Tag: Semi-annual Channel

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System Center

Microsoft released System Center 1801 Semi-Annual Channel

Microsoft just release the first Semi-Annual Channel release for System Center, called System Center, version 1801. This is the first release which now comes out to support the Windows Server Semi-Annual Channel releases like 1709 and also brings some new features and performance improvements.

System Center, version 1801 is the first of our Semi-Annual Channel releases delivering new capabilities at a faster cadence. Semi-Annual Channel releases have an 18-month support policy. In addition, we will continue to release in the Long-Term Servicing Channel (LTSC) at a lower frequency. The LTSC will continue to provide 5 years of mainstream support followed by 5 more years of extended support.

What’s in System Center, version 1801?

System Center, version 1801 focuses on enhancements and features for System Center Operations Manager, Virtual Machine Manager, and Data Protection Manager. Additionally, security and bug fixes, as well as support for TLS 1.2, are available for all System Center components including Orchestrator, Service Management Automation, and Service Manager.

I am pleased to share the capabilities included in this release:

 

  • Support for additional Windows Server features in Virtual Machine Manager: Customers can now setup nested virtualization, software load balancer configuration, and storage QoS configuration and policy, as well as migrate VMware UEFI VM to Hyper-V VM. In addition to supporting Windows Server, version 1709, we have added support for host monitoring, host management, fall back HGS, configuration of encrypted SDN virtual network, Shielded Linux VMs on Hyper-V management, and backup capabilities.
  • Linux monitoring in Operations Manager: Linux monitoring has been significantly improved with the addition of a customizable FluentD-based Linux agent. Linux log file monitoring is now on par with that of Windows Server (Yes, we heard you! Kick the tires, it really works).
  • Improved web console experience in Operations Manager: The System Center Operations Manager web console is now built on HTML5 for a better experience and support across browsers.
    Updates and recommendations for third-party Management Packs: System Center Operations Manager has been extended to support the discovery and update of third-party MPs.
  • Faster, cost-effective VMware backup: Using our Modern Backup Storage technology in Data Protection Manager, customers can backup VMware VMs faster and cut storage costs by up to 50%.
  • And much more including Linux Kerberos support and improved UI responsiveness when dealing with many management packs in Operations Manager. In Virtual Machine Manager, we have enabled SLB guest cluster floating IP support, added Storage QoS at VMM cloud, added Storage QoS extended to SAN storage, enabled Remote to VMs in Enhanced Session mode, added seamless update of non-domain host agent, and made host Refresher up to 10X faster.

You can get System Center, version 1801 from the Evaluation Center or the Volume Licensing Service Center.



Windows Server Semi-annual Channel Overview

Windows Server – Semi-Annual Channel (SAC) vs Long-Term Servicing Channel (LTSC)

Update March 2018: Microsoft Updated some of the information about the use cases of the Semi-Annual Channel and the LTSC for Windows Server. In short the Semi-Annual Channel releases are focusing on Container innovation and the infrastructure feature and roles are now features and roles of the LTSC.

I was already blogging about the new Windows Server servicing options including the Long-Term Servicing Channel (LTSC) and the new Semi-Annual Channel (SAC) options. It seems that there is a lot of confusion about what the purpose and the advantages of the Semi-Annual Channel releases. With that blog post I will try to explain what both servicing options are and when which servicing option should be used. Especially since SAC releases, like Windows Server 1709, will only be available as Windows Server Core. Spoiler alert: Windows Server Semi-Annual Channel releases are not for everyone and everything.

Windows Server Long-Term Servicing Channel (LTSC)

The Long-term Servicing Channel is the release model you’re already familiar with (currently called the “Long-term Servicing Branch”) where a new major version of Windows Server is released every 2-3 years. Users are entitled to 5 years of mainstream support, 5 years of extended support, and optionally 6 more years with Premium Assurance. This channel is appropriate for systems that require a longer servicing option and functional stability. Deployments of Windows Server 2016 and earlier versions of Windows Server will not be affected by the new Semi-annual Channel releases. The Long-term Servicing Channel will continue to receive security and non-security updates, but it will not receive the new features and functionality.

Example for Long-Term Servicing Channel releases

  • Windows Server 2008 R2
  • Windows Server 2012
  • Windows Server 2012 R2
  • Windows Server 2016

Long-Term Servicing Channel installation options

  • Windows Server Core
  • Windows Server with Desktop Experience
  • Windows Server Core as a container Image

Use cases for Long-Term Servicing Channel releases

As use cases for the Long-Term Servicing Channel releases you can basically count everything in which need predictable long term support, do not support Windows Server Core and where you don’t use the new features included in the Semi-Annual Servicing Channel releases and you prefer less updating.

  • General Purpose File Server – Traditional information worker file server which need long term support
  • Legacy Software – Legacy software which do not support server core
  • Static Software – Software which does not leverage any of the new features of Semi-Annual Channel releases, which need predictable long term support
  • Legacy Hardware – End of life hardware
  • SQL Server – Traditional databases with long lifecycles which need predictable long term support
  • Active Directory and other infrastructure roles – which benefit from long term support
  • Hyper-V and Cluster nodes for Hyper-converged scenarios
  • Hyper-V hosts which are benefiting from continuous innovation

Semi-Annual Channel (SAC)

Windows Server 1709

The Semi-annual Channel releases will deliver new functionality for customers who are moving at a “cloud cadence,” such as those on rapid development cycles or service providers keeping up with the latest Hyper-V and Storage investments. Windows Server products in the Semi-annual Channel will have new releases available twice a year, in spring and fall. Each release in this channel will be supported for 18 months from the initial release.

Most of the features introduced in the Semi-annual Channel will be rolled up into the next Long-term Servicing Channel release of Windows Server. The editions, functionality, and supporting content might vary from release to release depending on customer feedback.

The Semi-annual Channel will be available to volume-licensed customers with Software Assurance, as well as via the Azure Marketplace or other cloud/hosting service providers and loyalty programs such as MSDN.

Example for Semi-annual Channel releases

  • Windows Server 2016 Nano Server
  • Windows Server 1709
  • Windows Server 1803

Semi-annual Channel installation options

  • Windows Server Core
  • Windows Server Core Container Image
  • Windows Server Nano Server Container Image

Use cases for Semi-annual Channel releases

Use cases for the Semi-annual Channel releases right now are application and services which leverage new feature very quickly and go with cloud cadence.

  • Lift and Shift applications into Containers
  • New cloud-based applications
  • Applications which can be quickly and easily redeployed
  • Linux containers on Windows Server
  • Hyper-V and Cluster nodes for Hyper-converged scenarios
  • Hyper-V hosts which are benefiting from continuous innovation

Semi-Annual Channel (SAC) vs Long-Term Servicing Channel (LTSC) Overview

To make it a little easier, here is a quick overview of the two servicing channels:

 Long-Term Servicing ChannelSemi-Annual Channel
Recommend ScenariosGeneral purpose File Servers, SQL Servers, Active Directory and other infrastructure rolesContainerized applications and container hosts, Hyper-converged hosts benefiting form faster innovation
New ReleasesEvery 2-3 yearsEvery 6 months
Support5 years of Mainstream support +5 years of Extended support18 months
EditionsAll available Windows Server editionsStandard and Datacenter
Installation OptionsServer Core and Server with Desktop ExperienceServer Core only
LicensingAll customer through all channelsSoftware Assurance and Cloud customers only

Conclusion

As you can see, Windows Server Semi-annual channel are not designed for everyone. And if you don’t feel comfortable with Windows Server Core (btw you should check out Microsoft Project Honolulu), the fast release cadence or the short support life cycle you should go with the Windows Server Long-Term Servicing Channel. You will not lose anything you had today, you still will get new versions every 2-3 years with all the options you had today. If you need the fast innovation and you get something out of the new features the Semi-annual channel will provide you with 2 releases a year. But make sure, that your deployment, configuration and management is automated, otherwise you will suffer from the fast release cadence. I have three other very important points I want to make sure you know about:

  • Not all your servers have to go with LTSC only or SAC only – as long as you have the right licensing in place you can choose for each server, which ever fits your needs best.
  • You don’t have to switch now – you can also decided to go with LTSC today and switch to a SAC release as soon as you benefit from it. You can also switch back to LTSC from SAC if you don’t like it. (With Switch I mean redeploy)
  • Upgrades are not in-place – It doesn’t matter which servicing channel you are using, servers need to be redeployed. (Not like in Windows 10 where you can leverage in-place upgrades)

I hope this helps to understand the point about Windows Server Semi-Annual Channel (SAC) vs Long-Term Servicing Channel (LTSC). The Semi-Annual Channel releases are a new offer from Microsoft for customers to get their hands on new features much quicker, this offers a huge benefit if you can make use of it. But Microsoft is not forcing you to use SAC, LTSC for some scenarios and customers is still the better option. So both solutions are having huge value in different scenarios.



Windows Server 1709

Microsoft released Windows Server 1709

Microsoft just released the new Windows Server version 1709 which is the first release in the Semi-Annual Channel. The Semi-Annual Channel release cadence to deliver innovation at a faster pace, but you will also need to keep updating your systems to newer versions of Windows Server. As of today, you can download Windows Server 1709 from the Volume license portal or deploy it in Microsoft Azure, since it is available in the Azure Marketplace.

Windows Server 1709 Features and Improvements

Windows Server 1709 will drive innovation in the container space and in the Windows Subsystem for Linux, as well as some Cloud Host improvements in Hyper-V with new support for Storage Class Memory and more. Windows Server 1709 will be only available as Windows Server Core (Standard and Datacenter).

If you want to know more about the new features and improvements in Windows Server 1709, check out my blog post and check also out the Microsoft What’s new in Windows Server 1709 page.

Windows Server news from Microsoft Build 2017 – It is all about Container!

New Windows Server Management Experience

If you want to know more about the new Management Experience called Project Honolulu, check out my blog post:

Microsoft Project Honolulu – The new Windows Server Management Experience

Windows Server Servicing

For more information about the Semi-Annual Channel and Windows Server Servicing check out my blog posts:

Windows Server release information – Windows Server Semi-Annual Channel and LTSC

 

What is next for Windows Server and System Center with a faster release cadence

Windows Server, version 1709 is only the first step in this new world of faster release cadences. The most important aspect of having new releases twice a year is customer feedback will shape the product. You can try the preview builds of Windows Server in the Semi-Annual Channel and provide feedback by joining the Windows Insiders program. You can also join the conversation in the Microsoft Tech Community where we have tons of professionals and experts sharing their learnings and answering questions.



Windows Server Semi-annual Channel Overview

What is next for Windows Server and System Center with a faster release cadence

A couple of weeks ago at the Microsoft Build Conference, Microsoft released some new information about what is coming in the next version of Windows Server like Linux support on Hyper-V Container and much more. Today Microsoft just announced some new details about the next Windows Server releases and how they will work. The biggest change of todays announcement that Windows Server and System Center will also move to the Semi-annual Channel, just like Windows Client and Office moved to the Semi-annual Channel release cycle. The other large announcement is that Microsoft focuses Nano Server on Container and will remove support Nano on Hosts and Virtual Machines. This means you can run Nano Server only as a Windows or Hyper-V Container.

Nano Server is only supported as a Container Image

Microsoft is removing support for the Nano Server operating system running on physical hardware or inside Virtual Machines. Nano Server will be only supported as a Container Image. Windows Server Core will be the preferred installation option for your infrastructure servers like Hyper-V or Storage Spaces Direct.

This next release will focus on making Nano Server the very best container image possible. From these changes, customers will now see the Nano Server images shrink in size by more than 50 percent, further decreasing startup times and improving container density. As part of this effort to focus on containers, we will be removing the functionality for infrastructure-related roles. Instead of using Nano Server for these scenarios, we recommend deploying the Server Core installation option, which includes all the roles and features you would need.

Windows Server Servicing Channel

As mentioned Microsoft will offer Windows Server updates in the Semi-annual Channel as well as in the Long Term Servicing Channel for Nano Server Container Images as well as Windows Server Core.

There will be two primary release channels available to Windows Server customers, the Long-term Servicing Channel, and the new Semi-annual Channel.

Long-term Servicing Channel

The Long-term Servicing Channel is the release model you’re already familiar with (currently called the “Long-term Servicing Branch”) where a new major version of Windows Server is released every 2-3 years. Users are entitled to 5 years of mainstream support, 5 years of extended support, and optionally 6 more years with Premium Assurance. This channel is appropriate for systems that require a longer servicing option and functional stability. Deployments of Windows Server 2016 and earlier versions of Windows Server will not be affected by the new Semi-annual Channel releases. The Long-term Servicing Channel will continue to receive security and non-security updates, but it will not receive the new features and functionality.

Semi-annual Channel

The Semi-annual Channel releases will deliver new functionality for customers who are moving at a “cloud cadence,” such as those on rapid development cycles or hosters keeping up with the latest Hyper-V investments. Windows Server products in the Semi-annual Channel will have new releases available twice a year, in spring and fall. Each release in this channel will be supported for 18 months from the initial release.

Most of the features introduced in the Semi-annual Channel will be rolled up into the next Long-term Servicing Channel release of Windows Server. The editions, functionality, and supporting content might vary from release to release depending on customer feedback.

The Semi-annual Channel will be available to volume-licensed customers with Software Assurance, as well as via the Azure Marketplace or other cloud/hosting service providers and loyalty programs such as MSDN.

Windows Insider Program

At Microsoft Build, Microsoft also announced that Windows Server will be part of the Windows Insider Program, and you will see the first preview builds this summer.

System Center

in the first Semi-annual Channel release from System Center, the team will focus on System Center Operations Manager, Virtual Machine Manager, and Data Protection Manager. The key areas of investment will include support for Windows Server and Linux, enhanced performance, usability and reliability, and extensibility with Azure-based security and management services. Which will bring features like Nested Virtualization support, software load balancing, Storage QoS Self-Service and management support for heterogeneous environments with improved Linux monitoring using a FluentD agent as well as VMware backup. System Center Configuration Manager will continue to offer three releases a year to give you the latest updates for managing servers, PCs, and mobile devices.

Conclusion

This changes will improve the release cadence of datacenter and cloud innovation dramatically. Customers like service providers will have the chance to update their offerings much more often which allows them to add new features and functionality. But there is choice for customers who need a stable and not fast moving environment they can deploy builds from the Long-term servicing channel, which will have long term support. With that you should be able to choose the best solution for your environment and workload.