Microsoft outlined plans for Windows Server 2012 R2 and System Center 2012 R2 saying they provide parity with its datacenter infrastructure software and in its public cloud portfolio. The upgraded server OS and system management platform is also designed to help IT better-manage user-provided devices, providing extended mobile device management capabilities.
Microsoft which announced the upgrades at its annual TechEd conference in New Orleans this morning, said it will release previews of the R2 versions of Windows Server 2012 and System Center 2012, which are slated for general availability by year-end. Also planned is an upgrade to its cloud-based Windows Intune systems management service. Microsoft plans to upgrade its entire portfolio of datacenter software and services, as reported by my colleague Kurt Mackie.
Talking up the so-called bring your own device (BYOD) trend, Microsoft corporate VP Brad Anderson, joined on the TechEd 2013 keynote stage by principal program lead Molly Brown, said Windows Server 2012 R2 will let administrators register all user devices by creating a "workplace join" to Active Directory.
In a demo by Brown, an administrator can join a Windows 8.1 device to a domain. IT can use a new "Web application proxy" to publish corporate resources for access by end users, which is tied to Active Directory. Admins can also register a device with ADFS. Windows Server 2012 R2, combined with System Center 2012 R2 Configuration Manager, supports enabling a two-factor authentication security feature called "Windows Active Directory Authentication," which is based on the technology that Microsoft acquired from Phone Factor. The new R2 releases let administrators verify the identity of a user by initiating a phone call to a mobile device as a secondary security precaution.
Windows Server 2012 R2 with the new System Center 2012 upgrade, will also include a feature called selective wipe, which will let administrators remotely remove enterprise applications and data off of a user-owned device without deleting any data or apps owned by the user.
Another new feature coming to Windows Server 2012 R2 is Work Folders, which lets users store data on a device, replicate it to the file server and push out to other registered PCs and devices. With this feature, data is encrypted both on the devices and on the server, Anderson said. "That is truly enabling what we call 'people centric IT' and enables you make your users productive on all their devices."