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What You Need to Know about Migrating to Windows Server 2012 R2


In a previous post, we warned you of the impending end-of-support deadlines for some of Microsoft’s most popular desktop and server products. After April 8, 2014, users of Windows XP SP3, Office 2003, Small Business Server 2003, Exchange Server 2003 and SharePoint Portal Server 2003 will no longer receive security patches and updates from Microsoft. These organizations may also face regulatory compliance issues.

For organizations that are still using these products, migration to another platform is critical. But even if you’re running a newer Microsoft Server product, it’s worth considering an upgrade.

Microsoft has streamlined Windows Server options by retiring Windows Small Business Server and Windows Home Server and offering just four editions of Windows Server 2012 R2. The features are basically the same across all editions, each of which is capable of supporting a different number of users. Here are the four editions:

  • Datacenter is intended for enterprises that utilize highly virtualized environments with a private or hybrid cloud.
  • Standard is intended for midsize organizations that utilize non-virtualized or moderately virtualized environments.
  • Essentials is intended for small businesses with up to 25 users running on servers with up to two processors. This edition replaces Small Business Server and Home Server. Office 365, a cloud-based version of Office, can be integrated to provide users with anytime, anywhere access to email, collaboration tools and popular Office programs such as Word, Excel and PowerPoint.
  • Foundation is intended for small business with up to 15 users running on single-processor servers. This edition is preinstalled on hardware and through original equipment manufacturers.

Organizations of all sizes should be excited about a number of new features and benefits delivered by Windows Server 2012 R2. Here are just a few of the highlights:

Simplified Licensing: Fewer editions mean less-complex licensing, which makes it easier to determine the true cost of Windows Server 2012 R2. Datacenter and Standard licensing is based on processors plus the Microsoft Client Access License (CAL), while Essentials and Foundation licensing is based on servers and user limits.

Data Deduplication. Now part of the core Windows Server 2012 R2 operating system, data deduplication eliminates identical copies of data to reduce redundant space by up to 90 percent. It also helps you avoid wasting time with unnecessary backups and conserve bandwidth.

More Flexible, Reliable Storage. An alternative to public cloud storage and network storage options, Storage Spaces enables organizations to create expandable storage pools using affordable hard disks. This new feature makes it easier to manage large amounts of data, improves resiliency and optimizes utilization of storage resources.

While migration is essential if your organization is using server products that will be unsupported in less than two months, you need to determine the right migration strategy. For example, if you’re using older products, you’ll need to check compatibility with your applications before you upgrade. Also, pay close attention to Microsoft requirements to determine if you should upgrade your domain controllers or install a new domain controller with Windows Server 2012 R2.

ICG can help you develop a migration strategy that minimizes downtime, ensures application compatibility, and helps you take full advantage of the new products and features at your disposal.