Definition

Microsoft Windows Server 2016

This definition is part of our Essential Guide: The essential guide to Microsoft Windows Server 2016
Contributor(s): Tayla Holman

Microsoft Windows Server 2016, previously referred to as Windows Server vNext, is a server operating system (OS). The server operating system is specifically developed to serve as a platform for running networked applications.

A highly anticipated feature of Windows Server 2016 is the inclusion of two native containers: Windows Server Containers and Hyper-V Containers. Windows Server Containers will run directly on the OS but are isolated from each other. Hyper-V Containers provide enhanced isolation and run from a Microsoft Hyper-V virtual machine (VM). Windows Server 2016 will also provide built-in support for Docker, which can be used to manage both types of containers. 

Windows Server 2016 will also replace Hyper-V snapshots with production checkpoints, which allow administrators to roll back a VM to an earlier point in time without having to restore from a backup. Unlike snapshots, checkpoints use Volume Shadow Copy Services. The new version of Hyper-V in Windows Server 2016 will support virtual Trusted Platform Module  which allows a VM to be encrypted using BitLocker.

Other new and updated features in Windows Server 2016 include:

Nano Server, a lightweight installation option that is designed to run exclusively in cloud- and container-based scenarios and is 93% smaller than traditional Windows Server setups. Nano Server does not include a GUI or traditional .NET framework; administrators will manage Nano Server instances remote using PowerShell and Windows Management Instrumentation.

Network Controller, a new server role that provides a centralized, programmable point of automation to configure, manage, monitor, and troubleshoot virtual and physical network devices and services. Network Controller can be used with System Center products like Virtual Machine Manager and Operations Manager as well as PowerShell.

Storage Quality of Service (Storage QoS), which provides a way to centrally monitor and manage storage performance for virtual machines and automatically improves storage resource fairness between multiple VMs using the same file server cluster.

Storage Replica, a new feature that enables storage-agnostic, block-level synchronous replication between servers or clusters for disaster preparedness and recovery.

Storage Spaces Direct, which enables highly available and scalable software-defined storage for private cloud. Storage Spaces Direct has two deployment modes: private cloud storage where it is separate from the hypervisor, and private cloud hyper-converged, where Storage Spaces Direct and the hypervisor are on the same servers.  

Rolling upgrades for Hyper-V and scale-out file server clusters. This feature allows users to add a Windows Server 2016 node to a Hyper-V cluster with nodes running Windows Server 2012 R2.

Hot add and remove virtual memory and virtual network adapters while the VM is running.

Just Enough Administration, a PowerShell toolkit that restricts users to only perform tasks for which they are authorized as part of their role.

The first technical preview of Windows Server 2016 was released on October 1, 2014 and the second preview was released on May 4, 2015. A third technical preview was released on August 19, 2015 and included the first public preview for Windows Server Containers, as well an Emergency Management Console that allows users to view and fix networking configurations directly from the Nano Server console.  The next preview will include Hyper-V Containers.

Unlike previous versions, Windows Server 2016 was not scheduled for release simultaneously with Windows 10 -- the last major version of Microsoft's client OS. It is scheduled for final release in 2016.

The technical requirements for Windows Server 2016 are a 1.4 GHz processor, 512 MB of memory, 32 GB of disk space, and a 1 gigabit Ethernet adapter.

This was last updated in August 2015

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