IGNITE 2016: Microsoft hopes Windows Server 2016 and Azure Stack will help cloud-shy companies look to life beyond on premise
Microsoft will make Windows Server 2016 generally available in mid-October and has also released a new technical preview for Azure and its management tools as it seeks to win over cloud sceptics with a hybrid cloud approach.
The final technical preview for Windows Server 2016 was made available five months ago and is now running on more than half a million devices, Microsoft claimed at its Ignite conference in Atlanta.
“We call it the ‘cloud-ready OS’ because it meets customers where they are today, and it introduces technology to ease the transition to cloud,” said Erin Chapple, general manager of Windows Server at Microsoft.
Windows Server 2016 release
“It is a great server OS to run traditional applications and data centre infrastructure, and at the same time it delivers an unprecedented amount of innovation to help customers transition workloads to a more secure, efficient and agile cloud model. It is a great place to land all your workloads, providing the flexibility to run them on-premises or in the cloud.”
Windows Server 2016 promises advanced multi-level security and will make it easier to deploy and run existing and cloud native applications both on-premise and in Azure.
Windows Server containers are one of the headline features of this latest release and Microsoft has reached a deal with Docker to make a Commercially Supported Docker Engine (CS Docker Engine) available at no extra cost.
“We are excited to bring Docker containers, the CS Docker Engine, and Docker Datacenter to the vast Windows Server customer base and ecosystem,” said Ben Golub, CEO of Docker. “We view this is a critical step to enable our vision of ‘write-once, run-anywhere’ apps that can be deployed on-premises, to any cloud, or in a hybrid architecture across clouds.”
Windows Server also has software-defined data centre features used by Microsoft itself in its Azure data centres and the company claims its customers can benefit from the efficiencies enjoyed by its own cloud platform.
“Not every organization needs this type of scale, but every organisation can definitely benefit from the new models of cloud efficiency,” added Chapple. “We worked hard to build that into this release so every customer can benefit. As a result, Windows Server 2016 delivers a more flexible and cost-efficient operating system for any data centre, using software-defined compute, storage and network features inspired by Azure.”
This hybrid cloud push is strengthened by the second version of the Azure Stack Technical Preview. Azure Stack lets service providers offer all the features of Azure but in the private cloud, meaning customers in regulated industries that can’t use the public cloud can benefit from the platform, and also make the most of existing on-premise technology.
The latest preview adds new application management features and the first iteration of infrastructure management technologies for service provider partners, who will be able to test Azure Stack on a single server to prepare for the full launch, which is expected to be next year.
Finally, Azure customers will benefit from new management and monitoring features in the form of System Center 2016.
Microsoft has agreed a number of Azure partnerships in recent months, including with Rackspace and SAP. Earlier at the Ignite conference, Adobe revealed it would be moving several of its own cloud services, including Creative Cloud, onto Microsoft’s infrastructure.