What to Expect With Windows Server 2016

Windows Server 2016 , the “cloud-ready OS”, becomes available for general use as announced this week at Microsoft’s Ignite conference. Volume licensing customers will be able to download the fully licensed software in mid-October. Those who choose to leverage the new features, will notice enhanced security and management features that can simplify server management for businesses of any size. Since migrating server operating systems is not a simple undertaking, you’ll need to evaluate if it is indeed something your business needs to consider.

New Features

There are plenty of new features in Windows Server 2016, many of which are cloud-focused as Microsoft continues to deliver on their “cloud first, mobile first” promise. While a full feature review can be found in an earlier blog post of ours, we highlight some of the most anticipated improvements here:

  • Hyper-V improvements. Hyper-V can help make your private cloud environment more flexible, consolidate workloads and improve business continuity. With the help of host resource protection, virtual machines will be prevented from using more than its share of system resources.
  • Power Shell 5.0. Enables administrators to perform tasks both locally and remotely on Windows systems. With the latest improvements the management and control of Windows-based environments are more comprehensive.
  • Enhanced Security. New layers of security has been implemented within the platform to address emerging threats, control access and protect virtual machines. The new protections aim to disrupt standard attack methods, and isolate virtualization vulnerabilities.
  • Built In Windows Defender. Windows Defender acts as malware protection and can immediately and actively protect Windows Server 2016 against known malware. It will regularly update anti-malware through Windows Update.

Microsoft is also making the commercially supported Docker Engine available to Windows Server 2016 customers, at no additional charge. The simplicity, efficiency and standardization of deploying containers using Docker has made this a popular choice for many for many in the Linux world and is a highly anticipated feature in Windows Server 2016.

Prior to becoming Microsoft’s CEO in 2014,  Satya Nadella was the president of Microsoft’s $19 billion Server and Tools Business. This led to a transformation of the company’s business and technology culture from client services to cloud infrastructure and services. He has been credited for helping bring Microsoft’s database, Windows Server and developer tools to its Azure cloud. Under his leadership, as evident with the new features released in Windows Server 2016, it is clear he is run Microsoft with a passion towards making the server side of their competencies, competitive again.

Things to Consider

Organizations still running applications and workloads on Windows Server 2003, should strongly consider migrating to an updated version as soon as possible. As of July 2015, Microsoft no longer supports this version and security updates are no longer being issued. If you continue to operate on this version you are likely subjecting  your business to unnecessary risk. Those using Windows Server 2012 R2 can continue to do so as as it is still a great option for businesses looking to improve performance and agility that the modern workforce demands.

If you’re maintaining servers on site and looking to migrate to Windows Server 2016, it could be a beneficial move for your organization. It will improve security first and foremast as well as the efficiency of the applications you are running whether on premise or in the cloud.

Migrating to any new operating system should be managed carefully as outages and incompatibilities are common issues that could result. As Microsoft moves away from service pack releases, you’ll find essential fixes and patches distributed in smaller, production-ready batches in Azure and Office 365 first. If your anxious to attempt the migration right away, start on a Hyper-V host. Our best recommendation is to deploy Windows Server 2016 in non-mission-critical or low risk workloads first. It’s your organizations best chance at avoiding any downtime.