Windows Server 2016 Essentials GA Announced
October 26, 2016 3 Comments
With the fanfare we have come to expect for all things Essentials, it came as no surprise that the GA announcement of this much maligned product was whispered out in the latest SBS Blog Post.
Don’t get me wrong, Essentials as a product has it’s faults, but to me this feels a lot like the way the NHS is being defunded, someone sooner or later is going to claim it didn’t work out, when very little seems to be being done to ensure its success. Anyway enough of that.
So what’s new in Essentials 2016?
Of course we have all the new technologies included with Server 2016 Standard, but of course we need to focus in on improvements to Essentials itself.
On opening the Dashboard, the first change we notice is a new menu item to ‘Setup Windows Defender’.
Once enabled, we can go to the General page in Settings and look at the configuration options.
This leads us to the Windows Defender that is now shipped with Server 2016 and the familiar interface that started with Microsoft Anti Spyware (then Microsoft Security Essentials).
Staying in Settings, we can see the option for ‘Designated Domain Controller’.
As the name suggests we can now designate a Domain Controller for our Essentials services to look at. This ties in with the change that allows Essentials to support multi domain environments.
- multiple domains
- multiple domain controllers
- ability to specify a designated domain controller
- support for up to 500 users and 500 devices
However do note this only applies to the Essentials Role, not the SKU.
More information on this can be found here but this is a good summary.
Not mentioned is multi Forrest support, so I think it is safe to say this would not be supported.
Azure integration has also been much improved. With support rolled into the Dashboard for Azure Site Recovery and Azure Virtual Networks.
With additional support for Azure Active Directory and Multiple Office 365 Subscriptions (in the same tenant) finally being rolled in, are these changes enough to get people on-board with this product? It remains to be seen.
A lot of discussion within the small remaining SMB focussed MVP group suggests the consensus is that Essentials is a dead product, certainly in its fourth generation, it is still not the ‘Turn Key’ solution for a small business owner that Microsoft intended it to be.
However if the new integration with Cloud Services like Azure Virtual Networking has been done well, it could be the product that helps a lot of small businesses start their journey away from reliance on local servers and storage, at it’s core it still provides a local Active Directory and Client PC Backup, which in today’s world of Ransomware is too often overlooked.