KMS, Active Directory And Windows Server 2012

For guest blogger Craig Naumann, the first full day of TechEd Australia 2012 was all about topping up on server and networking knowledge. Read on to find out what he learned and why he can still get excited by Active Directory.

TechEd 2012 got off to an awe-inspiring official start on Tuesday with the IT Professional kick-off and the keynote. Actually , my TechEd started with meeting the team from Lifehacker and my fellow bloggers (and collecting our impressive hardware from ASUS and Nokia).

Back at the kick-off and keynote, I could see lots of nods in the crowd as pain points were discussed. It was great to see that the solutions being provided will actually make our lives easier. I’d hope that we all came away with a real thrill of what’s coming for the week – I know I did.

Wednesday started with an introduction to Windows Server 2012 and the key features that have been included to provide a well-rounded server operating system for all clients. From my perspective, I’ve seen enough snippets of new features to realise that I’m definitely one of those clients who will benefit. Seeing the excitement from the guest presenters gave me a lot of confidence in the takeup of Windows Server 2012.

The morning moved on to a session on 'What’s New in Active Directory in Windows Server 2012'. I’d been exposed to some of those features before today but I wasn’t disappointed. I didn’t realise some of frustrations others experience until the slide about Windows activation using Active Directory instead of KMS (Key Management Service). The mere mention of this brought cheers from the crowd.

This initially puzzled me, having configured KMS on Windows Server 2003 and Windows Server 2008 R2. Sure, it’s a little frustrating without internet connectivity from the server and then updating to support Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012 . . . actually, on reflection AD integration is a pretty good idea. One of the exciting components for me has been around the improvements for a virtualised Domain Controller. This has really removed a level of concern, as long as I use a hypervisor with appropriate support.

The other component of interest is DAC (Dynamic Access Control), having experienced client issues through large group memberships. The thought of being able to apply security based on user and computer attributes opens a whole new world of being able to say “You can only access these files if you have a certain position and are using a specific type of computer”. The detailed session on Friday will be fun – yes, I’m happy to say I’m excited by the improvements in Active Directory.

My day then progressed to 'Architecting Private Clouds in Windows Server 2012', which raised more questions than it answered. This really came across as the intention as any implementation needs appropriate planning. I’m lucky that I’ll be able to push most these activities to the specialists. The capabilities offered by Hyper-V through Shared Nothing migrations and zero downtime Live Migrations, to name just two, will ensure that I receive a high quality level of service from the VM environment. Something I did take away is that we use far too many acronyms in our industry!

The rest of the day has been spent on deployment and configuration improvements in Windows Server 2012, and System Center suite extensions. Given the quantity of people in the sessions, there’s a lot of interest in what’s new.

I found myself sitting indoors amongst the Cloud today while the Gold Coast gave us a beautiful day. Fortunately I was thoroughly occupied by learning and am looking forward to what the rest of the week offers. If I got just one thing out of the day, it was that PowerShell is a vital skill for any IT professional. Sounds like it’s time to get up to speed on the new functionality.

Visit Gizmodo's TechEd 2012 Newsroom for all the news from the show.

Craig Naumann is covering Windows Server 2012 for Gizmodo using his ASUS Zenbook WX32VD. au, windows server 2012, teched 2012, windows, microsoft, manage

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