Microsoft released Windows Server 2016 Technical Preview 5 on April 27, a test build that includes Nano Server as an installation option. First announced a year ago, Nano Server is a container- and cloud-friendly version of Windows Server that dispenses with the GUI, 32-bit support and other software components that compete for CPU cycles.
This week, Microsoft has incorporated Nano Server as a deployment option on both the Standard and Datacenter editions of Windows Server 2016 Technical Preview 5.
"It is a remotely managed option similar to Windows Server in Server Core mode, but significantly smaller, has no local logon capability, and only supports 64-bit applications, tools, and agents," according to an online support document. "It takes up far less disk space, sets up significantly faster, and requires far fewer updates and restarts than Windows Server with the full desktop experience." According to Microsoft's estimates, Nano Server's image is 25 times smaller than that of a full Windows Server image with desktop functionality.
To help administrators keep a closer eye on their Nano Servers, along with Windows Server 2016's new data center modernization features, Microsoft also announced the release of System Center 2016 Technical Preview 5 on April 27.
The latest version of the software giant's collection of data center management tools includes "advanced software-defined datacenter support, including managing the lifecycle of Nano Server hosts and virtual machines, simplified deployment of the new Windows Server 2016 software-defined networking components, and support for Storage Spaces Direct and replicated storage volumes," informed Mike Neil, corporate vice president of Microsoft's Enterprise Cloud group, in a blog post detailing the new capabilities.
For organizations eyeing an upgrade to Microsoft's latest operating system, System Center 2016 Technical Preview 5 includes new rolling upgrade capabilities. They allow IT shops to upgrade clusters running Windows Server 2012 R2 to Windows Server 2016 without interrupting hosted workloads.
Administrators can also use Technical Preview 5 to configure and test Shielded VMs using System Center's Virtual Machine Manager. Shielded VMs are hardened Hyper-V virtual machines that are encrypted and provide protection against malware, network threats and even rogue administrators to tenant VMs in private clouds and hosted environments.
System Center 2016 features improved monitoring over heterogeneous environments. In a nod to the "Linux love" espoused by Microsoft of late, Microsoft claims that the software offers better Linux and UNIX systems monitoring at scale—a 2X improvement, according to the software maker—as well as provides better visibility into an organization's LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL and PHP) software stacks.
On the automation and orchestration front, the software offers "improved experiences for authoring, testing, debugging and executing runbooks," said Bala Rajagopalan, principal group program manager of Microsoft System Center, in his rundown of the new features found in System Center 2016 Technical Preview 5. These include the ability to create runbooks with PowerShell scripts and Integrated Scripting Environment (ISE) plug-in support for runbook authoring and testing.