Last updated: August 3, 2017

Back in September, at Microsoft Ignite (conference), Microsoft released their newest Server operating system - Windows Server 2016.

While there were many great enhancements, there were 3 Windows Server 2016 updates that we think are perfect examples of modernisation within cloud computing.

Rather than just list them, here are 3 actionable ways you can use Windows Server within your organisation.


1. Using Windows Server 2016 as an advanced security layer

With security being a key focus for any business, Windows Server 2016 provides an essential added security layer to help prevent against cyber-attacks. Here are some of its core tools:

Credential guard uses ‘virtualisation based security methods’ that manage domain credentials protecting NTLM password hashes and Kerberos granted tickets.

‘Just Enough’ administration involves only giving users the necessary administrative tools to complete tasks and ‘Just-in-time administration lets administrators assign users to higher privileged groups for a limited time instead of on a semi-permanent basis have both been added. When you consider the scale at which authority is distributed, these become incredible important features and an essential part of any.

[/text_output][text_output]Then there is the new feature ‘Shielded Virtual Machines which helps protect Virtual Machines from a compromised fabric by encrypting disk and state of virtual machine (using BitLocker) so only tenant admins can access it. The idea of shielded Virtual machines is to protect customer workloads to both public and private datacentres from “rogue administrators”. This allows better control to tenant administrators.

In addition to Shielded Virtual Machines, Microsoft are protecting the fabric using a new tool called Host Guardian Service (HSG). HSG provides Key Protection services for Hyper-V hosts running shielded Virtual Machines.

2. Software-defined datacentre

Market indications show many organisations are looking towards migrating their current on-premises datacentres into the Azure cloud.

This has led Microsoft to ensuring Windows Server 2016 provides a more flexible and cost efficient operating system for any datacentre using software-defined compute, storage and network.

There is now a new server installation choice - Nano Server.

When is a Nano Server?

The Nano Server is a remotely administered server only operating system which is similar to Windows Server Core option in 2012 R2 but is significantly smaller. It uses far less disk space than Windows Server 2012 R2 Core mode, sets up faster and requires very few Windows Updates.

When would you use a Nano Server?

Nano servers is ideal for running “cloud native” applications or as an agile cost-effective datacentre host due to its lightweight operating system and small infrastructure footprint.

Nano Servers benefit in a number of other scenarios, such as:

  • As a "compute" host for Hyper-V virtual machines, either in clusters or not
  • As a storage host for Scale-Out File Server
  • 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
Upgrading Hyper-V

With enhancements to Hyper-V, upgrading and migrating could not be easier. With the rolling Hyper-V cluster upgrade you can add a node running Windows Server 2016 to a Hyper-V cluster with nodes running Windows Server 2012 R2 allowing you to upgrade the cluster without any downtime.

  • Migrate your workloads from Hyper-V from on-premises into Azure.
  • Reduce storage costs with Storage Spaces Direct, a new feature with Windows Server 2016.
What is SANs and NAS?

Storage Spaces Direct uses standard servers with local attached drives to create highly scalable software-defined storage a fraction to the general cost of a SAN or NAS.

It is developed brilliantly and it only takes under 15 minutes to create! We have currently been able to use this for several customers and the results have been fantastic. Say goodbye to SANs and NAS as we have a new competitor in town.

3. Cloud-ready application fabric

Modernising Applications

With digital-transformation constantly increasing in organisations, modernise your applications with Windows Server 2016. Change the way you develop and deploy applications with a modern DevOps environment. Why?

Because Windows Server 2016 enables new ways to deploy applications whether on-premises or in Microsoft Azure using a new tool called “Windows Server Containers”. Windows Server Container is a light operating system virtualisation method where an application can be isolated so it cannot affect or be affected by the rest of the system.

Use containers to gain control and consistency by enabling ‘write-once, run-anywhere apps that can be deployed on-premises, to any cloud, or in a hybrid architecture across clouds.

For an additional layer of isolation, deploy your app in a Hyper-V container, which packages the same container image with its own dedicated kernel, ensuring tighter isolation in multi-tenant environments.

Microsoft announced that it will make the CS Docker Engine available to Windows Server 2016 at no additional cost.

These features provide customers with benefits such as consistency across dev, test, and production using the same tooling, enabling fast deployments, continuous integration and delivery - all with more powerful security.

Integrate cloud with on-premises

With Remote Desktop Services (RDS), you can now use an Azure SQL database or any other SQL Database in a shared environment to store the Remote Desktop Connection Broker database. This provides customers with:

  1. Easier deployment – create an Azure SQL database and copy the connection string in the High-availability connection broker wizard
  2. Reduced Costs – no requirement for a full SQL server cluster just to store a database


The Verdict: Windows Server 2016

With new features and improvements that are on offer, Windows Server 2016 is a huge improvement from the previous Windows Server editions and will help all types of organisations with the many features available to them.

Here’s our top 3:

  • Advanced security layer
  • Software-defined datacentre
  • Cloud-ready application fabric

Let us know which Windows Server 2016 update was the most interesting below. Should you wish to learn more, download this guide on choosing your IT Partner

Topics: Windows Server, Cloud, Windows

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