Microsoft Announces Nano Server for Modern Apps and Cloud

Guest post by:
Jeffrey Snover, Distinguished Engineer and Lead Architect
Andrew Mason, Principal PM Manager
Alan Back, Principal SWE Manager

Today we announced new container technologies as well as Nano Server, a purpose-built operating system designed to run born-in-the-cloud applications and containers. As customers adopt modern applications and next-generation cloud technologies, they need an OS that delivers speed, agility and lower resource consumption.

Nano Server is a deeply refactored version of Windows Server with a small footprint and remotely managed installation, optimized for the cloud and a DevOps workflow.  It is designed for fewer patch and update events, faster restarts, better resource utilization and tighter security. Informed directly by our learnings from building and managing some of the world’s largest hyperscale cloud environments, and available in the next version of Windows Server, Nano Server focuses on two scenarios:

  1. Born-in-the-cloud applications – support for multiple programming languages and runtimes. (e.g. C#, Java, Node.js, Python, etc.) running in containers, virtual machines, or on physical servers.
  2. Microsoft Cloud Platform infrastructure – support for compute clusters running Hyper-V and storage clusters running Scale-out File Server.

Nano Server will allow customers to install just the components they require and nothing more. The initial results are promising.  Based on the current builds, compared to Server, Nano Server has:

  • 93 percent lower VHD size
  • 92 percent fewer critical bulletins
  • 80 percent fewer reboots

To achieve these benefits, we removed the GUI stack, 32 bit support (WOW64), MSI and a number of default Server Core components. There is no local logon or Remote Desktop support. All management is performed remotely via WMI and PowerShell. We are also adding Windows Server Roles and Features using Features on Demand and DISM. We are improving remote manageability via PowerShell with Desired State Configuration as well as remote file transfer, remote script authoring and remote debugging.  We are working on a set of new Web-based management tools to replace local inbox management tools.

Because Nano Server is a refactored version of Windows Server it will be API-compatible with other versions of Windows Server within the subset of components it includes. Visual Studio is fully supported with Nano Server, including remote debugging functionality and notifications when APIs reference unsupported Nano Server components.

We are working with Microsoft Visual Studio and System Center as well as partners like Chef to ensure that Nano Server works seamlessly in a DevOps continuous deployment and management workflow. In fact, we are thrilled to see that partners like Chef are already excited about Nano Server.  According to James Casey, VP of Engineering, Chef, "The collaboration between Chef and Microsoft engineering brings best-in-class automation for the container-optimized Nano Server. The Nano Server, provisioned and managed with Chef, provides a perfect platform for high velocity IT and a DevOps workflow."

We will have much more to share on the future of our datacenter offerings in the coming weeks. To hear more about Nano Server, come to our sessions at BUILD and Ignite or watch them on Channel 9 after the show.