In the first post of this series I highlighted that with Windows Server 2016 there are some feature differences between the Standard and the Enterprise Editions that might get lost in some of the messaging, so in this series of posts I’m going to be highlighting the feature set of Windows Server 2016 Standard, and will include information from a few different resources, but the primary one is the Windows Server 2016 Technical Preview 5 Feature Comparison. As mentioned in the first post of the series, these will focus on what’s new from a Windows Server 2012 R2 perspective, rather than Windows Server 2008 R2 or Windows Server 2012 perspective. I will focus on those later if needed.
Following on from the previous post in the series, which was on Compute, today’s topic is Virtualisation, and following you will find the information from the Feature Comparison Guide. Virtualisation is one of the areas where Windows Server 2016 Datacenter has additional capabilities that aren’t included with Windows Server 2016 Standard edition, Shielded Virtual Machines being an obvious one to list.
Please note that these are subject to change and are based on Windows Server 2016 Technical Preview 5. If any adjustments need to be made, please leave a comment.
Windows Server 2016 can help you reduce costs with improved software-defined datacenter capabilities across storage, networking and compute. Underpinning all of these aspects of consolidation are the virtualization capabilities of Windows Server. In this section, read about the enhancements to the core Hyper-V hypervisor platform.
The Hyper-V server role in Windows Server lets you create a virtualized server computing environment where you can create and manage virtual machines. You can run multiple operating systems on one physical computer and isolate the operating systems from each other. With this technology, you can improve the efficiency of your computing resources and free up hardware resources.
New features for Windows Server 2016 Standard include:
- Production checkpoints
- Rolling Hyper-V Cluster upgrade
- Storage quality of service (QoS)
- Windows Containers
- Windows PowerShell Direct
- Compatible with Connected Standby
- Discrete device assignment
- Hot add and remove for network adapters
- Hot add and remove for fixed memory
- Hyper-V Manager improvements
- Integration services delivered through Windows Update
- Linux Secure Boot
- Nested virtualization
- Networking features
- Virtual machine configuration file format
- Virtual machine configuration version
- Hyper-V is a supported role on Nano Server
Hyper-V Support for Nano Server
The Windows Server 2016 Hyper-V role can also be installed on a Nano Server; this is a key Nano Server role, shrinking the OS footprint and minimizing patching required when Hyper-V is used to run private or hybrid clouds.
- Hyper-V works the same on Nano Server as it does in Windows Server 2016, aside from a few caveats:
- All management must be performed remotely, using another Windows Server 2016 computer.
- The Hyper-V Manager or PowerShell can be used from the remote server.
- RemoteFX is not available.
- Hyper-V Replica is not supported in the current preview releases.
Windows Containers provides greater isolation enabling many isolated applications to run on one computer system. They build fast and are highly scalable and portable. Two different types of container runtime are included with the feature, each with a different degree of application isolation. Windows Server Containers achieve isolation through namespace and process isolation. Hyper-V Containers encapsulate each container in a lightweight virtual machine.
Here are additional features introduced with Windows Containers:
- Nano Server can host both Windows Server and Hyper-V Containers as well as be the container OS for both types of containers.
- Container data management capabilities are enabled with container shared folders.
- Container resource policies can be implemented.
Virtual Machine Resiliency
Windows Server 2016 increases virtual machine resiliency to help reduce downtime incurred from transient storage and networking issues:
- Compute Resiliency: Compute servers are more resilient to intra-cluster communication issues.
- Quarantine of unhealthy nodes: Unhealthy nodes are quarantined and are no longer allowed to join the cluster.
- This prevents flapping nodes from negatively effecting other nodes and the overall cluster.
- Storage Resiliency: In Windows Server 2016, virtual machines are more resilient to transient storage failures. The improved virtual machine resiliency helps preserve tenant virtual machine session states in the event of a storage disruption. This is achieved by intelligent and quick virtual machine response to storage infrastructure issues.
Production checkpoints allow you to easily create “point in time” images of a virtual machine which can be restored later on in a way that is completely supported for all production workloads. Backup technology inside the guest is used to create the checkpoint, instead of using saved states. For Windows Server virtual machines, the Volume Snapshot Service (VSS) is used. For Linux virtual machines, the file system buffers are flushed to create a file system consistent checkpoint. If you’d rather use checkpoints based on saved states, you can still do that by using standard checkpoints. Production Checkpoints are on by default in Windows Server 2016
Virtual machine configuration version
Virtual machines with version 5 are compatible with Windows Server 2012 R2 and can run on both Windows Server 2012 R2 and Windows Server 2016. Virtual machines with version 6 are compatible with Windows Server 2016, but won’t run in Hyper-V on Windows Server 2012 R2.
Windows PowerShell Direct
There is now an easy and reliable way to run Windows PowerShell commands inside a virtual machine from the host operating system. There are no network or firewall requirements, or special configuration. It works regardless of your remote management configuration. To use it, you must run Windows 10 or Windows Server 2016 on the host and the virtual machine guest operating systems.
Shared virtual hard disk
A shared virtual hard disk enables guest clustering of virtual machines by using shared virtual hard disk (Shared VHDX) files, hosted on Cluster Shared Volume (CSV) or on Server Message Block (SMB)-based Scale-Out File Server file shares. Windows Server 2016 allows resizing Shared VHDX without downtime, support for Hyper-V Replica, and host level backups.
Hyper-V Sockets provides a secure, general purpose communication channel between Hyper-V host and guest operating systems. Hyper-V Sockets communicates over the VMBus and therefore doesn’t require network connectivity and works with both Linux and Windows Guests. More information on Hyper-V Sockets can be found within the Make your own integration services documentation.