back to article First look at Windows Server 2016: 'Cloud for the masses'? We'll be the judge of that

Microsoft has released Windows Server 2016, complete with container support and a brand new Nano Server edition. What is the essence of Windows Server 2016? First, a quick look at the context. Server 2016 follows the same pattern as previous releases, in that it follows a new release of the Windows desktop operating system, in …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    But probably... clear upgrade path from SBS 2011 still.

    Another release SMEs will probably dodge due to increased cost.

    The number of SBS to Linux jumps will spike again!

    Office 365 + CentOS file and print is the new SBS setup.

    1. thondwe

      Re: But probably...

      Key piece for SMB's is Office 365 + other SaaS solutions - is there any need for anything on premise? Maybe a NAS for backing up the PCs to (DR recovery), but everything else is cloud??

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: But probably...

        Cloud is a great idea in principle but if you hold sensitive information or have a poor internet connection (read: BT) on premise files are still king.

        Plus its a much more reliable way to secure your data. Cloud storage is always on the internet. A swift phishing / malware attack and you're compromised.

        You can lock down access to your files from the internet more easily as well. Deny access entirely inbound and allow access outbound only to signed and trusted update repos.

        Its pretty trivial to man in the middle a transfer from the cloud as well in some cases. If nothing leaves your network nothing can be intercepted.

        Now cloud for backup, thats another story. Encrypt your files and sync them to cloud for sure for a solid backup. As long as you encrypt before you sync you're golden.

    2. TheVogon

      Re: But probably...

      "There is also Windows Hyper-V Server"

      Nope. There is only "Microsoft Hyper-V Server". There is no "Windows Hyper-V Server"

      Hyper-V Server does not contain a version of Windows....

    3. Tim99 Silver badge

      Re: But probably...

      I suspect that the SBS products were deliberately killed off. The big MS integrators hated them - Not enough ways to gouge unnecessary profit from SMBs - Why sell a simple reliable system with a single server to 10-40 seats when you could spec a separate domain controller, SQL server, Exchange server, file server, and back-up server? I have personal experience of an integrator supplying all of that equipment to a 15 seat not-for-profit, that I volunteered with, while I was on extended leave. Needless to say the system never worked properly because they had spent much of the budget on licences, so the hardware supplied was totally inadequate...

      Now MS really want all their SMBs to use their cloud products, so don't expect any significant SBS products in the future.

    4. TonyJ

      Re: But probably...

      " clear upgrade path from SBS 2011 still..."

      Now I'll caveat this by saying I'm no SBS expert...but isn't this what morphed into Server Essentials? In which case, there's Essentials 2012 R2 & a quick check on my MAPS page show Server Essentials 2016.

  2. Richard Lloyd

    Works in VirtualBox...

    The article failed to link to where you can download the 4.5GB eval ISO:

    I slapped it on VirtualBox and selected the "Desktop Experience" version (did I read somewhere that you can't convert from non-DE to DE later on?). It's a 180-day trial and I didn't seem to need a license key for it. Overall impression is that for typical small business use, it's only a small upgrade from 2012 and the nastier licensing terms for 2016 might make SME's hold back on the upgrade.

    It's nowhere near as big an upgrade as, say, RHEL/CentOS 6 to 7 was (systemd is still doing my head in!).

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Works in VirtualBox...

      I'm afraid their idea is to move SMEs to Azure, and not having Windows 2016 servers on premises. Renting Azure services ensure a steady cash flow....

      1. Danny 14

        Re: Works in VirtualBox...

        For most SMEs the licensing will be the same: this assumes that you have up to 8cores per CPU. Certainly for us the price is the same (3 node cluster, each node has 2x 6 core CPUs) each 2016 std licence is sold in a pack of 8+8 core (previously each std was a 2 CPU license) so we need the same overall numbers. We have 6 windows hyper-v VMs so we need 3x 8+8 per node, 9 in total for the cluster - same as before.

        I suppose the real losers on this will be those who moved to 2x 12 cores as they will need 2x16 lic, they will be shafted by this.

  3. HmmmYes

    Most SME struggle to admin their boxes and printers.

    Pitching something like this to a small company is nuts.

    Basically they want someone capable of admin-ing VMs but not capable enough that they'll realise they might as well put Linux on the VM.

    1. defiler

      Windows VM?

      At the same time, if that VM on your Linux box is a Windows OS, it still needs to be licensed. I don't imagine Microsoft give much of a crap about the small hypervisor deployments, so long as they get their Windows license in there too.

      (Run fully licensed Windows server nodes on bare metal, VMware, Xen, KVM, QEMU and Hyper-V - I've covered this one many times!)

      1. Danny 14

        Re: Windows VM?

        Ive never looked at how much to license windows server on a Linux VM. I guess you have to count the cores for the VM? Otherwise it would be much cheaper to do this.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Windows VM?

          "I guess you have to count the cores for the VM?"

          Not a server guy, but from what I've always read it is the hardware, not virtual hardware or any form of emulation. This really hurts you if by some chance you don't need all the CPU's and cores, but just 1 (and somehow need Server...not sure, but there has to be an example somewhere).

          Again, not a server guy, but haven't all of you server people already figured all this shit out one way or another? Is the upgrade for convenience or are you all trapped (still)? I've always wondered being no matter how new the tech. is, you will undoubtedly have it all figured out and have had it finger rolled before Microsoft adds it into their products. I missing the whole world of the latest server tech., but the Microsoft version of that world always seems more mysterious than the others.

          1. Danny 14

            Re: Windows VM?

            I was taking about having a Linux hypervisor with MS guests. I know how the licensing works for MS hypervisor and MS guests.

            Shirley MS don't want each guest taking the host hardware for licensing? Perhaps they do so you'll LOOK at using hyper-v....

            1. defiler

              Re: Windows VM?

              Linux hypervisor and Windows guests is licensed per running instance of Windows.

              Licensing is not my job so I may be inaccurate, but this'll be close enough to get you within reach:

              Yes, the license is attached to the hardware. A Windows Server Standard license permits (from memory) the bare metal plus 2 VMs to be run (it may be simply 2 instances including the bare metal). If the bare-metal OS is not Windows, you get 2 VMs. The VMs are limited by the number of CPUs and cores as per the Windows Edition specs.

              Windows Server Datacenter permits as many instances of Windows Server as you can cram into the hardware. Again, they don't care about the hypervisor. Since it's unlimited instances, many people just install Windows Server and enable Hyper-V. I think that's a little foolish because you can run a free hypervisor in a mixed Windows/Linux environment and keep some hardware Linux-only (and not pay for a license).

              Service provider licensing is changing for Windows Server 2016 to a per-core model, where the license is prices that 8 cores is the same cost as one socket on 2012R2.

              Again, licensing is not my bread and butter. Speak to a reseller and they'll keep you straight. In fact, speak to Microsoft - I've always found their licensing people to be very helpful and friendly (presumably because I'm actively engaging with them and trying to make sure we're always compliant).

  4. ColonelClaw

    I wonder what percentage of Windows Server customers upgrade their servers to new versions? Personally, the Dell server my office uses came with Server 2012 v1, and I honestly can't think of any reason to change it. Unlike the desktop OS, it's never nagged me to 'upgrade' it.

    1. SleepyXuras91

      RE: First look at Windows Server 2016: 'Cloud for the masses'? We'll be the judge of that

      Guess mostly the features will never get backported like container support and such is a incentive of upgrading if you are with static software then no not likely why there is still alot of 2008 servers hanging around here. But getting onto 2012 R2 now won't be pushing for 2016 on everything for a fair few years.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hyper-V can support 512 Logical CPUs. Where exactly do you buy a server that has 512 logical processors and how many £millions does it cost.

    We have some 2 cpu socket blade servers with 20- cores that would take it to 40 logical cores (quad core scoket might take it to 80) but thats a long way from the 512 figure. vSphere can only do 480.

    These type of figures are just pointless.

    1. _Absinthe_

      There are server vendors who produce servers which have a lot more than 4 CPU sockets. But that's not the main reason the support is there for such a high number of logical cores. The main reason is that Server2016 will likely be around for a good number of years (5-7yrs?), and in that time CPUs will advance quite considerably, like they have in the last 5yrs or so.

      From my admittedly rather poor memory, 5yrs ago we were dealing with CPUs which typically had 4,6 or 8 cores, now we're up to 24. In another 5yrs that could quite feasibly be up to ~96. But even if they only progress as far as 48 cores in that time, in a 4-socket box this still means you have 192 physical cores, or 384 logical. All of a sudden that 512 maximum doesn't seem so ludicrous.

      FYI - SuperMicro do an 8-way box which I'm told isn't stupidly expensive considering what you can do with it. Loaded up with the top CPU, it gives you 384 logical cores, today.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Always thought it was better to scale out rather than scale up

        Better having 2 small servers than 1 huge server from a service point of view.

        True in 10 years from now, CPUs may have 100+ cores but unless big redesign in the architecture, dissipating the heat may be a real problem.

        I would much prefer to see current real world example rather than these theoretical limits but IT vendors do like to play the top trumps game.

        1. Danny 14

          we still have a server 2008x64 (not R2) with exchange 2010 on it. There are no plans to migrate away as there is no point (it is virtualised). Extended support is 2020 so we will probably migrate to new exchange in a couple of years time.

          Having a clustered node was the best move we ever made and was completely painless (6 servers). I might roll our a 2016 cluster when I hardware refresh (2012R2 atm)

  6. Pirate Dave Silver badge


    our VAR sent us an email about Server2016 licensing last week, and as I understand it, if you are going to run Server2016 in a VM, you have to license every physical core in the server, you can't license per-CPU anymore. So even if you only want to give the VM 2 vCPUs with 2 cores each, you still have to license all of the other cores as if you're running Windows on them. If you've got an older box with dual 4-core Xeons, you aren't going to be $$hurting$$ as bad as with a new box with dual 8-core Xeons.

    (although, apparently, we Educational volume licensees CAN still license per CPU, with a minimum CPU count still at 2. I think...)

    1. Nate Amsden

      Re: Licensing

      Oracle does that too. Interesting

    2. chivo243 Silver badge

      Re: Licensing

      Glad I'm in education, in the office we were just discussing that point, our educational software provider gets a fantastic deal from M$.

      It looks like MS is trying to separate the wheat from the chaff here... If you got the money to play with the big boys, great, if not, you'll be seeking alternatives.

    3. Danny 14

      Re: Licensing

      @pirate dave, our licensing bod (Pugh) said that 2016 comes in two flavours for us (EES) either a pack of "8core and 8core" or pack of 16core (standard). That means for us with dual six core servers our pricing wont change.

      VM licensing is the same as before. Each "pack" (regardless if it is an 8+8 or 1x16) gives you 2x windows server VMs (regardless of the distribution of the cores to the VMs)

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Licensing

      "If you've got an older box with dual 4-core Xeons, you aren't going to be $$hurting$$ as bad as with a new box with dual 8-core Xeons."

      You could be$$ hemorrhaging$$ if you have 2 16 core AMD Opteron 6300's & Zen will have up to 32 cores per proc, now that's not going to be a windows server processor.

  7. MJI Silver badge

    Too scary for small companies

    All a lot of them want is a simple server easy to administrate and can run their important stuff.

    It got messy about the time start menu was removed.

    My favourite BTW is still Netware 5.x

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    And there I thought it was a serious article ..

    .. but the parody started early:

    There is also attention paid to security, but that goes without saying

    After that there was little point continuing, really :)

  9. Dwarf

    Used to be fun to watch

    It used to be fun to download the eval's on TechNet and have a play and see whats changed, but now its just "meh".

    Servers based on Windows 10 UI, <marvin>That sounds awful</marvin>

    The rest seems to be very Microsoft - copy, copy, copy.

    • You can limit the admin's ability to run tools - copy sudo from Linux
    • VXLAN - copying the networking concept from VMWare and Cisco
    • Nested virtualisation - yep, VMWare and Xen does that too
    • ASCII art on .Net Core .. Really in 2016 ?
    • Headless admin - copy from Linux. Wonder if its useful this time though ??
    • Docker - copy from Linux.
    • Screwing more out for the same tin with the new core based licencing - Yep, MS.
    • Raising the limits to just above the competition. Expect VMWare to do the same again in a couple of months

    I don't get the benefit of local cloud. We used to call that "our data centre". If "real cloud" is a lot more resilient, then it should be more than a half rack of server tin, or its not a real comparison, even if you dress it up with glitter and lipstick. Where's the resilience in all the layers ?? I'd expect around 6 racks - 2 compute, 2 network, 2 storage as a minimum.

    If its using the same reference design, it makes you wonder what the cloudy hosted ones look like, or is it more smoke and mirrors ?

    1. phuzz Silver badge

      Re: Used to be fun to watch

      "VXLAN - copying the networking concept from VMWare and Cisco"

      So supporting an open standard is bad? Perhaps they should have invented their own standard.

      If we're going there, they also copied the TCP/IP concept for 3.11, and LDAP and DNS for NT, bad Microsoft!

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Microsoft's biggest release yet?

    Yes, 5430 MB, or did you mean biggest in terms of licensing cost, which is yes too, unless you meant biggest as in lots of new features, then the answer is no.

  11. phuzz Silver badge

    Server Core caveat

    While Windows will now run quite happily without a GUI, a lot of Windows programs don't.

    One of our customers had Server Core installation (it was an old machine, no need to burden it with a GUI), but they decided that they were required to run anti-virus on it. Sophos requires a GUI to install, so they had to go about hacking the GUI back in, just so they could install AV.

  12. Locky

    Too tempting to ignore

    Server 2016 follows the same pattern as previous releases, in that it's rubbish it follows a new release of the Windows desktop operating system

  13. David 132 Silver badge

    Honest question...

    Really not trying to troll or start a flamewar here. The article points out that Cortana is missing, but what about other "controversial" aspects of the Windows 10 desktop version?

    i.e., does Server 2016 have the enforced Windows Update cadence, or the telemetry/diagnostics stuff?

    Good review, thanks. I am downloading the ISO from MSDN now to give it a whirl.

  14. Joerg

    Microsoft employees are on the influence of some really heavy drugs, indeed... the statement: "Just as in Windows NT we took a scenario that only the princes and high priests of technology could do" ... well it is just beyond crazy.

    Windows Server 2016 is going to be a huge mess overall. Just like Server 2012 wasn't messed up already. Since the whole Metro/ModernUI nonsense began anything good that was done with Windows7 and Server2008/2008 R2 was lost. Then Windows8.2=10 happened and now The Server2016 aka Windows10 Camouflaged For The Enterprise is going to be even worse.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      >Microsoft employees are on the influence of some really heavy drugs, indeed... the statement: "Just >as in Windows NT we took a scenario that only the princes and high priests of technology could do" >... well it is just beyond crazy.

      lol They dont half come out with some crap Hype department fail

  15. Dinsdale247

    SMB Alternative

    For an SMB, Samba4 provides "Active Directory Like" services to Windows clients and you can set up windows shares without too much fuss. If you're not sunk in the SQL Server/Exchange/Sharepoint bucket then Windows Server is pretty expensive. Licensing for new versions of the above + Software Assurance for those other products will come out pretty close to a prototype of alternative systems.

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