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Sneak Peek #1: Windows Server, version 1709

This blog post was authored by Jeff Woolsey, Principal Program Manager, Windows Server.

Greetings!

We’re watching the calendar and counting down to Microsoft Ignite September 25-29 in Orlando, Florida. Ignite is a great way to see the latest and greatest products and technologies with hundreds of hours of content, meet with your peers and partners, and get firsthand experience with hands-on labs. If you’re already registered for Ignite, be sure to check the event catalog and start selecting your sessions. If you haven’t grabbed a ticket yet, there are limited passes remaining, so get one while you still can!

As we countdown to Ignite, we want to begin a blog series that provides a sneak peek of the next release of Windows Server: Windows Server, version 1709. We’ll be launching Windows Server, version 1709 at Ignite, which builds on the innovation in Windows Server 2016, so let’s begin with a brief recap of some of the areas we focused on in Windows Server 2016.

Application innovation

One area of great interest to customers around the world is application modernization. While a large percentage of applications have moved from physical machines to virtual machines, you’ve told us that you want more. You’ve told us:

  1. You have existing business critical applications that you would like to modernize by moving to a modern platform with better security and better resource usage with minimal/no development effort. Think of this as “lift and shift.”
  2. You are building new applications and you want to build these apps with the cloud as a design point and with the flexibility to run on-premises, in the cloud, or as a hybrid service that takes advantage of the best of both worlds.

In Windows Server 2016, we delivered on both these areas in a major way and we’re just getting started with our investments in Cloud App Platform to:

  1. Provide a way for IT Pros to lift and shift traditional apps to Docker containers with Server Core.
  2. Enable cloud developers to write new cloud apps with Nano Server, .NET Core and Docker.

From a platform standpoint, Windows Server 2016 is the first version of Windows Server to include container technology. Windows Server containers provide application isolation through process and namespace isolation. You can realize the benefits of using containers for applications—with little or no code changes with Windows Server Core. We then added Hyper-V isolation to Windows Server Containers to expand on the isolation by running each container in a highly-optimized virtual machine making it ideal for running in a hostile multitenant environment. Containers, Nano Server, Azure Container Service, and Windows Server provide a rich set of cloud enabling building blocks for true business agility in building always-on, scalable, and distributed applications to run in Azure, on-premises, or hybrid.

Security

Windows Server 2016 is designed with security in mind throughout development as part of our SDL, and reduces risk with multiple layers of security deeply integrated in the operating system for on-premises and cloud protection such as Secure Boot, Code Integrity, Virtualization Based Security, Control Flow Guard, Windows Defender, Just in Time Administration, Just Enough Administration, and much more…

One of the most innovative solutions delivered in Windows Server 2016 was the coupling of security and our hypervisor, Hyper-V, to create Shielded VMs. Shielded VMs are a groundbreaking new technology that makes a virtual machine running Windows a “black box” to protect against a rogue administrator or a virtual machine getting into the wild. Nothing in the industry compares to Shielded VMs.

Software Defined Datacenter that’s ready for the cloud

Windows Server provides the same Hyper-V hypervisor that we run in Azure, so you get the benefits of Azure’s requirements too. A great example of an Azure requirement being delivered to you is industry-leading scale. Windows Server 2016 supports the largest physical servers (24 TB RAM, 512 logical processors) and the largest virtual machines (12 TB RAM, 240 virtual processors). Those massive scalability requirements were driven by Azure, and we are happy to share the same technology with you in Windows Server.

In terms of Software-defined Networking, we took our learnings from Azure and brought them to Windows Server with technologies such as the Azure Data plane, software load balancer, distributed firewall and more. With Windows Server 2016 we delivered Azure inspired, Software-defined Networking to be used on-premises, and these same technologies are also used by Microsoft Azure Stack.

In terms of storage, we took the best performing Software-defined Storage stack and enabled new flexible hyper-converged deployment capabilities to build highly available, scalable software-defined storage solutions at a fraction of the cost of a storage area network (SAN) or network-attached storage (NAS). The Storage Spaces Direct feature lets you use industry-standard servers with local storage. We then added Storage Replica which provides both synchronous and asynchronous options to meet your business requirements.

Long-Term Servicing Channel and Semi-Annual Channel Releases

As we prepare for the Windows Server, version 1709 release, we also want to make sure that folks clearly understand the new release models, including the Long-Term Servicing Channel and the Semi-annual Channel.

Before we discuss these two release models, let’s provide some context. Going all the way back to Windows Server 2003, Microsoft regularly delivered Windows Server releases every two to three years. Over the years, we heard feedback that Microsoft was “too slow.” Customers wanted us to go faster. Customers told us that they felt that being on the leading edge of a technology gave them a competitive advantage. So, we changed. Following the release of Windows Server 2012, we released Windows Server 2012 R2 less than a year later. The feedback we then received, and from some quite loudly, was “Microsoft you’re going too fast. Slow down.”

The pushback on a faster release was an interesting data point. It indicated we had two tracks of customers. One who wanted slow consistency and another who wanted continuous innovation. So, we tried another approach to better test this hypothesis.

In Windows Server 2016 development, we began by releasing frequent Technology Previews (TP). We released a total of five technology previews throughout development. Each TP included additional features, and we partnered with users to help us make changes through development. There were many organizations who were so pleased with a particular TP release that they asked us if we would support them in production.

The Windows Server 2016 development cycle only reinforced the notion that we needed two tracks, which is what we are now delivering with the Long-Term Servicing Channel (LTSC) and the Semi-Annual Channel. So moving forward, Windows Server is evolving to deliver innovation through two channels: The Long-Term Servicing Channel and the Semi-Annual Channel.

  • Long-Term Servicing Channel (LTSC) – this is business as usual with 5 years of mainstream support and 5 years of extended support. You’ll have the option to upgrade to the next LTSC release every 2-3 years the same way folks have for the last 20 years.
  • For those of you who want to innovate faster and take advantage of new features sooner, we are adding the Semi-annual Channel. The Semi-Annual Channel is a Software Assurance benefit and is fully supported in production. The difference is that it is supported for 18 months and there will be a new version every six months.

Keep in mind that both the Long-Term Servicing Channel and the Semi-Annual Channel are both fully supported in production, and that you can mix and match. For example:

  • If you have a legacy application that you rarely touch running in a VM, then maybe the LTSC release makes sense.
  • If you have a new, cloud application that your dev team is building using containers and they want the latest and greatest container features in Nano Server/Server Core, then likely the Semi-Annual Channel is the right choice.

The point is, we’re providing both options, and you get to choose which makes the most sense for you. Finally, whether you choose LTSC or Semi-annual Channel, you are in full control of patching your servers. To make the Windows Server versions easy to identify, we are taking a cue from the Windows team and refer to this release by the year and the month. In this case, 1709 refers to the year 2017, and the ninth month, September. Very straightforward. The way that we are delivering Windows Server moving forward offers more opportunity than ever to influence product direction, so please sign up to the Windows Server Insider Program if you haven’t already!

In the next few blogs, we’re going to introduce areas of investments for the Windows Server, version 1709 for developers, security, Software-defined datacenter and management.

TD redefines banking in the digital age with the Microsoft Cloud to empower employees and transform the customer experience

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TD Bank Group logo.

Today’s post was written by Jeff Henderson, executive vice president and CIO of TD Bank Group.

Profile image of Jeff Henderson, executive vice president and CIO of TD Bank Group.Growing from Canada’s smallest bank to one of North America’s largest in just over 20 years, TD Bank Group (TD) is in the habit of planning for the future. As we continue to expand, we are taking bold steps to make sure that the technology we use grows with us. Transforming technology at TD starts with listening to our employees and creating a “Workplace of the Future” that supports enhanced mobility and collaboration across the organization. We are deploying Microsoft Office 365 to empower employees to be more mobile and productive, so they can continue to provide the legendary customer service that has always set us apart.

Through a digital transformation in the workplace, we are positioning the bank for the future. Gone are the days where banks can expect customers to come to them. Enhancing mobility for our 90,000 employees supports how we accommodate customer expectations for great in-person service and across new digital channels. So, with more mobile employees, such as our mobile mortgage lenders, we are serving customers where it’s most convenient for them. OneDrive for Business Online cloud-based storage provides the biggest impact in terms of improved mobility for our employees because we can access and share files regardless of location or device—plus we save money on storage costs. And employees will be able to edit and share files on the fly because they’ll have access to all the Office 365 services from their mobile devices.

By making Microsoft applications available on mobile phones, and managing and securing them with Microsoft Enterprise Mobility + Security, we can free employees from their desks, so they can be productive anywhere. We’re designing flex-based workspaces with unassigned desks to accommodate this new level of mobile productivity. And just as we’re redesigning our physical spaces, we’re also moving from a traditional methodology to an agile methodology, where we’ll be using Office 365 collaboration services to support a new era of teamwork across functional areas of the organization.

However, from a technology enablement perspective, we can’t deliver anything to our employees that would jeopardize the security and trust that we have built up with our customers over the bank’s assets and information. We are impressed with the integrated, layered approach to cloud security that we see with Microsoft, including products like Customer Lockbox, that provides us with the requisite level of control over access to our content in the TD tenant by Microsoft service personnel.

The interoperability of Microsoft cloud-based services simplifies our job in IT, so we don’t have to spend time integrating point solutions. And the evergreen nature of its cloud services ensures that we remain current on the latest technologies, ultimately reducing risk. Inclusivity is an important aspect of our Workplace of the Future, and we see Microsoft as a leader in the assistive technologies space. Microsoft understands the regulatory compliance environment within the banking industry and has been far and away the most accommodating in working with us to meet our needs as they pertain to our financial regulatory obligations.

In our push to modernize, Office 365 has already revealed impactful cost savings. With 90,000 employees and 110,000 Exchange Online mailboxes, we’ve saved 50 percent in email costs, and expect additional savings to come from consolidating our devices reducing storage costs and limiting the number of third-party applications in our IT portfolio.

As we achieve our vision for a new workplace and corporate culture focused on mobility and agility, we’re positioning ourselves for success in the digital world, ensuring that our products and services continue to resonate with customers well into the future.

—Jeff Henderson

Now available: Windows Server 2016 Security Guide!

This blog post was authored by Nir Ben Zvi, Principal PM Manager, Windows Server.

Windows Server 2016 includes major security innovations that can help protect privileged identity, make it harder for attackers to breach your servers, and detect attacks so that you can respond faster. This is powerful technology, and all that’s missing is guidance on how to best deploy and use Windows Server 2016 to protect your server workloads.

Today we are pleased to share the new Windows Server 2016 Security Guide.

This paper includes general guidance for helping secure servers in your environment as well as specific pointers on how you can utilize new security features in Windows Server 2016. We are committed to continue our effort to provide you with the right security solutions so that you can better protect, detect and respond to threats in your datacenter and private cloud.

Download the Windows Server 2016 Security Guide now and check out our website for more information on Windows Server security.

Wanted – Macbook pro 2015

I’ve got one for sale if of any interest ; was actually going to post it on the classifieds on Monday.

15″ Macbook Pro Retina mid’14.
2.5GHz quadcore i7,
16GB RAM,
512GB PCI-E SSD
Iris Pro + nvidia GT750M graphics.

Exceptional condition, as just before buying it’s replacement the bottom chassis and battery was replaced for a new one by apple under Applecare.
Battery count is therefore pretty spectacular – 42!

For completeness, I’ll mention that the external power supply has some scuffs on it – but the macbook is pristine and working perfectly.

Oh, and comes with a good quality fabric slipcase if you want it.
I’m also 90% sure (have to hunt in the loft) that I have the original box for the mbp if required.

Rupert

Dow Chemical balances the equation between virtual teamwork and workplace security with Microsoft 365

Today’s post was written by Ron Markezich, corporate vice president for Microsoft.

Profile picture of Ron Markezich.


Dow logo.

These are exciting times for one of the world’s largest chemical companies. This month, Dow Chemical expects to finalize its merger with DuPont, creating DowDuPont and spinning off into three global businesses that focus on material sciences, specialty products, and agriculture. Global changes at this level require a complete, intelligent, and secure workplace transformation supported by agile cloud services. We’re excited that Dow chose Microsoft 365 Enterprise to empower more than 60,000 employees to work together creatively in highly secure virtual environments.

Mario Ferket, IT engineering director at Dow Chemical, explains why Microsoft 365 Enterprise is part of Dow’s bright future:

“At Dow, our growth strategy sees us investing in leading-edge businesses that create value for our customers and shareholders. We’re using Microsoft 365 to support a workplace culture that fosters the creativity and teamwork that we need to make our strategies a success—while protecting our environment with intelligent security solutions. By replacing our heterogeneous systems with Microsoft 365, we’re simplifying how IT delivers a modern experience for employees to achieve their highest potential and contribute to our bright future.”

Delivering creativity, innovation, and collaboration as core elements of the workplace through simplified, cloud-based management is a powerful agent for transformation at Dow. I’m looking forward to seeing how the new DowDuPont grows revenue, engages better with customers, and transforms their products thanks to a modern workplace culture that offers the latest in digital business solutions.

—Ron Markezich

Wanted – Macbook pro 2015

I’ve got one for sale if of any interest ; was actually going to post it on the classifieds on Monday.

15″ Macbook Pro Retina mid’14.
2.5GHz quadcore i7,
16GB RAM,
512GB PCI-E SSD
Iris Pro + nvidia GT750M graphics.

Exceptional condition, as just before buying it’s replacement the bottom chassis and battery was replaced for a new one by apple under Applecare.
Battery count is therefore pretty spectacular – 42!

For completeness, I’ll mention that the external power supply has some scuffs on it – but the macbook is pristine and working perfectly.

Oh, and comes with a good quality fabric slipcase if you want it.
I’m also 90% sure (have to hunt in the loft) that I have the original box for the mbp if required.

Rupert