Windows Server 2008 – Server Role (Component Based Architecture)

Windows Server 2008 manages its features by role – Server Role. While discussing Windows Server 2008, you would find that the term “Server Role” is used frequently.

A server role (or simply role) is a specific function that your server performs on your network. Examples of roles you can deploy on Windows Server 2008 include File Server, Print Services, Terminal Services, and so on. Many of these roles will be familiar to administrators who work with Windows Server 2003 R2, but a few are new—such as Windows Deployment Services (WDS) and Network Policy and Access Services (NAP/NPS).

Server Roles brings the component based architecture to Windows Server 2008. It does not mean that it previous versions of Windows was not following component based architecture, but in Windows Server 2008 it’s prevalent throughout.

Most server roles are supported by one or more role services, which provide different kinds of functionality to that role. A good example here is the File Server role, which is supported by the following role services:

  • Distributed File System (DFS)
  • File Server Resource Manager (FSRM)
  • Services for Network File System (NFS)
  • Single Instance Store (SIS)
  • Windows Search Service
  • Windows Server 2003 File Services

Once you login to the Windows Server 2008 machine, the most important utility for an administrator or IT Pro is Server Manager is the Server Manager. It’s similar to “Computer Management” utility of XP/Vista. Infact lots of people describe Server Manager as Computer Management on steroids,” as it can do everything compmgmt.msc can do plus a whole lot more. It is the central admin utility and can perform almost all the tasks. Because it’s so powerful and one-stop location to do everything it’s available in the main menu in Windows Server 2008.


Following is the screenshot of Server Manager when you first open it.

Note that Server Manager uses the MMC or Microsoft Management Console tool. The default home page shows a summary/overview of the server.


Clicking on the Roles node on the left side hierarchy/tree view displays the Roles available or installed on the server. As you can see this particular server in the example only has the Web Server (IIS) installed. So it’s displaying – 1 if 16 (roles) installed. We can add or remove roles by clicking on the Add Roles or Remove Roles link.


Note that the services related to the Roles are also displayed. So in this case the services related to Web Server or IIS is shown –


Note that this is the same set of components that is installed while installing IIS7. I have discussed it in my previous blog on IIS7.

Now to add a new Server Role, let’s click on the Add Roles link, which displays the “Add Roles” wizard.


Select the Roles you want to add. In this example I have selected the File Services, Print Services and Application Server.


Note that the wizard provides basic validation. For example if DHCP Server or DNS Server option is selected for a server without Static IP address, it displays a warning dialog box –


Selecting next creates more pages in the wizards depending on the roles you have chosen. Since I have chosen File Service, Print Service and Application Server Service those pages are added to wizard.





Once the install button in the confirmation page of the wizard is clicked it’s start installation –

The progress is displayed to the user –


Once the installation is successful the results are displayed to the user –


Now the Roles Summary part of the Roles page in Server Manager applet displays – 4 of 16 installed (as we added 3 new roles). The navigation/tree view windows on the left side also show 4 roles.


Clicking on the Services on the tree view on the left shows the Service home page –


To install more roles, click on the Add Role Services link. This brings up the Add Role Services wizard. I selected the LPD Service which allows Unix machines use the printer or print services. Selecting Next displays the similar Confirmation, Progress and Results page of the wizard that we have shown before.


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