As 2019 comes to an end, so too does support for several key Microsoft products.
In September, we covered the end of Windows 7 security updates. Now, Microsoft is closing the door on Windows Server 2008/2008 R2 support.
As with Windows 7, the “end of support” means no more of the following: Free support options or updates, non-security updates, and online technical content updates.
Unless you want to invest money to extend the life of an obsolete operating system, it’s time to upgrade.
Windows Server 2019
We personally recommend that you upgrade to Windows Server 2019.
Do you have other options? Technically, yes.
Windows Server 2012 R2 and Windows Server 2016 are also available, but they offer significantly less functionality than the 2019 version.
(If you’re curious about specifics, Microsoft provides a full comparison chart detailing the list of new features and the levels of support offered by each Windows Server operating system.)
However, the fundamental reason to upgrade to Windows Server 2019 is that it inherently improves many business processes, and it provides key options as your business grows.
Ease of Use
The latest version of Windows Server offers several key elements that make it very easy to use.
First, with its storage migration service, Windows Server 2019 simplifies the transfer of all files and configuration settings from older Windows Server systems to new operating systems, either onsite or in the cloud.
New servers automatically adopt the identity and workload of the original server for single or multiple migrations to internal Windows servers, or to servers hosted on Azure.
The service also moves storage files and configurations without interruption, so that users and applications can still access the migrating data.
Next, while Windows Server 2016 dropped the graphical user interfaces (GUI) options, Window Server 2019 brought back a desktop GUI. It also provides a server management tool to control both GUI and GUI-less environments in one place.
And, Microsoft introduced the “System Insights” feature, which uses predictive analytics to convert performance counters and log files into a model that forecasts future needs (storage, CPUs, etc.), performance issues, and potential failures.
The model is either displayed on a dashboard on demand, or you can schedule it to run periodically for local and remote instances.
These ease-of-use features also encourage the use of the improved flexibility of Windows Server 2019.
Other Features & Performance
Windows now supports multiple deployment options, such as: Physical or virtual servers, containers, and even nano-servers. Furthermore, it provides support for wherever you may want to deploy … hyper-converged, on-premises/hybrid, and/or private/public cloud deployment.
Do you need to worry about the usability of these new features? Not at all.
As noted in Network World, they were partially introduced and mastered on previous versions of Windows Server. So, they’re fully realized within a Windows Server 2019 platform that’s been designed with those features integrated into its core – instead of bolted onto the existing software.
Do these features diminish performance? Also, no.
Microsoft developed the operating system anticipating future generations of hardware, including a variety of options for core density, persistent memory, and storage.
Windows Server 2019’s ServerCore image is even capable of cutting virtual machine overhead by 50-80%. Smaller containers not only improve performance, but they also help your business support more power for the same investment.
Additional performance improvements can be driven by integrated support for a variety of containers and virtual machines.
Windows Server 2019 introduced a Windows subsystem for Linux that extends basic operations, integrates networking more deeply, and supports native Linux filesystem and security features.
This option uses less resources than a full VM. And, admins can run both Windows and Linux command-line tools on the same file.
Do you prefer to use Kubernetes to manage your Linux Containers?
Windows Server 2019 offers expanded support for Kubernetes and admins – you can run both Linux and Windows containers on the same host.
If you’re concerned about security, the shielded VM functionality for Windows containers, introduced in Windows Server 2016, has been extended to Linux. Admins can now encrypt and manage more of their containers from a single operating system.
Windows Server 2019 also includes options that increase resiliency from simple deployments to enterprise-grade, hyper-converged infrastructures.
Shielded virtual machines can be protected from intermittent connectivity by using the fallback Host Guardian Service and offline mode features.
Storage Spaces Direct enhances performance (deduplication, improved compression), increases scale (up to 4 PB per cluster), and also improves resiliency by providing nested resilience for two-node hyper-converged infrastructure.
The OS also introduced new features to failover clustering, including support for Azure, hardened clusters, and cross-domain cluster migration.
More power, more flexibility, easier to use. But, does it sacrifice security? No.
In fact, security is enhanced.
Microsoft generally changes the security posture from an assumption of a secure perimeter to an assumption of breached systems.
In July 2019, PC Magazine provided an overview of new security features to protect the kernel, monitor security software reports, improve identity management, and enable policy updates.
Also, Microsoft enhanced Windows Defender Advanced Threat Protection (ATP).
This enhanced server ATP automatically blocks and alerts admins about potential malicious attacks. The multi-layer ATP protection system now also integrates with Azure ATP and Office 365 ATP to provide intrusion protection and prevention capabilities over more of the attack surface.
Windows Server 2019 also reduces the attack surface with encrypted subnets. A software defined subnet between virtual machines includes fully encrypted traffic. And, it limits the information and access of an intruder that gains access to the physical network.
Bringing it All Together
The advancements integrated into Microsoft Server 2019 are possible because of the tight integration of features within an operating system built with them in mind.
As noted above, Server 2012 R2 or Server 2016 both include some of those features. However, in those cases, Microsoft added them after launch, so they lack full operating system integration.
Regardless of your situation, as you grow your business, you will encounter the need for more advanced features and capabilities. Windows Server 2019 was designed to grow with you.
Of course, it’s not always possible to remove all older operating systems from your network. With that in mind, we — Ideal Integrations & Blue Bastion Cyber Security — will isolate those servers to limit the risk associated with them through our micro-segmentation products and services.
Do you have questions about your server options?
Contact us to explore how your existing infrastructure can be replicated, or even improved, by migrating to Windows Server 2019.
Complete the form below, or call us at 412-349-660, to speak with a technical professional today!