Windows Server 2003
Windows Server 2003 is Microsoft’s current server operating system besides the lates windows server 2008 operating system. It is used by corporations large and small to manage both their internal infrastructure, and to also manage external services such as websites and email. The ability for Windows Server 2003 to be deployed both internally and externally is possible since many programs and services come as standard; examples of these include Internet Information Services (better known as IIS) and the Active Directory manager which allows corporations to give employees acess to one user account which they can then use on any computer that is connected to the Windows domain within the company’s network.
Windows Server 2003 was the successor to the much successful Windows Server 2000, and is soon to be replaced with Windows Server 2008. Windows Server 2003 has the ability to be deployed and controlled remotely, since it allows administrators to access their Windows severs using the Microsoft Remote Desktop Client that is included as default with all Windows installations; this means that in theory you could have a server in London, and be controlling it remotely from Sydney, Australia. When you connect to a Windows Server 2003 server using the Remote Desktop Client, you are presented with the login screen that you would see on the standard console:
As you can see from the screenshot of the login screen, Windows Server 2003 uses the ‘classic’ Windows theme that can also be used Windows XP and Windows Vista. By default, Windows Server 2003 automatically creates an account named ‘Administrator’, which in most cases is what you’ll be using to manage your Windows server; since you will probably rarely need to access your Windows server, you will probably have no reason or need to create any extra accounts that will be able to access your Windows Server 2003 server.
Internet Information Services (IIS)
IIS is Microsoft’s web server that is included as default with any Windows Server 2003 installation. IIS will only run on Microsoft Windows operating systems, and is the only web server that is able to serve dynamic server side scripts written using Microsoft’s classic ASP and ASP.NET programming languages. IIS 6.0 is the version that is installed as default on Windows Server 2003, and allows developers and webmasters to host as many websites as they want using the service. The IIS Manager is also included to allow server administrators to carry out the tasks that they may need to, i.e. the installation of SSL certificates on IIS websites or creating a new ‘website’ for use in IIS.
In most cases, the IIS Manager is accessible from ‘Start > Administrative Tools > Internet Information Services (IIS) Manager’. One useful feature of the IIS Manager is that it also allows yout o manage any other Windows servers you have in your network that are running IIS; this means that you only need to use one console to manage them all without having to go to each server to carry out the tasks that you need to. Also manageable from IIS is the SMTP service that is installed as default with it to allow you to send emails from any classic ASP or ASP.NET scripts you might want to host on your server.
Active Directory is an optional service that allows you to create a ‘domain’ which you can then use to manage all the services that you have running on your company network. Active Directory acts as a central store for user accounts, computer names, printers and other services you may have running on your network. By keeping all this information in once central location that can be access by all your networked computers, your employees are able to logon to any computer within your network using just one user account, and can in turn access any printer that you have stored in your Active Directory.
Active Directory is also the base for Microsoft Exchange Server installations. Microsoft Exchange Server utilizes the store of user accounts to create mailboxes that can then in turn be accessed by your employees. As Active Directory is an optional program for Windows Server 2003, you need to install it manually; this can be done by running the command ‘dcpromo’ using the ‘Run’ option from the Start menu.
Windows Server 2003 also comes with a DNS server to allow you to use your Windows server as either an internal DNS resovler for the computers on your company network, or as an external nameservers for your internet domains. If running Active Directory, then you will already have the DNS service installed on your Windows server since it is needed for Active Directory to function correctly in some tasks. The DNS service manager that comes as standard with Windows Server 2003 also allows you to manage other DNS servers running Microsoft DNS Server that are on the same network as the Windows server that you are administrating.
In some cases, you might have the DNS service manager installed, but not the DNS service itself installed on your server. In this case, you can either install the Microsoft DNS Server off your Windows Server 2003 CD-ROM, or just use the service manager to administrate other DNS servers running Microsoft DNS Server that you have on your network.
Windows Media Server
Windows Media Server is another optional program that can be manually installed on a Windows Server 2003 server. The main purpose of Windows Media Server is to serve multimedia content via the HTTP protocol on port 80, meaning that it can’t be used on a server that also has Internet Information Services (IIS) installed. Unlike other streaming media servers, Windows Media Server also allows for live streaming and broadcasting, making it the perfect solution for internet radio stations and in other situations where the content being broadcast is live.
Windows Media Server can also be used to serve on-demand content to your website’s visitors, and also allows you to piece different multimedia clips together into one stream that can then be accessed by all using the HTTP protocol.
So, in conclusion, Windows Server 2003 comes packed with optional extras that you can install on your server and use at your leisure. Unlike other server operating systems, Windows Server 2003 is an all purpose server operating system that can be deployed for almost any scenario in which a server is needed. Large corporations are able to harness the power or Windows Server 2003 by using it to host their corporate websites, to manage their internal IT infrastructure and serve and host multimedia content for employees which can then be accessed on demand when needed.
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