Windows Server 2016: What to Expect

Windows Server 2016At the time of this writing, August 20th, 2015, the third Technical Preview of Windows Serve 2016 has been released. While there is currently no official launch date for the public RTM version of Server 2016, it’s safe to say it will live up to its product name and be released sometime in 2016. In a recent 2-day seminar entitled “What’s New in Windows Server 2016 Preview Jump Start,” it was apparent that Microsoft will continue to make improvements to Server 2016 as well as addressing issues that have been discovered in the previous technical preview releases.

In general, Windows Server 2016 incorporates tighter integration with cloud services by adding Microsoft Azure Services and Connect this server to cloud services to Server Manager. Windows Server 2016 also includes significant enhancements to network and storage virtualization.

Deploying Nano Server on Windows Server 2016

Windows Server 2016 includes a new edition called Nano Server. Nano Server is a dramatically scaled down version of Windows Serve 2016, effectively taking the concept of Sever Core to a whole new level. To illustrate the extent to which Nano Server has been scaled down consider that the size of the Windows Server 2016 image file is 3.5 GB while the size of the Nano Server image file is just 148 MB. When deployed Nano Server uses just 500MB of hard drive space. Deploying the Nano Server requires converting the native .wim file to a .vhd file and adding the desired packages needed for the specific deployments: Hyper-V host, Failover Cluster, Storage Services, etc. Currently, there only 6 packages available but more packages are planned. Nano Server has absolutely no GUI and a limited set of PowerShell commands that can only be executed remotely because it is designed to be remotely managed through Server Manager or PowerShell remoting. The advantages of a Nano Server deployment beyond the obvious reduced footprint is that Nano Server will require considerably fewer updates and will require about half as many reboots for updating than the Server Core edition. It also has fewer installed and running services reducing operating system overhead. In a recent demo, it was shown that Nano Server, by itself, will typically require less than 500 MB of memory.

Other Windows Server 2016 Features

Additional new features include Windows Server Antimalware which is installed by default, Window Server Antimalware’s GUI, not installed by default, can be installed, if needed, using the Add Roles and Features Wizard from Server Manager. Otherwise, it can be managed using WMI, PowerShell or Group Policy.

  • Hyper-V

Hyper-V has been enhanced in Windows Server 2016 to include features such as Production Checkpoints, hot add and remove of network adapters and memory, Linux secure boot and a new virtual machine configuration file format, just to name a few. Production Checkpoints, enabled by default, provide a safer means of creating a point in time image of a virtual machine by using the Volume Snapshot Service (VSS) inside the Windows virtual machines to create the snapshot. Another great HyperV feature is PowerShell Direct. With PowerShell Direct you can now run PowerShell commands inside a virtual machine from a Hyper-V host with no network, firewall or remote management configuration requirements. That means that no network connection is required. The only requirement is that you will still need guest credentials to log in and PowerShell Direct only works when running Server 2016 as the HyperV host and the guest operating system is running Server 2016 or Windows 10.

  • Files and Storage Services

The Files and Storage Services role has also been improved in Server 2016 to include new features like Storage Spaces Direct, Storage Replica and Storage Quality of Service. Data deduplication has been improved to support multithreading, allowing the process to use multiple CPUs to improve throughput on volumes up to 64TB. Data deduplication also includes support for deploying deduplicated volumes for saving backup data thereby reducing the storage requirements for data backups.

There are many more enhancements to Windows Server 2016. To learn more about Windows Serve 2016 check out the below links. I’d also recommend checking out the Microsoft Virtual Academy for live and recorded courses on Windows Server 2016.

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