Lesson 1 - Server Introduction

What is a Server?

This course will answer that question. What is a server? A very simple definition is a network device that provides services. The next question is, what is a service? A service is something running on a device that provides resources to other network devices. Here are a few examples of services you server can provide.

    • File services

    • Print services

    • Email

    • Web

    • Database

    • Network services (DHCP/DNS etc)

    • Directory services

Windows Server Version History

In this section of the class we will be using Windows Server 2022 Data Center. Each version of Windows Server has a corresponding client version. The table below outlines the different versions of Windows Server and the matching client versions.

Many versions of Windows are missing from the table above. The versions above cover the versions of Windows based on Windows NT. Windows NT was a big improvement on versions of Window based on Windows 3 and Windows 95. Windows NT was a rewrite of Windows from scratch, to include a new infrastructure and maintain application compatibility with a goal of portability. If you're interested in reading more about the creation of Windows NT this book is a great resource.

Windows Server Editions

Windows Server 2022 comes in different editions. The table below helps display the differences.

    • Standard - Limits you to running two virtual machines. It doesn't support software defined networking or storage, and storage replica is limited to a single partnership with a 2TB limit. On a smaller network these limitations won't hurt you.

    • Datacenter - This version allows you to run an unlimited number of virtual machines. It also supports software defined networking and storage with no limitation on storage replica size.

    • Datacenter Azure - This version is designed to run in Microsoft's cloud and not on premise. It supports hot patching, or installing updates without requiring a reboot. It also supports SMB (Server Message Block) over QUIC.

Windows Server Datacenter edition has advanced features that will help it exist in a hyperconverged infrastructure. A hyperconverged infrastructure is where the three components of a server environment, compute, storage and networking become software defined. The extra features found in the datacenter edition help with creating a hyperconverged infrastructure. Microsoft has a competing product in the hyperconverged space called Azure Stack HCI. In the future, improvements to hyperconverged infrastructures will happen in Azure Stack HCL and not Windows Server. Windows Server should keep what support it currently has.

As a note, if you run Azure Stack HCL using hardware on premise you can install DataCenter Azure within a virtual machine.

Windows Server Install Types

Windows Server 2022 has two different ways it can be installed. You can do a Server Core or Desktop Experience Installation. The Desktop Experience is a version of server that looks very similar to the client version of Windows we're used to running on our desktops and laptops. It uses the familiar graphical environment called Windows Explorer.

Server Core is now the default mode and no longer called Server Core during the installation. It's a mode where Windows Server 2022 runs PowerShell and doesn't run Windows Explorer. Running the server this way will conserve hardware resources, reduce disk space usage, reduce patch frequency and reduce attacks.

You can use the Server Manager application to remotely manage a server that's in server core mode. This gives you a graphical management tool to remotely administer the server. You can also user PowerShell to manage the server using commands in a command line environment.

Roles and Features

A clean install of Windows Server 2022 doesn't do very much. In order to start providing services to your clients you need to install Roles. In Windows Server 2003 R2 and earlier the server had a lot of capabilities installed waiting for you to activate and use them. Anything that wasn't there by default could be added using the Add / Remove Windows Components wizard. In Windows Server 2008 the idea of Roles and Features was introduced. The idea was nothing extra is installed unless you ask for it. When you setup a server you have a plan for it, it will provide some sort of service. After you install server you can install the desired Role, then follow the steps to configure if needed.

Features add capabilities to Roles. A good way to remember the difference would be a Role provides services to network clients, and Features provide capabilities to Roles like the management tools to configure the roles.

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