Windows Media Services 2008 R2 Release Candidate

Microsoft has released an updated version of the RC for Windows Media Services (WMS) 2008 R2.  You may have noticed that some components for IIS are no longer included in the Windows Server media, e.g. FTP and WebDAV.  Why?  Microsoft appears to have taken a similar strategy with IIS like they did with Live Essentials for Windows 7.  Their thinking is that separating the release schedules will allow them to update the web component more frequently, e.g. we’ve already had 2 RTM releases of FTP (7.0 and 7.5) for IIS 7.X.  It also allows the product teams to continue working on something until they have it right and not to the greater Server schedule.

Windows Media Services 2008 R2 RC promises:

  • “More Options. Installs on all Windows Server 2008 R2 Release Candidate (6.1.7100) editions, including the following:

    • Windows Server 2008 R2 Datacenter
    • Windows Server 2008 R2 Enterprise
    • Windows Server 2008 R2 Standard
    • Windows Server 2008 R2 Foundation – new option for WMS!
    • Windows Web Server 2008 R2
  • More Value. All unicast streaming features are now available on all versions of Windows Server 2008 R2 (see table, below).
  • Higher Reliability. Already-proven on-demand and live streaming reliability further improves in Windows Server 2008 R2.
  • Easier Deployment. Fewer installation packages makes deploying WMS simpler:

    • One package for all editions of Windows Server 2008 R2
    • Two packages for the WMS Remote Server Administration Tool (for use on 32-bit and 64-bit Windows 7 clients)
  • Better Virtualization. Hyper-V for Windows Server 2008 R2 improves performance and manageability of streaming VMs.
  • Reduced Power Consumption. Windows Server 2008 R2 can dynamically adjust power usage as streaming loads change.
  • Multicast for Silverlight. With the new Silverlight Multicast Plug-in, WMS can now deliver multicast streams to Silverlight”.
  • You should check out the MS post to see the feature differences between running WMS on Server Standard VS Enterprise/DataCenter editions.

    Microsoft also reminds us that the “easiest way to get started with the WMS 2008 R2 is by running the Microsoft Web Platform Installer 2.0 Beta on your Windows Server 2008 R2 Release Candidate server”.

    IIS Database Manager Release Candidate

    This is going to be a pretty popular addition to IIS 7.X for application developers.  The idea is that the database manager scans for database connections in your web.config file and allows you to perform basic administrative tasks via a web console instead of logging in via SQL Management Studio.  No ports need to be opened for administration.  That’s a tidy solution for remotely hosted websites.  However, I’d still recommend revealing as little as possible to the net; you’re better off logging into the hosted server via RDP and using the management studio console.  But if you want, you can use this solution.  It’ll definitely be a player for internal deployments.

    • Add, rename, drop, and edit tables
    • View and manage primary keys, indexes and foreign keys
    • Data editing
    • Establish connections to multiple databases
    • Create and execute queries
    • Create, alter and delete stored procedures
    • Create, alter and delete views
    • Manage stored procedures
    • Manage both local and remote database from your machine
    • IIS 7.0 Manager provides remote management capabilities with a clean firewall-friendly option for managing a remote SQL Server
    • Exposes a public extensibility platform that enables the development of providers to support other databases
    • Compatible with SQL 2008 and 2005

    It’s a Release Candidate (not for production yet).  MS are promising some documentation soon.

    More IIS7 News from MIX

    David Lowe (an Irish man in Redmond) posted about some of the new stuff happening on IIS7.  I mentioned a bunch of it yesterday before the MIX announcement.  The new things include:

    • Windows Web App Gallery: “community-driven hub of the most popular Open Source and community Web applications that run on Windows”
    • Microsoft Web Platform site: “provides a streamlined way for users to explore, discover, and install ASP.NET, PHP, and other types of Web application for the Windows Platform”
    • IIS Media Services 2.0: “Updating the IIS Media Pack to include Smooth Streaming and Advanced Logging, IIS Media Services 2.0 is an integrated HTTP-based media delivery platform, delivering true HD (720p+) streaming and providing real-time logging to measure media investments”

    Some New IIS7 Stuff

    Heads up IIS7 administrators.  There’s a bunch of new stuff to have a look at:

    Administration Pack for IIS7

    Microsoft released x86 and x64 versions of this pack.  It offers:

    “The modules of the Administration Pack are a toolset to help you be more productive when using IIS Manager. Functionality varies from increased configuration editing capabilities to configuring FastCGI settings on your server.

    Configuration Editor:
    The configuration editor module will help you manage your configuration files. This tool is available for server administrators only. It allows you to edit any section, attribute, element or collection in your configuration file. In addition to editing these values you are also able to lock and unlock them. The configuration editor also allows you to generate scripts based on the actions you take as well as search the file to see where values are being used.

    UI Extensions:

    • UI Extension modules allow you to manage existing features through IIS Manager.
    • The FastCGI module allows you to manage your FastCGI settings.
    • The two ASP.NET modules allow you to manage your authorization and custom errors settings.
    • Finally the HTTP Request Filtering allows you to setup rules for http request filtering”.

    Microsoft Application Request Routing Version 2 for IIS 7 Beta 1

    Microsoft released a new version of this beta release for x86 and x64 servers.

    “The ARR version 2 beta 1 is an incremental release that includes all the features from version1, but it also adds a support for disk based cache.  More specifically, ARR version 2 beta 1 can be used to:

     

    • Enhance ARR version 1 scenarios with disk cache.
    • Use ARR as a cache proxy as an edge cache in CDN/ECN environment.

    The ARR version 1 and ARR version 2 beta 1 cannot be installed side-by-side”.

    IIS Database Manager Release Candidate

    There are x64 and x86 releases of this RC (pre-production) release.

    “IIS Database Manager allows you to easily manage your local and remote databases from within IIS Manager. IIS Database Manager automatically discovers databases based on the Web server or application configuration and also provides the ability to connect to any database on the network. Once connected, IIS Database Manager provides a full array of management options including managing tables, views, stored procedures and data, as well as running ad hoc queries.

    IIS Database Manager provides native support for SQL Server and is also fully extensible for developers to add support for other database systems. In addition, because IIS Database Manager is an extension of IIS Manager, administrators can securely delegate the management of databases to authorized local or remote users, without having to open additional management ports on the server.
    Here are a few articles to get your started on using the IIS Database Manager Release Candidate:

     

    Microsoft FTP Service 7.5 for IIS 7.0

    A newer version of FTP Service is available for x64 and x86 servers running IIS 7.  As you may or may not know, the default FTP service is a throwback to IIS6 and is not desirable considering the simpler management and new functionality in the free replacements from MS.

    “Microsoft has created a new FTP service that has been completely rewritten for Windows Server 2008. This new FTP service incorporates many new features that enable web authors to publish content better than before, and offers web administrators more security and deployment options. This new FTP service supports a wide range of features and improvements, and the following list contains several of the improvements in this version:

    • Integration with IIS 7.0: IIS 7.0 has a brand-new administration interface and configuration store, and the new FTP service is tightly integrated with this new design. The old IIS 6 metabase is gone, and a new configuration store that is based on the .NET XML-based *.config format has taken its place. In addition, IIS 7.0 has a new administration tool, and the new FTP server plugs seamlessly into that paradigm.
    • Support for new Internet standards: One of the most significant features in the new FTP server is support for FTP over SSL. The new FTP server also supports other Internet improvements such as UTF8, IPv6, and adaptive networking bandwidth usage.
    • Shared hosting improvements: By fully integrating into IIS 7.0, the new FTP server makes it possible to host FTP and Web content from the same site by simply adding an FTP binding to an existing Web site. In addition, the FTP server now has virtual host name support, making it possible to host multiple FTP sites on the same IP address. The new FTP server also has improved user isolation, now making it possible to isolate users through per-user virtual directories.
    • Extensibility and custom authentication: The new FTP server supports developer extensibility, making it possible for software vendors to write custom providers for FTP authentication. Microsoft is using this extensibility feature to implement two new methods for using non-Windows accounts for FTP authentication for IIS Managers and .NET Membership.
    • Improved logging support: FTP logging has been enhanced to include all FTP-related traffic, unique tracking for FTP sessions, FTP sub-statuses, additional detail fields in FTP logs, and much more.
    • New supportability features: IIS 7.0 has a new option to display detailed error messages for local users, and the FTP server supports this by providing detailed error responses when logging on locally to an FTP server. The FTP server also logs detailed information using Event Tracing for Windows (ETW), which provides additional detailed information for troubleshooting”.

    Microsoft WebDAV 7.5 for IIS 7.0

    Phew … this is the last one.  There’s an x86 and x64 release of the new version of WebDAV for IIS 7.0.

    “Micr
    osoft has created a new WebDAV extension module that has been completely rewritten for Windows Server 2008. This new WebDAV extension module incorporates many new features that enable web authors to publish content better than before, and offers web administrators more security and deployment options. This new WebDAV extension module supports a wide range of features and improvements, and the following list contains several of the improvements in this version:

    • Integration with IIS 7.0: IIS 7.0 has a brand-new administration interface and configuration store, and the new WebDAV extension module is tightly integrated with this new design. The old IIS 6.0 metabase is gone, and a new configuration store that is based on the .NET XML-based *.config format has taken its place. In addition, IIS 7.0 has a new administration tool, and the new WebDAV extension module plugs seamlessly into that paradigm.
    • Per-site Configuration: WebDAV in IIS 7.0 can be enabled at the site-level, unlike IIS 6.0 which enabled WebDAV at the server-level through a Web Service Extension.
    • Per-URL Security Settings: The new WebDAV extension module supports per-URL authoring rules, allowing administrators to specify custom WebDAV security settings on a per-URL basis. These authoring rules are separate from the IIS 7.0 per-URL authorization rules, thereby allowing one set of security settings for normal HTTP requests and a separate set of security settings for WebDAV authoring.
    • Support for shared and exclusive locks: The new WebDAV extension supports both shared and exclusive locks to prevent lost updates due to overwrites”.

    Microsoft Application Request Routing Version 1 for IIS 7

    I’ll be honest , I’m not 100% sure what this thing is.  It appears to be some more intelligent software based application load balancer and workload router for IIS 7 based web servers.

    “Microsoft Application Request Routing for IIS7 is a proxy based routing module that forwards HTTP requests to content servers based on HTTP headers and server variables, and load balance algorithms.

    Application Request Routing can be used to:

    • Increase application availability and scalability.
    • Better utilize content server resources.
    • Facilitate application deployment including pilot management and A/B testing.
    • Lower management costs and create opportunities for shared hosters”

    You can learn more here where there are links to documentation.  There are x86 and x64 versions that you can download and install.  It looks pretty powerful and I’m going to have to find 120 minutes somewhere to read a bit more about it.  On the face of it, it looks like a cheaper alternative to pricey hardware based load balancers like the F5 Big-IP or rely on the basic functionality of Windows load balancing (which does work!).