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Try to contain your joy: Microsoft emits Windows Server 2016 with nano-services

And DIY Azure on the verge of summer release

Ignite 2015 Microsoft has shipped the second Technical Preview of what it's now officially calling Windows Server 2016 and has announced Azure Stack, a new offering that bundles up Redmond's public cloud infrastructure into a version that can run in customers' own data centers.

The new Windows Server build was released to coincide with Redmond's inaugural Ignite conference in Chicago this week, an event that combines the former TechEd with a variety of targeted events that Microsoft used to hold for various products throughout the year.

As promised, this build gives us our first hands-on look at Nano Server, the new micro-footprint, cloud-first formulation of the OS that's the first stage of a major re-architecting of the Windows Server product line.

What it doesn't give us, however, is containers. Microsoft has promised us two different styles of containers for Windows Server 2016, including Windows Server Containers and Hyper-V Containers, both of which it says will be interoperable with tools for the Docker container tech for Linux. We'll have to wait to see just how that works, though, because Microsoft now says it won't ship a preview of its containers until the third Windows Server 2016 preview, which it says will arrive "this summer."

On the other hand, the new Windows Server build does also deliver rolling upgrades for Hyper-V and Storage clusters, compute resiliency so that virtual machines keep running even when their cluster fabric fails, and Storage Replica updates for synchronous storage replication.

There's also a corresponding preview of System Center 2016 that includes – of all things – better management of Linux and LAMP software stacks, including Desired State Configuration (DSC) support and native SSH support. It also includes new monitoring features for Azure, Office 365, SQL Server, and Exchange. It's not out yet, but Microsoft says it will be available this week.

Roll your own cloud, Microsoft-style

If mucking around with servers the old-fashioned way isn't your bag, though, and you're eager to turn your data center into a private or hybrid cloud, Microsoft says it also plans to ship tools to help you do just that.

One is Microsoft Operations Management Suite (OMS), a new management portal that Redmond launched on Monday. It integrates with System Center but can pull data from multiple machine data sources, including Azure and AWS public clouds. OMS offers analytics, backup and recovery, and automation features with pay-as-you-go pricing, including a free introductory tier.

Redmond says it plans to add new capabilities to OMS at a rapid pace, and to expect support for cloud-based patching, alerts, and containment management to debut in the coming year, among other features.

More significantly, though, Azure Stack will be a new offering that provides the PaaS and IaaS technologies that Microsoft uses for Azure to customers to use in their own data centers.

"Azure Stack will simplify the complex process of deploying private/hosted clouds based on our experience building the Microsoft Cloud Platform System, a converged infrastructure solution," Microsoft's server team explained in a blog post.

Azure Stack application deployment

That includes stuff like software-defined networking and storage, along with hardened VMs for "zero-trust" deployment scenarios, so that organizations and workloads can be segmented off so that they can't interfere with each other.

Again, it's not available yet. But Microsoft says customers will be able to start fooling around with Azure Stack beginning with a preview release this summer, possibly timed to coincide with the next Windows Server preview build. ®

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