is supported by over 450,000 Microsoft Certified Systems Engineers (MCSEs) worldwide, plus vendors and partners. Microsoft also partners with a range of service providers, such as system integrators, in various programs. To learn more about Microsoft partner programs, visit the Partnering With Microsoft Web site.
  • Training options. Microsoft offers a wide range of IT training, enabling IT staff to continue developing their skills at a reasonable price. As a result, enterprises benefit from a large pool of qualified technical staff. In addition to technology training, Microsoft offers training in frameworks for IT operations.
  • Certified solutions. Windows has thousands of qualified hardware drivers and certified software applications from third-party independent hardware vendors (IHVs) and ISVs, making it easy to add new devices and applications. In addition, prescriptive guidance from Microsoft Solutions Offerings (MSOs) helps organizations build proven solutions that help solve difficult business challenges. For example, the Microsoft systems architecture for the Enterprise Data Center is now available, at no charge, from the Microsoft TechNet Web site.

This ecosystem of products and services delivers a low total cost of ownership (TCO), while helping your organization become more productive and efficient.

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Key Features

Windows Server 2003 R2 Datacenter Edition includes the features from Windows Server 2003 R2 Standard Edition and Windows Server 2003 R2 Enterprise Edition. It also offers the following extra features and capabilities:

  • Expanded physical memory space. On both 64-bit architectures, Windows Server 2003 R2 Datacenter Edition supports up 2 TB of physical RAM in SP2 (1 TB in SP1). On 32-bit Intel platforms, Windows Server 2003 R2 Datacenter Edition supports Physical Address Extension (PAE), which extends system memory capability to 64 GB of physical RAM.
  • Scale to up to 64 processors. Both 64-bit versions scales up to 64 processors. The x86/32-bit version scales up to 32 processors.
  • Intel Hyper-Threading support. Intel Hyper-Threading Technology allows a single physical processor to execute multiple threads (instruction streams) simultaneously, potentially providing greater throughput and improved performance.
  • Non-Uniform Memory Access (NUMA) support. System firmware can create a table called the Static Resource Affinity Table that describes the NUMA topology of the system. Windows Server 2003 Datacenter Edition uses this table to improve the efficiency of the operating system by applying NUMA awareness to application processes, default affinity settings, thread scheduling, and memory management.
  • Cluster service. Server clusters provide high availability and disaster tolerance for mission-critical database management, file sharing, intranet data sharing, messaging, and general business applications. With Windows Server 2003 R2 Datacenter Edition, and Windows Server 2003 R2 Enterprise Edition, cluster service size has increased from four-node clusters to eight-node clusters. This provides increased flexibility for adding and removing hardware in a geographically dispersed cluster environment, as well as providing improved scaling options for applications. Windows Server 2003 R2 Datacenter Edition, also allows server clusters to be deployed in a variety of different configurations, in particular:
    • Single cluster configurations with dedicated storage.
    • Multiple clusters on a storage area network (SAN) potentially with other Windows servers or operating systems.
  • Direct access for SANs with Windows Sockets. Windows Sockets applications that use Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol (TCP/IP) can now obtain the performance benefits of SANs without making application modifications. The fundamental component of this technology is a Windows Sockets layered service provider that emulates TCP/IP semantics over native SAN service providers.
  • Terminal Services Session Directory. Terminal Services Session Directory is a load balancing feature that allows users to easily reconnect to a disconnected session on a server farm running Terminal Services. Session Directory is compatible with the Windows Server 2003 load balancing service, and is supported by third-party, external load balancer products.
  • Windows System Resource Manager. In Windows Server 2003 Enterprise Edition, and Windows Server 2003, Datacenter Edition, the Windows System Resource Manager (WSRM) feature enables an administrator to allocate CPU and memory utilization on a per-application basis. This is a useful tool for server consolidation.

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In addition to unlimited virtualization rights, Windows Server 2003 R2 Datacenter Edition provides the reliability, scalability, and manageability needed to support mission-critical workloads in enterprise data centers. The result is a highly productive infrastructure optimized for running the most demanding applications and services.

The key element distinguishing Windows Server 2003 R2 Datacenter Edition with the Datacenter High Availability Program from other editions of the Windows Server 2003 family is the strong community of OEMs, IHVs, and ISVs. These experts work together to ensure that Windows Server 2003 R2 Datacenter Edition, is the most robust, reliable, secure, available, manageable, and supportable platform possible. These companies are actively involved with customers of Windows Server 2003 R2 Datacenter Edition, and are committed to partnering with them over the lifetime of their systems. This partnership makes Windows Server 2003 R2 Datacenter Edition, unlike any other platform solution available today.

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