Windows Server 2016: What you need to know!
Windows Server 2016 - From Licensing to Functionality
Windows Server 2016 is here, and many things have changed in the Windows Server environment with Microsoft's latest edition of the well known server operating system. How do these changes affect you or your business? Are they advantageous for you to upgrade and utilize right away or can you hold off on upgrading? I will break down the new licensing structure and what the new edition offers versus it's predecessor, the very well known and utilized Windows Server 2012 R2. It has been roughly 6 months after Windows Server 2016 has launched and as with most new operating system launches, the adoption rate is relatively slow early due to either compatibility with other software or overhead costs might simply be too high for an entire office to upgrade, because the benefits would not outweigh the upgrade. So let's get into how the licensing works and what features have been implemented that will help you make the decision to upgrade:
With Windows Server 2016, the model has changed entirely for the standard and datacenter editions, as now they are licensed on a core-licensing basis. What does this mean? To run Windows Server 2016, there is now a minimum requirement of 8 cores per processor, and 16 cores per server to maintain compliance with Microsoft's policies. In prior editions, there was never a core "requirement" nor did it license per core, but with the 2016 edition it is a new approach that Microsoft has taken to make sure users are getting what they need to supplement their hardware. Take note that this only applies to the standard and datacenter editions, as essentials does not check for core compliance. The new minimum is 16 cores (2 processors) for a full server license, with both 16-core and 24-core editions in production.
There are options of purchasing 2 cores at a time (located on our site here) if you have a specific requirement beyond the 16 or 24 core model, otherwise the 16 core instant download or the 24 core instant download will suit your needs perfectly fine. It can seem daunting at first but the cost per core license factors out to exactly the same as Windows Server 2012 R2. The advantage of Windows Server 2016 is that if you have a processor with less or more cores in your server, for example you have a server with two 8 core cpus and 6 core cpu, instead of buying multiple licenses or the higher priced 24 core license, you can use a 16 core license with multiple 2 core licenses to fill out the core requirement for your server. That in a nutshell the flexibility Windows Server 2016 licensing provides versus prior versions.
Windows Server 2016 has brought a plethora of features to the Windows Server platform that everyone from a small or medium sized business environment to the largest enterprise users can see an immediate benefit of installing it. Here are some of the primary standout features and improvements that Windows Server 2016 brings to the table:
- Nano Server - Nano server is a very small footprint, remotely administered OS optimized for private clouds and data centers. Being that it has such a small footprint (the GUI is roughly 92% less) you can use it for many hosting purposes, such as a Hyper-V host or a DNS server as well without the need for the clunkiness of the full installation. It can be a life saver for many ITs in the essence of time.
- Containers - Prior to this edition of Windows Server, containers were more familiar and commonplace within the Linux/Unix workplace. What do they accomplish? They basically allow you to isolate and applications to work with in a secluded environment. Notably this is not a virtual machine, or an instance of Hyper-V but a small dedicated container - a new beast, I know.
- Linux!!! - There is now a Linux secure boot option available which protects your server's startup environment against malicious attacks. Previously there would be many conflicts trying to create a Linux based boot with a VM, but the new secure boot feature prevents any miscommunication.
- Storage Spaces Direct and ReFS - Resilient File System (ReFS) is the management system for Storage Spaces - which allow failover cluster nodes to use local storage within the cluster, removing the need to clutter and redundancy of a shared storage fabric.
- PowerShell Direct - In previous versions PowerShell-based remote administration were done the same as physical, but now with PowerShell Direct allows you to send PowerShell directly into the Hyper-V host's VMs.
- You can find a complete list of Microsoft's improvements to Windows Server 2016 HERE.
Overview:After taking looking at all the benefits and features that Windows Server 2016 provides, from the flexibility of licensing to all of the bells and whistles added on, my general take is that considering the small increase in price is well worth the flexibility and infrastructure for your company. For me, the nano server in itself would be enough of a selling point to make that transition to Windows Server 2016. Once again it depends on the infrastructure of your current server and how many assets you would need to migrate to make that transition, but assuming it would not take a complete infrastructure overhaul, I would highly recommend moving toward Windows Server 2016.