Hands-on with Windows Server 2008 R2: The Windows File Classification Infrastructure

Missing from Windows until now, file classification lets a business manage data based on its value and sensitivity

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FCI's capabilities

When FCI is fully baked upon the release of Windows Server 2008 R2, you'll be able to use it to:

Discover files containing sensitive information and automatically encrypt them. For instance, if Excel files with the word "salary" in their title are stored in the HR share on a server, FCI can automatically apply encryption.

Identify sensitive information on servers with low security defenses and move them automatically to more secure servers and locations. This is useful if Windows sees that same salary file on a branch office file server somewhere in the network without encryption -- it can move it to a centrally located, encrypted volume that is regularly backed up.

Remove files deemed no longer relevant or of value. The marketing materials for the project you canned seven years ago take up a lot of space and have absolutely zero use in today's world, so why continually spend the money to store them and back them up? FCI can identify these files and rid you of them, according (of course) to criteria you select.

Archive files and folders that are used very infrequently, or not at all but have some business or regulatory relevance, to cheap but slower storage locations. But if you did have some reason to keep those blitz campaigns and huge Photoshop poster files, FCI could help you automatically move them over to cheaper storage as it comes along -- storage that is slower but larger, isn't encrypted and is backed up much less often.

Select files that require more frequent backups, and possibly back them up to a different, faster or more accessible location. You might want a project status roll-up listing your critical initiatives in each department backed up, say, twice a day, while other files or folders that change less often might be okay being backed up just every other day. FCI can set up this system and, in the future, work with specific vendor software via its API to facilitate the backups.

Granularly control the backup treatment certain files receive based on their sensitivity or overall business value. If you have an archive of your online customer database, including your previous customers' credit card numbers, you may need to encrypt the backup of that file. FCI can provide this level of detail for you.

How to get started

Windows FCI edit classification

The first step is to define a classification property.

Click to view larger image

Let's take a tour of the FCI and see how we'd initially set up a policy and its enforcement.

To get started, load the release candidate and then add the File Server role via the Initial Configuration Tasks window that appears when you log in as an administrator. Be sure to choose the File Server Resource Manager (FSRM) option when adding the role. Once you've finished, click Start and enter File Server Resource Manager to open the FSRM.

The first step is to define a classification property, or the library of criteria that you can use to create classification rules. Here, we'll just set up a simple yes/no property to indicate if a file is in a given folder.

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