Windows Server Essentials 2012 R2
 
Meeting Business Needs
The small business challenge
 
Today’s small business owners face daily challenges in running their businesses, and one of the more difficult challenges can include managing an IT infrastructure. However, the primary focus for most business owners is on their core business competencies, not on becoming technology experts. Because investments in technology directly impact the bottom line, there is a constant need to achieve real business benefits and mitigate costs against a backdrop of time pressures and limited technical skills. In addition to this pressure, many small businesses are now looking toward cloud services and what they may offer—which can add even more apprehension in adopting new technology.
 
Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials is designed to help small businesses operate at the same technology level as much larger organizations, without the added costs and complexities of managing a complicated IT infrastructure. Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials also provides a high degree of flexibility and choice that enables small businesses to leverage a combination of cloud-based or traditional on-premises applications and services.
 
There are three primary capability areas of Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials that meet many of the most pressing needs of small businesses: 1) helping protect your data, 2) providing secure remote access, and 3) integrating cloud services. In addition, there are two key new deployment options available. The first is the ability to run as a Hyper-V host for the purposes of running Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials as a virtual machine—it is no longer necessary to obtain Hyper-V separately. The second is the implementation of the Windows Server Essentials feature set as a role in the Standard and Datacenter editions of Windows Server. We’ll take a closer look at these new capabilities in the sections below.
 
 
Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials
 
Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials is the latest version of Windows Server that is designed for small and medium businesses. It enables cross-premise functionality, providing small businesses with on-premises file and print, security, backup, remote access, and identity management services, combined with optional off-premise services.
 
A cloud-enabled solution for small business
 
Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials incorporates best-of-breed capabilities to deliver a server environment well suited for the vast majority of small businesses, including:
 
  • Protect your data: Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials leverages several new features available in Windows Server 2012 R2 to provide greatly improved data protection capabilities. The new Storage Spaces (http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/hh831739.aspx) feature allows you to aggregate the physical storage capacity of disparate hard drives, dynamically add hard drives, and to create data volumes with specified levels of resilience. Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials can perform complete system backups and bare-metal restores of the server itself as well as the client computers connected to the network¡Xnow with support for volumes larger than 2 terabytes. The Windows Azure Backup service (http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/hh831419.aspx) can also be used to protect your Windows Server files and folders in a cloud-based storage service that is managed by Microsoft. Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials also centrally manages and configures the new File History feature of Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 clients, helping users to recover from accidently deleted or overwritten files without requiring administrator assistance.
  • Provide secure remote access: Remote Web Access provides a stream-lined, touch-friendly browser experience for accessing applications and data from virtually anywhere you have an Internet connection and using almost any device. Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials also provides an updated Windows Phone app and a new modern app for Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 clients, allowing users to intuitively connect to, search across, and access files and folders on the server; files are also automatically cached for offline access and synchronized when a connection to the server becomes available. Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials turns setting up virtual private networking (VPN) into a painless wizard-driven process of just a few clicks, and simplifies the management of VPN access for users. Client computers can leverage a VPN connection to remotely join the Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials environment without the need to come into the office.
  • Integrate cloud services: Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials has been designed to allow customers the flexibility to choose which applications and services run on-premises and which run in the cloud. In previous versions, Windows Small Business Server Standard included Exchange Server as a component product, which added expense and complexity for customers who wished to leverage cloud-based messaging and collaboration services. With Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials, customers can take advantage of the same type of integrated management experience whether they choose to run an on-premises copy of Exchange Server, subscribe to a hosted Exchange service, or subscribe to Office 365.
  • Health monitoring: Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials monitors its own health status and the status of client computers running Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 8.1, and Mac OS X version 10.5 and above. Health status notifies you of issues or problems related to computer backups, server storage, low disk space, and more. Health reports can be automatically generated on a scheduled basis and emailed directly to local administrators or external partners.
  • Extensibility: Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials builds on the extensibility model of Windows SBS 2011 Essentials, which allows other software vendors to add capabilities and features to the core product, and adds a new set of Web Services APIs. It also maintains compatibility with the existing software development kit (SDK) and add-Ins created for Windows SBS 2011 Essentials.
Protect Your Data
 
Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials automatically backs up your client computers to the server and can help you easily restore the entire computer or individual files and folders from its backup. This solution uses an innovative method to back up only the data that has not already been backed up before. Even if you have several copies of the same data on different computers, the data is backed up only once on your server, and your server keeps track of what data was stored on each computer on each day. Backups complete quickly and efficiently, and use less space on your server.
 
Automated daily backup and Windows 8 and 8.1 File History support. Computer backups are automatically configured when you install the Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials Connector software on your client computers. Backup is performed on a daily basis for every configured computer. You can customize the schedule for when backups occur as well as the retention policy for backup data. Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials also centrally manages and configures the new File History feature of Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 clients, helping users to recover from accidently deleted or overwritten files without requiring administrator assistance.
 
Restore an entire computer. Restoring a computer from a backup is easy. If you want to restore your computer to a previous point in time, you boot the computer from the Computer Restore CD. The computer connects to your server, which provides a simple wizard for restoring a single hard drive or multiple hard drives from a backup of that computer that is stored on your server.
 
Restore individual files and folders. Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials can help you restore individual files or folders by selecting a computer and a specific backup of that computer from the Dashboard. The Restore Wizard initiates and displays the files and folders that were backed up for that computer on that day. You can easily select individual files or entire folders from this Restore Window and then restore them to any location on your computer.
 
Server backup and restore. Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials makes it easy to back up your data. You can add a hard disk drive to the server, either internally or externally, and designate it as a backup destination as opposed to server storage. Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials will then use this drive to back up all the data stored on the server, including both the operating system files and your business data. Using multiple external drives provides for improved business continuity, making it easy to rotate your backup data offsite to maximize its availability for restoring the server in case of theft, fire, flood, or other disasters. Also, the Windows Azure Backup service (http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/hh831419.aspx) can optionally be used to protect files and folders in a cloud-based storage service that is managed by Microsoft.
 
Storage Spaces. Leveraging the new Storage Spaces features of Windows Server 2012 R2 enables you to create flexible, low-cost, resilient, and dynamically expandable data volumes. Storage Spaces includes the following features:
 
  • Storage pools. Storage pools are the fundamental building blocks for Storage Spaces. You can flexibly create storage pools based on the needs of your deployment. For example, given a set of physical disks, you can create one pool (by using all the available physical disks) or multiple pools (by dividing the physical disks as required). Furthermore, to maximize the value from storage hardware, you can map a storage pool to combinations of hard disks as well as solid-state drives (SSDs). Pools can be expanded dynamically by simply adding additional drives, thereby seamlessly scaling to cope with data growth.
  • Resilient storage. Storage Spaces support two optional resiliency modes: mirroring and parity. Per-pool support for disks that are reserved for replacing failed disks (hot spares), background scrubbing, and intelligent error correction allow continuous service availability despite storage component failures.
  • Thin provisioning. Storage Spaces support thin provisioning, which allows the creation of virtual disks which are larger than the underlying storage pool¡¦s physical capacity. As the data stored on the virtual disk reaches the size of the physical capacity, additional drives can be dynamically added to the storage pool without impacting the virtual disk or any data volumes active on it.
Computer backup archiving. If you are replacing an old computer with a new computer and you¡¦d like to keep the old computer¡¦s backups, Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials provides an archiving feature. When removing the Windows Small Business Server Connector software from the old PC, you will be asked if you¡¦d like to keep the backups for this computer on the server. Computers that are archived are not part of the 25 device limit.
 
Provide Secure Remote Access

Remote Web Access is a dynamically updated website that uses encrypted connections to provide a single, simple, secure and consolidated entry point into a small business network. It provides a stream-lined, touch-friendly browser experience for accessing applications and data from virtually anywhere you have an Internet connection and using almost any device. Authorized users can connect to Remote Web Access using any Internet-connected computer or mobile device with a supported browser. Compared to the remote access feature in older versions of Windows Small Business Server, Remote Web Access has a higher degree of extensibility in the software development kit (SDK), allowing for more customization, gadgets, add-in extensions, mobile rendering and an improved shared folder experience.
 
Remote access to Shared Folders. Users can download files and folders, and upload one or more files to the shared folders on their server while away from the network. Users can also search through the Shared Folders to locate a specific file or files. Providing easy remote access to files encourages users to keep data stored on the server where only authorized users have access and the data is protected.
 
Remote access to computers. Connect remotely to the computers in your network and run applications as if you were sitting in front of your computer. To connect to one of your computers, on the Computers tab, simply click the Connect button next to the computer. You can only connect to a computer that is Available for connection and that is running one of the following operating systems:
 
  • Windows 8.1 Pro, Windows 8.1 Enterprise
  • Windows 8 Pro, Windows 8 Enterprise
  • Windows 7 Ultimate, Windows 7 Enterprise, Windows 7 Professional
Remotely connect to the Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials Dashboard. If the need arises, you can access the Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials Dashboard while working remotely to add new users, add new shared folders, check the health of your network, or perform other administrative tasks.
 
Expanded device support. Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials also provides an updated Windows Phone app and a new app for Windows 8 and 8.1 clients, allowing users to intuitively connect to, search across, and access files and folders on the server; files are also automatically cached for offline access and synchronized when a connection to the server becomes available.
 
Remote Domain Join. Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials turns setting up virtual private networking (VPN) into a painless wizard-driven process of just a few clicks, and simplifies the management of VPN access for users. Client computers can leverage a VPN connection to remotely join

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