Windows Server 2019 is set to launch later this year – but exactly what’s in store for the latest version of the popular Microsoft operating system?
We now have access to a new Windows Server 2019 preview build, and this one has some things for Hyper-V users. You can read their official notification here. If you haven’t yet gotten into the preview program yet, you can join up and test out it out – sign up to be an Insider. You might want to put this one directly onto hardware if you have the opportunity. Otherwise, try to use a system capable of nested virtualization. I’ll go over the new offerings released on the latest version: insider preview build 17692.
Ongoing Testing Request
As a reminder, Microsoft has made a request for specific items to test in each build, they want users to specifically test:
- In-place upgrade from WS2012R2 and/or WS2016
- Compatibility with applications
I’ve done a little bit of my own testing down this avenue with positive results. My process started from a checkpoint of the original system. For each new build, I revert to the creation point of that checkpoint and install the new build. If you take the effort to do the same, don’t forget to report your findings! To do so you can use the Feedback Application on your Windows 10 desktop, select the server category and then choose the applicable sub-category for your feedback.
Build 17692 Feature 1: Dedicated Hyper-V Server
Hopefully, this is common knowledge now, but Hyper-V ships in its own SKU separate from Windows Server. Up until now, the preview builds of Windows Server 2019 only included the full server product. Insider preview build 17692 now has the separate Hyper-V Server product.
17692 does not include any specific functionality changes for Hyper-V. If you will use Hyper-V Server in your environment, you can start testing it now.
Build 17692 Feature 2: System Insights
In the shortest form, the System Insights feature automates a lot of the difficulty in gathering performance data and using it to predict future behavior and needs. Azure offers similar functionality and features, but Systems Insights requires nothing external. The free Windows Admin Center (formerly Project Honolulu) will give you nice charts on current and anticipated performance. You can extend the reporting functionality with response scripts.
Additional Download: Server Core App Compatibility Features on Demand
While not contained within the main bits of the build yet, this has to be one of the coolest features we’ve seen added. Insider preview build 17692 includes the ability to install a Feature on Demand package that will add several of the main Windows Server Management tools that we’ve come to rely on over the years. All of this on Server Core, and without the additional requirements and bloat from the full GUI installation!
Current tools available with this feature are:
- Performance Monitor (PerfMon.exe)
- Resource Monitor (Resmon.exe)
- Device Manager (Devmgmt.msc)
- Microsoft Management Console (mmc.exe)
- Windows PowerShell ISE (Powershell_ISE.exe)
- Failover Cluster Manager (CluAdmin.msc)
- Process Monitor (Procmon.exe) and other Sysinternals
- SQL Server Management Studio
Commentary on Windows Server 2019 Insider Preview Build 17692
First, a bit about the split-out of Hyper-V Server. That was an expected move as we near release. Microsoft has not signaled any intent to end SKU separation. Organizations using Hyper-V Server can now start previewing 2019 in the same way that they use previous versions today. You can expect Hyper-V Server to start extending down the same paths as Windows Server. Of course, the Windows Server features won’t appear in Hyper-V Server, but management and reporting capabilities will.
On to the bigger topic of System Insights. If you were looking for a good reason to make the jump to 2019, this might be it. In the past, we had to either guess at utilization or become comfortable with the various performance monitoring tools. Guesses nearly always result in overspending. Proper performance monitoring consumes a lot of time, especially during the analysis phases. Systems Insights eases the data-gathering process. Even better, it leverages modern machine learning technologies to help predict what will sort of needs you’ll have in the future. Windows Admin Center will make the whole thing easy to use.
My primary hope for System Insights is that it will put a knife into one of my personal pet peeves: predatory “consultants” and incompetent “admins”. I commonly see unscrupulous outfits peddling a one-size-fits-all design as a magic bullet to every customer they have. Of course, it always does everything that those customers need because it can handle many times more work than they’ll ever reasonably throw at it. The “consultant” never needs to spend any time on analysis, which saves them money. The “consultant” gets more commission from the bigger system, which makes them money. Their customers don’t know enough to even realize that they’ve been robbed. I see similar behavior from a lot of in-house “admins”. They just tell the business owners to overbuy and their bosses don’t know any different.
Now, with System Insights, the owner of that four-user shop who was conned into buying a full 10GbE infrastructure will be able to open up Windows Admin Center and see how his network utilization only averages .5 Mbps. The operations manager who trusted his IT staff will quickly be able to see that the 40TB system they “absolutely needed” to buy only has 2TB of usage. Sure, the liars will exert more effort and come up with better lies, but they’ll be less effective. And, as time goes on, business owners become more technologically savvy. I hope that we’re seeing the beginning of the end of those unsavory practices.
Of course, not all consultants and admins behave that way. Many genuinely want to perform their duties to the best of their ability, and System Insights will make their jobs much easier. They’ll be able to use it to quickly show their customers and bosses how well they’re doing and use its predictive capabilities to stay ahead of problems — the exact intent behind the feature. I look forward to System Insights as a powerful tool that improves everyone’s experience with Windows Server 2019.
The addition of some of the core management utilities into Windows Server Core is also a welcome addition. The lack of these tools on Server Core frustrated some admins and stifled adoption of Core as the primary server SKU. With them available now it seems Microsoft has seen this gap and is moving to address it.
Overall, another solid release. Things are looking up for when 2019 officially hits the shelves! What are your thoughts on the features and capabilities this build brings? Will you be utilizing these features inside of your datacenter? Whatever direction Windows Server 2019 goes from here, rest assured we will be providing our expert insight and analysis throughout the development and at launch. Watch out for more Windows Server 2019 content on our blog and upcoming content.
Let us know in the comments section below!