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Mitch Irsfeld

TechNet Flash, Volume 13, Issue 12 - June 1, 2011
TechNet Flash Editor's Note from Mitch Irsfeld

The True Meaning of "Better Together"

You've heard us say "Better Together," but what does it really mean? The phrase has long been used in reference to the integration of any products in the Microsoft stack, but for IT pros, "Better Together" is at its salient best describing the benefits of deploying Windows clients with Windows Server.

While it is usually a given that the integration of Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 should be seamless from a deployment perspective, there are beneficial features that become apparent only after the products are combined. As Alan Maddison points out in his TechNet Magazine article Integrating Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2, the combination of virtualization features like Remote Desktop Services in Window Server 2008 R2 and RemoteApp in Windows 7 provide a dynamic feed for remote applications, which can be accessed through the Windows 7 Start menu.

Likewise, transparent access to corporate networks and the ability to check remote machines' compliance with security policies comes via DirectAccess, the IPsec tunneling capability made possible with Windows Server 2008 R2 and Windows 7 clients. Joshua Hoffman describes how "DirectAccess connects client computers to intranet resources without the complexity of a virtual private network (VPN)" in the new TechNet Magazine article The Power of Integration.

For administrators, the ability to remotely manage roles and features on computers running Windows Server 2008 R2, Windows Server 2008, or Windows Server 2003 from a remote computer that is running Windows 7 or Windows 7 with SP1 can be a huge time and cost saver. And the Remote Server Administration Tools answer the call, and show, once again, that Windows 7 and Windows Server are "Better Together."

Integrating Outside the Microsoft Stack

In his article, Hoffman notes that "The greatest value Windows provides often comes when features across the client and server platforms combine to form a complete solution to a business problem." And sometimes that complete solution may involve technologies outside the Microsoft technology stack.

Here again, Windows Server is the enabler. Supporting guest operating systems for use on virtual machines is accomplished via Hyper-V in Windows Server 2008 R2. And with the Linux Integration Components for Windows Server 2008 Hyper-V R2, you get a set of optimized networking, storage, and fastpath boot drivers for supported Linux virtual machines under Hyper-V.

For more on the various ways to invite Linux, UNIX, and OS X to the Windows Server Active Directory party, watch Keith Combs' video AD and Linux Interop - Part 1 - AD Domain Join.

Integration, of course, works both ways in the real world. For legacy IBM host integration, the Microsoft Host Integration Server enables enterprise organizations to integrate existing IBM host systems, programs, messages and data with new Microsoft server applications.

And "Better Together" also describes the dynamic between Windows Server 2008 R2 and key server applications like SQL Server, Exchange Server, and SharePoint Server. For more on how these applications reap the benefits of Windows Server 2008, check out the Better Together scenarios page. With these mission-critical applications, as you scale into the hundreds or thousands of users, as your storage requirements increase to hundreds of gigabytes or terabytes, or as your requirements call for more secure, high-availability deployments, running them on the Windows Server 2008 R2 Enhanced Capability Editions provides the foundation.

Onward to the Cloud

This is the real meaning of "Better Together," the realization that certain features and benefits emerge from the union that are only possible because of the union. This will become increasingly apparent as cloud services are integrated into your Windows Server environment. Moving down the path of virtualization and the cloud puts an increasing focus on management. And, you guessed it: Windows Server and Hyper-V can position you well for the transition.

The Windows Azure Virtual Machine role enables you to deploy a custom Windows Server 2008 R2 image to Windows Azure and run a VHD image of a Windows Server 2008 R2 virtual machine. This VHD is created using an on-premises Windows Server machine, then uploaded to Windows Azure. The image can also be stored and modified locally to keep the VHD up-to-date.

For private cloud environments, Microsoft partners are already taking advantage of Microsoft's Hyper-V Cloud Fast Track Program. It uses Windows Server 2008 R2 Hyper-V and Microsoft System Center to ease management, enable automation and self-service provisioning of the entire private cloud infrastructure, including automated self-service provisioning via native Opalis Integration Packs. And speaking of the Opalis platform for integrating IT management tools, Opalis 6.3 allows the entire Opalis infrastructure to run on Windows Server 2008 and 2008 R2 platforms. Note that Opalis becomes Microsoft System Center Orchestrator 2012 in the next release. See a demo of System Center Orchestrator 2012.

And that's just the start. The transition to virtualized and cloud infrastructures compounds the need for integration. Expect Windows Server to continue to be a core component of the Microsoft private cloud and, coupled with System Center, provide comprehensive management of those virtualized data centers.

Thanks for reading,

Mitch Irsfeld
Editor, TechNet Flash

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