Category Archives: Windows Server

What is a Terminal Server?

What is a Terminal Server? A terminal server is a server or network device that enables connections to multiple client systems to connect to a LAN network without using a modem or a network interface. Microsoft introduced this concept by releasing terminal services as a part of the Windows Server operating system. Terminal services have […]

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Microsoft targets customer datacentres with Azure Stack

Microsoft is bolstering its hybrid cloud appeal on the one hand, and going head to head with other large incumbents on the other

Microsoft is bolstering its hybrid cloud appeal on the one hand, and going head to head with other large incumbents on the other

Microsoft revealed a series of updates to its server and cloud technologies aimed at blending the divide between Azure and Windows Server.

The company announced Azure Stack, software that consists of the architecture and microservices deployed by Microsoft to run its public-cloud version of Azure, including some of the latest updates to the platform like Azure Service Fabric and Azure App Fabric – which have made the architecture much more container-like.

Built on the same core technology as Azure but deployed in a customer’s datacentre, the company said Azure Stack makes critical use of among other things some of the company’s investments in software-defined networking.

The company also said it worked a number of bugs out of the next version of Windows Server (2016), with the second preview being made available this week; the net version of Windows Server will include a number of updates announced last month including Hyper-V containers and nano-servers, which are effectively Dockerised and slimmed-down Windows Server images, respectively.

Azure Stack will preview this summer and Windows Server 2016 is already available for preview.

The company also announced, Microsoft Operations Management Suite (OMS), a hybrid cloud management service that supports Azure, AWS, Windows Server, Linux, VMware, and OpenStack.

For Microsoft the updates are a sign of a significant push into hybrid cloud as it looks to align it’s the architecture of its Windows Server and Azure offerings and help customers manage workloads and operations in a multi-cloud world. Interestingly, by taking the Azure architecture directly to customer datacentres it’s effectively going head-to-head with other IaaS software vendors selling alternatives like OpenStack and CloudStack – Dell, HP, Cisco, Red Hat, IBM and so forth – which is in some ways new territory for the cloud giant.

Microsoft unveils Hyper-V containers, nano servers

Microsoft has unveiled Hyper-V containers and nano servers

Microsoft has unveiled Hyper-V containers and nano servers

Microsoft has unveiled a number of updates to Windows Server including Hyper-V containers, which are essentially Docker containers embedded in Hyper-V VMs, and nano servers, a slimmed down Windows server image.

Microsoft said Hyper-V containers are ideal for users that want virtualisation-grade isolation, but still want to run their workloads within Docker containers in a Windows ecosystem.

“Through this new first-of-its-kind offering, Hyper-V Containers will ensure code running in one container remains isolated and cannot impact the host operating system or other containers running on the same host,” explained Mike Neil, general manager for Windows Server, Microsoft in a recent blog post.

“In addition, applications developed for Windows Server Containers can be deployed as a Hyper-V Container without modification, providing greater flexibility for operators who need to choose degrees of density, agility, and isolation in a multi-platform, multi-application environment.”

Windows Server Containers will be enabled in the next release of Windows Server, which is due to be demoed in the coming weeks, and makes good on Microsoft’s commitment to make the Windows Server ecosystem (including Azure) Docker-friendly.

The company also unveiled what it’s calling nano servers, a “purpose-built OS” that is essentially a stripped down Windows Server image optimised for cloud and container workloads. They can be deployed onto bare metal, and because Microsoft removed tons of code it boots up and runs more quickly.

“To achieve these benefits, we removed the GUI stack, 32 bit support (WOW64), MSI and a number of default Server Core components. There is no local logon or Remote Desktop support. All management is performed remotely via WMI and PowerShell. We are also adding Windows Server Roles and Features using Features on Demand and DISM. We are improving remote manageability via PowerShell with Desired State Configuration as well as remote file transfer, remote script authoring and remote debugging.  We are working on a set of new Web-based management tools to replace local inbox management tools,” the company explained.

“Because Nano Server is a refactored version of Windows Server it will be API-compatible with other versions of Windows Server within the subset of components it includes. Visual Studio is fully supported with Nano Server, including remote debugging functionality and notifications when APIs reference unsupported Nano Server components.”

The move is a sign Microsoft is keen to keep its on-premise and cloud platform ahead of the technology curve, and is likely to appeal to .NET developers who are attracted to some of the benefits of containers while wanting to stay firmly within a Windows world in terms of the tools and code used. Still, the company said it is working with Chef to ensure nano servers work well with their DevOps tools.

F5 Extends Dynamic Networking to Windows Server-Based Virtual Network Environments

F5 Networks, Inc. today announced the F5 Network Virtualization Solution for Microsoft Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V. The solution gives F5 customers the flexibility to use the BIG-IP platform to deploy network services in cloud-driven data centers that are built on Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V. This announcement underscores F5’s commitment to deliver a dynamic, efficient data center that will ensure scalability, security, and manageability across an organization’s IT environments and systems.

With this solution, the same network-based services that the BIG-IP platform provides—such as local and global load balancing, advanced traffic steering, access control, and application security and acceleration—can now also be used to deliver applications in the Microsoft cloud and virtualized network environments. The solution is enabled by F5 BIG-IP Local Traffic Manager (LTM®) Virtual Edition (VE) running on Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V.

Organizations that use Hyper-V network virtualization to realize cost savings and operational efficiencies stand to gain many additional benefits from the F5 solution, including:

  • Improved Flexibility – Working in conjunction with Hyper-V
    network virtualization, the F5 solution supports seamless, low-cost
    migration to the cloud by allowing organizations to use the same
    policies and IP addresses in the cloud that they currently use in the
    physical network.
  • Cost Savings – The F5 solution accelerates data center
    consolidation by connecting hybrid cloud environments, enabling
    organizations to cut costs while extending their applications and
  • Efficient Network Management – The F5 solution can
    intelligently manage network traffic at layers 4-7, mitigating the
    need for organizations to build and manage large layer 2 networks.
  • Streamlined ADN Services – The F5 solution runs on Windows
    Server 2012 Hyper-V, and all services are applied in BIG-IP LTM VE, so
    no software upgrades or special code is required on the physical

F5 Showcases its BIG-IP Solutions for System Center 2012 and Private Cloud

F5 Networks, Inc is demonstrating its F5 BIG-IP solutions for Microsoft private cloud deployments at the Microsoft Management Summit 2012, held this week in Las Vegas. During the event, F5 is emphasizing BIG-IP compatibility with System Center 2012 to help organizations maximize cloud benefits and productivity.

“F5 cloud computing solutions provide customers with a flexible foundation to dynamically provision services and tap the full value of cloud deployments,” says Calvin Rowland, VP, Technology and ISV Alliances at F5. “We’re excited to connect with customers at this event and share our cloud vision and products, which are key building blocks for private cloud environments. For over a decade, F5 and Microsoft have worked together to bring superior IT solutions to our customers. And with our close collaboration on Microsoft private cloud solutions, we’ve extended the value of this relationship.”

Using the BIG-IP system, customers can build dynamic data centers that eliminate deployment barriers and lay the framework for long-term, sustained efficiencies. For the Microsoft private cloud, F5 solutions help organizations unify their network architectures and consolidate their management environments. Together, BIG-IP products and System Center 2012 provide a clear view into how applications are performing over the network. This gives customers the ability to update and optimize configurations to increase performance, scale, automation, flexibility, and security.

Further, the updated F5® Monitoring Pack for System Center helps customers optimize resource utilization by discovering available BIG-IP devices and surfacing health statistics within System Center 2012. As administrators shift the allocation of resources, the BIG-IP system is automatically updated to ensure that the network is in sync with changes to computing and storage resources.

“System Center 2012 enables the private cloud, and the F5 Monitoring Pack for System Center gives customers the added strengths of F5’s BIG-IP solutions,” said Mike Schutz, General Manager, Product Marketing, Windows Server and Management at Microsoft. “Customers need the key components of their private cloud infrastructure to work well with each other, and the deep compatibility of System Center 2012 with F5’s BIG-IP platform can help increase efficiency and reliability while helping reduce operational expenses.”

Cost Effective, Automated, Flexible Cloud Control

BIG-IP solutions for Microsoft private cloud take advantage of key features and technologies in BIG-IP version 11.1, including F5’s virtual Clustered MultiprocessingTM (vCMP™) technology, iControl®, F5’s web services-enabled open application programming interface (API), administrative partitioning and server name indication (SNI). Together, these features help reduce the cost and complexity of managing cloud infrastructures in multi-tenant environments. With BIG-IP v11.1, organizations reap the maximum benefits of conducting IT operations and application delivery services in the private cloud.

BIG-IP solutions for Microsoft private cloud also include:

  • F5 Monitoring Pack for System Center, which provides two-way
    communication between BIG-IP devices and the System Center management
    console. Health monitoring, failover, and configuration
    synchronization of BIG-IP devices, along with customized alerting,
    Maintenance Mode, and Live Migration, occur within the Operations
    Manager component of System Center.
  • The F5 Load Balancing Provider for System Center, which enables
    one-step, automated deployment of load balancing services through
    direct interoperability between the Virtual Machine Manager component
    of System Center 2012 and BIG-IP devices. BIG-IP devices are managed
    through the System Center user interface, and administrators can
    custom-define load balancing services.
  • The Orchestrator component of System Center 2012, which provides
    F5 traffic management capabilities, takes advantage of workflows
    designed using the Orchestrator Runbook Designer. These custom
    workflows can then be published directly into System Center 2012
    service catalogs and presented as a standard offering to the
    organization. This is made possible using the F5 iControl SDK, which
    gives customers the flexibility to choose a familiar development
    environment such as the Microsoft .NET Framework programming model or
    Windows PowerShell scripting.


The F5 Monitoring Pack for System Center and the F5 PRO-enabled Monitoring Pack for System Center are now available. The F5 Load Balancing Provider for System Center is available as a free download from the F5 DevCentral website. The Orchestrator component of System Center 2012 is based on F5 iControl and Windows PowerShell, and is also free.