Windows Server 2016

We are only a few months out from the scheduled September release of Server 2016 from Microsoft. In my previous article we looked at what makes Server 2016 the best deployment yet. We covered a few of the Hyper-V enhancements and, what I am most excited about, the Nano Server options. Aside from the Hyper-V and Nano Server enhancements, here’s what you need to know about Windows Server 2016.

Changes in Server 2016

LICENSING:  The first thing that you need to be aware of is licensing. The licensing for the Datacenter and Standard server editions will move from processors to physical cores. According to Microsoft, your cost will not increase if you have 8 cores or less per processor. You will also be licensed for 2 VM’s or 2 Hyper- V containers when you license all of the physical cores on the server.

Here is the explanation from Microsoft:

With Windows Server 2016

  • Each physical server will be required to be licensed for all physical cores;
  • Each physical processor will be required to be licensed with a minimum of 8 physical cores;
  • Each physical server will be required to be licensed with a minimum of two processors, totaling a minimum of 16 physical cores;
  • Core licenses will be sold in two-core packs (Microsoft Corporation, 2016). 

 

Windows Server 2016: What You Need to Know About Server 2016

 

These licensing changes will come into effect once Windows 2016 becomes generally available to the public in the 3rd quarter of 2016.

CONTAINERS: Microsoft is implementing containers for Server 2016. What do these do? According to Insert Source, “[containers] are an isolated, resource controlled, and portable operating environment.”

Microsoft is implementing two types of containers with Server 2016: Server containers and Hyper-V containers. Server containers operate using namespace isolation to limit the containers with their own files, network ports, running processes, etc. Hyper-V containers are Hyper-V instances that contain what you want running, again with their own files, network ports, running processes, etc.

A container and VM are similar. In fact, compared to the running container the install of the OS looks like a fresh, clean install of the operating system. The only thing it sees as installed is the OS with its own hard drive, memory etc.

Hyper-V containers are more isolated than server containers. With server containers, there is a trust between the container(s) and the server. This allows the containers to trust the server operating system and see it as its own operating system. The Hyper-V container does not share resources in the same way. It is isolated like a traditional virtual machine is with its own operating system. Your tradeoff is more security and isolation with Hyper-V containers versus more scalability/efficiency with the server containers.

Your tradeoff is more security and isolation with Hyper-V containers versus more scalability/efficiency with the server containers.
— John Léger

The Good and the Not so Good

As with every new incarnation of Windows Server, there are the good and not-so-good aspects of the system. Pricing with Microsoft is confusing and always requires us admins to get advice from a licensing expert. It does seem like Microsoft is making the transition a bit smoother for the SMB sector while increasing costs for their larger/enterprise customers.

Containers appear promising. They give you the chance to quickly spin up an isolated instance of Server 2016 and install your application on them. All the while they think they are an entirely separate entity.

Have you had a chance to look at or try Server 2016 yet? Technical preview 5 is now available here. Download it and check it out and let me know what you think.

John Léger

IT Consultant | AfidenceIT

References

Microsoft Corporation. (2016). Pricing and Licensing FAQS (May 2016). Windows Server 2016 and System Center 2016. Retrieved from http://download.microsoft.com/download/7/2/9/7290EA05-DC56-4BED-9400-138C5701F174/WSSC2016LicensingFAQ.pdf

Otey, M. (2015, June 10). Top Ten: New Features in Windows Server 2016. Retrieved from http://windowsitpro.com/windows-server-2016/top-ten-new-features-windows-server-2016

Peterson, N., Scherer, S., Cooley, S., Watson, C., & Nottingham, C. (2016, May 16). Windows Containers. Microsoft Developer Network. Retrieved from https://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/virtualization/windowscontainers/about/about_overview

Russinovich, M. (2015, August 17). Containers: Docker, Windows, and Trends. Microsoft Azure. Retrieved from https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/blog/containers-docker-windows-and-trends/

 

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