MS Ignite: celebrating 20 years of Windows server
The MS Ignite conference ended a week ago in Atlanta. I attended the event for the first time along with 23,000 IT professionals and decided to follow a wide variety of sessions ranging from Windows 2016 server, Azure, Azure Stack to Office 365, Security and Enterprise Mobility Management. I will focus more particularly on Windows Server 2016 and on Azure Stack.
Windows Server 2016: the cloud OS
20 years ago, Microsoft introduced the first operating system for the masses with Windows NT 4.0. In 2000 Microsoft entered the Enterprise Era with Windows 2000 followed by 2003 Server. With Windows 2008 the Datacenter Era started. Windows 2012 opened the door to the Cloud Era. Today Windows Server 2016 introduces Cloud for the masses.
With Windows Server 2016, Microsoft aims to respond to the following challenges:
- provide secure and controlled IT resources;
- support business agility;
- support innovation.
Security has become the top priority in IT as more incidents occur and the risk increases. New layers of protections have been added such as Shielded Virtual Machines or Credential Guard. But Microsoft also introduces a new type of installation on top of Full GUI and Server Core: Nano Server.
Nano Server: just enough OS
While the Full GUI version is now recommended for specialized workloads and the Server Core version for existing VM workloads, Microsoft brings Nano server for hosting containers and Cloud-native applications. Nano Server is ideal for Cloud-inspired infrastructure. The image size is smaller and designed for fewer patch and update events, the attack surface is reduced, thus offering a tighter security and the boot time is faster.
But what is a container?
A container is a lightweight, portable approach to running multiple applications on the same operating system kernel. Applications are isolated and packaged only with their unique dependencies, allowing for increased density because containers consume fewer resources than traditional virtual machines. A container does not contain any virtualize hardware component whereas a virtual machine is composed of a virtualized set of abstracted hardware and drivers. Thanks to containers, it is now easier, faster and more efficient to build and deploy Cloud-native applications.
Microsoft has now started a partnership with Docker and the Docker Engine for Windows Server is free with Windows Server 2016. This enables developers that use Linux Docker containers to have the same exact experience on Windows Server. Docker simplifies the containerization and distribution of applications. From test to production, a Docker image can deploy identically across any environments (Read our article on Docker technology here).
And on Azure?
Of course with Azure Container Service, you can maximize the workload portability. It is as easy to deploy containers on-premises as in the Cloud. The service is optimized for the configuration of popular open source tools and technologies. The portability is available for containers and application configuration.
Easier DevOps Process
With these new features, Windows Server 2016 and Azure enable a better collaboration between software developers and other IT professionals. Furthermore the process of software delivery and infrastructure changes is automated, infrastructure get standardized and developers can focus on building, deploying and testing apps.