Windows server 2012 R2 brings many new features and enhancements to windows server world compared to older version windows server 2012, will discuss major difference between windows server 2012 and windows server 2012 R2 and some of the very innovative Windows Server 2012 R2 Features and improvements, also see Windows Server 2012 Fetures and Difference between windows server 2008 and windows server 2012
Windows Server 2012 Schema version is 56 and Windows Server 2012 R2 is 69, schema will be updated while doing Forest preparation/installing Windows Server 2012 R2
Active Directory comes first when I think about windows server, will start with Active Directory new features on Windows Server 2012 R2
Active Directory has been enhanced with the following
Join the Workplace (Workplace Join)
SSO Support (Single Sign-On)
Connect from Anywhere with Web Application Proxy
Multi-Factor Access Control (Anywhere-and-on-Any-Device)
Workplace Join is allows user to connect/join their personal devices with their company’s workplace network and computers to access resources and services, yes now we can connect our personal device like mobile phone/tablets and other device(Windows 8.1, iOS 6.0 +, and Android 4.0 + devices can be joined by using Workplace Join)
It’s not like a Domain Joining, when a device is joined to your workplace, it becomes a known device and provides seamless second factor authentication through Single Sign On to access the workplace resources and applications.
Workplace Join through the Device Registration Service, Device Registration Service (DRS) is part of the Active Directory Federation, creates a device object in Active Directory, and tracks the associated device’s certificate in order to represent the device’s identity.
SSO Support (Single Sign-On)
Effectively using Single Sign-On (SSO), user no needs to provide their user name and password while accessing the different application event the outside the office network, again this uses the Device Registration Service and Active Directory Federation roles allows claims-based authentication to occur based on trusted certificates
Web Application Proxy
Remote Access role service is replaced by web application proxy in Windows Server 2012 R2, this will provide access to a sample web application by using claims-based authentication using Active Directory Federation authentication
Company application can be accessed anywhere with the help of Web Application Proxy in a secured way
Multi-Factor Authentication is nothing but the authenticating user and the device used by the user, user and user personal device joined through Workplace Join are authenticated
New DNS Features on windows server 2012 R2
DNS Logging and Diagnostics
Unlike the older windows versions, enabling DNS logging will not degrading the server performance through enhanced DNS logging and diagnostics feature, this will provides extremely detailed data about all DNS related information that is sent & received by the DNS server, similar to the data that can be gathered using network packet capture tools such as Netmon, this included the DNS Audit events and DNS Analytic events very helpful for troubleshooting
New Group Policy Features in Windows Server 2012 R2
Policy Caching is newly introduced In Windows Server 2012 R2, when Group Policy gets updated, client gets the latest version of a policy from the domain controller, and writes the policy to a local store. Next time the computer restarted, it reads the most recently version of the policy from the local store, instead of downloading it from the domain controller. This reduces the time it takes to update the policy. Most important the boot time is reduced in synchronous mode
New DHCP Features in Windows Server 2012 R2
DNS PTR registration options
Now you can configure the DHCP scope to r register only address (A) resource records of DHCP clients with the DNS server. This can be helpful when a reverse lookup zone has not been configured on your DNS server and that causing attempts to register pointer (PTR) resource records to fail.
And most important, PowerShell commands will be available for DHCP servers
Also Windows PowerShell for Certificate Services and Many new Features in Remote Desktop Services in Windows Server 2012 R2
Other than the Active Directory Features on windows server 2012 R2
You can store and access work files on your personal computers and personal device, similar to Dropbox, this role only available on Windows Server 2012 R2, it’s like an offline file with your personal device and it get replicated to company network, Access your office files while offline from personal device, and then sync with the central file server when the PC or device next has Internet or intranet connectivity, see Microsoft page
Windows PowerShell Desired State Configuration
It’s cool new features from Windows Server 2012 R2, to replace the Group policy (GPO)
Yes, it’s similar to Group policy, enables deploying and managing configuration data like registry settings, Enabling or disabling server roles and features, Managing files and directories, Starting, stopping, and managing processes and services, Managing groups and user accounts, Deploying new software, Managing environment variables, Running Windows PowerShell scripts and Discovering the actual configuration state, see Microsoft page
If you are a storage admin then you know Storage Tiering, yes it’s been there for long time and now this feature available on Windows Server 2012 R2 operating system, this is the first time available at the operating system level. Microsoft uses a heat-map algorithm to determine which chunks of data are seeing the most activity and automatically moves the “hottest” data to the fastest disk. You can adjust the settings using PowerShell.
RRAS Multitenant Gateway
Now you can deploy RRAS as a virtual machine (VM)-based software gateway and router that allows Cloud Service Providers (CSPs) and Enterprises to enable datacentre and cloud network traffic routing between virtual and physical networks
Each site-to-site network connection require a separate gateway in Windows Server 2012, this is impacting both cost and ease of implementation when more than a few connections are required for a single application. Windows Server 2012 R2 does away with this limitation, this can reduce their capital expenditure and operation expenditure
Windows Server Essentials role
Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials vision is bundled all the required features for small businesses with up to 25 users and 50 devices, when you install the Windows Server Essentials Experience role on other Windows server version, you can take advantage of all the features that are available to you in Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials without the locks and limits enforced in it.
And many more new features like, De-duplication on running VMs, Parallel rebuild and shared virtual hard disk in Hyper-V for Windows Server 2012 R2, also see Windows Server 2012 Fetures