Angela Calvert, COMPAREX UK06/01/2016





Angela Calvert, Director of Alliances

At the heart of the Microsoft Cloud Platform...

Microsoft; everyone has an opinion on them. Probably because they were the first to make technology accessible to the masses in a meaningful way. From bringing the internet to life, through to personal and business applications, no matter what your personal brand preference, there’s no denying their impact on the world stage.

Like any large known software provider, they’ve had their moments in the sun and revelled in pioneering ground-breaking technology. In turn they’ve also taken some stick (normally when you’re asked to reboot your system…ahem).

The simple fact is any organisation with Microsoft’s tenure and brand visibility that has led the trends of the technological world, will have also stood up to some pretty serious scrutiny over time. Which is why, whenever a new software release is unleashed into the wild, it has to be built for survival of the fittest or it may as well go home.

In the spirit of honesty, we’re probably horrendously biased given we’re a long term partner of Microsoft but our allegiance is also well founded. We’ve experienced first-hand the palpable change their innovation has created within our clients and the release of Windows Server 2016 promises to once again, set the bar for the market and here’s why.  

Before we kick off, let’s dispense with the first elephant

When you first hear that Microsoft have released Windows Server 2016, you can be forgiven for thinking that it’s just the next iteration of what you already know. Of course; why not? This is the IT industry, we’re cynical until proven otherwise but here’s the thing; Microsoft have genuinely nailed why the market originally fell in love with them in the first place; Simplicity.  

It’s a well-known fact that C-level Executives don’t like surprises, they tend to favour visibility and predictability for fairly obvious reasons. Let’s face it, only hard-core geeks like the drama of complicated problem solving and legacy technology often provides that opportunity in abundance.  

As the intelligence and capability of Software evolves however, complexity is fast becoming yesterday’s concern. Technology that can eliminate the drama and produce a zen-like state for their owners is winning the day.

Papa’s got a brand new (virtual) bag

Windows Server 2016 has more new features than you could shake a virtual stick at and has clearly improved on its 2012 incarnation with bells on. If you follow the tech press, you’ll know that Microsoft are positioning it as the foundation for the next 20 years of Windows products which may not sound very modest but it doesn’t make it any less true.

Microsoft is back, pioneering software-centric technologies which makes either deployment in the Cloud or the traditional data centre an open and flexible possibility. Whether you are embracing hybrid architectures, or going the whole nine yards, Windows Server 2016 is providing features that will help you become leaner, faster, more agile and let’s face it, probably more cost effective.

Stripped back and still looking pretty

So what are the big-ticket items? High on the list are Windows and Hyper-V containers. They are pretty useful at creating isolated and portable Windows environments and are more than just a little bit popular with IT departments who need to get the job done with minimal hassle.

Running a pretty close second is Nano server. It’s 20x smaller than a typical Windows installation with much of the fat ripped out including the GUI interface to deliver a lean and clean way of deploying services and applications.

This is a lightweight Windows O/S. It will boot in seconds, can be managed securely and effectively via numerous interfaces (MMS, PowerShell, DSC and even a few third-party tools). It is resilient as well as scalable with support for Hyper-V clusters and Scale-Out File Server. It offers huge potential for developers and administrators alike. Deployment is measured in minutes and because of the miserly resource demands, there is less need to be concerned about resource starvation when running a boatload of VMs.

Microsoft has taken its comfortable Sedan and turned it into a stripped-back street-car for the rapid delivery of subsets of applications and services.

Putting scary stories back to bed

There are few companies with bigger security war stories than Microsoft but this much is for certain; in today’s modern market, they are remarkably well positioned to credibly demonstrate how they have evolved and shifted the balance heavily in favour of the good guys.

Clearly, with every new software release comes inevitable new loop-hole questions and Windows Server 2016 is no exception. It now delivers integration for any LDAP v3 directories you have strewn around your IT landscape.

Its Conditional Access Control builds on the ability to configure authentication strengths via multi-factor authentication and device compliance. Security configurations can be on an ‘application by application’ basis, ensuring sensitive data stays in safe hands.

Add to this Host Guardian for Hyper-V VMs to wrap your virtualised environments with encrypted data and it becomes clear that Microsoft security has never been in better shape, particularly with cloud-services.

Oh, ah, Replica

Remember when Storage was still the world’s largest IT proverbial pain? Then Windows Server 2012 came along and introduced Storage Spaces, which made managing storage a whole lot simpler and cheaper. Now with Windows Server 2016, comes Replica.

Replica uses block level replication to move data across geographically distant data centres. It allows for recovery with minimal downtime and data loss. It supports any disk fabric from Fibre Channel to SAS and is positioned for use in DR scenarios.

Once upon a time it was only the big corporates that ordered Bollinger for breakfast who could afford this level of data security because early days it was quite simply exorbitant. Now with Microsoft’s architectural vision, everyone wins, the opportunity to develop robust IT contingency plans no longer means you may have to sell an organ.

We’ve only just scraped the surface but…

As new software releases go, they don’t come much cooler than Windows Server 2016 and we’ve only really scraped the surface, there’s also nested VM’s, integration with Azure and converging NIC across tenant and RDMA traffic to optimise network costs. It’s no small list.

Let’s be honest, there’s a reason why we all fancied Microsoft before anyone else even had a look in and the release of Windows Server 2016 is a healthy reminder that they’re still very capable of turning heads.

Contact our Microsoft Specialists today to find out how, in just half a day, we can show you how to make the transition in style.

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