If you're looking to set up dedicated servers for your data center using Microsoft's Windows Server 2012, one key question you'll have to settle on is which of the various editions is best suited to your operations. While this question may be obvious for the very largest or smallest enterprises, many businesses in between these extremes could face a tough choice as they try to balance what capabilities they will need to run their company effectively with what their budget can stretch to.
Happily, the decision is much easier than in the past. It was noted by information site Windows IT Pro that whereas Windows Server 2008 R2 had 14 different editions, this has been cut to four for the 2012 build. Therefore, a few basic tips on the key features of the main editions of the operating system (OS) have been offered that could help ensure you make the right decision.
For the smallest firms, Foundation can provide the essential infrastructure to get started with a server. Although it can provides several key functionalities, it is limited to 15 users and does not include tools such as Hyper-V and there are restrictions on some others. Even so, Windows IT Pro described it as an "excellent set of infrastructure IT services for a small business".
This is the replacement for what was previously known as Windows Small Business Server and Windows Home Server. It can support up to 25 users and, importantly, has integration with cloud services such as Office 365 and Windows Azure instead of these solutions being built into the OS.
If your business has more than 25 users, it's likely the Standard edition of Windows Server 2012 will be the best bet. This offers a full range of features but, unlike the Datacenter edition, is intended for nonvirtualised environments, as it's only licensed for two virtual instances.
If you need to run a heavily virtualised environment, the Datacenter edition is probably the best choice as it's licensed for an unlimited number of virtual process. Most businesses will look at either Standard or Datacenter to meet their needs, but before you make your choice, it's important you understand the different types of licensing so you know what you're permitted to do with your server OS.
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