Five Things About Windows Server 2008 You Probably Don’t Know (part 1)

I learn new things every day. Sometimes they’re really totally new, and of course occasionally they’re things I had forgotten or kind of knew, but the new part casts new light on the idea. Then there are those rare moments which I have a “blinding flash of the obvious” and get the big picture on something, like when the tenth time you visit a new city things really start to connect.

Here a five things about Windows Server 2008 which are the less obvious, more esoteric, yet hopefully useful features or quirks. You probably knew that Windows Server 2008 is really Windows NT 6.0 so I’ll save that for the things you probably already know list. The following is a brief list of some things which I tend to assume that many people know and am constantly amazed by clients and students who really don’t know them. How many do you already know? Were any or all of these new to you? We’d love to hear from you.

1. Did you know that Windows Server 2008 can act as the prevailing central authority on which computers, devices, and people are on your network via Ethernet, Wireless (e.g. 802.11), VPN, and dial-up?

Small businesses, medium-sized shops, and humongous enterprises could all potentially benefit from this network authentication feature which expands what was possible in Windows 2000 Server, Windows Server 2003, and Windows Server 2003 R2. With services such as 802.1x, EAP, TLS, PPPoE, Kerberos, X.509v3 certificate-based authentication, RADIUS, LDAP, and more Windows Server 2008 provides a centralized way for administrators to choose by policy or individual specification which devices (Blackberry, iPhone, Palm, Windows Mobile, etc.), computers (Linux, Mac OS, Solaris, Windows, etc.), and people (employees, contractors, customers, guests) are allowed on the network.

But wait, there’s more! Windows Server 2008 goes beyond the basics for who or what is allowed on the network from a sheer identity standpoint. State of health can be considered too. No, the server isn’t going to check each human’s temperature or check their breath for contagious microbes and choose if they can be on the network right now, but Network Access Protection, Network Policy Services, and Health Registration Authorities are elements of a framework which can be used to ensure proper service packs, hot fixes, patches and such for certain operating systems. Non-compliant systems can be placed on a virtually isolated remediation network on which these systems can get the necessary updates or potentially even fixes for a nasty virus. It’s a flexible, expandable, customizable framework, not just a one-size-fits-all kind of proposition.

Even if you knew all that, consider this. All of this is fairly easy and inexpensive to set up on Windows Server 2008 assuming you have the right firmware in your Ethernet switches and wireless access points. Windows can even provide the VPN and dial-in services as well.

That’s just the first of five things. I’ll post the next couple of things in the next   part of the article.


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