This content is part of the Essential Guide: A guide to Microsoft Windows Server 2016

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How can we make a Windows Server 2016 upgrade painless?

Companies exploring Windows Server 2016 wonder how disruptive upgrading will be. The first step to a pain-free move is to get IT teams up to speed.

A Windows Server upgrade can pose serious risks -- errors, oversights, incompatibilities and other consequences...

can affect workload performance or disrupt key services. There are a few things to consider before planning a Windows Server 2016 upgrade.

An experienced and knowledgeable IT staff is the key to a smooth upgrade path. Have IT teams start working with Windows Server 2016 Technical Preview. This might include allocating funds to build or expand test setups; IT admins should also deploy current (or intended) servers and get better acquainted with Windows Server 2016 installation wizards. Get installation errors and hang-ups out of the way before moving anything into production.

And don't stop there. Use the test setup to deploy some workload VMs and see how current workloads perform under the new OS. Test out management tools and ensure admins can manage servers running Windows Server 2016 along with other OS versions. Incompatibilities will pop up; understand what needs to be patched or updated for proper compatibility, or what workarounds might be available.

All of this preparation takes time; however, Windows Server 2016 isn't slated for release to manufacturing until 2016. So it's good practice to start early. It may be 18 to 24 months before your upgrade plan is actually implemented in production. When you finally roll out a Windows Server 2016 upgrade, it will probably occur in phases -- upgrading servers in manageable groups rather than all at once.

Focus on what you actually intend to change. For example, new versions of workloads like SQL Server and Exchange Server are coming down the pike too. Don't plan to upgrade everything at the same time. Start with the new OS, and leave the workload updates until the new OS deployments are stable. Work on new enterprise application deployments later as separate projects.

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