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What’s new in Windows Server 2016


With Windows Server 2016 set for release this year, we take a look at some of the exciting features that have been included in technical previews so far.

Nano Server

Possibly the most interesting feature is the introduction of Nano Server. Nano Server is a purpose built operating system, scaled down to act as a platform of containers (more information below). Reducing the server footprint, Nano Server will require fewer patches and updates, improved resource utilization, less OS components and features as well as tightened security.

So just how small is the footprint, well Microsoft suggest it will be 93% smaller in size than a Windows Server, 92% less security bulletins and 80% less reboots due to the reduced requirement of security patches. Microsoft have achieved this by removing 32bit application support and the GUI so all management will be performed via WMI or Powershell.

I find this a real exiting addition to the set of server editions offered by Microsoft, with the potential for businesses to reduce the maintenance and complexity of its server systems, an important driving factor when considering a cloud approach to the delivery of IT systems.

Docker and containers

Containers offer a lightweight alternative to full servers and virtualization, allowing applications to be packaged (within a container) and easily transferred or attached from server to server. In Server 2106, Docker containers will run on a Linux kernel over Hyper-V VM, while Microsoft own Hyper-V containers will run directly on a Windows OS, with improved security over Docker containers. This will be an interesting approach to adding server functionality, while still isolating the feature or application set from the Operating System, potentially reducing driver and OS issues as well as compatibility and migration struggles.


Hyper-V will be improved. Rolling updates for quicker and easier cluster migration, on the fly adding over virtual network adapters and memory, secure boot or Linux OS and more

Software defined data centre

Software defined data centre aims to bring down storage costs for those running private clouds. Storage Spaces Direct will allow administrators to access internal storage of servers and use it as a pool of scalable virtualized storage. Furthermore, Storage Replica allows block level replication between servers and clusters for DR purposes.

There is also improvements in rolling upgrades for storage updates with no downtime and scalable networking and load balancing.

Storage QOS updates

Windows Server 2016 will offer centrally managed Storage QOS policies for groups of virtual machines at a cluster level. Powershell commands have been added to manage this:
Get-StorageQosFlow – options for monitoring performance
Get-StorageQosPolicy – retrieving the applied policy
New-StorageQosPolicy – creating the policy

Final thoughts

The key features so far are exciting and highlights the push from Microsoft to cloud based services. It shows a commitment to minimise the IT footprint and move to systems which are truly scalable and adaptable, making cloud an option for small businesses to large enterprise.

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