Windows Server 2019 is due for release in the 2nd half of 2018, and the preview is available now via the Insiders program.
Microsoft have identified four key themes:
Combined with Project Honolulu, Microsoft’s re-imagined Windows Server management experience, Windows Server 2019 aims to make it easier to connect existing on-premises Windows Server installations into Azure. Services such as Backup, File Sync, and Disaster Recovery will be easily available.
Always near the top of an organisation’s priority list, security continues to be a focus in Windows Server 2019.
Shielded VMs (added in Windows Server 2016) will now support Linux VMs while Windows Defender Advanced Threat Protection (WDATP) is being embedded into Windows Server 2019 to help prevent and detect attacks.
Microsoft are aiming to reduce the Server Core footprint of 5GB by two thirds, to help dramatically reduce image download times for containers. Continuing the theme, Kubernetes support is currently in beta and Windows Server 2019 will see improvements around compute, storage, and networking within a Kubernetes cluster.
For organisations looking at Hyper-Converged Infrastructure, Microsoft Windows Server 2019 will add scale, reliability, and performance over the current Windows Server 2016 offering. Project Honolulu will also help with management in these situations too.
It is confirmed that System Center 2019 will be released, although there is no further info now.
Right at the end of the Microsoft post, they say this:
“It is highly likely we will increase pricing for Windows Server Client Access Licensing (CAL)”
This may well be a (not so) subtle move to push more organisations towards using Microsoft Azure, as Windows Server CALs are not required to access machines hosted in Azure. However, even if an organisation has just 1 on-premises Windows Server 2019, they’ll need the corresponding CALs for all accessing users.
I’d say now is a good time to start having conversations between the various internal teams – ITAM, Infrastructure, Security, Finance etc. – to decide on a plan of action for renewal time.
Microsoft blog post – https://cloudblogs.microsoft.com/windowsserver/2018/03/20/introducing-windows-server-2019-now-available-in-preview/
Project Honolulu – https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/windows-server/manage/honolulu/honolulu