Microsoft Windows Server 2012 R2 (Archived Report)

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Archived Report
Windows Server 2012 R2

by Karen

Docid: 00021348

Publication Date: 1705

Report Type: PRODUCT


Windows Server 2012 R2 is Microsoft’s server operating system. It is an elastic server platform to help build and deploy applications and Web sites. This report takes a look at the key features and capabilities of Windows Server 2012 R2, the support options that Microsoft offers, and Windows Server’s main competitors in the marketplace.

Report Contents:


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Microsoft offers its Windows Server 2012 R2, the latest version of its server
operating system, as an open, scalable, and elastic Web and application
platform. It is a multi-tenant architecture to enable companies to scale and
secure workloads and build private clouds. Windows Server is designed for
enterprises, small- or medium-sized businesses, and hosting providers. 

Related Faulkner Reports

Microsoft Company

Microsoft has designed Windows Server 2012 R2 with the intention to provide
flexible storage, continuous availability, and management efficiency. It


Name: Microsoft
One Microsoft Way
Redmond, WA 98052-7329
(425) 882-8080
Fax: (425) 706-7329
Type of Vendor: Operating System and Application Software Provider
Founded: 1975
Service Areas: Global
Stock Symbol: MSFT (NASDAQ)

  • Server Virtualization – A VHDX virtual hard disk format with
    larger disk capacity of up to 64 TB, and resiliency and alignment
  • Storage – Improvements in provisioning, accessing, and managing storage
    and data transfer across the network.
  • Networking – Automatic rerouting around storage, server, and network
    failures allows file services to remain online to minimize downtime.
  • Server Management and Automation – Automation and management of all servers and
    devices, whether physical, virtual, on-premises, or in the cloud. 
  • Web and Application Platform – Adds applications for building a hybrid
  • Information Protection – New remote access options,
    improvements to Active Directory and Active Directory Federation Services,
    and policy-based audits to address information security issues and protect
    data from any location and any device. 
  • Virtual Desktop Infrastructure – Accommodations for mobile devices with virtual
    desktop resources. 

The capabilities and features for Windows Server 2012 R2 are outlined in the
table below. 

Table 1. Windows
Server 2012 R2 Capabilities and Features
Capabilities  Features 
Windows Server
2012 R2 is equipped with Hyper-V to expand the support for host processors
and memory to support up to 64 processors and 1 terabyte of

  • Enables the migration of a virtual
    machine from a server running Hyper-V to another one without the
    need for both to be in the same cluster or to share storage. 
  • Contains the Hyper-V Extensible
    Switch, a layer-2 virtual network switch that provides managed and
    extensible capabilities to connect virtual machines to a physical
  • Allocates virtual machine memory
    resources while increasing virtual machine consolidation ratios.
  • Supports NUMA or Non-Uniform Memory Access inside a virtual
    machine. With NUMA, a processor can access local memory faster than
    remote memory. 
  • Offers Hyper-V Replica, which provides
    asynchronous replication of virtual machines for business

Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI)

VDI technologies within Windows Server 2012
R2 offer
the following: 

  • One integrated console for roles, servers, collectors, users, and VMs.
  • Sets up a basic virtual machine (VM), a session-based VDI, a single
    server pilot, or enterprise deployment.
  • Publishes RemoteApp programs. 
  • Administrators can shadow active user sessions. 
  • Detects network conditions and selects appropriate codecs. 
  • Provides access to applications and desktops from various devices and
    platforms including Windows, Windows RT, iOS, Mac OS X, and
  • Offers a software GUI which can emulate a physical GUI and provide a
    3D experience to all VMs and sessions. 
  • Supports multi-touch, new Windows experience, and Start menu/screen
  • Appears and acts like a local application on the user’s desktop. 
  • Maintains user personalization in pooled deployments by storing user
    settings in a VHD file which roams with the user across the
  • Storage volumes containing VHD files for a VDI collection
    automatically identify redundant blocks on the storage and remove
    duplicate data. 
  • Enables storage volumes that are a mix of of multiple disks for
    different speeds. 
  • Supports direct-attached, network-attached, clustered, or SAN storage
    of VMs. 
  • Distributes bandwidth, CPU, and disk use across other VMs and
  • Supports multiple active nodes for scalability and availability. 
  • Supports load balancing for all Remote Desktop Components across
    multiple machines. 


New features and tools within Windows Server allow
for the automation of networking processes and easier connections to private
clouds and IT resources. 

  • Network virtualization isolates network traffic from different
    business units or customers without using virtual local area networks (VLANs).
    Virtual machines can be moved as needed. 
  • NIC Teaming enables multiple network interfaces to work together to
    avoid connectivity losses. 
  • The Hyper-V Extensible Switch has management capabilities to connect
    virtual machines to a physical network. 
  • A framework, IP Address Management (IPAM) audits and manages the IP
    address space and associated servers on the network.
  • Server Message Block (SMB) Multichannel aggregates network bandwidth
    and network fault tolerance when multiple paths are available between
    the SMB client and the SMB server. 

Information Protection

Microsoft utilizes information and access management
capabilities to secure access to data across both on-premises and
cloud-based applications. The vendor’s Azure Rights Management services
uses encryption, identity, and authorization policies to secure files and
email, and it works across multiple devices. 
Storage For storage purposes, Windows Server 2012
R2 offers: 

  • Storage Spaces  – With automatic data tiering,
    Storage Spaces allocates solid-state devices to the busiest workloads.
  • Data Deduplication – Minimizes redundant data on the disk. 
  • Storage Quality of Service (QoS) – Manages IOPs used by a VHD/VHDX
    file to keep one virtual machine from consuming all I/O bandwidth. 
  • SMB Multichannel – Provides Load Balancing/Failover (LBFO) protection
    against path failures on SMB 3.0 shares. 
  • Storage Management – Supports the Storage Management Initiative –
    Specification (SMS-I) so that administrators can manage remote storage
    and automate storage management tasks with Windows PowerShell
    command-line interface capabilities. 
  • Disaster Recovery – Offers two-site replication protection while
    Hyper-V Replica supports tertiary replication to a third disaster
    recovery site for virtual machines. 
  • Offloaded Data Transfers (ODX)  –  This token-based tool reads and
    writes data within or between intelligent storage arrays. 
Server Management and Automation Windows Server 2012 R2 can manage a large number of
servers, both virtual and physical. 

Server Manager  –  Provides access to and management of multiple servers
through a single interface. 

Windows PowerShell 3.0  –  Automates tasks and manages server roles. 

Web and Application Platform The Web Server (Internet
Information Services or IIS) in Windows Server 2012 R2 offers a modular and
extensible platform for hosting Web sites, services, and applications. Administrators
can use IIS to set up and manage multiple Web sites, Web applications, and
FTP (File Transfer Protocol) sites and employ the following features:

  • Configure IIS features and administrative capabilities through the IIS
  • Use FTP to enable Web site owners to upload and download files. 
  • Utilize Web site isolation to protect one Web site from interfering
    with others on the server. 
  • Configure Web applications that are written using such technologies as
    ASP, ASP.NET, and PHP.
  • Use Windows PowerShell to automate the management of many Web server
    administrative tasks.
  • Configure multiple Web servers into a server farm that is managed by

Windows Server 2012
R2 Versions

Windows Server 2012 R2 is available in the
following versions: 

  • Datacenter –  Designed for highly
    virtualized data center and cloud environments. 
  • Standard  –  Marketed towards
    low density or non-virtualized environments. 
  • Essentials  –  Targeted at
    small businesses that have servers with up to two processors and a limit of
    25 users.
  • Foundation – A general purpose server with a single processor.


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Windows Server offers the tools for small, mid-sized, and
enterprise businesses to transition to hosted or hybrid environments. This
application and Web platform consists of thousands of applications that are
already built and deployed. Windows Server 2012 R2 has been utilized by various
organizations in a number of different industries including: architecture,
engineering, and construction; accounting and consulting; government;
outsourcing services; banking; retail; IT services; oil and gas; and


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Table 2 lists the Windows Server 2012 R2 and Windows Server 2016 Technical
Preview operating requirements. 

Table 2. Windows
Server 2012 R2 System Requirements

Windows Server 2012 R2

Windows Server 2016 Technical Preview 

Support Description Description
  • 1.4 GHz (x64 processor) minimum
  • 1.4 GHz (x64 processor) minimum
  • 512 MB minimum
  • 512 MB minimum
  • 32 GB minimum
  • 32 GB minimum
Other Gigabit
(10/100/1000baseT) Ethernet adapter and DVD drive


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Microsoft offers a variety of support options for its Windows
Server. Users can take advantage of self-support options including a
knowledgebase, Webcasts, articles, videos, blogs, and community forums. An online
center is available for developers. In addition, Microsoft has phone, chat,
and email support for issues that arise with Windows Server. Contract incident
support is available for a fee. Users may also purchase a subscription to
Microsoft Premier Online for 24×7 support from a dedicated team of


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A client access license (CAL) is a license entitling a client to
access a server. Additional CALs can be purchased at various rates. 

Windows Server 2012 R2 is available in four editions. Interested
parties can select the version that best fits with its needs and cloud computing
requirements. Licensing
for Windows Server 2012 R2 is described in the table below. 

3. Windows Server 2012 R2 Pricing (in US dollars)



Datacenter Edition Full
Windows Server functionality with unlimited virtual instances.
Processor + CAL.
Standard Edition Full Windows Server
functionality with two virtual instances. Processor + CAL.
Essentials Edition Basic interface,
pre-configured connectivity to cloud based services; no
virtualization rights. Server (25 user account limit).
Foundation General purpose server
functionality with no virtualization rights.
OEM only


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The main competitors for Windows Server 2012 R2 include:

  • Hewlett-Packard Enterprise Servers

  • IBM Power Systems Servers

  • Red Hat Enterprise Linux Server

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About the Author

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Karen M. Spring is a staff editor for Faulkner Information Services,
tracking high-tech industries, including network security, ERP, CRM, network
management, Internet security, and software tools. She writes regularly on
high-tech topics for publications in the k-12 and higher education industry.
Previously, Ms. Spring was a marketing specialist for two computer distributors,
working closely with such clients as 3Com, IBM, Okidata, Unisys, and Acer.

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