Windows Server 2019: Important new features and improvements

Microsoft has released a new version of its server operating system. Throughout the course of the Long-Term Servicing Channel (LTSC), an update has been released after two years, introducing important new features. Microsoft has not reinvented the wheel, instead it has focused on the further development of existing functions. After a somewhat unsuccessful market launch (due to a bug delivery stop that had to be imposed), Windows Server 2019 is now fully operational. What new features does the system have?

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What has changed? Windows Server 2019 and its features

There are a few key changes that Microsoft has built the new server around. These include more options when it comes to a hybrid cloud, better support for Linux, more security through shielded virtual machines, innovations in the storage subsystem and the establishing the Windows Admin Center. Some minor and major changes revolve around these important items.

Note

Some features have already been released throughout the course of the semi-annual channel, which receives frequent updates.

Windows Admin Center & System Insights

Not entirely new, but an important part of Windows Server 2019: Windows Admin Center, a graphical console for managing the server. The software can be controlled through the browser, can be used remotely and allows admins to control connected hardware. By connecting to Azure, the software also provides a good starting point for organiing a hybrid cloud solution. However, the Windows Admin Center is not a complete replacement for the Remote Server Administration Tool (RSAT). This must continue to be used in parallel.

Note

The Windows Admin Center is not part of Windows Server 2019’s default installation, but can be downloaded and added for free.

Server admins can find another control tool in the System Insights. This software is an intelligent tool that analyses resource requirements and issues warning messages in advance if capacities become tight - machine learning makes it possible. Using scripts, administrators can also proactively intervene in the configuration of server resources.

Hybrid Cloud & Azure

With Windows Server 2019, Microsoft is taking a further step towards cloud technology. There is a close connection to Azure, which is not only limited to the interface within the Admin Center. The Azure Network Adapter also connects the cloud computing platform to the local server. The service establishes a VPN connection between both systems in a very short time and with little configuration effort. It also includes features like Azure Backup, Azure Update Management and Azure Site Recovery. Other tools that work through the cloud are directly aimed at security.

Linux

Windows Server 2019 makes it easier to integrate Linux. It is possible to run Linux containers and Windows container on the same host. In addition, Linux distributions for the subsystem for Linux can now be easily downloaded from the Microsoft Store. This means that applications that are actually intended for Linux can also run on the server. This also includes the Bash, the free shell of Linux.

Container & Kubernetes

Kubernetes plays a more important role than before on Windows. Support for the orchestration system has been expanded. Windows Server Container, Hyper-V Container, Docker Container and Linux Container can now be used together. Kubernetes takes over administrating the different types. Microsoft has also improved individual images for containers. Also new is the container image “windows”, which has a greater range of functions than the familiar images “windowsservercore” and “nanoserver”.

Security

Windows Server 2019 addresses security in several ways. First, the new server operating system accesses services from the cloud: Windows Defender Advanced Threat Protection monitors the server for malware and stops processes that are classified as dangerous. Microsoft also wants to use the cloud service to combat zero-day attacks and root kits. The link between Azure and Windows Server 2019 also gives admins the opportunity to use the functions of Azure AD for their security concepts.

Microsoft uses shielded VMs as additional protection functions. Sensitive tasks can be performed in a secure virtual machine. This now also applies to Linux servers, which can be protected in this way. Additionally, encryption options have been expanded: with the 2019 version, data transfer between virtual machines can now also be encrypted.

Storage

The new server version includes several changes in the storage area. With the Storage Migration Service, Microsoft simplifies the move to the new version of the operating system, but also migration to the cloud, should this be desired. In addition, Microsoft has improved Storage Space Direct. You can expect higher speed and more stability from the server. Scalability has also improved significantly: 4 petabytes per cluster are possible.

The storage segment is rounded off by Storage Replica. The backup service is now also available for standard version users – albeit in a slimmed-down version. Only one replication may be created, and this can only have a maximum size of 2 terabytes.

An overview of the changes: Windows Server 2019 vs. 2016

What exactly has changed? The overview tables shows what is different from Windows Server 2016. It also contains functions that were dropped during the version change. These are either no longer needed or have been replaced by other functions.

Feature

Windows Server 2016

Windows Server 2019

Windows Admin Center

System Insight

x

Hybrid Cloud

(expanded)

Azure support

(expanded)

Linux support

(expanded)

Kubernetes

(expanded)

Windows image

x

Windows Defender ATP

x

Shielded VMs

(also for Linux)

Encryption between VMs

x

Storage Migration Service

x

Storage Space Direct

(expanded)

Storage Replica

(only Datacenter Edition)

Business Scanning

x

Internet Storage Name Service

x

Remote Desktop Connection Broker / Virtualization Host

x