Now that mainstream support for Windows Server 2008 has ended and Windows Server 2012 is getting up in years, more enterprises may want to consider jumping to Windows Server 2016, which is scheduled to be released in the third quarter of 2016.
Microsoft Windows Server 2016 includes several new features, including Nano Server -- a lightweight installation option that is 93% smaller than traditional Windows Server deployments -- and native container support. Windows Server 2016 also includes new software-defined storage options and improvements to Hyper-V.
Whether you're on the fence about upgrading or have already decided to deploy the new server operating system when it is officially released, this guide will highlight the most anticipated Windows Server 2016 features.
1What to know before you start-
How to prepare for a Windows Server 2016 upgrade
While everything may run fine on the existing server platform, there may be benefits in Windows Server 2016 that make an upgrade more appealing. Migrating server operating systems isn't a light undertaking. Does your IT staff have the expertise -- or the time -- to handle this type of upgrade or should it be outsourced to consultants?
One of Microsoft's key Windows Server 2016 features is Nano Server, aimed at making containers and Hyper-V workloads faster to deploy and less vulnerable to intruders. Continue Reading
Find out just how much you know about the impending changes to Microsoft's Windows Server 2016 licensing model with this short quiz. Continue Reading
An upgrade to Windows Server 2016 will generate interest as the release date draws near, but there are many decisions to weigh before making the leap. Continue Reading
One important factor to consider before upgrading to Windows Server 2016 is how it will benefit not only the enterprise, but the end users. You'll also want to look at the technical requirements and determine whether your existing servers will support the new features. Continue Reading
To mitigate problems during the upgrade process, ferret out any incompatibilities and errors in a test environment before switching the server platform to production. Continue Reading
After testing the technical preview, the next step is to decide who will execute the upgrade. Small to medium-sized businesses may be able to rely on in-house staff, but large businesses should consider using consultants for this task. Continue Reading
Some of the new features in Windows Server 2016, such as Nano Server and containers, will pose backup challenges. Vendors may not offer support for these features when Windows Server 2016 is released, which leaves early adopters needing to find a workaround until support is added. Continue Reading
2Windows Server 2016 storage-
Storage Spaces Direct adds functionality
Storage Spaces Direct, a new storage feature in Windows Server 2016, uses software to let administrators build highly available storages systems with local storage.
The new Storage Replica is one of several key Windows Server disaster recovery elements. Storage Spaces Direct also supports DR. Continue Reading
With Storage Replica, administrators have a new tool in their arsenal to avoid disaster and to recover data quickly. Continue Reading
Storage Spaces Direct allows failover clusters to be built around commodity storage without the need for a cluster shared volume. Administrators should be aware that within Storage Spaces Direct, virtual disks are not treated as virtual hard disk files, but as a series of extents. Continue Reading
One of the key features of Storage Spaces Direct is its use of high capacity devices, such as SATA disks and solid-state drives, allowing administrators to use high availability tiered storage and software-defined storage across the enterprise. Continue Reading
Microsoft is increasingly trying to drive customers to the cloud and microservices, but one feature that continues to stick out to administrators is Storage Spaces Direct, which improves the Storage Spaces technology introduced in Windows Server 2012. Continue Reading
3Windows 2016 virtualization-
The debut of containers and Hyper-V updates
Containers are the next progression of virtualization -- isolated environments where applications and services can run without affecting the system and vice versa. Windows Server 2016 will also feature significant security developments to Hyper-V.
Hyper-V Server 2016 is scheduled to be released in the third quarter of 2016. See how well you know its anticipated security features. Continue Reading
Nested virtualization allows a VM to host another VM, and a major benefit of Hyper-V nested virtualization is container support. Another perk? Organizations can build a test environment that more closely simulates the production deployment. Continue Reading
While Hyper-V and Windows Server containers are both forms of virtualization, there are some differences between the two that administrators should know. Continue Reading
Administrators can deploy Windows containers in Azure using Docker commands or a PowerShell module. While admins who have worked with Docker commands may be tempted to start there, the PowerShell commands may be more trustworthy. Continue Reading
Microsoft has shifted its licensing for Windows Server 2016 from a per-processor to per-core model for the Datacenter and Standard editions, while Hyper-V Server is available to download for free which, however, comes at the cost of limitations. Continue Reading
Containers divide complex applications into constituent components and can then be linked together to form a complete application. This allows each component to be patched without affecting other components in other containers. Continue Reading
4Microsoft goes small-
Nano Server in Windows Server 2016
Nano Server is a lightweight installation that is 93% smaller than a traditional Windows Server deployment. Despite its small size, Nano Server offers big benefits to enterprises. This section will break down the benefits of Nano Server, how to deploy it and what it means for Windows Server.
Microsoft offers a refactored Windows Server 2016 option called Nano Server that fills the need for speed in today's data centers. Here's how it works. Continue Reading
After Windows Server Core failed to catch on, Microsoft may convince administrators with its next attempt for a more VM- and cloud-friendly Windows Server deployment. Continue Reading
Windows Nano Server is a stripped-down version of Windows Server designed for hosting virtual workloads and cloud-native applications. Continue Reading
Microsoft Nano Server isn't intended to replace a traditional Windows Server deployment, but its small footprint can improve performance and security. Continue Reading
Nano Server's small attack surface means hackers have less code to try and exploit. Its reduced footprint also means it can improve performance because there are fewer running resources. Continue Reading
Nano Server and containers are some of the most highly anticipated features of Windows Server 2016. Storage Replica is also a topic of interest, especially for organizations that want to roll their own hyper-converged clusters. Continue Reading
5Manage Windows Server 2016-
Keep the server OS running smoothly
This section of the guide will walk you through how to manage Windows Server 2016 using features such as rolling cluster upgrades and PowerShell Direct.
Windows Server 2016 will ship with new PowerShell security features, including cmdlets that allow the use of PKI encryption for public and private key certificates. Continue Reading
Newer Windows Server versions are inherently more secure but that's only part of what's needed to improve security in an organization. Continue Reading
There are several security updates in Windows Server 2016, including the Just Enough Administration PowerShell toolkit and Windows Defender. Continue Reading
Windows administrators will have to adjust to using containers and will also have to learn how to manage them. Containers will also present challenges in terms of backups and troubleshooting. Continue Reading
6Stay up to date-
Windows Server 2016 news
This section will look at different Windows Server 2016 news stories.
Microsoft Docker container products got a boost from a deepened partnership between the two companies, which may pay enterprise dividends. Continue Reading
While Windows shops are eager to containerize, they're foregoing Azure containers and waiting until Windows Server 2016 becomes generally available to jump on the Docker bandwagon. Continue Reading
At Ignite in 2015, Microsoft revealed Azure Stack, which is both an infrastructure as a service and platform as a service offering. Azure Stack allows administrators to deliver more consistent application deployments when they are provisioned to the Azure public cloud or data center based Azure Stack. Continue Reading
Although there was much hullaballoo around containers leading up to Microsoft Ignite, the highly anticipated feature was noticeably absent from the second technical preview of Windows Server 2016. However, containers finally made an appearance in the third technical preview. Continue Reading
Industry experts see Docker containers following a similar trajectory as VMware in its early days, but it might not be long before Docker containers move out of testing environments and start becoming deployed in primary storage. Continue Reading
Must know Windows Server 2016 terms
Use this glossary section to get familiar with the terms you may encounter during your Windows Server 2016 upgrade.