Re: Eh, Server 2008 R2 is awesome.
With the sole exception of domain controllers - seriously guys, virtualisation aware DCs in Server 2012 are the shit - I can't make the case for moving from Server 2008 R2 to Server 2012. The case for Server 2003 --> Server 2012 is easy. But Server 2008 R2 is a beloved old friend that is more than good enough to get the job done.
It used to be that I was perfectly comfortable with Server 2003 R2. DFSR was really all I needed to make most of what I do work fine. Then I got a Server 2008 R2 licence and set it up as a DC with DNS and DHCP. Now I can't go back. I just can't do it; Server 2003 is just too old.
You know what won me over? The ability to right click on a system in DHCP and add a reservation. That's it; right there. I wasn't won over by a firewall or a protocol, I wasn't won over by encryption or the power of Greyskull. I was won over because someone put an improvement into the operating system that does what computers are supposed to do in the first place: make boring repetitive tasks easier.
I find it interesting to note, however, that I am not nearly so rah-rah about Server 2012? Why? Because Microsoft threw ease of use out the Window. They became obsessed with the technology itself and fuck the people who have to actually use it.
If I wanted to live in a world like that, I'd use Linux. Oh wait, I do! Though it would send our resident hypertroll into paroxysms of rage, I pick Linux not because of nerdly masturbation or ethical handwaving. I choose it because in very specific circumstances it is actually *way* easier to use than Server 2012.
If you go the Server 2012 route you're stuck with the same damned things as you are on the "commercial Linux" route: mind-bogglingly shitty UIs or the shell. The shell is the aformentionned "rote memorization route" and we've wound the argument back 'round to "this isn't going to work for SMEs."
The real question is "what's going to come after Server 2008 R2 for the small business world?" It sure as shit isn't the cloud; well, not for anyone that cares about their data or not getting sued into a lump of coal. (Hi, Echelon!) The truth is that I don't really know the answer. I think there's a gap in the market here that simply isn't being filled.
That basically leaves me with hoping Synology decides to build a rockstar ecosystem around the DSM. They seem to be the only play that gives anything close to a damn any more...and it's not really all that close to a damn at all.
I personally think that the era of installed operating systems is simply over for the SME. Virtual and physical appliances are the future. The overwhelming majority of these will be Linux based, with the off BSD and Windows units making appearances for colour.
Microsoft and Oracle (via Solaris/ZFS) are sitting on the technologies required to make great SME gear. They won't do so because they fear cannibalising their cloud and enterprise licenceing markets.
Too many Linux types are Eadon-class zealots. They can't see beyond their own neuroses long enough to solve the UI problems. My recent interactions with Microsoft make it clear that under no circumstances do the give any fucks whatsoever about addressing usability issues either.
The closed source giants say "fuck users and SMEs, they aren't worth the money." Open source giants say "fuck users and SMEs, it's their own damned fault if they are too stupid to see the perfection of our glorious design." The next-generation SaaS vendors are all about the users and SMEs, slaving over designs until they are intuitive, but demand vendor lock-in, or your privacy in exchange for that usability. Worse, they're mostly based in the US, so the other 6.3 Billion of us can't use them!
It's starting to feel lonely here down at the bottom. No love for the SMEs or end users from any of the players out there. You know you've hit rock bottom when your hopes for the endpoint boil down to "maybe Tizen won't suck too bad" and your hopes for user-grokkable servers are a black box like Synology.
Beer, because this is damned depressing already.