Technical Preview 3: Windows Server Containers, AD DS/AD FS Improvements
Window Server 2016 Technical Preview 3 arrived in August 2015 and provided a wide array of new and enhanced features and capabilities spanning server virtualization, storage amenities, server management and automation, virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) and more, but according to Fahad Al-Riyami of [Microsoft] Inside, the majority of the emphasis was on software-defined networking (SDN) and enhancing gateways for hybrid connectivity.
TP3 also delivered the long-awaited Windows Server Containers, allowing multiple isolated applications to be run on a single system (although we would have to wait a little longer for the arrival of the hotly-anticipated Hyper-V containers in TP4). The Server Containers can be managed from the Docker CLI using the same commands currently used to create and run Docker containers on Linux.
Windows Containers provide application isolation through process and namespace isolation technology by sharing a kernel with the container host and all other containers running on the host.
Active Directory Domain Servers (AD DS) and Active Directory Federation Servers (AD FS) both include new features in Window Server 2016 TP3, as AD DS has undergone improvements to help organizations secure Active Directory environments and provide better identity management.
Improvements to AD FS include a new feature that enables one to configure Federation Services to authenticate users stored in non-AD directories such as LDAP and SQL databases. Together, these new features to AD DS and AD FS will help organizations provide an improved identity management experience on all devices.
Microsoft continued to lay the foundations of its new Hyper-V technology in TP3 by introducing improvements in the ability to manage shielded VMs and guarded hosts with ease in shared environments.
Technical Preview 4: Hyper-V Containers
The big introduction with Technical Preview 4 in November 2015 was Hyper-V containers, offering further deployment options for administrators that can provide increased isolation. Hyper-V Containers encapsulate each container in a lightweight virtual machine and support containerized applications with a greater degree of security by making use of Microsoft’s hypervisor.
The advantage of Hyper-V containers is that they are highly isolated from everything else and can be a great platform on which to run untrusted code or set up new hosting environments, if you’re so inclined. Hyper-V Containers can offer both OS virtualization (container) and machine virtualization (VM) in a slightly lighter-weight configuration and are interchangeable with Windows Server Containers without any modification.
Alongside the introduction of Hyper-V containers, the few issues that were reported with Windows Containers in TP3 — mostly involving application compatibility issues — were addressed and application frameworks became fully functional in TP4, including ASP.Net 3.5 and 4.6.
Azure Stack Technical Preview
In January 2016, Microsoft released its Azure Stack technical preview — a hybrid cloud platform that allows businesses to deliver Azure services from their own data center. The Technical Preview includes capabilities such as compute, networking and storage foundational services and a unified application model to help deliver Azure services in your datacenter.
Users who are already familiar with the previous Azure interface should encounter minimal problems trying to get up to speed with the Azure Stack infrastructure, as the services in Azure Stack can be programmed using the same APIs as the ones available for the Azure public cloud services.