Comparing server 2003 versions

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Comparison of Windows 2003 Product Versions

Windows 2003 Server is available in 4 distinct versions, Standard, Enterprise, Datacenter, and Web Edition.  The web edition is a very scaled down version, and of little practical use to businesses outside of web publishing and distribution. beyond being an effective test ground before implementing a more full featured edition. In all, the web edition contains less than half of the features available from any other version, but can be invaluable to web designers.

WS2003 Standard
Ranking immediately behind the Web Edition, the Standard edition is the least expensive of the 3 main versions.  One of the major drawbacks of Standard is that it is only able to access a maximum of 4GB of pooled RAM.  On a small network, this is probably sufficient, but for medium to large applications, system performance could suffer considerably.  This version also supports 2-Way or 4-Way Symmetric Processing, which enables the use of multiple processors for a single application.  This is a remarkable improvement over all processors running independently, but is far short of the intricate Symmetric Processing available in Datacenter and Enterprise versions.

Internet Connection Firewall (ICF) offers security in the form of a firewall. Intended for the home and small business, ICF regulates communications directly targeted to the Internet. This is available for LAN, dial-up, virtual private networks (VPNs), and Point-to-Point Protocol over Ethernet (PPPoE).  This service is only included on Standard and Enterprise versions, not on Datacenter and Web editions.

WS2003 Enterprise
This edition allows pooled RAM resources of up to 64GB, greatly expanding the functionality of the network by providing memory to be accessible when and where it is required.  Enterprise also allows up to 8-Way Symmetric Processing, meaning that the number of processors available for intensive tasks can be increased, balancing the load of critical applications that could bog down a single processor.  ICF is included in this version as well as the Standard version.

WS2003 Datacenter
Datacenter is most advanced version of WS2003.  With pooled RAM resources of up to 512GB on 64-bit installations, this version is obviously the workhorse of the family.  Symmetric Processing has been increased to as much as 64-Way processing.  ICF is not included, but may be achieved using other firewall services which are available in this version.


Common Features in All Versions

Active Directory®, the hierarchical directory of all resources on the network, is available in all versions, and provides an easy to use listing that is available to administrators and users alike.  This feature is designed to enable access to network components, such as printers or hard drives, without having to undergo a drawn out search.

Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) applies encryption key technology to the network.  This makes authentication possible for such things as Secure Sockets Layer (SSL), and Transport Layer Security (TLS), the most common forms of encryption used for processing sensitive information over the internet.  There are several forms of security available through this feature, including the ability to create and manage unique X.509 v3 certificates, which allows you to be independent of, or integrated with, commercial client certification services.

With Remote Desktop for Administration (RDA), formerly known as Terminal Services in Remote Administration mode, an administrator can administer a computer from virtually any computer on the network. Based on Terminal Services technology, RDA is specifically designed for server management.

Terminal Server lets you deliver Windows-based applications — or the Windows desktop itself — to virtually any computing device, including those that cannot run Windows. For example, a user can access a virtual Windows XP Professional desktop and x86-based Windows applications from hardware that cannot run the software locally. Terminal Server provides this capability for both Windows-based and non–Windows-based client devices. When a user runs an application on Terminal Server, all of the application execution takes place on the server, and only keyboard, mouse, and display information traverses the network.
Note:  Terminal Server mode is not available on WS2003 Web Edition.

Network Load Balancing
Previously called Windows NT Load Balancing Service (WLBS), Network Load Balancing distributes incoming TCP/IP traffic among multiple servers. Your clustered applications, especially Web server applications, can handle more traffic, provide higher availability, and provide faster response times.

These are only a few of the many features of Windows Server 2003.  Other features include Remote OS installation and remote maintenance, .NET services, and Windows Media Services, to name only a few.
A complete comparison chart of all features is available from Microsoft at:

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