As the race to the cloud accelerates, Windows Server 2016 provides many new features that enable you to put the pedal to the metal on your own cloud deployment. The name of the game is speed and the move to the cloud-first world is about getting ahead of the competition. Currently available in Tech Preview 4 and scheduled for release in Q3, Windows Server 2016 provides the private and hybrid cloud capabilities you need to deliver rapidly on business requirements.
Lenovo engineers have been kicking the tires of the Tech Preview on our servers, focusing on some of the most interesting features: Nested virtualization, Discrete Device Assignment and Nano Server. The following Lenovo Press white papers describe the components and provide step-by-step instruction on how you can implement each one on Lenovo servers.
Nested virtualization essentially enables you to run a hypervisor inside of a virtual machine. With improvements in processor technology, it is now feasible to nest virtualization on standard x86 servers. OK, cool feature but how can you benefit? The most obvious is a test environment. Simulating entire virtualized environments without using dedicated hardware can benefit test/dev environments and can also be used for getting IT staff up to speed on the latest technology. However, the real benefit is container deployment. In case you’re not familiar with containers, think of them as a type of mini VM for applications. Instead of virtualizing the entire operating system (OS), a container provides an isolated environment for an application without the overhead of a full virtual machine. Containers are particularly relevant when you’re running a hybrid cloud, where application portability is important to easily moving workloads.
Discrete Device Assignment is a performance enhancement that allows a specific physical PCI device to be directly controlled by a guest VM running on the Hyper-V instance. Specifically, this new feature aims to deliver a certain type of PCI device class, such as Graphics Processing Units (GPU) or Non-Volatile Memory express (NVMe) devices, to a Windows Server 2016 virtual machine, where the VM will be given full and direct access to the physical PCIe device. Once again, where’s the benefit? GPUs are a must-have in VMs that support Photoshop or CAD applications. If you have GPUs in your server that aren’t needed by the Windows management OS, then Discrete Device Assignment enables you to dismount them and pass them through to a VM.
Microsoft has introduced a new installation option for Windows Server 2016, called Nano Server, the concept of which is a zero footprint model that delivers faster speed and lower resource consumption. It’s basically a lighter version of Windows Server designed to run exclusively in cloud and container scenarios. Nano Server strips out the graphical user interface (GUI) and desktop as well as the interactive application compatibility. It also doesn’t support traditional Microsoft Installer technology for applications. Net net? Nano Server footprint reduces the size of the OS (up to 93 percent smaller than Windows Server), reduces reboots due to security patches and other admin tasks (down by 80 percent), reduces the necessity for critical security patches (92 percent).
Basically, these new Windows Server 2016 features are all about application portability for your cloud deployment and distributing ownership of the devices inside your server among multiple OSs. We hope you’ll give them a test drive as well…on Lenovo servers, of course!