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REVIEW: Deep dive into Windows Server 2016

Microsoft delivers a boatload of new virtualization, storage and security features, along with a nod to open source.

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Windows Server 2016 was officially released in September, but we waited until all of the bits were at production level before taking a deep dive into Microsoft’s flagship server operating system.

What we found is an ambitious, multi-faceted server OS that focuses much of its energy within the Microsoft-centric world of Windows/Hyper-V/Azure, but also tries to join and leverage open source developments and initiatives, such as Docker.

One item we noticed right away is that older 64-bit CPUs won’t work with Microsoft’s Hyper-V virtualization infrastructure. This meant our older Dell 1950 servers weren’t compatible with Hyper-V and an older HP 560 Gen4 with 16 cores barely coughed into life as a Windows 2016 server.

A Windows Server 2016 deployment requires plenty of thought and planning. There are two license options, Datacenter or Standard. And there are three installation choices, the regular GUI server version, the server core (no GUI) version and lastly Nano server.

The Datacenter edition, which is the most expensive, has all the best roles and features. Those roles include: Storage Spaces Direct, Shielded Virtual Machines/Host Guardian Service, Storage Replica (synchronous replication service for disaster recovery and replication), and Network Controller (for the Azure cloud communications fabric).

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