Why Nano Server

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

Starting with Windows Server 2012, we had 3 deployment options

  1. Server Core Deployment Option
  2. MinShell Deployment Option
  3. Full Desktop Experience Deployment Option

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

At the moment with Windows Server 2016 Technical Preview , we have 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 Option (Note that this option is selected by default)
  3. Full Desktop Experience Deployment Option

Unlike in Server 2012, we cannot switch back and forth in Server 2016 Technical Preview, so if you had selected 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 benefits of using Nano Server compared to other deployment type.

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

Another interesting change with 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 Roles & Features which 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. List of available roles are available in this location (https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/mt126167.aspx) and refer to my previous blog post for instructions on host to deploy Nano Server (https://nirmalt.com/2015/11/28/installing-nano-servertechnical-preview-4/)

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