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Understanding Windows Server 2008 Roles and Features

Our discussion so far has pointed out some of the more obvious server roles such as domain controllers and web servers. The Add Roles wizard, discussed later in this hour, is the tool for adding these roles to Windows Server 2008.

Windows Server 2008 does throw a slight curveball to network administrators who have deployed earlier versions of Windows server such as Windows Server 2003. When deploying network services on a server running Windows Server 2003 (and Windows 2000 Server), network services such as DNS, DHCP (Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol), and Remote Access were installed as network services. Windows Server 2003 provided a Services snap-in that ran in the Microsoft Management Console. Network services were not considered server roles.

However, most of these network services are now considered server roles in Windows Server 2008, and you use the Add Roles Wizard to install them. The Server Manager, also discussed later in the hour, is used to manage them (see “Managing Server Roles with the Server Manager“).

Some network services, such as WINS (Windows Internet Name Service) and the Telnet Server, are now called features. You add these network services by using the Add Features Wizard. Let’s take a look at some of the commonly deployed network services (and separate the roles from the features):

The number of roles and features you want to run on any one server greatly depends on the size of your network. A server burdened with a number of network services (which we now call roles or features), such as DHCP, DNS, and Remote Access, might soon become a performance bottleneck on your network as users access these services.

Let’s take a look at how you can add and remove server roles from your server installation. We will then take a look at adding or removing a feature from a Windows Server 2008 installation.

By the Way

One way to test how well a server will run when providing a number of roles and features is to run a test server, enabling you to monitor server performance before deploying the server on the network. Information on creating server performance baselines is discussed in Chapter 24, “Monitoring Server Performance and Network Connections.”

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