Server 2016 has great enhancements and new features, and you don’t have to move to the cloud to have them. I remember when Server 2012 came out. Everyone was talking about how that version of Windows Server was going to push everyone to the cloud. It did not happen. Server 2016 is here, and it is still not happening. Microsoft is developing enhancements and features that are going to make you want to have your on-premise servers virtualized, if they are not already, and easier to manage.

Hyper-V Enhancements

Microsoft is including many enhancements for Hyper-V in Server 2016—too many to list in this brief article—but here are two that I that I am happy to see included in this latest version of Windows Server.

  • Hot Add of Memory & Network Adapters:

No longer will system admins need to shut down the virtual machine (VM) to increase or decrease the assigned memory and network adapters. You will be able to do it on the fly with no impact or downtime to the server or users that are working from data on that server. 

  • Nested Virtual Machine:

You will be able to use a virtual machine as a Hyper-V host. You can make changes to your Hyper-V infrastructure without worrying about affecting your production network. This feature is great for anyone who likes to tinker and toy with creating a segregated network. Besides, if you need to have a test or development network, but don't have the infrastructure to invest in a new host, you will be able to do so now. You can just nest it.

Nano Server

I don’t know about you, but I like to put my servers under as little strain as possible. On the topic of the Nano Server installation option with Server 2016, Microsoft confirms, “Nano Server is a remotely administered server operating system optimized for private clouds and datacenters. It is similar to Windows Server in Server Core mode, but significantly smaller, has no local logon capability, and only supports 64-bit applications, tools, and agents. It takes up far less disk space, sets up significantly faster, and requires far fewer updates and restarts than Windows Server. When it does restart, it restarts much faster” (“Getting Started with Nano Server,” 2016). So what does this mean? What are you going to do to put less strain on your server? According to Microsoft, the “Nano Server is ideal for a number of scenarios” listed below:

  • As a “compute” host for Hyper-V virtual machines, either in clusters or not
  • As a storage host for Scale-Out File Server, either in clusters or not
  • As a DNS server
  • As a web server running Internet Information Services (IIS)
  • As a host for applications that are developed using cloud application patterns and run in a container or virtual machine guest operating system

These attributes allow improved efficiency and process orientation while eliminating much overhead in terms of disk space and memory usage.  I am hoping that Microsoft adds more roles to the Nano Server functionality.

On-Premise Servers Still Play a Role…For Now

Microsoft is definitely encouraging the cloud with their mantra “mobile first, cloud first,” and no one can deny that is the direction the industry is headed. But for now, on-premise servers still play a role. Microsoft is improving their operating systems and giving system admins a few new and enhanced features that are going to improve productivity and efficiency.

What are you looking forward to in Server 2016? What feature is going to make your life as a system admin easier?

John Léger

IT Consultant | AfidenceIT

References

Getting Started with Nano Server. (2016, February 08). Retrieved April 07, 2016, from https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/mt126167.aspx