What does Windows 2012 mean to a small business?

Windows Server 2012 is out, and boy, is Microsoft talking big things about it.  The term “Private Cloud” is certainly bandied about in a lot of marketing.  For small, single-server businesses, Private Cloud isn’t something you’re likely to use.  There are some new features that are great for small, single-server businesses, though.

I’m not affiliated with Microsoft.  I do small business computer and network support in Olympia, WA.  I’m going to tell you about Windows Server 2012 from my perspective, and how it applies to very small businesses, which I personally define as fewer than 10 computers.

So if you have a server that’s more than a few years old, running Windows Server 2003 and Exchange 2003 and want to catch up, what can Windows Server 2012 do for you?  First, the licensing model changed in a very good way for very small businesses.  If you buy one license of Windows Server Standard, you can install it twice (or three times if one instance just runs Hyper-V, but we’ll get to that in a minute).  Why would you want to install it twice?  How can you install a server operating system twice on one physical server?  Hopefully by now, you’ve at least heard of virtualization.  The idea is you install Windows Server 2012 and enable Hyper-V.  Hyper-V is a software feature that lets you install multiple virtual computers that also run Windows Server (or Linux or Windows 7/8).  Now that you can install separate servers on one piece of hardware, you can have a Domain Controller AND an Exchange server.  Or a Domain Controller and a backup domain controller (boring, I know).  Or a DC and a SQL server.  Or a DC and a Remote Desktop Services server.  You get the idea.  The other thing that I’ve learned since using virtualization for a couple years is that rebooting your server is way faster than it is to reboot your physical server.  It’s the little things that matter to a small business.

Windows Server 2012 has a few improvements over 2008 R2 in this arena.  First is RAM.  They’ve doubled the allowed RAM to 64GB from 32GB, and they also doubled the number of physical processors allowed to 2.  Not that most very small businesses need dual processor servers, but hey, it’s available.  More RAM and more processors is helpful for virtual servers (especially if you want to add more), so this development is definitely an improvement.

I’ll go into more detail in future posts about Windows Server 2012, but that’s all the time I have for now.