Microsoft recently released its Windows Server 2016 (WS2016), and we have had many clients coming to us wondering, “Should I upgrade?” In light of these questions, we thought it worth a few moments to discuss the benefits of WS2016 and considerations as to whether you should upgrade or not.
The primary benefits…
Overall, WS2016 is most useful in two scenarios: first, as a private cloud infrastructure for your small- to medium-size enterprise; or second, as an application platform that will help your enterprise by ensuring more resources are freed up to run apps and services.
We’ve found four key benefits:
Microsoft Goes Small
WS2016’s Nano Server is 93% smaller than traditional Windows servers. Don’t be fooled by its size though – the Nano Server still offers big benefits to enterprises, such as faster processing and reduced server downtime or reboots.
Easier System Management
WS2016 comes with PowerShell 5.0, which helps system administrators discover and install software packages on the Internet that are specifically relevant for their organizations. It also enables remote management – every system administrator’s dream in our experience! Additionally, WS2016 has “Just Enough Administration”— a capability that enables administrators to delegate anything that can be managed through PS5, thus saving their precious time and allowing your IT department to allocate resources more efficiently.
There are so many security improvements in WS2016, it’s hard to know where to start. Some of the big ones are improvements to protect user credentials (with Credential Guard and Remote Credential Guard); to protect the operating system (with Code Integrity); new anti-malware capabilities (with Windows Defender); and improved secure identity management, such as Privileged Access Management, which restricts access based on the server’s directory.
Improved storage and functionality
Storage Spaces Direct, a new storage feature in WS2016, uses software to let administration build highly available storage systems with local storage.
While WS2016 may provide appealing benefits for your enterprise, it is critical to answer the following questions: Does your IT staff have the expertise and resources (time, people/skills, and finances) to handle this type of upgrade? Or should it be outsourced to consultants? The costs of upgrading include more than just licensing. They include training expenses, hours the IT staff spends on the upgrade, and any required hardware purchases.
Alternatively, are you better off sticking with your existing server? Keep in mind that an upgrade doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing decision—you can choose to upgrade some servers but not others.
Microsoft provides a great visual comparison of its 2008, 2012, and 2016 servers to help you determine the best fit, but we recommend you consult your MSP or IT advisor to discuss the specific costs and benefits for your enterprise before committing one way or another!