Windows Server 2008 R2 release candidate: what’s new? (part 2)

Windows Server 2008 R2 logoA couple of weeks back, I wrote about some of the new features in Windows Server 2008 R2 but I did say that was only part 1 as there were a few surprises in store (held back for discussion at TechEd this week):

  • First up, Hyper-V R2 will support 64 logical CPUs. At release, Hyper-V was supported for up to 4 CPUs each with 4 cores, then Intel released it’s Dunnington 6-core chips and a hotfix was released for 24 core support (see Microsoft knowledge base article 956710). Originally the R2 release was going to support 32 cores but performance testing went well, so today Microsoft will announce support for 64 logical cores. What this means is that Hyper-V hosts can achieve better density levels and run more virtual machines with multiple virtual CPUs, improving the platform’s ability to scale in line with hardware developments.
  • Secondly, there is a new feature in Hyper-V R2 called processor compatibility mode. Sharp-eyed users of the Windows Server 2008 R2 release candidate may have noticed a new checkbox labelled migrate to a physical computer with a different processor version. Configured on a per-VM basis, this allows virtual machines to be migrated between hosts using CPUs from different processor families (from the same vendor – this is Intel-Intel and AMD-AMD, not AMD-Intel or vice versa), providing greater flexibility when expanding clusters with new hardware, by abstracting virtual machine down to the lowest possible denominator in terms of available instruction set.
  • Finally, there will be a new feature in Windows Server 2008 R2 called file classification infrastructure (FCI). Nir Ben Zvi is a Senior Program Manager working on Windows Server at Microsoft and he explained to me that customers are struggling with increasing risks and costs as they balance data management needs with data management tools. With the new FCI functionality, Microsoft sees customers classifying their data and applying a policy according to the classification, so that it may be treated differently according to the user requesting access. Classification runs on a schedule and can even detect patterns of text in a scanned document. Stale files can be expired (moved to an administrator-controlled directory, with expiry notified in advance). Documents may be watermarked. And, it should be no surprise that FCI supports integration with SharePoint as well extensibility by partners.

If Windows Server 2008 was good, R2 is looking better. The release candidate is available now, with general availability expected in the second half of 2009 (although not confirmed by Microsoft on any official sites).

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