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What's new in Windows Server 2016: Containers, Nano Server and Hyper-V

Matthew Finnegan | June 27, 2016
Windows Server 2016 will charge users per core, potentially increasing licensing costs

The third technical preview features a new Emergency Management Console which enables users to "view and fix networking configuration directly from the Nano Server console". There is also a PowerShell script for creating Nano Server virtual machines on the Azure cloud.

In the fourth technical preview, updatess include support for DNS Server and IIS server roles, while Microsoft has also created a PowerShell module to simplify the building of Nano Server images.

With the launch of the fourth preview Nano Server is now supported on Window Server Containers.

Windows Server 2016: Container support

Support for containers is another of the standout features, which will make it easier to adopt microservices architectures. Microsoft has already shown its interest in container technologies by announcing a partnership with open source project Docker in 2014, and Windows Server 2016 has continued to build on this.

Containers offer a lightweight alternative to full virtualisation and allow applications to be packaged and moved more easily from server to server. Although the technology has been around for some time - Microsoft and Google use containers in their own cloud operations, for instance - it has begun to be used more widely among all types of businesses.

In Windows Server 2016 Microsoft will offer support in different ways. The third technical preview offered the opportunity to get to grips with Windows Server Containers, which is part of the open source Docker project. Windows Server Containers can be deployed and managed either through the Docker Client or Microsoft's PowerShell.

In addition to this, Microsoft is now offering a preview of its Hyper-V Containers, which it says will increase isolation and improve security by running containers inside a virtual machine.

Interestingly the Spiceworks report - which surveyed small, medium and large businesses - highlighted relatively muted interestin the virtualisation alternative. This is likely to due to container technology making less sense for smaller IT departments currently than those running large data centres.

Windows Server 2016: Hyper-V

Microsoft has also announced number of improvements to the core Hyper-V virtualisation platform first seen in Windows Server 2008. According to Spicework's IT pro survey, new Hyper-V functionality is the most anticipated of all the new features.  

Rolling upgrades will make it quicker and easier to migrate Hyper-V clusters to Windows Server 2016. Users will be able to add a node running the technical preview to a Hyper-V cluster already running Windows Server 2012 R2. The cluster will continue to operate at the Windows Server 2012 R2 feature level until all nodes are upgraded.

Other improvements include the ability to hot-add virtual network adapters and memory, a secure boot for Linux guest operating systems and support for nested virtualisation, which can now be used in dev/test scenarios.


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