Windows Server 2003 integrates a powerful application environment to develop innovative XML Web services and business solutions that dramatically improve process efficiency. Here are the major new features and improvements for organizations considering upgrading from Microsoft Windows NT® Server 4.0.
Top Windows Server 2003
1. Active Directory
Microsoft Active Directory® service simplifies the administration of complex network directories and makes it easy for users to locate resources on even the largest networks. This enterprise-class directory service is scalable, built from the ground up using Internet-standard technologies, and fully integrated at the operating-system level in Windows Server 2003, Standard Edition,
Windows Server 2003,
2. Group Policy: Group Policy Management Console
Administrators can use Group Policy to define the settings and allowed actions for users and computers. In contrast with local policy, they can use Group Policy to set policies that apply across a given site, domain, or organizational unit in Active Directory. Policy-based management simplifies such tasks as system update operation, application installation, user profiles, and desktop-system lockdown.
Expected to be available as an add-in component to Windows Server 2003, the Group Policy Management Console (GPMC) provides the new framework for managing Group Policy. With GPMC, Group Policy becomes much easier to use, a benefit that will enable more organizations to better use Active Directory and take advantage of its powerful management features.
3. Server Performance
In internal tests, Windows Server 2003 shows dramatic performance gains over previous versions of Windows server operating systems. For example, file and Web server performance is two times faster than Windows NT Server 4.0. While your organization’s performance gains may vary because of unique network and computer settings, Microsoft is confident that the improved performance of Windows Server 2003 will help you deliver faster service for your network
4. Volume Shadow Copy Restore
As part of Volume Shadow Copy service, this feature enables administrators to configure point-in-time copies of critical data volumes without service interruption. These copies can then be used for service restoration, archival purposes, or restoration. Users can retrieve archived versions of their documents that are invisibly maintained on the server. Productivity is improved by the ability to better recover documents.
5. Internet Information Services 6.0 and the Microsoft .NET Framework
Internet Information Services (IIS) 6.0 is a full-featured Web server that enables Web applications and XML Web services. IIS 6.0 has been completely re-architected with a new fault-tolerant process model that greatly boosts the reliability of Web sites and applications.
Now, IIS can isolate an individual Web application or multiple sites into a self-contained process (called an application pool) that communicates directly with the operating system kernel. This feature increases throughput and capacity of applications while offering more headroom on servers, effectively reducing hardware needs. These self-contained application pools prevent one application or site from disrupting the XML Web services or other Web applications on the server.
IIS also provides health monitoring capabilities to discover, recover, and prevent Web application failures. On Windows Server 2003, Microsoft ASP.NET natively uses the new IIS process model. These advanced application health and detection features are also available to existing applications running under Internet Information Server 4.0 and IIS 5.0, with the vast majority of applications not needing any modification.
The .NET Framework provides the programming model for building, deploying and running Web-based applications and XML Web services on this highly stable platform. It provides a productive, standardsbased, multi-language environment for integrating existing investments with next-generation applications and services as well as the agility to solve the challenges of deployment and operation of Internet-scale applications. Existing applications can be easily repackaged as XML Web services and UNIX applications can be integrated or even migrated into the solution with less work than in the past.
6. Terminal Services
Terminal Server lets administrators deliver Windows-based applications, or the Windows desktop itself, to virtually any computing device—including those that cannot run Windows. When users run an application on Terminal Server, the application execution takes place on the server, and only keyboard, mouse, and display information is transmitted over the network. Users see only their own individual sessions, which are managed transparently by the server operating system, and remain independent of any other client session.
Remote Desktop for Administration builds on the remote administration mode of Windows 2000 Terminal Services. In addition to the two virtual sessions that are available in Windows 2000 Terminal Services remote administration mode, an administrator can also remotely connect to the real console of a server.
Terminal Server can enhance an enterprise’s software deployment capabilities for a variety of scenarios that remain difficult to solve using traditional application distribution technologies.
7. Clustering (Eight-Node Support)
Available only in Windows Server 2003, Enterprise Edition and Windows Server 2003, Datacenter Edition, this service provides high availability and scalability for mission-critical applications such as databases, messaging systems, and file and print services. Clustering works by enabling multiple servers (nodes) to remain in constant communication. If one of the nodes in a cluster becomes unavailable as a result of failure or maintenance, another node immediately begins providing service, a process known as failover. Users who are accessing the service continue their activities, unaware that service is now being provided from a different server (node).
Both Windows Server 2003, Enterprise Edition and Windows Server 2003, Datacenter Edition support server cluster configurations of up to eight nodes.
8. Integrated PKI Support Using Kerberos Version 5
Using Certificate Services and certificate management tools, organizations can deploy their own public key infrastructure (PKI). With PKI, administrators can implement standards-based technologies, such as smart card logon capabilities, client authentication (through Secure Sockets Layer and Transport Layer Security), secure e-mail, digital signatures, and secure connectivity using Internet Protocol security (IPSec).
Using Certificate Services, administrators can set up and manage certification authorities that issue and revoke X.509 V3 certificates. This means that organizations do not have to depend on commercial client authentication services, although commercial client authentication can be integrated into an organization’s public key infrastructure.
Kerberos version 5 is a mature, industry-standard network authentication protocol. With Kerberos version 5 support, a fast, single-logon process gives users the access they need to enterprise resources, as well as to other environments that support this protocol. Support for Kerberos version 5 includes additional benefits, such as mutual authentication (client and server must both provide authentication) and delegated authentication (the user’s credentials are tracked end to end).
9. Command-Line Management
The Windows Server 2003 family provides a significantly enhanced command-line infrastructure, letting administrators perform most management tasks without using a graphical user interface. Of special importance is the ability to perform a wide range of tasks by accessing the information store enabled by Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI). This WMI command-line (WMIC) feature provides a simple command-line interface that interoperates with existing shells and utility commands and can be easily extended by scripts or other administration-oriented applications.
Overall, the greater command-line functionality in the Windows Server 2003 family, combined with ready-to-use scripts, rivals the power of other operating systems often associated with higher cost of ownership. Administrators accustomed to using the command line to manage UNIX or Linux systems can continue managing from the command line in the Windows Server 2003 family.
10. Intelligent File Services: Encrypting File System, Distributed File System, and File Replication Service
The Encrypting File System (EFS) enables users to encrypt and decrypt files to protect them from intruders who might gain unauthorized physical access to their sensitive, stored data (for example, by stealing a laptop or external disk drive).
Encryption is transparent: Users work with encrypted files and folders just as they do with any other files and folders. If the EFS user is the same person that encrypted the file or folder, the system automatically decrypts the file or folder when the user accesses it later.
The Distributed File System (DFS) simplifies the task of managing shared-disk resources across a network. Administrators can assign logical names to the shared drives on a network, rather than requiring users to know the physical name assigned to each server they need to access.