Out of the box a Windows Server 2012 isn’t really that helpful. But luckily, it has these things called Roles. Roles are things like Hyper-V, File Sharing, Windows Update Services, Web Server, etc. Each role then has a collection of services that it can run as well, within the Role. Roles include (borrowing from Microsoft here):
- Active Directory Certificate Services Overview
This content provides an overview of Active Directory Certificate Services (AD CS) in Windows Server 2012. AD CS is the server role that allows you to build a public key infrastructure (PKI) and provide public key cryptography, digital certificates, and digital signature capabilities for your organization.
- Active Directory Domain Services Overview
By using the Active Directory Domain Services (AD DS) server role, you can create a scalable, secure, and manageable infrastructure for user and resource management, and provide support for directory-enabled applications such as Microsoft Exchange Server.
- Active Directory Federation Services Overview
This topic provides an overview of Active Directory Federation Services (AD FS) in Windows Server 2012.
- Active Directory Lightweight Directory Services Overview
Active Directory Lightweight Directory Services (AD LDS) is a Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP) directory service that provides flexible support for directory-enabled applications, without the dependencies and domain-related restrictions of AD DS.
- Active Directory Rights Management Services Overview
This document provides an overview of Active Directory Rights Management Services (AD RMS) in Windows Server 2012. AD RMS is the server role that provides you with management and development tools that work with industry security technologies—including encryption, certificates, and authentication—to help organizations create reliable information protection solutions.
- Application Server Overview
Application Server provides an integrated environment for deploying and running custom, server-based business applications.
- Failover Clustering Overview
This topic describes the Failover Clustering feature and provides links to additional guidance about creating, configuring, and managing failover clusters on up to 4,000 virtual machines or up to 64 physical nodes.
- File and Storage Services Overview
This topic discusses the File and Storage Services server role in Windows Server 2012, including what’s new, a list of role services, and where to find evaluation and deployment information.
- Group Policy Overview
This topic describes the Group Policy feature in Windows Server 2012 and Windows 8. Use this topic to find the documentation resources and other technical information you need to accomplish key Group Policy tasks, new or updated functionality in this version compared to previous versions of Group Policy, and ways to automate common Group Policy tasks using Windows PowerShell.
- Hyper-V Overview
This topic describes the Hyper-V role in Windows Server 2012—practical uses for the role, the most significant new or updated functionality in this version compared to previous versions of Hyper-V, hardware requirements, and a list of operating systems (known as guest operating systems) supported for use in a Hyper-V virtual machine.
- Networking Overview
This section contains detailed information about networking products and features for the IT professional to design, deploy, and maintain Windows Server 2012.
- Network Load Balancing Overview
By managing two or more servers as a single virtual cluster, Network Load Balancing (NLB) enhances the availability and scalability of Internet server applications such as those used on web, FTP, firewall, proxy, virtual private network (VPN), and other mission-critical servers. This topic describes the NLB feature and provides links to additional guidance about creating, configuring, and managing NLB clusters.
- Network Policy and Access Services Overview
This topic provides an overview of Network Policy and Access Services in Windows Server 2012, including the specific role services of Network Policy Server (NPS), Health Registration Authority (HRA), and Host Credential Authorization Protocol (HCAP). Use the Network Policy and Access Services server role to deploy and configure Network Access Protection (NAP), secure wired and wireless access points, and RADIUS servers and proxies.
- Print and Document Services Overview
This is an overview of Print and Document Services, including Print Server, Distributed Scan Server, and Fax Server in Windows Server 2012.
- Remote Desktop Services Overview
Remote Desktop Services accelerates and extends desktop and application deployments to any device, improving remote worker efficiency, while helping to keep critical intellectual property secure and simplify regulatory compliance. Remote Desktop Services enables both a virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) and session-based desktops, allowing users to work anywhere.
- Security and Protection Overview
The table on this page provides links to available information for the IT pro about security technologies and features for Windows Server 2012 and Windows 8.
- Telemetry Overview
Find out about Windows Feedback Forwarder—a service that enables you to automatically send feedback to Microsoft by deploying a Group Policy setting to one or more organizational units. Windows Feedback Forwarder is available on all editions of Windows Server 2012.
- Volume Activation Overview
This technical overview for the IT pro describes the volume activation technologies in Windows Server 2012 and how your organization can benefit from using these technologies to deploy and manage volume licenses for a medium to large number of computers.
- Web Server (IIS) Overview
This document introduces the Web Server (IIS) role of Windows Server 2012, describes new IIS 8 features, and links to additional Microsoft and community information about IIS.
- Windows Deployment Services Overview
Windows Deployment Services enables you to deploy Windows operating systems over the network, which means that you do not have to install each operating system directly from a CD or DVD.
- Windows Server Backup Feature Overview
This section provides an overview of the Windows Server Backup feature and lists the new features in Windows Server 2012.
- Windows Server Update Services Overview
Windows Server Update Services (WSUS) enables information technology administrators to deploy the latest Microsoft product updates. By using WSUS, administrators can fully manage the distribution of updates that are released through Microsoft Update to computers in their network. In Windows Server 2012, this feature is integrated with the operating system as a server role. This topic provides an overview of this server role and more information about how to deploy and maintain WSUS.
- Windows System Resource Manager Overview
With Windows System Resource Manager for the Windows Server 2012 operating system, you can manage server processor and memory usage with standard or custom resource policies. Managing your resources can help ensure that all the services provided by a single server are available on an equal basis or that your resources will always be available to high-priority applications, services, or users.
To add a Role is a pretty straight forward process. To get started, open Server Manager and click on the Dashboard. From the Dashboard, click on the Manage menu and click on Add Roles and Features.
At the Add Roles and Features Wizard click on Next at the Before You Begin Screen.
At the Installation Type screen, click on Role-based or Feature-based Installation, unless you are installing Remote Desktop Services (formerly called Terminal Services), then click on that radio button instead.
At the Server Selection screen, click on the server you’d like to install the role on and then click on Next.
At the Add Roles or Features screen, choose the role you’d like to install.
If there are any requirements to use the service, you’ll then be notified that those requirements exist. I usually leave the Include management tools (if applicable) box checked the first time I install a role and click on Add Features.
If any issues are encountered, you’ll then be alerted that there was a problem. If you’d like to correct the issue, click cancel, correct the issue and then rerun the tool. Or if you’d like to proceed anyway, click Continue.
Back at the Server Roles screen, the box will then be checked. Click on Next. At the Features screen, you can add a feature, although in this case we won’t be doing so. Then, click Next.
At the screen for the role you just selected, read the information, then click Next.
At the Confirmation screen, click Install. Optionally, you can also choose whether to reboot the server when the service is finished installing.
Once installed, click Close. Also, at this screen, you can export the configuration settings for the service for future use.
That’s it. You’ve now installed DNS services in Windows Server (or whatever service you are setting up). The services still need to be configured, but the initial install should now be complete!