As reported earlier a preview release of Server 2012 R2 Essentials was made available. Mostly all the ovations go for improvements like Hyper-V role, making it possible to virtualize the Essentials as a Domain Controller, as well as the enriched connector, as summarized by Paul Thurrott.
I would like to bring to light some more features that, in my opinion, will make the SMB Sysadmins happier.
Officially announced on the Technet pages is an extensive list of goodies. I will pick up only a small but important part of it:
- “You can now have more than one server running Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials Preview in your network”. This implicates that it is possible to establish services redundancy. Combined with the virtualization capability you can achieve quite an impressive service availability of, say, three nines.
- “You can create shared folders on a secondary server while keeping the same Universal Naming Convention (UNC) path prefix.” All I can say here is, wow! DFS-N for everyone at the fraction of the Standard Server pricing. And if on top of that if you have an offsite office: “You can turn on BranchCache to improve data access”
Also on the client side of the story there are many improvements:
- The connector can be used to connect from a remote location, and even more: to “trigger auto-VPN dialing in domain-joined clients” – hey, has anyone even thought that the principle of DirectAccess, that was introduced only four years ago and only for enterprise editions of Windows 7 would find its way to Server Essentials?
- Even more file services improvements: “File History backups are configured per user instead of per device”. Besides it is possible to recover file level items on a new hardware: “you can automatically restore your data through File History backups on a new computer”, or even the whole system without a boot DVD: “perform client full system restore over the network”
To make a long story short – just go read all the lists for yourself and then decide whether this product is worth implementing.