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7 min read

Announcing the General Availability of Windows Server 2012 R2: The Heart of Cloud OS

For years now, Microsoft has been building and operating some of the largest cloud applications in the world. The expertise culled from these experiences along with our established history of delivering market-leading enterprise operating systems, platforms, and applications has led us to develop a new approach for the modern era: the Microsoft Cloud OS.

The Cloud OS vision combines Microsoft knowledge and experiences with today’s trends and technology innovations to deliver a modern platform of products and services that helps organizations transform their current server environment into a highly elastic, scalable, and reliable cloud infrastructure. Utilizing the software that powers the Cloud OS vision, organizations can quickly and flexibly build and manage modern applications across platforms, locations, and devices, unlock insights from volumes of existing and new data, and support end-user productivity wherever and on whatever device they choose.

At the heart of Cloud OS is Windows Server 2012 R2. Delivering on the promise of a modern datacenter, modern applications, and people-centric IT, Windows Server 2012 R2 provides a best-in-class server experience that cost-effectively cloud-optimizes your business. When you optimize your business for the cloud with Windows Server 2012 R2, you take advantage of your existing skillsets and technology investments. You also gain all the Microsoft experience behind building and operating private and public clouds – right in the box. Delivered as an enterprise-class, the simple and cost-effective server and cloud platform Windows Server 2012 R2 delivers significant value around seven key capabilities:

Windows Server 2012 R2 Capabilities

Server virtualization. Windows Server Hyper-V offers a scalable and feature-rich virtualization platform that helps organizations of all sizes realize considerable cost savings and operational efficiencies. With Windows Server 2012 R2, server virtualization with Hyper-V pulls ahead of the competition by offering industry-leading size and scale that makes it the platform of choice for running your mission critical workloads. Using Windows Server 2012 R2, you can take advantage of new hardware technology, while still utilizing the servers you already have. This functionality enables you to virtualize today and be ready for the future tomorrow.

Whether you are looking to expand virtual machine mobility, increase virtual machine availability, handle multi-tenant environments, gain bigger scale, or gain more flexibility, Windows Server 2012 R2 with Hyper-V gives you the platform and tools you need to increase business agility with confidence. Plus, you can also benefit from workload portability as you extend your on-premises datacenter into a service provider cloud or Windows Azure.

Storage. With the increase in new applications, the explosion of data, and growing end-user expectations for continuous services, there has come a significant increase in storage demands. Windows Server 2012 R2 offers a wide variety of storage features and capabilities to address the storage challenges faced by organizations. Whether you intend to use cost-effective, industry-standard hardware for the bulk of your workloads or Storage Area Networks for the most demanding ones, Windows Server 2012 R2 provides you with a rich set of features that can help you maximize the returns from all of your storage investments.

Microsoft designed Windows Server 2012 R2 with a strong focus on storage capabilities, including improvements in the provisioning, accessing, and managing of storage and the transfer of data across the network that resides on that storage. The end result is a storage solution that delivers the efficiency, performance, resiliency, availability, and versatility you need at every level.

Networking. New technologies, such as private- and public-cloud computing, mobile workforces, and widely dispersed assets have transformed the business landscape and altered how we manage networking and network assets. Still, the main goal remains the same: keep all networking components connected to ensure smooth data transmission and reliable access by users and customers to the services they need when they need them.

Windows Server 2012 R2 makes it as straightforward to manage an entire network as a single server, giving you the reliability and scalability of multiple servers at a lower cost. Automatic rerouting around storage, server, and network failures enables file services to remain online with minimal noticeable downtime. In addition, Windows Server 2012 R2 provides the foundation for software-defined networking, out-of-the box, enabling seamless connectivity across public, private, and hybrid cloud implementations.

Whatever your organization’s needs, from administering network assets to managing an extensive private and public cloud network infrastructure, Windows Server 2012 R2 offers you solutions to today’s changing business landscape. These capabilities help reduce networking complexity while lowering costs, simplifying management tasks, and delivering services reliably and efficiently. With Windows Server 2012 R2 you can automate and consolidate networking processes and resources, more easily connect private clouds with public cloud services, and more easily connect users to IT resources and services across physical boundaries.

Server management and automation. Datacenter infrastructure has become more and more complex. Multiple industry standards are confusing hardware vendors. Customers are looking for guidance on how to best automate their datacenter while adopting a standards-based management approach supporting their multi-vendor investments. Windows Server 2012 R2 enables IT professionals to offer an integrated platform to automate and manage the increasing datacenter ecosystem. Features within Windows Server 2012 R2 enable you to manage many servers and the devices connecting them, whether they are physical or virtual, on-premises or in the cloud.

Web and application platform. Chances are your organization already uses or is planning to use a combination of on-premises and off-premises IT resources and tools for building a hybrid environment. To protect your existing investment in on-premises applications as you begin to migrate to the cloud, you need a scalable application and web platform that enables you to manage your applications and websites in a unified way.

Windows Server 2012 R2 builds on the tradition of the Windows Server family as a proven application platform, with thousands of applications already built and deployed and a community of millions of knowledgeable and skilled developers already in place. The capabilities included in Windows Server 2012 R2 offer your organization even greater application flexibility, helping you build and deploy applications either on-premises, in the cloud, or both at once, with hybrid solutions that can work in both environments.

As your organization plans for and moves to a hybrid or cloud-based environment, Windows Server 2012 R2 provides the tools you need to build, provision, and manage multi-tenant environments while still supporting your large enterprise or the many customers hosted within your service provider infrastructure.

Access and information protection. Information exists almost everywhere in your organization: on servers, laptops, desktops, removable devices, and in emails. Users need to be able to access this information from anywhere, share it where appropriate, and achieve maximum productivity with the assets they have. To further complicate matters, the move to cloud computing necessitates being able to secure enterprise applications that no longer live in your datacenter.

Microsoft assists you in supporting consumerization of IT and in retaining effective management, security, and compliance capabilities. The enterprise tools and technologies that Microsoft provides can help with key enterprise tasks such as identifying non-corporate devices, delivering applications and data to those devices with the best possible user experience, and establishing and enforcing policies on devices based on the end user’s role within the organization. Microsoft enterprise tools and technologies can help IT staff to maintain a high level of security across all device types, whether the devices are corporate or personal assets, and establish security measures that protect their organization’s systems, data, and network.

To address these information needs and challenges, organizations have to make fundamental shifts in how they approach identity and security. Windows Server 2012 R2 helps you accommodate these changes through exciting new remote access options, significant improvements to Active Directory and Active Directory Federation Services, and the introduction of policy-based information access and audits with Dynamic Access Control, and new scenarios to help customers provide access to corporate resources for users from their own devices. With these new capabilities, you can better manage and protect data access, simplify deployment and management of your identity infrastructure, and provide more secure access to data from virtually anywhere across both on-premises well managed devices and new consumer orientated form factors.

Virtual Desktop Infrastructure. Most IT departments currently face the challenge of enabling worker productivity on a growing number of mobile devices in the workplace. Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) helps you accommodate these new devices by enabling them to access a centralized instance of the Windows desktop in the datacenter. By virtualizing these desktop resources, you can alleviate device compatibility and security issues while still delivering a consistent, familiar experience that enhances end-user productivity. With Windows Server 2012 R2, Microsoft makes it easier and more cost-effective to deploy and deliver virtual desktop resources across workers’ devices.

VDI technologies in Windows Server 2012 R2 offer easy access to a rich, full-fidelity Windows environment running in the datacenter, from virtually any device. Through Hyper-V and Remote Desktop Services (RDS), Microsoft offers three flexible VDI deployment options in a single solution: Pooled Desktops, Personal Desktops, and Remote Desktop Sessions (formerly Terminal Services). With Windows Server 2012 R2, you get a complete VDI toolset for delivering flexible access to data and applications from virtually anywhere on popular devices, while also helping to maintain security and compliance.

To compete in the global economy and keep up with the pace of innovation, IT organizations must improve their agility, their efficiency, and their ability to better manage costs while enabling their business and end users to stay continuously productive.

Microsoft has gained expertise from years of building and operating some of the largest cloud applications in the world. We’ve combined this expertise with our experiences in delivering market-leading enterprise operating systems, platforms, and applications to develop a platform for infrastructure, applications, and data: the Cloud OS.

The Microsoft Cloud OS delivers a modern platform of products and services that helps enterprise IT teams transform their current environment to a highly elastic, scalable, and reliable infrastructure. With Cloud OS, organizations can quickly and flexibly build and manage modern applications across platforms, locations, and devices, unlock insights from volumes of existing and new data, and support user productivity wherever and on whatever device they choose. Microsoft uniquely delivers the Cloud OS as a consistent and comprehensive set of capabilities that span on-premises, service provider, and Windows Azure datacenters, enabling enterprises to improve scale, elasticity, and availability of IT services.

At the heart of Cloud OS is Windows Server 2012 R2, which delivers upon the promises of a modern datacenter, modern applications, and people-centric IT. Whether you are an enterprise building out your own private cloud environment or a service provider offering large-scale cloud services, Windows Server 2012 R2 offers an enterprise-class, simple and cost-effective solution that’s application-focused and user centric. With Windows Server 2012 R2, you can utilize the capacity of your datacenter, deliver best-in-class performance for your Microsoft workloads, and receive affordable, multi-node business continuity scenarios with high service uptime and at-scale disaster recovery.

We hope that you are as excited as we are to get started today!