Concerns for a Thursday

…  you know what concerns me most about Windows 2012 Essentials?  The perceptions that are building up.

1.  It’s a replacement for Home server users.

Well.. at $425 a pop versus $50 I’m not sure who is smoking what, but that’s not a replacement in my mind.  Plus this sucker is a domain controller. http://www.winsupersite.com/article/windows-server/windows-server-2012-essentials-domain-workgroup-144357 No matter how much you want to put lipstick on a pig, there’s still active directory under the hood, it’s still a DC, it still joins PCs to the domain and if you don’t want that you need to jump through some hoops.

2.  There’s purchasers and then there is purchasers….

One of the things I’ve noticed about SBS and Home server over the years is the “Technet” problem as I’m going to call it.  The folks that have access to/or buy Technet subscription and then just consider it their software to do with what they want.  So they will download and install it at home and use it..and then beat it up in the process as it’s also their test bed for everything else they want to do or plan to do.  So you’ll get people hacking up the IIS, ripping it out, trying to make the server not a DC, installing wordpress sites, wanting to host external web sites and any number of things that just make me wince.  And to top it off, tend to stick it on less than optimal equipment.  It’s a domain controller guys so beating it up, reinstalling it and then expecting your workstations to just magically rejoin it, ain’t gonna happen. 

3.  The “it’s the first server”

To me that’s a phase I wish they would put a stake in and kill it off.  http://www.thevarguy.com/2012/10/04/windows-server-2012-storage-virtualization-for-smbs/  You can even see in talked about there.  If a small firm only needs one server, one could argue that even Essentials is too much and they need a nice fluffy cloud and a jungle disk mapped drive to serve their needs.  What Essentials can be is the start of a network, not just the first server.  It’s a nice partner to MultiPoint 2012 (still in beta) and can even be virtualized.  Too many people see that “first server” label and think it can be the ONLY server and that’s dead wrong.

I just wish people would stop putting labels on it so that everyone doesn’t build up perceptions about it until it’s fully baked.

One Thought on “Concerns for a Thursday

  1. Joe Raby on October 5, 2012 at 8:04 pm said:

    He complains about a domain being “complicated” but at the same time he’s willing to beat around the bush to get workstations to work with shares without joining them. Why is a domain complicated? In fact, when you’re dealing with home PC’s, wouldn’t it make sense to put controls on folder shares for different users? Essentials makes that dead simple too.

    I also don’t get his argument about Essentials having this “glorious” PC backup mechanism that require the client PC to have an additional application running, when you can easily set up backups to a network share anyway (you can use the VHD mount workaround for clients that don’t support backup to network shares natively), and yet he complains about the notifications.

    You know, my own experiment with Foundation 2012 has found me liking it more than Essentials. I’m looking at my agreements and I have access to purchase Storage Server Essentials (for preinstallation), but since Foundation is part of the same SKU family, I’m inquiring about it. I may considering building systems as simple servers with more flexibility than Essentials, but don’t require AD setup. You wouldn’t get the Dashboard, but they’ll be for all the tinkerers out there.

    Here’s my existing setup that works extremely well for me:

    Supermicro Atom D525 mITX motherboard with 4GB RAM
    Chenbro mITX case with hot swap bays
    2x2TB WD enterprise SATA drives
    Server 2012 Foundation

    The way I configured it is this:

    Disconnected the 2nd drive.
    Installed Server 2012 Essentials
    Shrunk the main partition to 60GB. Partition the rest and mount it with letter D. D for “Data”. Get it?
    Reconnect the 2nd drive.
    Mirror EVERY partition exactly in order using Disk Management (I used AHCI mode for the controller – NOT “RAID”). This way, even if a drive fails, I still have the bootloader partition and the rest sync’ed.
    The motherboard has dual-Gbe so I used NIC teaming. Also set a static IP for it and pointed DNS manually to my ISP’s DNS.
    File services are already installed. I added DHCP and WDS. WDS is set for standalone mode. I also added in the ISP NS1 IP into the DHCP options so that I don’t need the DNS role on the server.

    Everything works great! I’m not fond of the new Server Manager, but I notice that DHCP IP assignment to clients via WDS is instantaneous whereas with Essentials 2011 took 4-5 seconds. Multicasting is pretty awesome too. And this is just on an Atom system. Sure, it’s not going to compressing video or running large database workloads, but as a storage and deployment server, I’m more than happy with the renewed performance on the 2012 platform.

    Also, did you happen to notice that with Storage Server 2012, Microsoft is now using the “N-word” in their marketing? Yep – NAS. Okay, it’s an acronym….

    We’re doing more performance testing on different hardware (I’m not convinced that customers will like seeing “Atom” in the specs, even though it works for us), but if we can sell Server Foundation, it might be good for low-cost servers for enthusiasts that don’t want the “burden” of the solution setup of Essentials.

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