Microsoft Windows Server 2019 Insiders Preview Initial Test Drive Install

Microsoft Windows Server 2019 Insiders Preview

Application Data Value Characteristics Everything Is Not The Same

Microsoft Windows Server 2019 Insiders Preview has been announced. Windows Server 2019 in the past might have been named 2016 R2 also known as a Long-Term Servicing Channel (LTSC) release. Microsoft recommends LTSC Windows Server for workloads such as Microsoft SQL Server, Share Point and SDDC. The focus of Microsoft Windows Server 2019 Insiders Preview is around hybrid cloud, security, application development as well as deployment including containers, software defined data center (SDDC) and software defined data infrastructure, as well as converged along with hyper-converged infrasture (HCI) management.

Windows Server 2019 Preview Features

Features and enhancements in the Microsoft Windows Server 2019 Insiders Preview span HCI management, security, hybrid cloud among others.

  • Hybrid cloud - Extending active directory, file server synchronize, cloud backup, applications spanning on-premise and cloud, management).
  • Security - Protect, detect and respond including shielded VMs, attested guarded fabric of host guarded machines, Windows and Linux VM (shielded), VMConnect for Windows and Linux troubleshooting of Shielded VM and encrypted networks, Windows Defender Advanced Threat Protection (ATP) among other enhancements.
  • Application platform - Developer and deployment tools for Windows Server containers and Windows Subsystem on Linux (WSL). Note that Microsoft has also been reducing the size of the Server image while extending feature functionality. The smaller images take up less storage space, plus load faster. As part of continued serverless and container support (Windows and Linux along with Docker), there are options for deployment orchestration including Kubernetes (in beta). Other enhancements include extending previous support for Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL).

Other enhancements part of Microsoft Windows Server 2019 Insiders Preview include cluster sets in support of software defined data center (SDDC). Cluster sets expand SDDC clusters of loosely coupled grouping of multiple failover clusters including compute, storage as well as hyper-converged configurations. Virtual machines have fluidity across member clusters within a cluster set and unified storage namespace. Existing failover cluster management experiences is preserved for member clusters, along with a new cluster set instance of the aggregate resources.

Management enhancements include S2D software defined storage performance history, project Honolulu support for storage updates, along with powershell cmdlet updates, as well as system center 2019. Learn more about project Honolulu hybrid management here and here.

Microsoft and Windows LTSC and SAC

As a refresher, Microsoft Windows (along with other software) is now being released on two paths including more frequent semi-annual channel (SAC), and less frequent LTSC releases. Some other things to keep in mind that SAC are focused around server core and nano server as container image while LTSC includes server with desktop experience as well as server core. For example, Windows Server 2016 released fall of 2016 is an LTSC, while the 1709 release was a SAC which had specific enhancements for container related environments.

There was some confusion fall of 2017 when 1709 was released as it was optimized for container and serverless environments and thus lacked storage spaces direct (S2D) leading some to speculate S2D was dead. S2D among other items that were not in the 1709 SAC are very much alive and enhanced in the LTSC preview for Windows Server 2019. Learn more about Microsoft LTSC and SAC here.

Test Driving Installing The Bits

One of the enhancements with LTSC preview candidate server 2019 is improved upgrades of existing environments. Granted not everybody will choose the upgrade in place keeping existing files however some may find the capability useful. I chose to give the upgrade keeping current files in place as an option to see how it worked. To do the upgrade I used a clean and up to date Windows Server 2016 data center edition with desktop. This test system is a VMware ESXi 6.5 guest running on flash SSD storage. Before the upgrade to Windows Server 2019, I made a VMware vSphere snapshot so I could quickly and easily restore the system to a good state should something not work.

To get the bits, go to Windows Insiders Preview Downloads (you will need to register)

Windows Server 2019 LTSC build 17623 is available in 18 languages in an ISO format and require a key.

The keys for the pre-release unlimited activations are:
Datacenter Edition         6XBNX-4JQGW-QX6QG-74P76-72V67
Standard Edition             MFY9F-XBN2F-TYFMP-CCV49-RMYVH

First step is downloading the bits from the Windows insiders preview page including select language for the image to use.

Getting the windows server 2019 preview bits
Select the language for the image to download

windows server 2019 select language
Starting the download

Once you have the image download, apply it to your bare metal server or hypervisors guest. In this example, I copied the windows server 2019 image to a VMware ESXi server for a Windows Server 2016 guest machine to access via its virtual CD/DVD.

pre upgrade check windows server version
Verify the Windows Server version before upgrade

After download, access the image, in this case, I attached the image to the virtual machine CD, then accessed it and ran the setup application.

Microsoft Windows Server 2019 Insiders Preview download
Download updates now or later

license key
Entering license key for pre-release windows server 2019

Microsoft Windows Server 2019 Insiders Preview datacenter desktop version
Selecting Windows Server Datacenter with Desktop

Microsoft Windows Server 2019 Insiders Preview license
Accepting Software License for pre-release version.

Next up is determining to do a new install (keep nothing), or an in-place upgrade. I wanted to see how smooth the in-place upgrade was so selected that option.

Microsoft Windows Server 2019 Insiders Preview inplace upgrade
What to keep, nothing, or existing files and data

Microsoft Windows Server 2019 Insiders Preview confirm selections
Confirming your selections

Microsoft Windows Server 2019 Insiders Preview install start
Ready to start the installation process

Microsoft Windows Server 2019 Insiders Preview upgrade in progress
Installation underway of Windows Server 2019 preview

Once the installation is complete, verify that Windows Server 2019 is now installed.

Microsoft Windows Server 2019 Insiders Preview upgrade completed
Completed upgrade from Windows Server 2016 to Microsoft Windows Server 2019 Insiders Preview

The above shows verifying the system build using Powershell, as well as the message in the lower right corner of the display. Granted the above does not show the new functionality, however you should get an idea of how quickly a Windows Server 2019 preview can be deployed to explore and try out the new features.

Where to learn more

Learn more Microsoft Windows Server 2019 Insiders Preview, Windows Server Storage Spaces Direct (S2D), Azure and related software defined data center (SDDC), software defined data infrastructures (SDDI) topics via the following links:

Additional learning experiences along with common questions (and answers), as well as tips can be found in Software Defined Data Infrastructure Essentials book.

Software Defined Data Infrastructure Essentials Book SDDC

What this all means and wrap-up

Microsoft Windows Server 2019 Insiders Preview gives a glimpse of some of the new features that are part of the next evolution of Windows Server as part of supporting hybrid IT environments. In addition to the new features and functionality that convey not only support for hybrid cloud, also hybrid applications development, deployment, devops and workloads, Microsoft is showing flexibility in management, ease of use, scalability, along with security as well as scale out stability. If you have not looked at Windows Server for a while, or involved with serverless, containers, Kubernetes among other initiatives, now is a good time to check out Microsoft Windows Server 2019 Insiders Preview.

Ok, nuff said, for now.


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