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Windows Server 2019 has been out for nearly 2 years now and although some decided to switch earlier on, we now can say for certain that the operating system is stable enough for large-scale migrations. Naturally, if you are thinking of upgrading your server OS to Microsoft Windows Server 2019, you would like to know what it has to offer.
Look no further, today we will discuss the most prominent features present in Windows Server 2019 and what they offer to you as a user. Let’s dive straight in.
Because Windows Server 2019 is a Long-Term Servicing Channel (LTSC) release, it includes the Desktop Experience. (It's not included in Windows Server, version 1709, Windows Server, version 1803, or Windows Server, version 1809, because Semi-Annual Channel (SAC) releases don't include the Desktop Experience by design; they are strictly Server Core and Nano Server container image releases.) As with Windows Server 2016, during the setup of the operating system, you can choose between Server Core installations or Server with Desktop Experience installations.
System Insights is a new feature available in Windows Server 2019 that brings local predictive analytics capabilities natively to Windows Server. These predictive capabilities, each backed by a machine-learning model, locally analyze Windows Server system data, such as performance counters and events, providing insight into the functioning of your servers and helping you reduce the operational expenses associated with reactively managing issues in your Windows Server deployments.
Server Core app compatibility feature on demand
The Server Core App Compatibility feature on demand (FOD) significantly improves the app compatibility of the Windows Server Core installation option by including a subset of binaries and components from Windows Server with the Desktop Experience, without adding the Windows Server Desktop Experience graphical environment itself. This is done to increase the functionality and compatibility of Server Core while keeping it as lean as possible.
This optional feature on demand is available on a separate ISO and can be added to Windows Server Core installations and images only, using DISM.
Windows Defender Advanced Threat Protection (ATP)
ATP's deep platform sensors and response actions expose memory and kernel-level attacks and respond by suppressing malicious files and terminating malicious processes.
Windows Defender ATP Exploit Guard is a new set of host intrusion prevention capabilities. The four components of Windows Defender Exploit Guard are designed to lock down the device against a wide variety of attack vectors and block behaviors commonly used in malware attacks while enabling you to balance security risk and productivity requirements.
- Attack Surface Reduction(ASR) is a set of controls that enterprises can enable to prevent malware from getting on the machine by blocking suspicious malicious files (for example, Office files), scripts, lateral movement, ransomware behavior, and email-based threats.
- Network protection protects the endpoint against web-based threats by blocking any outbound process on the device to untrusted hosts/IP addresses through Windows Defender SmartScreen.
- Controlled folder access protects sensitive data from ransomware by blocking untrusted processes from accessing your protected folders.
- Exploit protection is a set of mitigations for vulnerability exploits (replacing EMET)that can be easily configured to protect your system and applications.
Windows Defender Application Control (also known as Code Integrity (CI) policy) was released in Windows Server 2016. Customer feedback has suggested that it is a great concept, but hard to deploy. To address this, we have built default CI policies, which allow all Windows in-box files and Microsoft applications, such as SQL Server, and block known executables that can bypass CI.
Security with Software Defined Networking (SDN)
Security with SDN delivers many features to increase customer confidence in running workloads, either on-premises or as a service provider in the cloud.
These security enhancements are integrated into the comprehensive SDN platform introduced in Windows Server 2016.
Shielded Virtual Machines improvements
Branch office improvements
You can now run shielded virtual machines on machines with intermittent connectivity to the Host Guardian Service by leveraging the new fallback HGS and offline mode features. Fallback HGS allows you to configure a second set of URLs for Hyper-V to try if it can't reach your primary HGS server.
Offline mode allows you to continue to start up your shielded VMs, even if HGS can't be reached, as long as the VM has started successfully once, and the host's security configuration has not changed.
also, it is easier to troubleshoot your shielded virtual machines by enabling support for VMConnect Enhanced Session Mode and PowerShell Direct. These tools are particularly useful if you've lost network connectivity to your VM and need to update its configuration to restore access.
These features do not need to be configured, and they become available automatically when a shielded VM is placed on a Hyper-V host running Windows Server version 1803 or later.
If you run mixed-OS environments, Windows Server 2019 now supports running Ubuntu, Red Hat Enterprise Linux, and SUSE Linux Enterprise Server inside shielded virtual machines.
HTTP/2 for a faster and safer Web
- Improved coalescing of connections to deliver an uninterrupted and properly encrypted browsing experience.
- Upgraded HTTP/2’s server-side cipher suite negotiation for automatic mitigation of connection failures and ease of deployment.
- Changed our default TCP congestion provider to Cubic to give you more throughput!
Here are some of the changes we've made to storage in Windows Server 2019.
Storage Migration Service
Storage Migration Service is a new technology that makes it easier to migrate servers to a newer version of Windows Server. It provides a graphical tool that inventories data on servers, transfer the data and configuration to newer servers, and then optionally moves the identities of the old servers to the new servers so that apps and users don't have to change anything.
Storage Spaces Direct
Here's a list of what's new in Storage Spaces Direct.
- Deduplication and compression for ReFS volumes
- Native support for persistent memory
- Nested resiliency for two-node hyper-converged infrastructure at the edge
- Two-server clusters using a USB flash drive as a witness
- Windows Admin Center support
- Performance history
- Scale up to 4 PB per cluster
- Mirror-accelerated parity is 2X faster
- Drive latency outlier detection
- Manually delimit the allocation of volumes to increase fault tolerance
Here's what's new in Storage Replica.
- Storage Replica is now available in Windows Server 2019 Standard Edition.
- Test failover is a new feature that allows the mounting of destination storage to validate replication or backup data.
- Storage Replica log performance improvements
- Windows Admin Center support
Here's a list of what's new in Failover Clustering
- Azure-aware clusters
- Cross-domain cluster migration
- USB witness
- Cluster infrastructure improvements
- Cluster Aware Updating supports Storage Spaces Direct
- File share witness enhancements
- Cluster hardening
- Failover Cluster no longer uses NTLM authentication
Linux containers on Windows
It is now possible to run Windows and Linux-based containers on the same container host, using the same docker daemon. This enables you to have a heterogeneous container host environment while providing flexibility to application developers.
Building Support for Kubernetes
Windows Server 2019 continues the improvements to compute, networking, and storage from the semi-annual channel releases needed to support Kubernetes on Windows. More details are available in upcoming Kubernetes releases.
Container Networking in Windows Server 2019 greatly improves the usability of Kubernetes on Windows by enhancing platform networking resiliency and support of container networking plugins.
Deployed workloads on Kubernetes are able to use network security to protect both Linux and Windows services using embedded tooling.
- Improved integrated identity
We've made integrated Windows authentication in containers easier and more reliable, addressing several limitations from prior versions of Windows Server.
- Better application compatibility
Containerizing Windows-based applications just got easier: The app compatibility for the existing windows server core image has been increased. For applications with additional API dependencies, there is now a third base image: windows.
- Reduced size and higher performance
The base container image download sizes, the size on disk, and startup times have been improved. This speeds up container workflows
- Management experience using Windows Admin Center (preview)
We've made it easier than ever to see which containers are running on your computer and manage individual containers with a new extension for Windows Admin Center.
Encrypted Networks - Virtual network encryption allows encryption of virtual network traffic between virtual machines that communicate with each other within subnets marked as Encryption Enabled. It also utilizes Datagram Transport Layer Security (DTLS) on the virtual subnet to encrypt packets. DTLS protects against eavesdropping, tampering, and forgery by anyone with access to the physical network.
Network performance improvements for virtual workloads
Network performance improvements for virtual workloads maximize the network throughput to virtual machines without requiring you to constantly tune or over-provision your host. This lowers the operations and maintenance cost while increasing the available density of your hosts. These new features are:
- Receive Segment Coalescing in the vSwitch
- Dynamic Virtual Machine Multi-Queue (d.VMMQ)
Low Extra Delay Background Transport
Low Extra Delay Background Transport (LEDBAT) is a latency-optimized, network congestion control provider designed to automatically yield bandwidth to users and applications while consuming the entire bandwidth available when the network is not in use.
This technology is intended for use in deploying large, critical updates across an IT environment without impacting customer-facing services and associated bandwidth.
Windows Time Service
The Windows Time Service includes true UTC-compliant leap second support, a new time protocol called Precision Time Protocol, and end-to-end traceability.
High-performance SDN gateways
High-performance SDN gateways in Windows Server 2019 greatly improves the performance for IPsec and GRE connections, providing ultra-high-performance throughput with much less CPU utilization.
New Deployment UI and Windows Admin Center extension for SDN
Now, with Windows Server 2019, it’s easy to deploy and manage through a new deployment UI and Windows Admin Center extension that enables anyone to harness the power of SDN.
Persistent Memory support for Hyper-V VMs
To leverage the high throughput and low latency of persistent memory (a.k.a. storage class memory) in virtual machines, it can now be projected directly into VMs. This can help to drastically reduce database transaction latency or reduce recovery times for low latency in-memory databases on failure.
Generally, Windows Server 2019 brings a plethora of new and amazing features to the table for anyone who is interested in trying them out. If you do decide to upgrade your server to Windows Server 2019, we strongly recommend creating a full backup of all your files just in case something goes wrong throughout the process.
We hope this article has helped you expand your knowledge about the relatively new Windows Server operating system and possibly assisted you in choosing whether you should upgrade or not. If you have any questions or suggestions, please leave them in the comment section below.