Windows Server 2016 vs 2012 for your NAS

 Why is Windows Storage Server 2016 and NAS such a big deal?

Windows Storage Server
Windows Storage Server 2016 is an operating system, like many windows based platforms, is installed on a file server, based ideally on a group of Windows users. Especially in an environment where Active Directory is installed, it has a high utility for servers and clients worldwide. The growing popularity of windows storage server as the most stable and familiar platform for business is something that grew in popularity substantially thanks to Windows Storage Server 2012. In order to understand why NAS and WSS 2016 is going to be such a big deal in 2018, you need to understand why both big and small companies choose to use it as the central means of accessing their data. Windows Storage Server 2016 is not directly available for sale to the general public — it is only available as part of an integrated hardware offering or as an available field upgrade from your hardware manufacturer.
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Windows Storage Server 2016 fully supports upgrades from previous versions, as well as Windows Storage Server manufacturers (such as Buffalo NAS and Thecus NAS) and application developers can evaluate the operating system using an MSDN subscription and all Windows Storage Server 2016 features can also be tested using Windows Server 2016 Standard. Windows NAS has been one of the key pillars of IT infrastructure for decades. One out of five Windows Servers have the File Server role and we know that many users chiefly use Server Message Block (SMB) and they use it extensively to share files. Performance and security gains in SMB from Windows Server 2008 R2 to Windows Server 2016, are more than double. New advancements in networking, such as RDMA, have catapulted Ethernet past FibreChannel in performance — and at a fraction of the deployment and management cost of a Storage Area Network (SAN). Windows Storage Server 2016 delivers rock-solid SMB, NFS and iSCSI storage services easily and efficiently.

What is the Difference Between Windows Server and Windows Storage Server?

Windows Storage Server is a version of Windows Server that’s licensed to OEMs such as Buffalo, Thecus and until recently Seagate, for use in network-attached storage appliances. Early versions of Windows Storage server (such as WSS 2018) included a couple of additional software features such as Single Instance Storage (file deduplication) and the Microsoft iSCSI Software Target that differentiated it from Windows Server. However, in releases such as WSS 2016 and WSS 2012, there is no such disparity, and have no storage features beyond those found in every other edition of Windows Server. Windows Storage Server 2012 and 2016 are Windows Storage but only separated in name only because it is sold exclusively through Microsoft’s hardware partners and bundled onboard with WSS NAS Hardware.

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Windows Storage Server Thecus NAS


Some hardware vendors such as Thecus have a Windows Storage Server 2016 licence on their NAS and with the release of Windows Storage Server 2016, will be re-releasing their hardware which will let you buy your own Windows Server 2016 licence and upgrade. Alternatively, you have brands such as Buffalo NAS who have both an existing WSS 2012 NAS range in desktop and Rackmount but also have a prominent Windows Storage Server NAS (WSS 2016 license included) range arriving in Q2/Q3 of 2018.

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Windows Storage Server Buffalo NAS


What are the Benefits of Windows Storage Server 2016

Below are the main benefits of Windows Storage Server for your NAS and your Business. Be sure to check out the improvements with WSS 206 over WSS 2016.

Large-Scale Active Directory Support in WSS 2016

Active Directory environments that can be operated with large-scale Active Directory of more than 1,000 people, you can set access rights to files and folders using registered user information. There is no need to newly set user information, the number of steps of updating and managing can be reduced, and it is unnecessary to register the same user information in each case even when multiple units are installed. In file structure, Windows Storage Server 2012 R2, when file changes are synced to the Work Folders server, clients are not notified of the change and wait up to 10 minutes to get the update. When using Windows Storage Server 2016, the Work Folders service immediately notifies Windows 10 clients and the file changes are synced immediately.

Much more cost-effective compared to Windows Server on its own

For Windows Server, it is necessary to purchase one of more CAL (Client Access License) to meet client access, but in Windows Storage Server, CAL is unnecessary and it is possible to implement it at low cost. Also, there is no additional cost to increase the number of clients.

Free Enterprise Software, Utility and Protection

Includes various backup and antivirus software installed, as standard with both Windows Server 2016 and Windows storage Server 2016. As well as fantastic cloud sync backup options with Microsoft’s Azure platform. Azure Backup is an Azure-based service you can use to back up (or protect) and restore your data in the Microsoft cloud. Azure Backup replaces your existing on-premises or off-site backup solution with a cloud-based solution that is reliable, secure, and cost-competitive.

Azure Backup does not limit the amount of inbound or outbound data you transfer. Azure Backup also does not charge for the data that is transferred unless you need to transfer a huge amount using the import/Export service. Learn more about Azure Backup here and then set up a new backup vault. Just Enough Administration (JEA) in Windows Server 2016 is security technology that enables delegated administration for anything that can be managed with Windows PowerShell. Capabilities include support for running under a network identity, connecting over PowerShell Direct, securely copying files to or from JEA endpoints, and configuring the PowerShell console to launch in a JEA context by default.

Finally, tweaks and improvements to Windows Console (cmd.exe prompt) mean that the command prompt had some amazing updates for this newer Windows storage Server release. The smallest yet most used improvement (which stuns me it took so long) is that you can dynamically resize a cmd.exe window!.As well as improved quick keyboard commands and tips and tricks that are now available for viewing )(rather than finding them by accident or digging them out).With numerous updates to WSS 2012 and years of seeing what works and what doesn’t, it is fair to say that Windows Storage Server 2016 has had many years of improvement and development, delivering a complete platform/suite of storage and storage management functionality to keep your files highly-available and safe.

SMB Compatibility and Increase Communication with Windows 10

Full and uncomplicated communication with SMB 3.1.1. When the client OS is Windows 10, you can make maximum use of the protocol. In Windows 10 and Windows Server 2016, client connections to the Active Directory Domain Services default SYSVOL and NETLOGON shares on domain controllers now require SMB signing and mutual authentication (such as Kerberos). This change reduces the likelihood of man-in-the-middle attacks. A comparison between WSS 2012 and WSS 2016 below:

Windows Storage Server 2016 Windows Storage Server 2012 R2 Windows Storage Server 2012
Windows 10 Windows Server 2016 SMB 3.1.1 SMB 3.02 SMB 3.0
Windows 8.1 Windows Server 2012 R2 SMB 3.02 SMB 3.02 SMB 3.0
Windows 8 Windows Server 2012 SMB 3.0 SMB 3.0 SMB 3.0
Windows 7 Windows Server 2008 R2 SMB 2.1 SMB 2.1 SMB 2.1

Additionally, you can now use storage quality of service (QoS) to centrally monitor end-to-end storage performance and create policies using Hyper-V in Windows Storage Server 2016. Create storage QoS policies and assign them to one or more virtual disks on Hyper-V virtual machines. Storage performance is automatically readjusted to meet policies as the storage load fluctuates.

Finally, improved time synchronization between physical and virtual machines mean resulting benefits from greater time accuracy due to improvements in the Win32 Time and Hyper-V Time Synchronization Services. Windows Server can now host services that are compliant with upcoming regulations which require a 1ms accuracy with regards to UTC.

Smart and  Efficient Use of Disk Space with WSS 2016 via data duplication and deduplication

Prior to Windows Storage Server 2016, volumes had to be specifically sized for the expected data use and generation, with volume sizes above 10 TB not being good candidates for deduplication. In Windows Storage Server 2016, Data Deduplication supports volume sizes up to 64 TB and supports individual file sizes up to 1TB. A new Usage Type has been defined for Virtualized Backup to quickly and seamlessly deploy data deduplication for Virtualized Backup Applications, like Data Protection Manager.

First or Third party Anti-malware software can be used

Windows Storage Server 2016 can use OS standard anti-malware software “Windows Defender” free of charge. If third party software is not installed, you can activate it and use it immediately for day-one peace of mind.

What is the Difference between Windows Storage Server 2016 Standard and Workgroup Edition?

Windows storage server 2016 is available in several versions (with Standard and Workgroup being the core choice) and it is worth highlighting that choosing the right level of access and control may make a big difference to the utility of the software in your business. Of course, if you choose to buy a NAS with a WSS 2016 license and software pre-installed, then you will have this decision made for you. Workgroup Edition of WSS 2016 is the base platform and has a standard coverage of all the software. Whereas WSS 2016 Standard Edition has much more advanced software coverage (including and exceeding the limits of WSS 2016 Workgroup in every way) with improved user access and features. Windows Storage Server 2016 is available in Workgroup and Standard editions. The Workgroup license is limited in software, hardware and SMB based connections.

The Standard license supports much wider hardware options and utilization in VMs and it has no restrictions on the number of disk drives or concurrent SMB connections. Standard also has a number of features — notably fail-over clustering, data deduplication, and the ability to host Hyper-V virtual machines — that you don’t get in the Workgroup edition. Below are the limits and differences between each version of WSS 2016:

Workgroup Edition: • 50 Users and 250 simultaneous SMB Connections: • 50 users with file and print = 100 SMB sessions. • 8 node cluster with 4 NICs using SMB multichannel = 128 SMB connections. • 1 CPU Socket • 32GB RAM Maximum • 6 Disks, no external SAS
Premium Features in Standard Edition (includes all from Workgroup Edition): • Deduplication • Hosted BranchCache • Clustering • Virtualization Rights for two VMs • Network infrastructure for a branch office
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What is the Difference between WSS 2012 and WSS 2016?

Whether you are considering buying a Windows Server 2016 Licence for your server or you are debating between a Windows Storage server NAS with WSS 2012 or WSS 2016, it is worth knowing the main differences between them. They are very similar indeed and the majority of popular functions can be performed by both software platforms. However, it is the extent to which they can run, the number of users and the fluidity of their use that sets the two software apart. In an effort to highlight the evolution, I have also included Windows Server 2008 as a basis of comparison too.
Remember, Windows Server and Windows Storage Server 2016 are the same thing, it is just that one is just the software and the other is the software supplied on a hardware platform like a Buffalo or Thecus NAS.

Key: Not supported Not supported    Limited support Limited support    Fully supported Fully supported

Performance and scalability of Windows Server 2012 vs 2016

 How well your windows storage server NAS will perform is not just based on the available network hardware, but also on the version on windows server being used. The extent and limitations of a WSS 2008, WSS 2012 and WSS 2012 NAS are below:
Feature Windows Server

2012

Windows Server

2016

Physical (host) memory support

Up to 4 TB per physical server Up to 24 TB per physical server (6x)

Physical (host) logical processor support

Up to 320 LPs Up to 512 LPs

Virtual machine memory support

Up to 1 TB per virtual machine Up to 12 TB per virtual machine (12x)

Virtual machine virtual processor support

Up to 64 VPs per virtual machine Up to 240 VPs per virtual machine (3.75x)

Security of Windows Server 2008 vs 2012 vs 2016

Security of your Windows Server NAS can be broken down into two areas, the defensive structure around your files and the ease with which this can be configured – all the while keeping it secure.

Feature Windows Server

2008

Windows Server

2012

Windows Server

2016

Shielded Virtual Machines

Not supported Not supported in Windows Server 2012 R2 Fully supported in Windows Server 2016

Just Enough Administration

Fully supported in Windows Server 2008 R2 Fully supported in Windows Server 2012 R2 Fully supported in Windows Server 2016

Just-in-Time Administration

Limited support in Windows Server 2008 R2 Fully supported in Windows Server 2012 R2 Fully supported in Windows Server 2016

Credential Guard

Not supported in Windows Server 2008 R2 Not supported in Windows Server 2012 R2 Fully supported in Windows Server 2016

Remote Credential Guard

Not supported in Windows Server 2008 R2 Not supported in Windows Server 2012 R2 Fully supported in Windows Server 2016

Device Guard

Not supported in Windows Server 2008 R2 Not supported in Windows Server 2012 R2 Fully supported in Windows Server 2016

AppLocker

Limited support in Windows Server 2008 R2 Fully supported in Windows Server 2012 R2 Fully supported in Windows Server 2016

Windows Defender

Limited support in Windows Server 2008 R2 Limited support in Windows Server 2012 R2 Fully supported in Windows Server 2016

Control Flow Guard

Not supported in Windows Server 2008 R2 Not supported in Windows Server 2012 R2 Fully supported in Windows Server 2016

Enhanced threat detection

Not supported in Windows Server 2008 R2 Limited support in Windows Server 2012 R2 Fully supported in Windows Server 2016

Storage Options for Windows Server 2008 vs 2012 vs 2016

Of course, this is something that is going to be key in choosing which Windows Storage Server NAS you buy, as you not only need access to the files on your server but background backups, integrity checks and scheduled tests of your hardware so you can pre-empt a problem before it happens and avoid data loss. With huge advances in data saving utilities like snapshots, deduplication and real-time replication, with the right hardware and software combination WSS NAS, you will have a good sized choice of the features below:

Feature Windows Server

2008

Windows Server

2012

Windows Server

2016

Storage Spaces Direct

Not supported in Windows Server 2008 R2 Not supported in Windows Server 2012 R2 Fully supported in Windows Server 2016

Storage Quality of Service

Not supported in Windows Server 2008 R2 Limited support in Windows Server 2012 R2 Fully supported in Windows Server 2016

Data deduplication

Not supported in Windows Server 2008 R2 Limited support in Windows Server 2012 R2 Fully supported in Windows Server 2016

Storage Replica

Not supported in Windows Server 2008 R2 Not supported in Windows Server 2012 R2 Fully supported in Windows Server 2016

Storage health monitoring

Not supported in Windows Server 2008 R2 Not supported in Windows Server 2012 R2 Fully supported in Windows Server 2016

High Performance NVMe device support

Not supported in Windows Server 2008 R2 Fully supported in Windows Server 2012 R2 Fully supported in Windows Server 2016

Persistent Memory for maximum Application Performance

Not supported in Windows Server 2008 R2 Not supported in Windows Server 2012 R2 Fully supported in Windows Server 2016

Scale Out File Server

Not supported in Windows Server 2008 R2 Limited support in Windows Server 2012 R2 Fully supported in Windows Server 2016

VM Storage Resiliency

Not supported in Windows Server 2008 R2 Not supported in Windows Server 2012 R2 Fully supported in Windows Server 2016

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