Just as your workstation needs an operating system like Windows 10 to run different applications; physical servers require an operating system to perform a variety of functions for your business.
Windows Server 2016 is Microsoft’s most recent server operating system. Generally available since October 2016; this new server operating system focuses on helping businesses operate in public and private cloud environments, while also improving upon the features of Windows Server 2012.
To compete with virtualization giants like VMware’s vSphere; Microsoft built in several features and upgrades. Below are some of the core enhancements you need to know:
There are three ways to install Windows Server 2016, and the most promising addition is Nano Server; a “headless” deployment option. By this, we mean that Nano throws away non-essential settings to lighten the load, there’s no graphical user interface (GUI), and it supports only 64-bit applications and tools.
Because of this, it takes up far less disk space (ranging from 400-500MB); allowing you to allocate more server space and RAM for storage and other computing requirements. Nano also reboots quickly, requires fewer updates than other server deployments, and has a smaller attack surface that makes it less prone to hackers’ exploits.
Since Nano Server doesn’t have a GUI; server images and configurations are almost entirely created and managed by PowerShell commands. All these features make Nano deployments ideal for private cloud and virtualized environments; and can function as a DNS server and an Internet Information Services (IIS) web server.
Microsoft’s Hyper-V creates virtual versions of an IT environment; from the operating system to the storage device. Instead of having to tether one operating system license to one workstation, Hyper-V users need only purchase a single server capable of provisioning operating systems, disk space, memory, and software on the fly.
Windows Hyper-V Server 2016 takes this one step further by introducing “hot” management of virtual network adapters and memory for virtual machines. This means you can distribute RAM (from your server) or resize virtual hard disk files while the virtual machine is active.
The new Hyper-V also enables nested virtualization where virtual machines can be created inside each other; increasing IT redundancy and improving resource allocation. As for its specifications, Hyper-V 2016 can support up to 12 terabytes of memory per virtual machine and can provide up to 240 virtual CPUs per virtual machine. Although it can get a bit technical, the most important takeaway here is that the newest iteration of Hyper-V scales with your business.
Another new feature of Windows Server 2016 is support for containers. While virtual machines virtualize the physical hardware so you can pack more operating systems on a single machine; containers virtualize the server operating system and divide it into chunks, allowing you to run applications in their own isolated user-space.
This benefits companies in a number of ways. For one, containers require less memory from the server operating system; meaning you can pack a lot more applications into a cloud server or data centre than you can with a virtual machine. With such a small digital footprint, creating, distributing, and booting containerised applications takes only a few seconds.
And since applications are hosted in isolated containers; you can avoid exposing the underlying hardware to any cyberattacks that might be launched on a particular program.
Storage Spaces Direct
With Storage Spaces Direct, high-availability storage systems can be built with local drives. For example, if you have three industry-standard servers connected via ethernet; you can cluster them together to create a “software-defined” pool of storage. Enabling Cluster Storage Spaces Direct will automatically configure the shared data, cache, tiers, and erasure coding across columns, essentially transforming your local storage unit into a high-end storage solution for your organisation.
If you require more storage; simply add more servers into the storage pool, type a few commands, and Storage Spaces Direct will do the rest. This allows you to scale up your server requirements without having to purchase expensive, corporation-level hardware.
Apart from Windows container and Nano’s security capabilities; Microsoft made further security enhancements on their server operating system. Windows Defender, for instance, is integrated into Windows Server 2016 and is automatically updated to detect, block, and resolve malware threats.
Features like Just Enough Administration (JEA) and Shielded Virtual Machines defend against rogue or compromised technicians; by controlling administrative privileges and encrypting virtual servers. With Device Guard enabled in Windows Server 2016, your server operating system inspects code integrity and executes only trusted code authorised by your business; while blocking the rest.
Windows Server 2016 is a valuable, must-have addition to any business that plans to succeed in a virtualized and cloud-ready platform. It incorporates everything a company needs: hardened security controls to protect infrastructure, lightweight Nano Servers to keep IT frameworks flexible, as well as Hyper-V and container features to scale operations accordingly.
If you’re a business owner looking to succeed in 2017; Windows Server 2016 should definitely have a place in your budget. So far, we’ve merely scratched the surface of its capabilities. For information on pricing, deployment, and how the features listed above apply to your business, contact us today. Empower IT are experts in cloud and virtualization; and we make sure your Window Server 2016 decision is the right one.