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5 Killer Features of Windows Server 2016

Microsoft | Posted on September 27, 2016 by James Lang

Since its initial technical previous two years ago and subsequent public beta, IT professionals have anxiously awaited the release of Windows Server 2016. Well, the time has come. This week, Microsoft released the latest iteration of its server operating system at its Ignite conference in Atlanta.
We’ve taken a good look at what’s been announced and what’s been showcased in the five public beta versions of Windows 2016, and here are five new-and-improved, never-before-seen features of the OS worth taking an even closer look at while evaluating an upgrade: shielded virtual machines, Nano Server, Windows Server 2016 Hyper-V , enhancements to Windows server storage, and licensing improvements.

1. Shielded virtual machines

This security feature of Windows Server 2016 protects the Hyper-V from being accessed—or even from malicious tempering—using a combination of Secure Boot, BitLocker encryption, virtual Trusted Platform Module (TPM) and the Host Guardian Service.

2. Nano Server

As the name suggests, Nano Server a small version of Windows Server 2016 designed to give you the lightest and fastest server OS configuration, with fewer patch and update events, faster restarts, better resource utilization and tighter security.

3. Windows Server 2016: Hyper-V

Advancement in the Hyper-V functionality and rolling upgrades makes it faster and simpler to migrate Hyper-V clusters to Windows Server 2016. This should allow users to add a node already running Windows Server 2012 R2 to a Hyper-V cluster. The cluster will continue to operate at the Windows Server 2012 R2 feature level until all nodes are upgraded.

4. Storage Windows Server 2016

Windows server storage manageability has been simplified, with a new feature, Storage Spaces Direct, extending the existing software-defined storage stack for Windows Server. The Health Service improves everyday monitoring, operations, and maintenance of Storage Spaces Direct, while Storage Replica offers replication between servers and clusters for disaster recovery purposes. These storage features will utilize rolling upgrades to help reduce associated downtime.

5. Improved licensing

One of the most interesting “features” of Windows Server 2016 is, in fact, how it will be licensed. The editions being offered are: Windows server 2016 Datacenter for highly-virtualized environments; Windows Server 2016 Standard for physical server or lightly virtualized environments; Windows Server 2016 Essentials for smaller shops of up to 25 users or 50 devices; and, Windows Server 2016 Multipoint Premium Server enables multiple users to access one computer. The latter is available only for academic licensing.

In addition, licensing has been streamlined and moved from a per-processor model to per-core processing (plus CAL). This makes the licensing model consistent across Microsoft Server licensing. (Azure, SQL Server and BizTalk already use per-core licensing.) This licensing change reinforces that Windows Server 2016 Datacenter is what you want to be using for high-density virtualization.

Those buzz-worthy features are certainly not the only exciting things to be included in Windows Server 2016. Other new features, such as the ability to hot-add virtual network adapters and memory, and a secure boot for Linux guest operating systems—which are used in dev/test scenarios—are also quite exciting. Support for virtualization has also been enhanced, check out TechNet for a list of what’s new in Hyper-V on Windows.

To learn more about Windows Server 2016, feel free to reach out to me. To learn more about licensing for Windows Server 2016, go here.

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