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Linux, HCI and more, all from the new release of Windows Server 2019

Customers in it for the long term get parity with the flighty Semi-Annual Channel crowd

After a lengthy gestation period, Windows Server 2019 has arrived loaded with goodies to ease the journey to a cloudier world.

Windows Server 2019 is the next iteration of the platform in Microsoft's Long Term Servicing Channel (LTSC). It contains some new toys as well as features already enjoyed by those admins brave to surf the Semi-Annual Channel (SAC) of the product. Since the last LTSC release (Windows Server 2016 in September 2016) there have been releases numbered 1709 and 1803. This week's release brings the LTSC version up to date.

Windows Server 2019 will receive 10 years of support from Redmond, unlike the SAC versions which only get 18 months of attention, and so are of great interest to administrators who like things to stay just so.

Hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI)

In an effort to win at buzzword bingo or, more likely, attract customers keen to virtualize as much as possible, Microsoft has improved support for HCI in Server 2019. Redmond reckoned its Cluster Sets technology allows deployments with software-defined networking and storage to scale from two nodes up to 100s of servers, building on technology first introduced in 2016.

If you're building a data centre, HCI alone makes Server 2019 an important release. If you're not, perhaps Microsoft could interest you in something a little more cloudy?

Hi Hybrid

Windows Server 2019 is available in on-premises and cloud versions, and Microsoft is keen that users make their way to Azure at some point in the future. As such, there are many connectors built into the platform, and its administration tool Windows Admin Center, to ease the trek into the cloud. Azure Backup and File Sync along with disaster recovery are present to "extend" a data center into Azure while the Storage Migration Service is a little blunter, and designed to shunt file servers directly into the cloud without having to tinker with user configurations.

Keeping it secure

Windows Defender Advanced Threat Protection (ATP) is now enabled within Server 2019 along with Defender Exploit Guard. However, the bigger news is the arrival of Shielded VMs for Linux VMs. Shielded VMs made an appearance in Server 2016, and stopped ne'er-do-wells with access to the host server interfering with the operation of VMs. Alas, this feature only applied where Windows was the guest operating system. Today's Linux-loving Microsoft has extended this functionality to Linux VMs.

Microsoft loves Linux

The Linux love doesn't stop there. The Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) has found its way into Windows Server, allowing Linux containers to run side-by-side with Windows containers and, with the 2019 version, WSL will allow Linux users to script they way they like rather than having to learn PowerShell.

App compatibility improvements also include support for Service Fabric and Kubernetes as well as a shrinking of the Server Core base container image to a third of its size.

The Windows Server 2019 release is significant as it also sees what may turn out to be the final release of the Essentials product. However, with support running to 2028, administrators have plenty of time to plan for a migration. ®

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