TechEd: Windows Server 2012 R2 Features (MDC-B205)

This session was presented by Jeff Woosley, and covered the new features coming up in Windows Server 2012 R2. Windows Server 2012 was the biggest OS release since Windows 2000, and R2 promises a boatload of new features.


  • Microsoft Cloud OS Vision
  • Private Cloud – Windows Server + System Center
  • Virtualization for consolidation is NOT a cloud. Are you just virtualizing, then you are NOT doing cloud computing.
  • Clould is reqestable, cloud is usage based, cloud is chargeable
  • People are highly focused on the hypervisor but completely overlook management
  • One Cloud OS Vision has three pillars and one consistent platform:
  • 1. Private cloud is about control and security
  • 2. Public cloud is about scale: Office 365, Windows Azure, Azure Virtual machines
  • 3. Service Provider is about customization
  • Windows Server 2012 powers the entire Azure infrastructure
  • MS provisions 25K VMs a day for test/dev

Windows Server 2012 R2 Enhancements

  • Focus: Datacenter without boundaries, cloud innovation everywhere, dynamic application delivery, flexible and consistent application platform, enable people-centric IT

Virtualization – Hyper-V 2012 R2

  • Cross-version live migration
  • Online VHDX resize
  • Automatic VM activation
  • Live VM export/cloning
  • Remote Access console via VMBus (does not rely on RDS or networking)
  • Live migration compression
  • Live migration with RDMA
  • More robust Linux support

Hyper-V 2012 R2 Demo

Teaser demo from the Hyper-V session later today. Showed a VM that was hammering storage and slowing down all other VMs on the same host or SAN. With 2012R2 and enable minimum or maximum IOPS on a per-VM database. IOMeter showed a drop from 20K IOPS to 100 IOPS, with a setting on the VM.

2012R2 has enhanced Linux support. Full hot-add and remove of dynamic memory with Linux guests. Full on dynamic memory, complete feature parity with Windows implementation. Support for full Linux backups in a consistent state. File consistent backups with zero downtime. Similar to VSS functionality in Windows, but for Linux filesystems.

Clustering VMs without iSCSI or Fibre Channel shared storage. Can now share VHDX files between VMs for clustering. Fully supported in production environments. Cloud service provider can now provide clustering services without having to expose iSCSI or raw LUNs to VMs.

Windows Server 2012 R2 Storage Enhancement

  • Azure does NOT use SANs. It uses cheap direct attached storage. SANs do not scale and are very expensive. Laser focused on driving down cost per IOPS. Storage is cheap, IOPS is not.
  • Windows Storage Spaces now features block-level automated data tiering
  • Data deduplication enhanced in R2 (now with running VMs)
  • Flexible resiliency options (enhanced in R2) – Three way mirrors, write-back cache,
  • Pooling of disks

Demoed creating a physical clustered file server using VMM 2012 R2. VMM connects to the baseboard management controller (e.g. ILO) of the server, boots the server into WinPE, and deploys a standard VHDX and configures the Windows OS for file services. With a few clicks a share was created, and provisioned to Hyper-V VMs for storage.

  • Challenges of Guest Clustering (MDC-B337)
  • Shared VDHX enables guest clustering within a tenant without accessing raw LUNs or iSCSI disks

Software Defined Networking

  • Allows you to move VMs and workloads from private cloud to public cloud to service providers
  • Provides seamless experience for business agility and ease of management
  • Live migration across subnets
  • Breaks VLAN scalability limits
  • Merge networks on same fabric
  • 2012 R2 provides in-box multi-tenant edge gateway for seamless connectivity to Azure and service providers or internal networks
  • 2012 R2 Gateway enables direct routing or NAT
  • System Center is the control plane, Windows server is the data plane
  • F5, Iron Networks, Huawei and Arista are providing additional gateway options
  • Cisco, NEC, 5 Nine (security), InMon (packet capture) for Hyper-V extensions

Hyper-V 2012 R2 Replica

  • Broaden your coverage of business continunity with hybrid cloud solutions spanning on-prem and the cloud
  • Enhanced in R2 for cloud providers
  • Tertiary replication in the box
  • Hyper-V Recovery Manager (new) – Configurable down to 30s window, recovery orchestration with Azure Hyper-V
  • Replica frequency options are 30s (new), 5 minutes, 15 minutes
  • Replica now supports pre-staging the data via offline methods, then online sync the deltas
  • Hyper-V Recovery Manager has “recovery plans” for runbook automation
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