Frizbits’ Bits

November 30, 2007

Brushing up on Server 2008. Roles and Features?

Filed under: Windows Server 2008 — Tags: , , — frizbit @ 3:50 pm

Lately I’ve been digging into Windows Server 2008 with the goal of passing Microsoft’s 70-649 test.  With this in mind I’ll be posting some interesting things I find out along the way.

 The first item I’d like to talk about is Roles and Features.  Windows Server 2008 takes another step down the path of componentizing Windows architecture.  If anyone is familiar with the Exchange 2007 roles the concept will be familiar.  A role is simply a unique function (or service) that the server performs.  Roles are things like DNS server, DHCP server, File server, Active Directory Domain Services (i.e. Domain Controller).  Check here for a complete list of roles. 

 Windows Server 2008 also has something called features.  A feature is a slightly different animal than a role.  A role with provide services for that particular …. role.  A feature provides something not necessarily catigorized as a service provided to others.  It may be management or scripting tools like Powershell, or it could be something to enhance existing roles like Windows Clustering.  So in order to have a clustered file server we install the file server role and the clustering feature.

Confusing?  Maybe.  I think we will all get used to it in the long run.  For the most part the division seems to make sense.  Except… There is always an exception.  DNS server is a role.  WINS server is a feature.  Both services provide name to address network services.  WINS is something Microsoft (and many administrators) have been wanting to get rid of for a long time.  According to this chat transcript thats the only reason WINS is a feature.  Roles stand out as easy to install.  They want WINS slightly buried in order to assist phasing it out.  Seems as good a reason as any i guess.

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