Ed Jones works for Firebrand Training, a Microsoft Gold Learning Partner. He has worked in the IT training and certification industry for the past 4 years. He is a tech enthusiast with experience working with SharePoint, Windows Server and Windows desktop.
Moving into the final weeks of 2015, we are fast approaching the General Availability of Windows Server 2016. With Windows Server 2016 Technical Preview 4 released on November 19, the launch date cannot be too far away.
Following the success of feature enhancements and cloud integration offered in Windows Server 2012, Technical Preview 4 demonstrates we can expect more of the same in Windows Server 2016. We’ve seen all-new exciting features including; Windows Server Containers and Windows Server Antimalware, as well as significant enhancements across Hyper-V, PowerShell 5.0, Failover Clustering and the Windows console. Not to mention Nano Server, the stripped down version of Windows Server 2016 designed specifically for cloud environments.
The new server operating system is an exciting proposition for IT Pros everywhere. To get you ready ahead of schedule, we’ve put together 5 steps to prepare you for Windows Server 2016:
Step 1: Download the latest technical preview and get hands-on
Get hands-on and download Windows Server 2016 Technical Preview 4. You can navigate the operating system and familiarise yourself with all the new features and enhancements. This will accelerate your transition to WS2016 allowing you to unlock the in-built benefits for your business sooner.
To guide you through this process, it’s worth taking a look at the TechNet Library’s post on What's new in Technical Preview 4. This comprehensive guide takes you through all of the changes and features - focusing on those that are most likely to have the greatest impact on your business. I’d recommend spending some time on:
- Windows Server Containers - an isolated location where an application can run without affecting the rest of the system or the system affecting the application
- What’s New in Windows PowerShell 5.0 – there are some significant enhancements and new features to unlock, helping you to better control and manage your Windows-based environments
- What's new in Hyper-V – understand all the changes to the functionality of Hyper-V including Client Hyper-V running on Windows 10
Step 2: Keep your boss in the loop of all the features and benefits
If you’re looking to move quickly to Windows Server 2016, it’s critical you understand and can relay the benefits of migration to your boss. This could involve sending through regular updates backed by a solid business case. Otherwise that instance of Windows Server 2003 running on a now defunct piece of hardware is going to have another stay of execution.
Your boss might not be technical - and even if he is - use simplicity to explain core benefits. It can look something like this:
- Improved security - better protect your assets and defend against costly breaches
- Improved energy efficiencies - minimal footprint deployment for cost saving and eco friendliness
- Improvements on availability and performance - systems stay online minimising downtime and improving performance – websites and people working faster – freeing you up to work on other projects
Step 3: Take professional training
If you’re serious about being prepared and making the most of the platform, professional training is fantastic way to develop the required skills need to manage the Windows Server operating system. Microsoft’s certification track aligned to Windows Server is therefore a no brainer.
However, with Windows Server 2016 launching early next year, you can expect the aligned MCSA certification course between March and June 2016. If you’re eager to develop those critical skills now, attaining the MCSA: Windows Server 2012 certification and then looking at an upgrade path which accompanies a new technology launch is a viable option.
Whilst the new server operating system will have new and enhanced features, the skills to manage services like Hyper-V, PowerShell and Active Directory taught on the MCSA Windows Server 2012 course will remain the same. Microsoft Gold Partner for Learning, Firebrand offer an accelerated MCSA Windows Server 2012 course which takes just 9 days.
Step 4: Consider the infrastructure and cloud deployment options available to your business
Moving to Windows Server 2016 is an opportunity to assess your current server infrastructure and cloud deployment model. With greater cloud integration and the option of Nano Server, you can consider the potential benefits of cloud computing.
If all your existing server infrastructure is on-premise, this is an excellent chance to investigate the cloud deployment options available to you. Whether this includes creating a private cloud integrated with System Center 2012 R2, or migrating your entire server farm to Azure’s public cloud environment, take the time to consider the needs of your business and the solutions available. Understanding these options will help you choose the best deployment model for Windows Server 2016.
If you’ve not yet experienced cloud computing, I’d thoroughly recommend setting up a one-month free trial on Azure, spinning up an instance of Windows Server 2012 to get to grips with the platforms capabilities.
Step 5: Keeping up to date with the latest guides and resources
In the build up to General Availability, there are already a great deal of resources aligning to Windows Sever 2016 to help you prepare. Keeping up to speed with most recent news and the latest guides, will put you in a strong position when launch day arrives.
Here’s a couple of resource locations to get you started:
- Microsoft Virtual Academy – this makes it into almost every resource list, and for good reason. You’ll find 3-4 videos related to the new OS, no doubt with more to come following the launch. Make time for Windows Server 2016: Virtualization Deep Dive and A Deep Dive into Nano Server.