If you're interested in managing a cloud-based, 64-bit application that doesn't require any local real estate, then you should look into Windows Nano Server. With this low-maintenance Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) installation option, you'll be able to remotely control your app's operating system (OS) without the security, capacity, and performance headaches associated with a full version of Windows Server. Before we get into how you can use Windows Nano Server to improve your business, let's dive a little deeper into what Windows Nano Server is and how it's different from Windows Server.
What Is Windows Nano Server?
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Unlike Windows Server, which is designed to manage local and cloud-based apps, Windows Nano Server is designed strictly for cloud operating systems (OSes) and apps that are developed directly on the cloud. Although you're given access to full Windows Server driver support as well as malware protection, your apps are run entirely on Microsoft's cloud, without ever linking back to a physical server. This means you're running a faster, leaner, more basic server that's designed to avoid some of the struggles associated with larger server installations, especially update headaches and a larger security attack surface.
Think of it like this: Windows Server is a cruise ship; Windows Nano Server is a speedboat. A cruise ship is designed to host thousands of people for long periods of time, with access to multiple different rooms and activities. Maintaining, steering, transporting, and cleaning the cruise ship are each massive undertakings that require significant manpower. On the other hand, a speedboat requires one expert to maintain the boat, steering is as easy as turning a wrist, and cleaning it just requires a hose, water, soap, and a six-pack of beer (okay, the hose is optional).
Now that you better understand the difference between Windows Nano Server and Windows Server, let's break down the ways in which your business benefits from choosing the 64-bit Windows Nano Server. Keep in mind, if you're not thinking of using Windows Nano Server for the following instances—as a compute host for Hyper-V virtual machines (VMs), as a storage host for Scale-Out File Server, as a domain name system (DNS) server, as a web server running Internet Information Services (IIS), or as a host for apps that are developed using cloud app patterns—you should probably opt for a more traditional server install.
1. Fewer Reboots
Because of security and performance issues, Microsoft Azure requires users to reboot in order to deliver patches. However, these patches may not necessarily correlate with any of the programs you're running, and the downtime could cost your business significant money. With Windows Nano Server, you'll likely see a dramatic reduction in the amount of times you'll have to reboot, which means you're A) more operational and B) much less annoyed.
2. Smaller Server Images
Your server image probably takes up too much disk space as is, but when you need to transfer images, or store previous versions of images, you'll really start to see problems occur. Large images take a long time to install, they clog up precious network bandwidth, and you'll quickly run out of capacity saving backup versions. The smaller Windows Nano Server images are quick to install, they transfer quickly, and they don't take up much disk space at all—all of which translates to consistent operations and more revenue.
An example Microsoft likes to use is this: If you've got a four-rack system running on Windows Server, then that's more than 8,000 VMs, each of which runs at 2 GB each (compared to a 600MB Windows Nano Server deployment). So, whenever your system needs to migrate, you've got to move 16 TB of data across your network. Brutal.
3. More Room for Other Things
Because you're using less space on your server deployment, you'll now have the ability to store and transfer more data for other aspects of your business. For example, you'll be able to save more backups in the event of a disaster, or you'll be able to store additional corporate data that you might have had to scrap because of capacity concerns.
4. Better Security
Fewer moving parts in your server architecture means fewer access points for attackers. Because Windows Nano Server is a small, basic, and cloud-based utility, there are fewer entry points for attack. For example, Windows Nano Server is what Microsoft calls "headless," which means there is no local logon capability or graphical user interface (GUI), both of which can be compromised by attackers. It also can't be used as a proxy server to access the internet, and you can't use it to control an Active Directory (AD) domain controller. A smaller footprint means there's a smaller bullseye.
5. Better Overall Performance
We've already discussed some of the reasons why a smaller server deployment is beneficial, but there is another important element that you should consider: random access memory (RAM) consumption. Larger server deployments eat up more of your computing resources, which ultimately slows down the performance of third-party apps. In order to ensure all of your apps are running optimally, a smaller server instance is ideal.