Windows Server was released to the public late September, 2016. That’s eons ago in technology years! So, why haven’t you upgraded yet? This post will look at some of the new technology that comes with a Server 2016 upgrade—from Docker to Nano Server to Containers, nested virtualization and Software-Defined networking.
There are two types of Microsoft Windows Containers: Windows Containers and Hyper-V Containers. The difference between the two is that a Hyper-V Container needs to run within a virtual machine while a Windows Container does not. Unlike a virtual machine, where you run a workload, a container is used for running a single application or service. You don’t create a container and install applications on it, like you do with a VM. You create a container that is specifically set up to run an application or service. Containers use the same standard concepts as Docker. Containers are isolated applications that run on top of a host, which, in turn, runs on top of an Operating System. Containers can be run on a Linux or Windows Operating System. One important thing to note is that the operating system on the host machine must be the same as the operating system running on the container.
The footprint of a container is significantly smaller than that of a virtual machine, and even smaller than that of a Core installation. Multiple containers can run on a container host. An application could easily use a dozen containers to provide its services. If you’re running a dozen or so applications, you could easily have hundreds of containers. The application code of one container can’t impact the host operating system—or other containers running on the same host—which is ideal for cloud providers. Docker must be installed on the operating system and is the software package that allows you to create and manipulate containers and images.
Windows Containers are powered by Docker, and Docker is the king of Containers. Docker has completely transformed how Linux and Windows developers build, ship, and run applications. The Docker platform has a single set of tools, APIs, and image formats for managing both Linux and Windows applications. Docker containers run natively on Windows Server 2016, leveraging the same CLI and PowerShell commands you would use in a Linux environment. Docker is included in Windows Server 2016. Note: before installing Docker, you must ensure the server is up to date with all Windows patches. Otherwise, Docker won’t run.
Nano Server, a new type of server installation, was introduced with Windows Server 2016. Nano Server is very similar to a Core installation, but uses significantly less hard drive space. Nano Server’s installation footprint is 92% smaller than a Window Server GUI installation. This means far fewer updates and reboots are necessary. Your IT Security department will like the fact the Nano Server has a much smaller attack surface compared to a server with the desktop experience installed. Primarily designed for datacenters and private clouds, Nano server needs to be remotely administered and has no local logon capability. It only supports 64-bit applications and tools. Nano Server is distributed on the physical media in the NanoServer folder. Inside this folder is a .wim image and a Packages subfolder. This contains the package files you use to add features and server roles to the .VHD image you would then boot to. PowerShell is used to install these packages. Several roles and features can be used with Nano Server. These include Hyper-V, Failover Clustering, basic drivers, File Server, Windows Defender, DNS, DSC, IIS, Containers, System Center Virtual Machine Manager, Data Center Bridging, Bitlocker, and TPM.
Finally! With Windows Server 2016 you may now deploy nested virtualization! Nested virtualization lets an administrator create virtual machines within virtual machines. This is great for training situations or for development and testing situations. It also saves on hardware costs. Microsoft won’t support VMware’s ESXi or other virtualization platforms inside a Hyper-V virtual machine, although it is possible to configure it. Hyper-V nested virtualization provides support for containers.
Software-defined networking is designed to make network configuration and deployment more flexible, agile and secure. It enables you to manage all physical and virtual network devices through a single console. This allows for faster deployment and simplified management of networking devices. Software-defined networking also gives administrators more control over the network, allowing them to define how each device sends traffic around the network. Software-defined networking components include network controllers, Hyper-V network virtualization, Hyper-V virtual switches, Switch Embedded Teaming (SET) and Remote Direct Memory Access (RDMA), Software Load Balancing (SLB), RAS Gateways, and Data Center Firewalls.
If you’re interested in any additional topics around Hybrid IT & Cloud please take a look at some of our recent related posts. And if you have any other questions around Windows Server 2016, please don’t hesitate to contact us! We’d love to help you out.