This guest post was submitted by Patrick from Piggy Bank Pie.
Microsoft is releasing Windows Server 2008 on February 27th, and it seems like the IT community has high expectations as this version introduces many new features. However, Microsoft had high hopes in Vista, its latest desktop operating system, but IT managers have yet to respond, leaving XP master in command on corporate networks. But the software giant may be hiding a secret card in its deck. Could a client-server configuration between Vista and Windows Server 2008 revive the wow factor and rescue Vista’s sinking ship?
Home users cannot be compared to enterprise users when evaluating desktop upgrades. When a company reaches a high level of stability on its network, it takes a serious business case to move away from a stable platform to an unproven system. Right now, Windows XP offers a reliable solution and requires much less processing power than Vista.
Another sad reality is that many large corporations have not yet completed their migration to… XP. This places Vista in an uncomfortable position towards IT managers. Many of them may hold off on a migration plan, stepping over this release and sitting on XP until the next OS release.
Using Vista and Windows Server 2008 in a client-server environment will enable features not available to other combinations. Let’s dig into some of the enhancements of this configuration to evaluate if the combo is worth deploying.
Event Forwarding: Vista computers will have the capability to monitor specific events (in event viewer), and forward them to Windows Server 2008 allowing administrators to consult alerts in a centralized location.
Searches: When searching files or other resources hosted on W2K8, Vista transfers the search query to the server where it is processed locally. Once completed, the result is sent back to the client workstation.
Print Rendering: Vista computers can free up Windows 2008 print servers by rendering print jobs locally, sending only the raw file format to print servers.
Offline Files: Vista will cache offline files locally providing access to resources when the server is offline. A synchronization process takes care of copying the files back once the client and server are reconnected.
NAP: Network Access Protection increases security by ensuring Vista computers connecting to the network are compliant with predefined security rules. If not, network resources would not be accessible.
Terminal Services: Remote Desktop Protocol goes a step further towards Citrix MetaFrame ICA. Vista and Windows Server 2008 will simplify remote access from an Internet Connection by providing connectivity through an HTTP gateway, much like Citrix Secure Gateway. Also, the new RDP client offers seamless applications that run as if on the local desktop.
Microsoft promises more enhancements to the client-server duo such as faster connectivity, more advanced Group Policies, native IPv6, and also easier deployment.
From an IT perspective, Windows Server 2008 will provide many new features such as Hyper-V, Read-Only Domain Controllers, built-in Windows PowerShell, IIS7 and much more. I believe that organizations will not hesitate to deploy W2K8 because servers have usually less impacts than client workstations on network users. However, Win2008 will not be the awaited rescuer for Windows Vista. The technology behind XP provides enough functionality for business requirements and the client-server combo does not offer enough incentives to justify the hardware, software and manpower investment needed for a massive deployment.