Top Features in Windows Server 2016

December 8, 2016 Chris Johnson

Windows Server 2016 went RTM at Microsoft’s yearly Ignite conference. By now we all know that it’s the follow up to Server 2012 R2, and thus far it’s been my favorite server release. I’ve been running the technical previews for quite some time, and wanted to highlight some of what I deem to be the standout features. A full list of what’s new in Server 2016 can be found here.

Nano Server
I’m one of the few that liked the server core install in Server 2008. I then REALLY liked the command line installs in 2012. Now with Nano Server, the installation footprint is 92 percent of what is normally used when dropping in a complete GUI. As someone who has frequently used Linux for servers due to the small footprint of that install, this is welcome news. Besides all of the benefits that come with a smaller footprint (i.e. easily portable, harder to attack, etc), you can install the common roles on the server, including Hyper-V. This makes it very compelling for those looking for another option to VMWare.

Finally, for those adverse to a command line only server, such as Nano, the good news is that it’s actually built to be administered from another server. So admin consoles are still relevant for those that need them.

Hyper-V Advancements
This can also be called ‘Nested Virtualization.’ This is quite simple…up until Server 2016, you couldn’t run Hyper-V on a VM. That ends now. It is now much easier for customers to continue to maximize their hardware, and run a VM within a VM if needed.

Also, we can finally hot add virtual hardware on Hyper-V VMs!! Many of us have been jealous of VMWare in how they handle adding devices while the server is operational. Finally Microsoft has added that in Hyper-V.

Powershell 5.0
The amount of features in PS5 are vast, and can be found here. Some standouts though…

  • PS5 runs in Nano…a major plus
  • Get-Clipboard CMDLets (YES!)
  • Develop your own classes
  • PackageManagement, which allows discovery and installation of software over the web

Server Containers
I don’t know why I waited so long in this entry to discuss containers, but this might be the standout feature. Containers allow isolation of workloads from the Server OS. There are two types of containers built in natively, Server Containers and Hyper-V Containers. Microsoft worked closely with the Docker team to bring these containers to Windows Server.

ADFS 4.0
Why would I talk about ADFS? It’s just another way to do single-sign on with other services right? Well there has been some great advances. Most notably, OpenID support. Also we get multi-factor authentication, and we can now allow devices to connect conditionally if the device or user fails security compliance. These are all big wins, and a huge advancement for ADFS.

Wrap-Up
This version of Server has been a huge advancement for Microsoft. It pushes us further with virtualization and security. Not surprisingly, Server 2016 works beautifully with the Azure Cloud as well. If you haven’t had a chance to, download the Server 2016 trial.

About the Author

Chris Johnson

Microsoft Solutions Consultant

Chris Johnson is a Microsoft Solutions Consultant at Arrow Systems Integration with specific focuses in Windows Server Infrastructure, Exchange, Active Directory, Direct Access, Office 365 and much more. Chris has nearly 20 years of IT experience working with customers on a variety of initiatives surrounding the Microsoft stack. He has worked in several environments from small to midsize businesses up to large, global enterprises. While experienced in many areas, recently his roles have included systems administration, development, and consulting with a focus on Microsoft and Linux.

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