The Impact of Windows Server 8 on Automation

by Graham Taylor, in Automation Strategy, posted 3/12/12
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With Microsoft’s release of its long-awaited Windows 8 Consumer Preview on Feb. 29, the tech world has been abuzz, primarily over the new “metro-style,” consumer/mobile-device friendly, operating system. And, quite rightly so, this marks a major milestone in Microsoft’s history, while being a vital part of their consumer products strategy. However, what has garnered a lot less attention — although has definitely not gone unnoticed by Microsoft’s business oriented technology professionals —is what Windows Server 8 brings to the party.

Windows Server 8 beta, also released on the 29th, similarly supports the “metro-style” of interacting with the Server Operating System, with a substantial focus on virtualization and cloud deployment capabilities. The focus is not limited to Microsoft’s own Hyper-V and Azure offerings, but they have made significant architectural changes to Active Directory Domain Services to facilitate the virtualization of domain controllers. Microsoft is in a way playing catch up in this area of the market, given that these technologies have gained significant traction in the market place over the past few years.

Leading-edge software vendors, such as Network Automation, have already been at the forefront of providing System Managers with the necessary tools to enable automation of these highly utilized technologies. For some time now, AutoMate and AutoMate BPA Server have provided drag-and drop capabilities that allow automated configuration of virtualized domains in the cloud together with the deployment of the requisite Active Directory services, enabling lights-out domain management without the need for scripting.

Windows Server 8 further entrenches PowerShell, and hence scripting, as the System Administrators crutch for creating automation. Microsoft has provided GUI-oriented wizards for managing domains and Active Directory. But despite the metro style of Server 8, which should lend itself to a more GUI-oriented approach to system management, it still has a dependence on non-GUI oriented scripting for enabling automation.

Windows Server 8

For AutoMate customers, this is not in any way a negative aspect of 8, but rather further highlights the strength of AutoMate’s GUI-oriented approach to automation. From the Graphical Workflow Designer, (the cornerstone of our BPA product) to the Task Builder (central to both BPA and AutoMate), we have elevated the system manager’s automation activities to a graphical, user-interface layer, in much the same way metro is elevating the day-to-day interaction with the operating system. 

Windows Server 8 is beta and will no doubt benefit over time from input from the Microsoft ecosystem of users. And the metro style will continue to permeate throughout the operating system. This more graphically oriented approach is in synch with AutoMate’s automation platform — and Microsoft’s heightened focus on virtualization and the cloud is consistent with AutoMate’s own focus of providing a range of automation tools for both virtualization, the cloud (be it Azure or AWS) and Active Directory.