Microsoft TechEd 2012 kicked off today with the official Australian launch of Windows Server 2012 (which hit the web last week) and an overview of its capabilities. While Windows Server 2012 might have the Windows 8 interface on its Start screen, as an IT worker the key skill you'll need to manipulate Windows systems is very different and much more traditional: PowerShell scripts.
In the opening IT pro keynote, Jeffrey Woolsey from Microsoft's Windows Server & Cloud division emphasised that the main design principle behind Windows Server 2012 was to enable the use of the same management techniques across individual servers, virtualised systems, entire data centres and cloud resources. "Our perspective on the cloud OS is unique, because we see it as one consistent platform for all clouds," Woolsey said.
That said, there's little doubt that the big push behind Windows Server 2012 is on broader deployments. "There's a very big change happening with the operating system," Woolsey said. "Fundamentally and historically, the operating system has been a way to manage resources on a single server. That has changed. We don't think in single servers, we don't even think in racks any more. We think in data centre units."
What does that mean in skills terms when it comes to managing servers? "If you want a long career as a system administrator, I've got one big word for you: PowerShell. You're not going to do things at cloud scale one server at a time," Woolsey said. Windows Server 2012 adds 2400 new PowerShell options, which extends its range considerably.
Given that Windows Server 2012 has just rolled out and that extra management elements such as System Center are only just following, making that change in individual enterprises will undoubtedly take a while. One driving force will be the demand for increased reliability and the desire to run services on a range of devices.
"You want to do the right thing, but doing the right thing means you have to walk a very careful tightrope. People want to be comfortable and productive and you want to be the guy who helps facilitate that. But you cannot reduce the security of infrastructure; you can't let people bring in any sort of random device and create new opportunities for data leakage."
Disclosure: Angus Kidman is attending TechEd 2012 as a guest of Microsoft.