Microsoft to add virtualized containers, Nano Server mode to Windows Server 2016

Microsoft confirms it will have a Nano Server mode in Windows Server 2016, along with new Hyper-V containerization technology.
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor

Although the second test build of Windows Server 2016 isn't coming until May, Microsoft is offering a glimpse at some of the new server technologies that will be coming to Windows Server testers in the coming months.

On April 8, Microsoft officials confirmed earlier reports about a new new Nano Server deployment mode, which will be part of the next version of Windows Server when it's available some time in calendar 2016. The Nano Server technology will not be in the May Windows Server 2016 preview; it will be introduced in a build at some point after that, officials said today.

Nano Server will offer Windows Server customers the option of running Windows Server stripped down to its smallest footprint. Nano Server will be about 1/20th the size of Windows Server Core, and will consist only of the essential components (Hyper-V, Clustering, Networking, Storage, .Net, Core CLR) -- and no UI.

Microsoft officials also shared more details about the new Windows container options coming in Windows Server 2016. Last October, Microsoft officials said there would be new Windows and Linux container support being baked into Windows Server Next. Both kinds of containers will be manageable using Docker, an open source engine that automates application deployment.

Microsoft officials said at that time that customers will be able to create Docker container applications that will run on Windows Server on-premises or hosted on Windows Server Next running in a virtual machine on Microsoft's Azure cloud.

On April 8, officials added yet another container option to the Windows Server Next mix. Windows Server 2016 users also will have the option of running what Microsoft is calling Hyper-V containers. These are Docker-manageable containers that will be powered by Microsoft's Hyper-V virtualization technology.

While many describe container technology as obviating the need for virtualization, Microsoft officials said they believe using virtualiztion to add yet another isolation layer to containers may appeal to a number of enterprise customers. Hyper-V will run around the container, not the entire OS, providing more security/sandboxing and overall control, Microsoft execs said. Hyper-V containers also may be useful to those running Windows Server in multitenant configurations, they said.

Microsoft is positioning Nano Server as an optimal platform on which to run Windows Server containers.

Microsoft officials plan to demonstrate the Windows Server container technology (but not the Hyper-V containers) at the Build conference in San Francisco in late April, officials said today.

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