Potential Of Windows 2003 Server Computer Science Essay

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Windows Server 2003 (occasionally known as Win2K3) is a server operating system developed and released by Microsoft on 24 April 2003. Its successor, Windows Server 2008, was released on 4 February 2008. According to Microsoft, Windows Server 2003 is more scalable and delivers a superior performance than its predecessor, Windows 2000.

For some time, Win2K3 was also referred to as the .net server, but that name was discarded. An improvement includes better manageability; it supports the newest features of Exchange 2003 and Office 2003, and enhanced performance. The default installation is secure by disabling the IIS Web Server, which was previously enabled during installation in prior server releases.

Overview

The potential of Windows 2003 Server is so immense, that it's difficult to sum up in few sentences. So much so, that Microsoft is still tackling with the problem of describing Windows 2003 Server accurately to its consumers. Basically, Windows 2003 Server was a very good Windows 2000 upgrade. It's all the lessons Microsoft learned, all their ideas encapsulated in a whole succession of improvements. It was more secure, had more manageability, better performance and had added scalability.

Someone who is new to Windows 2003 Server might not know where to begin, and it's easy to get lost in the sheer glut of features. In a broad sense, Windows Server 2003 was simply Microsoft's latest and greatest attempt to develop what had been a server for departmental and workgroup purposes into the domain of high-end UNIX. Windows 2000 put Microsoft on the map, so it wasn't a huge leap n imagination to see that Windows Server 2003 would have finally overcome what little advantage the competition might still have had. A lot of UNIX/Linux supporters might reserve harsh critism for Microsoft on the basis on their vast global monopoly but Microsoft brought the costs down and made it less expensive to acquire and manage technology; they essentially hacked away at the high cost parts of the modern data centre. They spoke to their customers about lowering the expenditure of managing and deploying computing infrastructure. Nowadays, the Windows OS is ubiquitous and enescapable. It is to be found everywhere. They have bigger machines, better technology and higher levels of scalability. The key to Windows' success is its focus on value and what Microsoft does above that level helps people to be more productive.

Security concerns

The words 'Microsoft' and 'security' in a sentence together might be considered somethimg of a joke nowadays, but the company underwent a dramatic change in the way it approached security, and Windows 2003 Server was the first OS release from the company that was released after its Trustworthy Computing code review, which was released in the period of February to March 2002.

Windows 2003 Server includes a secure VPN gateway, a new secure wireless standard called 802.1x, and a standards-based TCP/IP infrastructure, including support for DNS, DHCP, NAT, and IPv6.

Some of the secure defaults in Windows 2003 Server provided a drastically reduced attack surface: IIS 6 wasn't enabled by default, and unlike Windows 2000, quite a few other services were turned off by default. Microsoft also reduced the privileges for some services, including NetworkService and LocalService. There was a stronger access control list (ACL); policy default settings and the opportunity for weak or blank password attacks was removed. In addition, there was no network authentication provided for accounts with blank passwords.

In order to protect systems after deployment, a new Software Restriction Policies (SRP) feature alllowed administrators to establish which applications could and couldn't execute in an environment such as an educated or workplace. Windows 2003 Server supports Smartcard technologies, so that administrators could logon with a normal account but activate the card when secure administrative tasks under admin privileges needed carrying out.

Networking and Communications

Early development of Microsoft's servers provided a variety of communication network technologies. More importantly for interoperability with the Internet, Windows 2003 Server was extended to support the most recent communication technologies including FireWire over IPv6, the network bridge and Internet Connection Sharing (ICS), IPSec, NAT traversal and IP.

One of the Windows Server 2003 communications goals was inspired by the way Microsoft employees often work from home. "Remote access is so common now that all previous dial-up users are now using VPN (Virtual Private Networking) at Microsoft, said Windows Server Group Product Manager Ron Cully. "There's also a lot in Windows Server 2003 to address how wireless network access works."

Management

Technically, manageability is one of the many abilities that Microsoft likes to tout in Windows Server 2003. But management is so fundamental to the server that I've broken it out separately here. In Windows Server 2003, Microsoft has identified several "pillars" of manageability, including:

Easier deployment and configuration

Windows Server 2003 now supports Remote Installation Services (RIS) for the rapid installation of a small number servers; this feature was previous available only on Windows desktop systems. New Manage Your Server and Configure Your Server wizards simplify the process of assigning server roles, a new concept for this release: You might configure a server to be a file server, print server, Web server, and so on, and can easily assign multiple roles where appropriate.

Staying up to date and secure

Windows Server 2003 supports Software Update Services (SUS, formerly Windows Update Corporate) and AutoUpdate, to ensure that servers are kept up-to-date, and automatically. The new Software Restriction Policies (SRP) feature creates a virtual sandbox that prevents unauthorized code execution. SRP is policy-based.

Managing many as one

A new Group Policy Management Console (GPMC) provides a scriptable interface for managing group policies. The GPMC is an MMC snap-in built onto those interfaces and designed directly from customer feedback. Microsoft says that GPMC will not be included in the final RTM version of Windows Server 2003, but will ship soon thereafter as a separate, but free, Web download. One nice feature of this tool is its integration with Resultant Set of Policies (RSoP), which lets admins generate reports to view what policies have been applied to specific users and machines, and test policy changes before implementing them live.

Enable richer administrative control and flexibility

"We wanted to give administrators more control," said Michael Dennis, the Lead Program Manager of the Windows Server Management Group. "There was just a lot of stuff we didn't think of originally. But customers were asking for more command line tools, headless server mode, task-based administration tools, command line access to WMI (Windows Management Infrastructure), and emergency server access, which lets you access the server when the keyboard and mouse won't work. We implemented all of this in Windows Server."

File System and Storage

Windows Server 2003 includes various improvements to the NTFS file system and storage subsystem. David Golds, the Group Program Manager for the Core File System Team, says that his favorite new feature is Volume Shadow Copies. Essentially a network-based System Restore feature, Volume Shadow Copies lets you access older versions of files on the network after they've been changed or deleted. "It's the largest single bet in Windows Server 2003," Golds said. "We create a permanent or temporary volume representing a snapshot of an existing volume at a certain point in time, and then freeze that point in time, and let you come back to it. It's not arbitrary." The Volume Shadow Copy Service (VSS) required for this feature represents the first time Microsoft has created a backup framework, one that can be extended by third parties.

Other file system and storage improvements include deep SAN support, Virtual Disk Service (VDS, for abstracting RAID systems), Automated System Recovery (ASR, which debuted in XP), command line disk defragging that now supports any cluster size (Windows 2000 supported only 4K clusters), a dramatically enhanced Check Disk (Microsoft reports over 1000 percent improvement), and dramatic improvements in the scalability of the NTFS file system.

Internet Information Services (IIS) 6.0

IIS 6.0 is the poster child for Windows Server 2003 security: The server ships with IIS disabled by default for the first time, and when users do manually install this feature, its several handicapped by default. According to Andrew Cushman, the IIS Group Product Manager, this situation will prevent enterprises from exposing themselves to risk when installing Windows Server 2003. "IIS 6 is locked down and more secure than previous versions," Cushman said. "It's locked down by default, and not installed by default. IIS 6 will serve only static content by default when installed, and it runs on a lower privilege account than before. We have more secure default settings, include no sample code, have more aggressive limits and timeouts, and stronger ACLs."

From a features standpoint, the coolest new feature is IIS' new XML-based metabase, which can be edited live, so when you make a change, it happens immediately without requiring the server to be restarted. And because it's XML, you can use any XML-based tool to make the edits if you'd like. "It's text-based, so you can open it in any text editor," Cushman said.

Performance in IIS 6 has also been improved dramatically. According to Microsoft, IIS 6 offers roughly twice the performance of IIS 5 one the same two processor hardware, and 2.5 times the performance on four processors. New to this release is the concept of "Web Gardens," collections of small, single-purpose Web servers that scale by simply adding new machines.

Pricing

Regarding the cost of Windows Server 2003, Brian Valentine told us last summer to expect pricing to be in line with the price of the various Windows 2000 Server family members, and indeed, the company ultimately decided to keep the price identical to that of Windows 2000. "Given the environment of late, and the fact that people perceive us as being bad people, we're not going to add fuel to the fire," he said. "You can assume that the pricing will be about the same as Windows 2000. There are still a lot of NT 4 boxes out there, and we want to get them all to Windows Server 2003. We want all Windows 2000 users to upgrade. And Sun's customers too. We're going to ask why they're on that expensive architecture."

Conclusions

Windows Server 2003 is a surprisingly full-featured release, but because it builds on the strong base of Windows 2000 Server, it will be a simple in-place upgrade for those customers. Thanks to its new upgrade features, it should also prove to be a simpler upgrade for the large crowd of NT 4.0 Server holdouts, though we'll have to test that functionality before passing final judgment.

My recommendation for this release is based largely on your requirements. Existing Windows 2000 Server customers should skip Windows Server 2003 unless it provides some important specific functionality that is unavailable in the prior release (for example, merging companies can take advantage of the cross-forest trust and domain renaming features in order to avoid costly and time-consuming domain rebuilding). NT 4.0 Server users should carefully evaluate this release and strongly consider upgrading to Windows Server 2003.

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