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A CIO's reasoning behind upgrading to Windows Server 2012

CIO Niel Nickolaisen talks up tech trends and why they point him to upgrading to Windows Server 2012.

Why not upgrade to Windows Server 2012? Since it aligns with several technology trends underway at my organization and the industry at large, I can't think of a single reason not to upgrade.

Niel NickolaisenNiel Nickolaisen

What are those trends? I see the following major moves over the next few years:

  • The biggest need for IT is to simplify how we manage our systems because we need to create the capacity to be ahead of the game and to move faster than both technology and our organizations. If there is something I can do to shift from being reactive to being proactive with service levels, I can be more strategic in all that I do.
  • A big shift to data analysis and decision support is on the horizon. We have implemented most of the possible transactional systems (ERP, CRM, e-commerce, HRIS, SFA, PLM, BPA and every other acronym). With this work mostly done (except for upgrades and replacements), the focus shifts to business intelligence, analytics and whatever else we can do to use the transactional data and combine it with external data to make better decisions about products, markets, customers and operations. This all requires ongoing improvements in how we structure and use storage.
  • Virtualization weaned us away from installing a single application or service on a physical server. This got us ready to consider hosting applications and services on someone else's physical servers. This led to cloud services and Software as a Service. With virtual environments now acceptable and proven, we will more readily accept the idea, previously radical, of what I call "insta-clouds." Using insta-clouds, we assemble prebuilt services into a somewhat custom application. If I need a retail system, for example, I assemble prebuilt components such as local inventory management, credit card processing, cash register and stock management in the cloud. These components are the Lego blocks I use to build exactly what I need without having to build the entire application or service myself.
  • I think we are trending toward the concept of the individual as the device. We might not (yet) assign an IP address at birth, but the next logical step in VDI is a list of services that an individual accesses -- independent of what device that person uses.

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Given these trends and needs, it seems Windows Server 2012 delivers. Features in 2012 that align with the above mentioned trends and needs include the following:

  • Simplified management brings unified views, the ability to manage multiple servers and enhancements from Windows PowerShell. In addition to simplified management, there are better tools for finding and resolving the root cause of issues and doing more proactive system management.
  • Ongoing enhancements and improvements to storage exist, such as high-availability and scale-out and scale-up. Windows Server 2012 also includes data deduplication (which is likely a big need for all of us) and the addition of a wide range of protocols.
  • For virtualization, Server 2012 adds not only new functionality but also tools to simplify the management of the on-premises/cloud environments that are rapidly becoming much more common. The new functionality is designed to increase our use of automation -- which frees us up to do more complex and value-added tasks.
  • The new IP address management tools recognize the current and looming complexity of IP address proliferation and seem to be designed to make that process easier. Combined with the changes in Active Directory, we get closer to better management of both physical and virtual identities.

Because these features keep me heading steadily along the path toward the future, I will say it again: I can't think of a single reason for not upgrading to Windows Server 2012.

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When do you plan to upgrade to Windows Server 2012?