The most important innovations
Coming soon: The new operating system Microsoft Windows Server 2016 will be available shortly. In addition to several optimised features there will be many innovations that will make the transition to the server operating system attractive to many companies. The IT service provider ttec presents the most important new features.
Apart from numerous technical upgrades, Windows Server 2016 also entails changes concerning editions and licences. For the first time there will be serious functional differences between the standard edition and the data centre edition. Thus far the main difference between the data centre and the standard version was the right of use for virtual machines. While the data centre licence enabled an unlimited number of virtual machines with automatic activation to be operated on a server, the standard version was limited to two virtual machines. Alongside these two editions, there will also be the essentials edition which is limited to 25 users or 50 devices. It only provides the basic features and could be a profitable alternative in terms of cost consideration, especially for smaller companies.The most serious change in regards to licencing is that the licence is no longer assessed based on the number of CPUs but on the number of cores.
An overview of the central technical upgrades and innovations
1. Nano Server
Until now, Windows server installations, both core and GUI installations, have required a large amount of resources, irrespective of field of application. With the Nano server Windows Server 2016 offers the possibility to install a Hyper-V host with a disk capacity of only 500 MB. This installation is not only advantageous when it comes to optimising resources; updates are required less frequently and the number of necessary patches is more user-friendly.
2. Windows Defender for servers
Thus far, a Windows server was unprotected after the initial installation. The feature Windows Defender Built-in now protects the server immediately after the installation. If a company would like to use a different server protection software, windows defender can be removed swiftly using a simple command. Nevertheless, using the feature is an important first step for safety purposes, especially considering that there are probably still completely unprotected Windows servers.
Software Defined Storage - Storage Spaces Direct
Software Defined Storage is a core competence of cloud concepts. So far Microsoft's approaches in this area lag behind significantly in comparison to both commercial and open-source competitors. With Server 2016, Storage Spaces Direct is now available as an extension of previous Storage Spaces. As the concept is equivalent to VMware Virtual SAN, local disks are used as storage for virtual machines in a virtualisation cluster and therefore complex SAN infrastructures are avoided.
4. Software Defined Computing – Hyper-V
There are several optimisations and innovations in Hyper-V. For example, managing virtual machines using PowerShell is now possible with PowerShell Direct on a Hyper-V host, irrespective of both network and firewall settings of the virtual machine. Furthermore, in the future network adapters and memory of a virtual machine can be added during operation. With this, Microsoft grants a request repeatedly expressed by customers. Moreover, the new feature Nested Virtualization makes it possible to operate virtualised services in an already existing virtual environment.
5. Software Defined Computing – Container
The central innovation of Windows Server 2016 is the so called container technology In Windows Server 2016 users can utilise Windows Server Containers compatible with Docker as well as Hyper-V Containers. Simply put, containers are isolated systems which provide applications. Containers make use of the host’s resources like operating system, libraries or internal memory; therefore they boot a lot quicker than traditional virtual machines. Rolling out the environment for developments, tests and live systems can be simplified and accelerated immensely with containers.
6. Software Defined Networking – Azure Stack
Part of the innovations is Azure Stack. With this product a real hybrid cloud with Microsoft standard tools and the central deployment of IaaS and PaaS can be set up. An Azure Stack environment runs independently from the public cloud Azure and the private cloud in the local network, but data exchange with those clouds and shared services with a hybrid cloud are still possible.
7. Cluster Rolling Upgrade
In the past, many companies put off upgrades for Hyper-V or scale-out file server (SOFS) clusters because a number of preparations were necessary. Very often a downtime was also inevitable. The Server 2016 now allows an online rolling update from Windows Server 2012 R2 to Windows Server 2016 without interruption. This is possible since the cluster can be operated on two different functional levels.
"Microsoft Windows Server 2016 partially offers considerable improvements and upgrades compared to previous versions,” emphasises Jürgen Waiblinger, Solution Manager Infrastructure at transtec in Reutlingen. “Companies should become familiar with the new technical diversity early on and evaluate to what extend they can use said diversity to strengthen their infrastructure and prepare it for the future. However, it is important to mention that the upgrades lead to a higher level of complexity. Companies should therefore ask themselves if they would like to ensure the support of a competent external service provider when it comes to choosing and implementing solutions."