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In Windows Server2012 R2, Microsoft enabled the growth of hyperconvergence for certified partners that embraced market conditions and had agile storage appliances for the Microsoft-Defined Datacenter. Windows Server 2012 R2 presented a new feature—Storage Spaces—a software-defined storage file system delivering sophisticated storage virtualization capabilities to empower customers.

Storage Spaces enabled you to virtualize storage by grouping industry-standard disks into shared storage pools, to create virtual disks called storage spaces from the available capacity in the shared storage pools. A Storage Spaces Shared (S3) as it has become known leverages industry-standard certified components and platforms for scale-out file serving (SOFS) and collapsed multi-node cluster-in-a-box (CiB) deployments.

The cluster-in-a-box appliance platform immediately lent its functionality to provide consolidated or converged scale-out file server (SOFS) functionality added via RDMA to a VM pool of disparate server Hyper-V nodes. An added benefit to the DataON CiB appliance is the ability to deliver VM level performance and local shared storage featuring the tiering capabilities for in Windows Server 2012 R2. With these abilities and performance metrics the CiB appliance platform began providing Microsoft hyper-converged capabilities in tandem with the release of Windows Server 2012 R2 in mid-2013. Having a well-established and experienced background in Microsoft hyper-converged infrastructure appliances allows DataON to embrace the new features and developments found in Windows Server 2016.

Growing companies need to reduce costs and increase flexibility at every juncture, leading firms to explore the benefits of the software-defined storage (SDS) approach. But in order to move faster towards cost reduction, the foundational step is to create an infrastructure layer that mirrors what is done in public clouds.

Microsoft seeks brings advanced features to Windows Server 2016 in order to extend software-defined datacenter capabilities, also known as the Microsoft-Defined Datacenter (MDDC). Advances in storage, networking, and compute are all fully integrated into the Windows Server 2016 platform providing the necessary foundation needed to meet high growth business requirements.

Reduce datacenter footprint with Nano Server, allowing up to 25x smaller than a full Windows Server deployment Innovate with modern app platform to isolate applications with Windows Server Containers and Hyper-V Containers.

Enhance security features, including shielded virtual machines, and just-enough and just-in-time admin privileges Reduce costs with improved, modern, software-defined datacenter capabilities in Storage Spaces Shared and distributed Storage Spaces Direct.

Download the Windows Server 2016 datasheet

Storage Spaces Direct
  • Storage Spaces Direct (S2D) enables building highly available (HA) storage systems with local storage. This is another forward step for Microsoft Windows Server software-defined storage (SDS) as it continuous the simplification route for deployment and management of SDS systems.
  • Storage Spaces Direct is a distributed file system option residing in Windows Server 2016, in addition to the traditional clustered Storage Space Shared classic file system introduced in Windows Server 2012.
  • The Storage Spaces Direct option also unlocks use of new classes of disk devices, such as SATA and NVMe disk devices, that were previously not possible with clustered Storage Spaces with shared disks.

Storage Spaces Shared
  • Clustered Storage Spaces Shared (S3) continues to enable SMB and remote branch offices (ROBO) and entry point into highly available tiered shared storage with minimal TCO. Building highly available (HA) storage systems for scale-out file servers (SOFS) and local shared storage. For clustered appliances takes steps forward in leveraging improved capacity benefits via Multi-Resilient Virtual Disks. This further progression allow for a Microsoft-Defined Datacenter (MDDC) to deliver continuous availability with performance-tuned parity capacity implications.

Multi-Resilient Virtual Disks
  • A multi-resilient virtual disk (MRVD) is a virtual disk, which has one part that is a mirror and another part that is erasure coded (parity). In effect this is combined the concept of a RAID 10 “hot tier” and “cold tier” existing of a RAID 5 or 6. Obviously with the introduction of Storage Spaces and virtual pools the architecture is next generation resiliency and performance when compared to legacy hardware RAID deployments. To achieve MRVD an administrator defines two tiers, as in Windows Server 2012 R2, however in Windows Server 2016 the tiers are defined by their resiliency setting rather than the media type.

ReFS Real-Time Tiering
  • ReFS will always writes into the mirror tier, effectively an advanced write-cache. If writes are updates to data sitting in the parity tier, the new writes still go into the mirror tier and old data in the parity tier is invalidated. This ensures writes are always written as a mirror operation providing the best overall performance, especially for random IO workloads like virtual machines and requires the least CPU resources.

Storage Replica
  • Storage Replica enables storage-agnostic, block-level, synchronous replication between clusters or servers for disaster preparedness and recovery, as well as stretching of a failover cluster across sites for high availability and ensuring zero data loss at the file system level.

Increased Resiliency of Virtual Machines
  • Virtual machine resiliency reacts to intra-cluster communication failures in your compute cluster rather than aggressively addressing transient commodity component potential failures that can cause more downtime than it prevents.

Server 2016 Failover Cluster Troubleshooting
  • Clustering has diagnostic logs running on each server that allow in-depth troubleshooting of problems without having to reproduce the issue. This log is valuable for Microsoft’s support as well as those out there who have expertise at troubleshooting failover clusters.

Site-aware Failover Clusters
  • Nodes in stretched clusters can now be grouped based on their physical location (site). Cluster site-awareness enhances key operations during the cluster lifecycle such as failover behavior, placement policies, heart-beats between the nodes and quorum behavior. Workgroup and Multi-domain clusters.
  • Previous versions, clusters could only be created between member nodes joined to the same domain. Windows Server 2016 introduces the ability to create a Failover Cluster without Active Directory dependencies. Failover Clusters can now be created as single-domain clusters, multi-domain clusters, or as workgroup clusters.

System Rolling Upgrade
  • Cluster Operating System (OS) Rolling Upgrade enables an administrator to upgrade the operating system of the cluster nodes from Windows Server 2012 R2 to Windows Server 2016 without stopping the Hyper-V or the Scale-Out File Server workloads. Downtime penalties against Service Level Agreements (SLA) can be avoided.

PowerShell Direct
  • PowerShell Direct allows Windows PowerShell management inside a virtual machine regardless of the network configuration or remote management settings on either the Hyper-V host or the virtual machine. Hyper-V Administrators can automate and script virtual machine management and configuration.

Windows Server 2016 Remote Desktop Services
  • Personal Session Desktops capability for Remote Desktop Services (RDS) allows administrators to deploy server-based personal desktops in a cloud computing environment where there is a separation between the fabric Hyper-V servers and the guest virtual machines, such as Microsoft Azure Stack.

Software Defined Networks
  • Software Defined Networking (SDN) provides a method to centrally configure and manage physical and virtual network devices such as routers, switches, and gateways in your datacenter. Deploy a Microsoft Software Defined Network infrastructure using scripts including a network controller, an SLB/MUX, virtual networks, and associated ACLs.
  • Deploy Software Defined Networks using Virtual Machine Manager helps you evaluate scenarios that incorporate VMM with the Microsoft Network Controller, a new feature in Windows Server 2016.

Remote Direct Memory Access (RDMA) Teaming
  • Teaming now available for Remote Direct Memory Access (RDMA) interfaces with Hyper-V in Windows Server 2016 along with Switch Embedded Teaming (SET).

Nano Server
  • Nano Server is a remotely administered server operating system optimized for hosting in private clouds and datacenters. It is similar to Windows Server in Server Core mode, but markedly more condensed. It takes up far less disk space, sets up significantly faster, and requires far fewer updates and restarts than typical Windows Server.

Windows Container
  • Windows containers allows many isolated applications to run on one computer system. They build fast and are highly scalable and portable. Two different types of container runtime are available, each with a different degree of application isolation. Windows Server Containers achieve isolation through namespace and process isolation. Hyper-V Containers encapsulates each container in a light weight virtual machine.

Shielded VM and Guarded Fabric Validation
  • The goal is to help provide hosting service providers and private cloud operators the ability to offer their tenant administrators a hosted environment where protection of tenant virtual machine data is strengthened against threats from compromised storage, network, and host admins, as well as malware. Active Directory Certificate Services.
  • Active Directory Certificate Services (AD CS) increases support for TPM key attestation: Smart Card KSP is available for key attestation, and devices that are not joined to the domain can now use NDES enrollment to get certificates that can be attested for keys being in a TPM.

Cloud Witness
  • Cloud Witness is a type of Failover Cluster quorum witness for multi-site datacenters.

Windows Server 2016 provides the making for a Microsoft-Defined Datacenter with the modern applications as the new standard. Windows Server Containers and Hyper-V Containers give you tools for rapid iteration, Nano Server delivers a lighter dramatically reduces the footprint, Storage Spaces Shared offers increased SOFS and CiB capacity deployments with improved resiliency and performance, and Storage Spaces Direct (S2D) brings a storage spaces shared nothing approach for a distributed filesystem in tune with clustered hyper-converged deployments. Windows Server 2016 gives you a true write once, deploy anywhere model offering maximum application flexibility.


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