Microsoft has delivered a new Technical Preview of the upcoming Windows Server 2016 platform, bringing the first public build of the firm's container support for Windows servers. It also comes with an updated preview of the System Centre 2016 suite designed to manage its new capabilities.
Windows Server 2016 is the next generation of Microsoft's server platform and, as its name suggests, is expected to ship sometime next year. The latest release is the third Technical Preview, which the firm is making available to enable customers to get an early look at the new capabilities it will offer.
The headline feature in Windows Server 2016 Technical Preview 3 is the first public build of Windows Server Containers, Microsoft's move to bring application container technology to the Windows Server ecosystem, in part through collaboration with Docker.
Containers have been garnering a lot of attention over the past year or two as they provide a way to package and deploy applications using fewer resources than virtual machines, allowing them to scale up better in a cloud or data centre environment.
Windows Server Containers offer a highly agile Windows Server environment, according to Microsoft, which will enable customers to accelerate the DevOps process to efficiently build and deploy modern applications.
When fully released, it will allow Windows developers to experience the benefits of containers for the first time using the language of their choice, whether .Net, Python, Ruby on Rails, Java or others, the firm said.
Also new in this preview release is a bunch of networking enhancements, which are among the data centre capabilities that Microsoft is bringing to Windows Server from its Azure public cloud platform. These include a scalable network controller for centralised network configuration and a software load balancer for high availability and performance.
Another feature showcased in this preview is Shielded VMs, a security enhancement that provides better isolation between the underlying host system and the virtual machines running on it, to help protect resources in shared environments.
Meanwhile, System Centre 2016 Technical Preview 3 provides the management side of the equation for many of the new capabilities, including Shielded VMs. It also brings support for rolling upgrades for clustered nodes and support for the new Nano server capability in Windows Server 2016 as host and file server.
Nano server is a new minimal footprint deployment option for Windows Server 2016 that is aimed at situations such as cloud deployment for running containerised apps, much like the Ubuntu Core and Red Hat Atomic Host Linux builds.
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