The new operating system Windows Server 2022, based on the solid foundation of the predecessor Windows Server 2019, brings numerous innovations in the field of security, in integration and hybrid management in the Azure environment, and as an application platform. The article is divided into two parts, this first part shows the main features of the new server operating system relating to the editions available, the features designed for hybrid environments and the new aspects related to the application platform.
Windows Server 2022 is characterized by the following aspects relating to the editions:
- Windows Server 2022 will have a Standard edition, a Datacenter edition and a new version called Azure Datacenter.
- The Azure Datacenter edition of Windows Server 2022 it will only be supported on Azure (Azure IaaS or Azure Stack HCI – 21H2) and offers specific features not available outside of these environments (hotpaching, SMB over QUIC, and Azure Extended Networking).
- For all editions Windows Server 2022 there are both Core and Desktop installation options.
- You will be able to upgrade in place Windows Server 2019 Datacenter Edition to bring it to the new Windows Server 2022 Datacenter Azure edition. Nevertheless, the upgrade in place for server operating systems is a practice to be carefully evaluated and, if possible, to be avoided.
- Microsoft recently updated its servicing model for server operating systems. In fact, Microsoft has decided to abandon the semi-annual versions of Windows Server and, starting with Windows Server 2022, there is only one main release channel, the Long-Term Servicing Channel. With the Long-Term Servicing Channel, a new major version of Windows Server is released every 2-3 years. Users are entitled to 5 years of mainstream support and 5 years of extended support. This channel provides systems with prolonged maintenance and functional stability. The Long-Term Servicing Channel receives security and non-security updates, but it does not receive new features and new functionalities. The Semi-Annual Channel, available in previous versions of Windows Server, it was suitable for containers and microservices. In these areas, innovation will continue with Azure Stack HCI. In this regard, please note that the operating system of the Azure Stack HCI solution is a specific and dedicated operating system with a simplified composition, which includes only the roles needed by the solution.
Using Windows Server 2022 it is possible to increase efficiency and agility by using features designed for hybrid environments and fully integrated into the operating system.
Azure Automanage – Hotpatch
The Hotpatch feature, part of Azure Automanage, is supported in Windows Server 2022 Datacenter: Azure Edition. Support is currently for installations made in Core mode, but will also be extended to Desktop installations in the future. Hotpatching is a new mechanism, used to install updates on Windows Server Azure Edition virtual machines, which allows you to reduce the number of reboots required to install updates.
Azure Automanage allows you to orchestrate the installation of security patches on top of a Cumulative Update, which is released every three months. Cumulative Update requires a system restart, but the security patches released between the Cumulative Updates can modify the code running in memory without the need to reboot the machine.
For more information about this feature, you can consult the specific Microsoft documentation.
Windows Admin Center
Windows Admin Center (WAC) introduces specific improvements for management of Windows Server 2022, among which WAC allows you to check the status of the Secured-core and, where applicable, allows its enabling.
Also Windows Server 2022 allows Azure Arc to be enabled for management, physical servers and virtual machines residing outside Azure (on the on-premises corporate network or at other cloud providers), consistent with the management methodologies of native virtual machines residing in the Azure environment. In fact, connecting a machine to Azure through Arc is considered in all respects as an Azure resource. Each connected machine has a specific ID, it is included in a resource group and benefits from standard Azure constructs.
There are several improvements that Windows Server 2022 brings to the application field, among the main ones we find:
- Reducing the size of the Windows Container image down to 40%, which leads to a faster boot time than the 30% and better performance.
- Ability to run applications that depend on Azure Active Directory with group Managed Services Accounts (gMSA) without having to join the host container domain.
- Windows Container support of Microsoft Distributed Transaction Control (MSDTC) and Microsoft Message Queuing (MSMQ).
- Simplification of the Windows Container experience in the Kubernetes environment, including: support for host-process containers for node configuration, IPv6 and the implementation of network policies with Calico.
- In addition to the platform improvements, Windows Admin Center has been updated to simplify containerization of .NET applications. Once the application is in a container, you can host it in an Azure Container Registry and then deploy it to other Azure services, even Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS).
- Thanks to the support of Intel Ice Lake processors, Windows Server 2022 supports large-scale business-critical applications, such as SQL Server, which take up to 48 TB of memory e 2.048 logical cores running on 64 physical sockets. Using Intel Secured Guard Extension Confidential computing technology (SGX) available on Intel Ice Lake, you can get an improvement in the area of application security, isolating them from each other through memory protection.
The second part of the article reports the main features of the new server operating system in the security and storage area, but not only.