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Why Use Nano Server?

A common question that gets raised around the new Windows Server 2016 Technical Preview is why we should deploy Nano Server. In this blog post I will discuss a few benefits when using the Nano Server deployment Method.

Starting with Windows Server 2012, we had 3 deployment options:

  1. Server Core deployment; 
  2. MinShell deployment; and
  3. Full Desktop Experience deployment. 

Back then for deployments such as Hyper-V it was recommended to deploy Server Core, due to limited attack surface and reduced patches/hotfixes we had to deploy.

At the moment with Windows Server 2016 Technical Preview 4, we have the following deployment options:

  1. Nano Server deployment (Not exposed in the Setup wizard, you need to create your own media file);
  2. Server Core deployment (Note that this option is selected by default); and
  3. Full Desktop Experience deployment. 

Unlike in Server 2012, we cannot switch back and forth in Server 2016 Technical Preview, so if you had selected the Full desktop Experience, you will have to stick to it. More info (http://blogs.technet.com/b/windowsserver/archive/2015/08/27/windows-server-2016-installation-option-changes.aspx

Starting with Windows Server 2016, Hyper-V Team recommends the use of Nano Server deployment for all Hyper-V Deployments. Let’s look at the benefits of using Nano Server compared to other deployment types.

  1. Nano Server requires the least number of patches and restarts (Comparing with Server Core, which had 8 patches over the last 12 months). With Nano Server we would only need to deploy one patch requiring only one reboot; 
  2. Around a 90% smaller install footprint, which means that we can deploy Nano Server within 5 minutes running through the setup process;
  3. Faster reboot experience; and
  4. Lower memory requirements.

Another interesting change with the Nano Server deployment is that we need to decide on the purpose of the Server before we deploy Nano Server. Traditionally, we would deploy Windows Server 2012 R2, and then select the roles and features that are required, but we cannot do this with Nano Server.

At the time of Image creation, we need to decide which roles needs to be included in the image and select. If it’s a Hyper-V Deployment, we would select Hyper-V Role and Failover Clustering features. If it’s a Scale out file Server, we would select the File Server role. A list of available roles can be found in this location (https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/mt126167.aspx) and refer to my previous blog post for instructions on how to deploy Nano Server (http://nirmalt.com/2015/11/28/installing-nano-servertechnical-preview-4/ ).

Posted by: Nirmal Thewarathanthri, Technical Architect, Infrastructure Services  | 09 December 2015


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