Intel-optimized Windows Server 2016 is Cloud Ready and Software-defined

One of the most interesting aspects of leading my team at Intel® is working closely with leading software providers like Microsoft® Corp. to optimize our products to take full advantage of the latest Intel capabilities that enable higher performance, tighter security, and enhanced management. A great example of this collaboration I’m excited to write about is the new Windows Server 2016 operating system, which launched this week at the Microsoft Ignite conference in Atlanta.

Throughout the development of this ground-breaking server operating system, Intel engineers worked closely with their counterparts at Microsoft on configurations designed to help OEMs, ODMs, and channel partners to accelerate the delivery of market-ready SDI solutions.

Intel conducted IOPs and workload performance tests against three configurations for Windows Server 2016 and Storage Spaces Direct: Capacity-Optimized, Throughput-Optimized, And IOPS-Optimized All NVMe* Configurations, and shared the results via a blog series. Key to the performance and TCO of these configurations is the Intel® Solid State Drive Data Center Family for NVM Express*, including newly launched Intel® 3D NAND SSDs.

Also of note, Intel is launching five new Windows Server 2016-optmized Intel® Data Center Blocks for Cloud at Ignite. These five pre-configured systems are undergoing validation as Windows Server Software-Defined offerings. Windows Server Software-Defined is a Microsoft program that enables solution vendors to design and validate hardware, and deploy Windows Server 2016 Software-Defined infrastructure in a way that follows Microsoft requirements and best practices. This enables customers to reduce time and money spent on system design and validation and accelerate their Windows Server 2016 deployments.

Microsoft Ignite

Needless to say for Intel and our many partners, the launch of Windows Server 2016, along with System Center 2016, is a cause for excitement. Windows Server 2016 is Microsoft’s “most cloud-ready server operating system and management solution ever,” according to Microsoft’s Erin Chapple, Partner Director, Program Management for Windows Server. “Intel and Microsoft’s deep engineering collaboration enabled performance and security optimizations within Windows Server 2016 when running on Intel technologies — providing maximum benefit for our end customers.”

Windows Server 2016 delivers new layers of security and innovations inspired by key learnings from Microsoft Azure applications and infrastructure. These enhancements are designed to help organizations maximize their resources and increase security by embedding multiple layers of protection into the operating system.

In more specific terms, the security enhancements span a range of features designed to help IT managers control privileged access, protect virtual machines and harden the platform against emerging threats. For example, Windows Server 2016 includes new Shielded Virtual Machines that encrypts VMs to help ensure they can run only on approved hosts. For stronger assurances, it is recommended the Hyper-V hosts have Trusted Platform Module 2.0 – which is supported in the latest Intel® Xeon® processor E5 v4 product family.

Windows Server 2016 is Microsoft’s new software-defined data center product using software-defined compute, storage, and network virtualization features inspired by Azure. It delivers new ways to deploy and run both existing and cloud-native applications—on-premises or in Azure—using new capabilities such as Windows containers and the lightweight Nano Server deployment option.

The “cloud-ready” Windows Server 2016 operating system reflects the spirit of the Intel Cloud for All initiative, which is designed to make cloud technology easier to deploy, manage, and scale, and to rally the industry around the delivery of robust, optimized SDI stacks. Windows Server 2016 is definitely a step in this direction.

If you’re at the Ignite conference this week, be sure to check out the many demos of Windows Server 2016 running on Intel technologies. You can watch these demos in the Intel booth, the Microsoft booth, and the booths of several of our partners. Or learn more online at or by following @IntelITCenter and @Intelnetwork.

By Jake Smith, Data Center Solutions and Technologies at Intel Corporation