Windows Server 2016 live at CloudVPS

News

This week we released the new Windows Server 2016 Standard image for both OpenStack and Windows Hyper-V.  Our Windows Hyper-V team has finished its intensive testing period of the new Windows Server 2016 image and on OpenStack the image has been available for testing for a few months, it's now moved to the Supported Images. In this article we'll go over our platforms, what's new in this version of Windows Server and show you how to get started with this new image. If you just want to get started with Windows Server 2016, scroll down a bit.

Hyper-V - Enterprise Windows cloud

Do you want a high-availability Windows VPS that fits your requirements and is online within minutes? The CloudVPS Hyper-V VPSs are tailored for every need. The basic principle of our Hyper-V platform is an extremely fast and secure data storage, combined with heavy server nodes that are guarded by our high-availability systems. The servers can take over tasks from each other if necessary.

We are one of the few cloud providers offering comprehensive Windows VPS hosting. Additionally, we are Microsoft Tier-1 hosting partner. By collaborating with Microsoft, our services fit perfectly with their products. We are always informed about the latest developments and this allows us to offer an unique level of support.

More information on our Hyper-V platform can be found here: http://www.cloudvps.com/virtual-private-server/windows-vps

OpenStack - The open cloud

OpenStack is a collection of open source cloud components (compute, networking and storage) for building and running a cloud platform for public, private and hybrid clouds. We offer a public cloud based on OpenStack. This robust and powerful cloud platform is ideal for companies that need a high-performance cloud environment, are looking for extreme scalability, use their own images, or have a high level of network complexity.

OpenStack has a well-documented API, allowing your applications to communicate with our infrastructure and, therefore, are able to respond quickly to changes in usage without human interference.

The biggest difference between our OpenStack and Hyper-V platform, except for the backing hypervisor technology, is that our OpenStack platform only uses SSDs for the system harddisks of VPSs. The second difference is that Hyper-V has automatic failover if a hypervisor fails.

What's new in Server 2016

With Windows Server 2016, Microsoft aims to assist customers in modernising their server enviromnents. This means embracing trends such as containers and microservices, as well as improvements including rolling upgrades for Hyper-V virtualisation and improved identity management with Active Directory, the reduced scaled down Nano Server version, Windows Containers and Storage Spaces Direct / Storage Replica.

The biggest update is Nano Server. Developed under the name ‘Tuva’, Nano Server is a scaled down, purpose-build version of Windows designed to run modern cloud applications and act as a platform for containers. It needs fewer patches and updates, restarts faster and has better resource utilisation. Due to having fewer components, it has a much lower attack vector. Nano Server has a 93 percent lower disksize than Windows Server. All of the above has been achieved by removing 32-bit support and removing the graphical user interface. This means all management has to be done either remotely via WMI or PowerShell.

The second major feature is support for containers. This allows you to start with a microservices architecture. Microsoft has already shown its interest in containers by announcing a partnership with the Docker project in 2014. Containers offer a lightweight alternative to full virtualisation, they allow applications to be packaged and moved more easily from server to server, not having the overhead of a full-blown operating system.

Further enhancements can be  found in Storage with, for example, Storage Spaces Direct and Storage Replica, the latter offering block-level synchronous replication between servers.

More information on all of the new exiting features of Server 2016 can be found on Microsoft's Technet website: https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/windows-server-docs/get-started/what-s-new-in-windows-server-2016

Get started on Hyper-V

To use Server 2016 Standard on our Hyper-V platform, go to the Order page (https://www.cloudvps.nl/configurator) and order a new VPS. We recommend a minimum package VPS 3. If you already have an account you will be asked to login, the server will be provisioned automatically.

We are working on providing Nano Server as well, but for the forseeable future we only have Standard available.


Get started on OpenStack

In Skyline you can use the 'New Server' button to create a new instance. Under 'Other' select the Server 2016 image. If it is grayed out, the flavor is too small.



Enter a password. Our OpenStack image includes Cloudbase-Init (https://cloudbase.it/cloudbase-init/) to automatically resize the root disk and set the password for RDP. This way you can log in right away, instead of first having to set a password via the Console.



Select the network preference, public or private with a floating IP.



Select the default security groups. Default includes RDP administration. For security, you might want to limit management ports to your own IPs.

Click Finish and the server will be provisioned.



You can use RDP or the Console for further management.



On OpenStack, we support nested virtualization. We haven't tested it, but it might be possible to run Nano server on Hyper-V in a VM. Otherwise, you always can upload your own image.

OpenStack does not have automatic failover when a hypervisor node has an issue. If you require our automatic failover, you must use Hyper-V, or set up a clustered Windows setup.

SQL Server 2016

SQL Server 2016 is available at CloudVPS as well. For Hyper-V this can be chosen during the order. For OpenStack for now, please send an e-mail to sales@cloudvps.com and we'll provide further support.

Upgrading

We always recommend not to do an in-place upgrade. Not just for Windows, but also for our Linux platforms. Not only is rollback not possible or tested, general testing of the new environment can't be done beforehand.

Our recommended way to upgrade to Windows Server 2016 is by migrating all data and applications to a new VPS. If you order a new VPS and in the comments mention a migration, we will not invoice the VPS for the first two weeks, on the condition that either one will be cancelled in 14 days. This way, you don't have double costs for a migration.

With a second VPS you will be able to plan, write out and test the migration and rollback. If the migration fails, just turn on the old VPS. If it succeeds, turn off the old one and remove it later when all boxes are ticked green.

On OpenStack you can mount an ISO as an image, so technically it is possible to do an in place upgrade. On Hyper-V our support can make the ISO available. Do note that we strongly recommend against an in place upgrade.