The Comparison of Windows Server 2016 Editions and Versions

The Comparison of Windows Server 2016 Editions

Microsoft’s Windows Server is a server operating system. It is crucial to select the right version while installing it. Microsoft’s licensing is specific about the version of Windows Server 2016 you use on whatever devices.

There are two different versions of the operating system: Standard and Datacenter. Moreover, choosing the right version might be the difference between keeping and losing a significant amount of money.

In this blog, we’ll present a comprehensive comparison of Windows Server 2016 versions, which may assist you in selecting the Windows Server 2016 version that is most suitable for your specific situation.


What is Windows Server 2016?

Microsoft’s Windows Server 2016 is an operating system that was made accessible to the general public for the first time on October 12, 2016. It was developed mainly for cloud computing users, making it easier to move workloads from on-premises servers with those hosted in the cloud.

You can adjust to changing business needs by using its powerful server capability, which enables you to construct a high-performance, secure, adaptable, and cost-effective production environment.


Windows Server 2016 Editions

Windows Server 2016 is available in three primary editions. Each edition is distinct from the others in a variety of ways. 

  • Windows Server Datacenter Edition

It serves as the backbone for businesses of any size with stringent information systems needs and massive information technology workloads that include many virtual systems. A data centre permits infinite virtual machines but needs customers to have CALs.

  • Windows Server Standard Edition

It is designed for midsize to big businesses that need sophisticated functionality and virtualization to a lesser degree. It is one of the most popular versions across a variety of companies. Standard permits two virtual machines and needs CAL certification.

  • Windows Server Essentials Edition

It meets the needs of low-tech enterprises well. This edition’s features and capabilities are for even the smallest businesses without needing an IT staff or a full-time IT professional. You may have up to 25 users and 50 devices without purchasing CALs for Essentials.

Due to the wide variety of possible deployments, it is hard to provide suggested system requirements; thus, you should always refer to the product documentation for each server role to decide what you need to install in the manner you want.


Windows Server 2016 Basic Features

Let’s briefly look at the core features shared by the three editions of Windows Server 2016 before we go into the side-by-side comparison. The following features need particular attention, though they are by no means the only ones on the list.


Nano Server

This 2016 innovation is a server OS for datacenters and private clouds that can manage centrally. It’s light on resources (requiring less than 512MB of disk space and about 256MB of RAM), simple to install, and requires few reboots or other maintenance.

Nano Server is very similar to Windows Server in Server Core mode, with the added benefit of lower system resource demands. Regarding deployment scenarios, Nano Server performs as a “compute” host for Hyper-V virtual machines (VMs), such as clustered VMs. It may also host a domain name server (DNS), an Internet Information Services (IIS) web server, and other similar services.


Storage Spaces Direct

With this method, you can build a scalable software-defined storage system that includes the standard functionality of a SAN or NAS without costing too much. Features like caching, storage tiers, and erasure coding are a part of the technology that runs on servers with locally connected disks. The deployment procedure is substantial with simplified by the availability of two deployment options—hyper-converged and converged.


Cluster Rolling Upgrade

With this innovation, you can update the OS on cluster nodes without disrupting any active Hyper-V or Scale-Out File Server workloads. In other words, this method may cut down on, if not eliminate, unscheduled downtimes. You may use this feature without installing any new hardware or creating a new cluster, and until you reach the “point of no return,” you can roll back the update.


Windows Server 2016 Standard: Limitations

This edition is a good choice for companies with small-to-medium IT infrastructure seeking a robust and efficient system. To begin the comparison of the two Windows Server 2016 editions, let’s take a look at some of the limitations of the Standard Edition:

  • Standard Edition supports virtualization. For reference, server virtualization allows partitioning the physical server into smaller virtual servers, thus maximizing the available resources. Standard Edition will enable you to create two virtual machines and one Hyper-V host per license.
  • A new and exciting feature of Windows Server 2016 is the containers. Compared to virtual machines, containers are a more lightweight solution. It allows for packaging and running Windows and Linux applications, provides isolated environments, and is perfect for apps that respond to changing demands quickly. In Windows Server 2016 Standard, you can use as many Windows containers as necessary, while the amount of Hyper-V containers is only two.
  • The Standard Edition supports activation, with the only limitation requiring the server to hostas a guest at a data center.


Windows Server 2016 Standard vs Datacenter


The Datacenter Edition is ideal for organizations with extensive IT needs, many virtual machines, and significant workloads. The main difference between the Datacenter Edition and the Standard Edition is that the former has fewer restrictions on the functions it may provide.

Going on with our comparison of Windows Server 2016 variants, below are a few features of the Datacenter Edition that are lacking from the Standard Edition:

  • There is no limit to the number of virtual computers that can create. Similar to the Standard Edition, only one Hyper-V host per license is accessible.
  • Shielded Virtual Machines support by Windows Server 2016 Datacenter, which adds more security and encryption. The added security features, such as secure boot, TPMs, and disk encryption, make it harder for malware and insider threats to get in. The Host Guardian is another part of the technology. This helps Hyper-V hosts and Shielded VMs work together. 
  • In terms of containers, the Datacenter Edition doesn’t have any restrictions. You can make as many Windows containers and Hyper-V containers as you want. As we’ve already said, containers make building, deploying, and handling your applications more accessible.
  • Storage replicas are crucial to Windows Server 2016 Datacenter. This technique replicates data across servers and clusters for disaster recovery. Storage replicas are data blocks kept to avoid data loss, providing peace of mind. Storage replicates are only supported in Windows Server Datacenter Edition.
  • The Datacenter Edition is identical to the Standard Edition except that the server may be located anywhere, and activation can be inherited. Here, the server may act as either host or guest.
  • The network controller is included in Datacenter Edition. Windows Server 2016 introduced this technology to ease network administration, setup, and monitoring. Network setup can automate using this function. The function’s API allows centralized communication with devices, services, and other network components. This capability is only accessible in the Datacenter Edition.

Windows Server 2016 included several new features. These include virtualization, administration, Networking, security, and storage efficiency improvements. 

The 2016 edition release was a complete and hassle-free solution. Virtualization, storage replication, containers, and inherited activation features distinguish Windows Server 2016 Standard and Datacenter versions. Standard Edition is appropriate for low-IT setups. 


How to Choose the Best Version of Windows Server


As we’ve already said, there are many different Windows Server versions. Older models are only suitable for specific uses and need help to run the newer equipment.

In addition to these versions of Windows Server, specific editions of Windows Server cater to distinct requirements. How do you tell which version of Windows Server best suits your needs when so many different editions and versions are available?

Money is a factor that has to be thought about at the appropriate time. Where does your business stand on the budget scale—big, little, or none? Companies on a tighter budget may choose to use an earlier version of Windows Server because of its lower price and greater accessibility. However, Microsoft may no longer provide mainstream support for this platform. In other words, you’re entirely on your own here. Depending on your company’s finances, this may be an adequate answer.

You may possess a sufficient budget, yet the gear you use may need to be updated. You may have to stick with an older version of Windows Server if you need more financial resources to invest in new hardware.


Final Thoughts


Windows Server 2016 included several new features. New features improve virtualization, administration, Networking, security, storage efficiency, and more. 

The 2016 release was a complete solution that provided a seamless user experience. Virtualization, storage replication, containers, and inherited activation features distinguish Windows Server 2016 Standard and Datacenter versions. Standard Edition is appropriate for low-IT setups. Datacenter Edition meets business standards.


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