7 ways Windows Server 2012 pays for itself

These new and improved 'supersaver' features offer the biggest return on your Windows Server 2012 investment

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Hyper-V Replica is a new capability in Hyper-V 3.0 providing an out-of-the-box failure recovery solution covering everything from an entire storage system down to a single virtual machine. Under the hood it delivers asynchronous, unlimited replication of virtual machines from one Hyper-V host to another without the need for storage arrays or other third-party tools. That's another cost savings, or cost avoidance, with a capability you get as a part of the OS.

Microsoft believes that Hyper-V 3.0 can handle any workload you want to throw at it, especially if it's a Microsoft application such as Exchange, SQL Server, or SharePoint. With that in mind, you will definitely save money on hardware by consolidating those types of applications onto a beefy server or cluster. And you don't have to purchase any VMware software to make it happen.

Windows Server 2012 supersaver No. 3: PowerShell 3.0
Automating the management of everything related to Windows Server 2012 is the key driver behind PowerShell 3.0. There is no management task in Windows Server 2012 that can't be accomplished using PowerShell. When you bring in the PowerShell remoting capability, you now have the ability to run any PowerShell script on any server you have rights to access. While the new Server Manager with the slick graphical user interface (GUI) may be the pretty face of systems management, PowerShell is the workhorse that gets the job done.

Windows Server 2012 includes on the order of 2,430 cmdlets. Add to that the ability to create workflows using PowerShell, and Windows Workflow Foundation (WWF) introduces a totally new dimension to systems management. For time-based or scheduled jobs there is direct integration with Task Scheduler and a number of PowerShell job scheduling cmdlets. To see a list of these commands, type the following into a PowerShell command window:

PS> Get-Command -Module PSScheduledJob

For some of the administration tools, like the new Active Directory Administrative Center, you get a PowerShell history window in which you can see the exact commands executed to accomplish your tasks. You can save these commands for later use to automate repetitive tasks and build a library of Active Directory scripts tailored to your specific environment.

It's no coincidence that Microsoft's recommended installation for unattended servers is to use Server Core. In fact, it's the default installation method unless you specifically change it. The idea here is to deploy only the functionality necessary to implement your server roles and remove any and all extraneous code that could pose a potential risk to security or availability. All management is then accomplished remotely using either the Server Manager GUI or through PowerShell automation. That represents another cost savings from both a security and patching perspective.

The PowerShell Integrated Scripting Environment (ISE) in Windows Server 2012 is a tool for the development and testing of PowerShell scripts. It includes a comprehensive help capability with a fill-in-the-blank approach to help you out with creating and testing new automation scripts. You can filter through the long list of available cmdlets, then use the -WhatIF qualifier to see what the results of running a command would be without actually executing the command.

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