Windows Server 2016 is available in multiple editions, with varying prices and features. To select an edition for your server deployment, you should consider the following questions:
What roles and features will you need to run on the server?
How will you obtain licenses for the servers?
Will you be running Windows Server 2016 on virtual or physical machines?
The current trend in server deployment is to use relatively small servers that perform a single task, rather than large servers that perform many tasks. In cloud deployments, whether public, private, or hybrid, it is common to see virtual machines performing one role, such as a web server or a DNS server. It is for this reason that Microsoft introduced the Server Core installation option in Windows Server 2008 and Nano Server in Windows Server 2016, so that virtual machines could function with a smaller resource footprint. Before you choose an installation option, however, you must select the appropriate Windows Server 2016 edition for the server workload you intend to implement. The Windows Server 2016 editions are as follows:
Windows Server 2016 Datacenter The Datacenter edition is intended for large and
powerful servers in a highly virtualized environment. The license allows for an unlim-ited number of operating system environments (OSEs) or Hyper-V containers. The
Datacenter edition also includes additional features not available in the other editions,
such as Storage Spaces Direct, Storage Replica, shielded virtual machines, and a new
networking stack with additional virtualization options.
■ Windows Server 2016 Standard The Standard edition license allows for two OSEs
and includes the same core set of features as the Datacenter edition. However, it lacks
the new storage and networking features listed in the Datacenter description.
■ Windows Server 2016 Essentials The Essentials edition includes nearly all the
features in the Standard and Datacenter editions; it does not include the Server Core
installation option. The Essentials edition is also limited to one OSE (physical or virtual)
and a maximum of 25 users and 50 devices. Unlike the Standard and Datacenter
editions, Essential includes a confi guration wizard that installs and confi gures Active
Directory Domain Services and other essential components needed for a single-server
■ Windows Server 2016 MultiPoint Premium Server Available only through academic
licensing, the Multipoint edition enables multiple users to access a single server
■ Windows Storage Server 2016 Server Available only through original equipment
manufacturer (OEM) channels, the Storage Server edition is bundled as part of a
dedicated storage hardware solution.
■ Windows Hyper-V Server 2016 Available at no cost, the Hyper-V Server edition is a
hypervisor-only download, without a graphical interface, that hosts virtual machines as
its only function.
In Windows Server 2012, the Datacenter and Standard editions were functionally identical. The only difference was in the number of Hyper-V virtual machines the license authorized you to create.
In Windows Server 2016, the Datacenter edition includes several new features that
could affect your decision to choose that edition over Standard. The features in the Datacenter edition that are not included in the Standard edition are as follows:
■ Storage Spaces Direct Enables administrators to use relatively inexpensive drive
arrays to create high-availability storage solutions. Instead of using an expensive array
or controller with built-in storage management intelligence, the intelligence is incorporated into the operating system, enabling the use of inexpensive JBOD (just a bunch of disks) arrays.
■ Storage Replica Provides storage-agnostic, synchronous or asynchronous volume replication
between local or remote servers, using the Server Message Blocks Version 3 protocol.
■ Shielded virtual machines Provides VMs with protection from compromised
administrators that have access to the Hyper-V host computer by encrypting the VM
state and its virtual disks.
■ Network controller Provides a central automation point for network infrastructure
configuration, monitoring, and troubleshooting.
For most organizations, the selection of an edition will be based on cost. The Essentials
edition is inexpensive and easy to deploy, but it is limited in its features. For a small organization, it can be ideal, however.