Windows 2000 Server and Professional are fundamentally quite similar, both in terms or interface and architecture. As such, they often get lumped together when discussed, and for the purpose of the exams, this is very much the case. However, there are a number of fundamental differences between the two. The two main differences between Server and Pro are in terms of optimization as well as services offered. Professional is optimized as a desktop operating system where one runs user applications, while Server is optimized to service a variety of requests from client systems. In terms of services offered, Server provides many more than Professional, providing the ability to run WINS, DNS, Active Directory, and so forth. Since we’ve already covered the Professional materials, let’s begin taking a look at what the Server product itself is all about.
First off, we can’t just talk about the Server product, because there are actually three: Windows 2000 Server, Advanced Server, and Datacenter Server. There seems to be some debate over the differences between these three, when in fact the only differences are in terms of scalability and availability.
Be aware that the minimum support CPU for Server is a Pentium 133, and recommended minimum for RAM is 256 MB, although 128 MB is the minimum supported. The scalability elements outlined in the table above are obvious – Advanced and Datacenter Server can utilize more RAM and CPUs than the basic Server version. However, both of these versions also support two types of clustering, which are availability technologies. When servers are clustered, more than one server (called a node) is connected to a common storage device, and work together as a single system to ensure availability of mission-critical applications. Should one of the nodes in a cluster fail, the services are still available, since the other nodes continue to handle requests. In a Network Load Balancing (NLB) cluster, client requests are distributed amongst a number of systems that provide access to a single application. For example, you could have up to 32 servers configured with identical copies of your website, and the NLB will distribute requests across the NLB cluster, increasing performance, availability and reliability. Just a note, but any suggestion that Windows 2000 Server cannot act as a domain controller is absolutely false.