Microsoft is making substantial changes to both the licencing and the technology in the different versions of Server 2016. In Server 2012 R2 the only difference between Standard and Datacenter was the number of HyperV Virtual Machines you could host and Datacenter cost several times more than Standard but in Windows Server 2016, Enterprise has features that Standard does not.
1: Windows Server 2016 Enterprise Only Features:
- “Shielded Virtual Machines” are VM’s that the administrator of the host server cannot access
- “Storage Replica” lets you replicate your data to a far off location (like another city) and kick your workloads over to that far off location manually if you know a disaster is about to strike (like a flood, or power outage after your UPS’ are drained)
- “Storage Spaces Direct” creates two additional copies of data on other nodes in a cluster so that if a disk fails the data is replicated elsewhere and no data loss occurs
- New Networking Stack provides Software Defined Networking (SDN) which provides additional functionality when working with Azure cloud service
2: Windows Server 2016 Pricing Model:
Windows Server 2012 R1 and R2 were sold based on the number of CPU sockets on the motherboard. Windows Server 2016, however, will be sold based on the number of CPU cores (not including Hyper Threads).
If you have one or two sockets and each socket has 8 or fewer cores, there will be no change in pricing. If you have more than that you will need to buy “2-core pack licenses” to match the number of cores in your server.
This is ugly for Microsoft customers with Software Assurance as they will have to spend more money onto of their SA to get the same hardware licenced under Server 2016. For more details read this 2 page Windows Server 2016 licensing datasheet.
3: New Server 2016 Features of Note:
- Nano Server is a stripped down version of Windows Server Core that has no local logon capability so it is very fast and very small
- Containers are deduplicated HyperV Virtual Machines – THIS link from Microsoft if also a great resource
- HyperV changes are numerous. In addition to Shielded Virtual Machines found only in DataCenter there are features like:
- Nested Virtualization – run a VM inside a VM
- Discrete Device Assignment – allow a VM to have exclusive access to some host hardware
- Shared Virtual Disks – resize VHDX files while they are in use
- PowerShell Direct – run PowerShell commands from a host to a VM regardless of the VM’s networking or firewall configuration
- Antivirus is on by default – called either Windows Defender or Windows Server Antimalware
- Just Enough Administration – is a PowerShell add-on that limits what some admins can do and logs all of their actions
4: A Short Video Overview of What’s New in Server 2016