Have you heard about the new Nano? No, you didn’t miss a new announcement from Apple. Rather, it is Microsoft that is releasing Nano into the wild. Given the name, what do you think Nano is? Dictionary.com defines Nano as “a combining form with the meaning ‘very small, minute.’” Unsurprisingly, Nano is another option for a stripped-down, lightweight install mode feature.
Microsoft Windows Servers already have a shrunken installation option called “Microsoft Server Core.” Server Core omits several features in an effort to shrink its overall footprint and its exposure to security risks. The next release of Microsoft Windows Server has a new installation option, in which Nano Server strips away many more features, including the GUI stack and 32-bit Win32 support. Nano won’t have local logins, and without a GUI, there is no need for remote desktop support, which also has been removed.
Nano Server is designed to run two specific kinds of workload in the cloud. Cloud applications built using .NET, Java, or Node.js are one. The other encompasses Python runtimes and cloud infrastructure on the physical host for Microsoft Hyper-V virtual machines. Management for Nano Server is dependent on WMI and PowerShell; web-based administrator tools are currently in development.
Comparing Nano Server to the full Windows Server install, Microsoft states that Nano Server shrinks the disk footprint by 93%, the number of critical security patches and updates by 92%, and the total number of required reboots by 80%.
Could the development of Nano Server be another indicator that Microsoft is changing its mode of operation? In the past, Microsoft would push the world the way it thought the world should go. Flash forward to now, and Microsoft is working to revamp its technologies to follow the global direction set by the rest of the world. Think about that for a minute: it is quite the 180-degree turn in its approach.
Also following the global direction, Nano Server offers containers. Containers are one way to encapsulate the software to run applications across a large number of machines. I am not sure that Hyper-V containers will seem an appealing option to many Microsoft customers. Most don’t need the extreme security policies and procedures and the encapsulation of the container separating systems from each other.
I am not sure I see how containers are going to help Microsoft in the short run, but Microsoft Azure and Amazon Elastic Compute run containers atop their public clouds. VMware now supports containers, and the global technology trend points at containers for at least the near future. The Nano Server’s small footprint helps Microsoft tackle web-scale operations and shows that Microsoft finally gets the concept that smaller can really be better.