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Windows Server 2016 preview 2 hits without containers

Microsoft has re-factored Windows Server around containers, but IT pros must wait a little longer before they can actually test them out.

CHICAGO - Microsoft released the second technical preview of Windows Server 2016 this week, but noticeably absent was the much anticipated Windows Server Containers and Hyper-V Container technologies.

Given the strategic importance of the new container technologies to Microsoft, as well as its promise to give users more flexible ways to deploy Windows Server in a more bare bones version, some eager users here at the company's Ignite conference were a bit disappointed.

"It's clear now that containers are real and will have an impact on things like operating systems and other Microsoft products, [but] it would be nice to get my hands on it [Windows Server 2016 preview] sooner than later so I can know what I'll be dealing with for clients," said one senior technical administrator with a Chicago-based systems integrator. "[Microsoft will] likely have some tricky things to work through to make sure it works correctly with the rest of Windows Server," he said.

Windows Server Containers and Hyper-V will be included in the next Windows Server 2016 preview, due this summer, company officials said.

A Chicago-based IT consultant to financial services companies here at Ignite said Microsoft fell behind in developing Windows Server 2016 because the decision to include container technologies came late in the development cycle.

"They had hoped to get Windows Server out by 2015 but it has taken some time to integrate the [container] support in there," he said.  

The container technologies are the most important change to the operating system in a long time, said Jeffrey Snover, lead architect for Windows Server, during a technical session. He described container technologies as a "deep refactoring" of the product "with a cloud emphasis."

The built-in container technology ultimately will heavily influence the way all versions of Windows Server are architected. The first version will be tightly focused on cloud infrastructure and born in the cloud applications, Snover said.

This first version will become the foundation of Windows Server with a range of different and more complex components or capabilities built on top of it, he said.

Besides the container technology, other new capabilities in Windows Server 2016 include support for rolling upgrades for Hyper-V and Storage clusters which, according to Snover, better enable VMs to continue operating even if the compute-cluster fabric fails. It also will have Storage Replica, which is a synchronous storage replication for both backup and disaster recovery.

The finished version of Windows Server 2016 will not ship until sometime in 2016, although Microsoft officials did not say whether that would be early or late next year.

Accompanying Windows Server 2016, Microsoft also showed off the second technical preview of System Center 2016. The latest release features enhanced Linux management capabilities, most notable Desired State Configuration support, as well as SSH support and better LAMP stack monitoring. The offering also contains new monitoring capabilities for Azure, Office 365, SQL Server and Exchange.

Like Windows Server 2016, the finished version of System Center 2016 will ship sometime in calendar year 2016. However, the System Center Configuration Manager piece of the tools suite will ship in 2015 because of its support for Windows 10. Windows 10 is still due to ship in July, company officials said.

Ed Scannell is a senior executive editor at TechTarget. He can be reached at [email protected].

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