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Server Core: A better option when migrating from Server 2003

Server Core: A better option when migrating from Server 2003

When migrating workloads from Windows Server 2003 to Windows Server 2012 R2, you can migrate the workload to a server running the Server Core installation option rather than the “full server” installation option. Even though it’s smart to go Server Core, many administrators migrate to full server. Here’s a couple of reasons why they should reconsider:

Server Core requires less maintenance

Once you’ve got a Server Core server up and running, it’s not going to require as many software updates as a server running the “full server” installation. Fewer reboots means that the server requires less of your attention. The best sort of server to manage is the one that you can deploy and then not have to worry about. The worst sort of server to manage is the one that always screams for attention.

The majority of infrastructure roles run on Server Core

The most common workloads for Windows Servers aren’t the exciting ones. They are the boring ones, like File Services, Domain Controller, DHCP and DNS Server. All these roles run on Server Core and you can manage them as easily using a remote console from an administrators workstation as you could if you were signed on via RDP and using a console on the computer itself.

You should be managing servers remotely

One comment I frequently hear about Server Core is that it’s too difficult to sign on and manage when an issue turns up. Many admins who manage Server Core are still RDP’ing across to the computer and then interacting with the command prompt. The way that they should be managing Server Core is using remote consoles and PowerShell. While taking a “remote management first” approach requires a gestalt switch, once you’re past that hurdle, you’ll remote management as intuitive as you currently find logging on via RDP and opening a console. It’s like riding a bicycle or using rollerskates. Once you learn how it works, it’s hard to remember being in a position where you didn’t understand how to do it.

In a later article I’ll discuss some of the reasons that administrators are avoiding Server Core even though, if they spent some time thinking about it, they’d agree that it was in their best interest to use that installation option.

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