Nano Server: Microsoft debuts simpler Windows Server for the cloud era

Microsoft finally confirms details about Nano Server, its stripped back Windows Server operating system designed specifically for cloud apps

Microsoft is preparing to launch a stripped-back version of its Windows Server operating system (OS) to make the management of cloud and web-scale applications easier.

The new OS is called Nano Server and is being rolled out in response to some of the common hurdles users encounter when using the full version of Windows Server to run their applications.

These include lengthy boot-times when launching new virtual machines and application downtime when new security or software patches need to be administered.

To side-step these issues, Nano Server will require fewer patches and will be less resource-hungry than Windows Server, Microsoft claimed in a blog post, as users will only have to install the components they need.

“The initial results are promising. Based on current builds, compared with Windows Server, Nano Server has 93% lower VHD [virtual hard disk] size, 92% fewer critical bulletins and 80% fewer reboots,” the post stated.

To create the lightweight server OS, the software giant removed a number of default Server Core components, along with the graphical user interface stack and capabilities, such as local login and remote desktop support.

“All management is performed remotely via WMI [Windows Management Instrumentation] and Powershell. We are also adding Windows Server Roles and Features using Features on Demand and DISM [Deployment Image Servicing and Management],” the blog post continued.

“We are improving remote manageability via Powershell with Desired State Configuration, as well as remote file transfer, remote script authoring and remote debugging.”

First sighting of Nano Server

News of Nano Server’s existence began to spread at the start of March 2015, when a leaked slide from a Microsoft presentation appeared online and billed it as a “headless deployment option” for Windows Server.

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It is expected to arrive when the 2016 version of Windows Server drops, but – at present – there is no news on when Microsoft might start making test builds available to members of its Technology Adopters programme.

However, it has confirmed that further details about its features and capabilities will be announced at Microsoft’s forthcoming Build and Ignite conferences, taking place in April and May 2015, respectively.

Microsoft has confirmed, though, that the OS will be application programming interface-compatible with other versions of Windows Server, and that it’s taking steps to ensure it works well in DevOps-style environments.

“We are working with Microsoft Visual Studio and System Center, as well as partners like Chef to ensure that Nano Server works seamlessly in a DevOps continuous deployment and management workflow,” the firm said in its blog post.

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Sounds like Microsoft’s answer to containers.
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