Windows Server 2008 R2 SP 1 Beta includes two notable enhancements

Rick Vanover describes two new features in Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1 Beta that are optimized for virtualization. He also covers a couple of operational considerations with the service pack.

I am not sure when service packs became incremental updates to product functionality, but that is the case in today's competitive landscape. Microsoft is working feverishly to keep pace with demanding IT environments -- so much so that new features are being rolled into products via service packs.

The very competitive virtualization race between VMware and Microsoft drives this behavior; for instance, after Windows Server 2008's release, the R2 release of Windows Server 2008 added even more functionality to Hyper-V to try to keep pace with the competition. The Service Pack (SP) 1 Beta for Windows Server 2008 R2 continues this trend with two new features optimized for virtualization: RemoteFX and Dynamic Memory.

  • RemoteFX is an enhancement to the remote desktop protocol (RDP) that adds features to deliver the best possible experience for applications, which include full video, Silverlight, and 3D animations. It is optimized to be delivered as an Aero desktop environment in a virtual desktop. RemoteFX by itself is not a total display protocol like RDP, RedHat SPICE, or Citrix HDX. There will be an updated RDP client to take advantage of all of these features.
  • Dynamic Memory is a host memory management technique that lowers the memory utilization on the Hyper-V host. It is not memory overcommit in the traditional sense, but rather a way to specify a startup amount of memory and a maximum amount of memory for a virtual machine. At no point will the total memory allocation of all guest virtual machines exceed that of the host, but it can manage the host memory better than the base release of Hyper-V. In a sense, you could interpret this as an enhancement to hot-add functionality for Hyper-V. I recently had the honor to participate in episode 17 of the VIRTUMANIA podcast, during which two Microsoft experts explained Dynamic Memory.
The SP1 Beta installation is pretty straightforward, though there is a point where some configuration is done offline, and the server will configure the service pack in the state shown in Figure A. Figure A

The other operational consideration with a new service pack is determining how much disk space will be consumed. I've installed SP1 Beta in my lab systems, and in my situation, an additional 1.5 GB is consumed on disk for the server on the C:\ drive by the service pack install. The service pack itself is 536 MB, so that amount may also be consumed on local disk. This is important if you have a large number of systems that are thin provisioned as a virtual machine, as the overall storage requirement will go up. I show the before and after properties of the C:\ drive in Figure B. Figure B

Click the image to enlarge.

For more information about Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1 Beta, read the reviewers guide and a feature overview document.

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