Finding Windows Server Roles and their Substitutes

Windows Server Roles – You can replace a physical server using a cloud that can be relatively very simple. However, without any doubt, it takes a lot to replace your on-prem server, which depends on what indispensable functions that you are using on the Windows Server. There are around nine core Windows Server roles that hold significant importance.

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Here, you will discover some of the commonly used Windows Server Roles and find out their alternatives. 

What are the Reasons to Replace Your Servers?

There is a list of causes why IT organizations are searching to replace Windows Server roles. Some of the most evident reasons are as follows:

  1. Heterogeneous Environment:

The organization has some of the resources that do not even integrate with the Windows Server, including macOS, Linux, SaaS, and IaaS.

  1. Inclination towards Linux:

You can opt for Linux servers since they are cheap in comparison with Windows Server. In addition, the open-source software is conveniently available for Linux since it is able to eradicate the licensing costs of CALs.

  1. Underutilized Server:

The companies do not even need the existing on-prem server and do not essentially need to stay maintaining and paying for CALs. 

  1. Server Expiring:

Their existing server is replaced or sometimes no longer supported, for example, in Windows Server 2003 or 2008. Therefore, the cost of keeping it up-to-date or substituting an on-prem server is very high.

  1. Opting For All Cloud:

The relocation to the cloud is becoming an essential feature for various IT teams. Key drivers are efficiency, cost savings, and security advantages. However, Azure Services are not only good enough for you to get it done.

Top Windows Server Roles and their Substitutes

  1. Active Directory Domain Services (AD DS)

AD DS becomes a core directory service for several companies by handling their hierarchical associations among network objects, including servers, applications, users, systems, etc. Moreover, by using AD DS, IT admins can easily handle users’ domain characteristics and the ultimate access to Windows resources. ADDS is an essential part of organizational security. It is also a core source for authentication and authorization. 

AD DS Cloud Substitute:


  1. Network Policy Access Services (NPAS)

NPAS allows admins to join with users on the internal network, along with the external internet. In addition, it enables numerous specific roles, including Health Registration Authority (HRA), Network Policy Server (NPS), and Host Credential Authorization Protocol (HCAP). Using these, admins are able to protect network connections with RADIUS protocol.

Network Policy Access Services Substitute:


  1. Active Directory Federation Services (AD FS) 

AD FS joins on-prem AD DS characteristics to web-based apps outside the domain by using Federated Trust for authenticating the user entrance. Since AD FS is known to be a single sign-on (SSO) solution, it integrates web app access, especially under AD DS domain credentials.

AD FS Cloud Substitute:

Azure Active Directory, Directory-as-a-Service, and web application SSO solutions.

  1. Domain Name System (DNS) Server

DNS Server links the domain name for people to access web pages by using their Internet Protocol (IP) addresses. Therefore, in short, it is both a translator and phone book, which allows users on the web pages that they essentially require to access without directly using the servers.

Domain Name System Substitutes: 

OpenDNS, Google Public DNS, Cloudflare, etc.

  1. Web and Application Servers

Web and Application servers enable companies to build and host sites with several other web-based apps based on-prem server infrastructure. Explicitly, a web server allows HTTP requests/responses using the average web page. Moreover, the app server offers a development environment along with the hosting infrastructure for apps using the internet.

Web and Application Servers Substitute:

Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) provides Azure, AWS, or GCP, or any other PaaS vendors.

  1. File Services Server

File Services Server delivers shared data storage and permitting access to files based on domain authorizations. In addition to this, it also encodes data which is significant for enabling remote network storage by using VPN.

File Services Server Substitutes: 

SharePoint, DropBox, G Drive, Synology, QNAP, Samba

  1. Printer and Document Services

Printer and other Document Services allow administrative printing procedures by giving them access to printing servers and networking printers. Admins use Printer and Document Services for monitoring the print columns and controlling the permission to print jobs. Moreover, Printer and Document Services gives you access to Distributed Scan Server, which allocates the scanned documents to separate workstations when essential.

Printer Services Substitutes: 

PrinterLogic, Google Cloud Print, Samba

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