TechEd 2007: IIS7 to Become Seventh Server Core Role

ORLANDO - At TechEd 2007 this morning, Microsoft's senior vice president Bob Muglia generated the biggest applause of the day (not related to the Christopher Lloyd cameo) by announcing the new Server Core installation option in the forthcoming Windows Server 2008 will have as one of its ready-made "roles" the ability to rapidly appropriate Internet Information Services in a command-line-only environment.

This role should make it tremendously easier for admins to provision and deploy low-overhead Web services very rapidly, and could finally close the similarities gap between itself and the world's most deployed Web server software, Apache.

In an interview with BetaNews, Microsoft product manager Brian Goldfarb confirmed for us that the inclusion of IIS7 as a Server Core role will effectively cement that component as a principal feature of Windows Server into the foreseeable future. Some years back, some Microsoft engineers had been under the impression - or perhaps advocating - the replacement of IIS completely with a minimum-overhead, WS-* standards-compliant Web services system that would be made available by the original incarnation of Indigo architecture. In the interview, Goldfarb stated very explicitly that Windows Communications Foundation - the end product of the Indigo project - is and may always be directly dependent on IIS, which he called "the glue" that fits all Web interactions together in the current Microsoft model. "You have to have port 80," Goldfarb said.

Stay in touch with BetaNews for more of our interview with Goldfarb, including our discussion of such topics as Centralized Web Farm Configuration, and the benefits of service orientation around IIS7.

Server Core

What It Is

An installation option built into the upcoming Windows Server 2008 that omits graphical services and most libraries, in favor of a stripped-down, command-line-driven system. It's not unlike an upgraded version of DOS.

How It Works

Typically, a Server Core-based server is designed to be administered remotely. The new System Center Operations Manager, along with other tools, can present a graphical adminstrative panel for a Server Core machine. During installation, Server Core is set up so that the server performs one of six roles (by the time WS2K8 releases to manufacturing, there will likely be more.) so it serves its purpose well when left unattended.

What It Means

Now, a DNS or DHCP server or an auxiliary domain controller can be a dedicated server "box" with its own discrete, uninterrupted role. It can be a separate machine, or it can be a virtual server. Since it runs little or nothing else, its "attack surface" is reduced to a bare minimum - you can't take advantage of a buffer overflow problem with Windows Explorer, when there's no Windows Explorer. What's more, a Server Core system can be a rather spartan piece of equipment - maybe an older server, or a blade. This could drastically reduce both up-front cost and total cost of ownership.

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