Whether you want the servers we're all familiar with or a computing platform that looks more like the cloud, Windows Server 2016 can do that, Jeffrey Snover, the architect behind both Windows Server and the new hybrid cloud Azure Stack, told Techradar Pro.
When CEO Satya Nadella sent the Windows Server team out to talk to customers, they asked what users were worried about and the answers were very consistent, says Snover. "There were too many stories about getting hacked and not knowing about it for months. Security has become a CEO concern."
Hybrid cloud also came up frequently, as something businesses see as a strategic direction for the next one to three years. "Customers told us they want the benefits of public cloud in their own data centres; they want the speed and the agility of PaaS services," he told us.
A lot of that interest is driven by the tensions around technology that leads to shadow IT. "They want us to help them solve the problem of shadow IT. Developers and business leaders need to get things done – if IT can't help, they move around them and they set up problematic shadow IT."
Pulled in different directions
The problem isn't unhelpful IT departments so much as the way that IT is being pulled in two directions, Snover explains. "They have to provide secure IT resources so people can get their jobs done, and they've also got to support business agility and innovation; they want to figure out how to use IT to drive their business forward." He cites studies that say in 2017 more than half of the budget that used to go to IT will be spent outside of formal IT departments, going on public cloud and shadow IT.
Hybrid cloud like Azure Stack – based on Windows Server 2016 – lets them dip their toe in the water, building apps that can run there, or on Azure. "They want to be able to decide whether they're going to run a workload on-premise or in the cloud; they want the deployment flexibility to go where is right for them."
Snover also claims many customers who are asking for hybrid cloud using Windows Server have been trying alternatives and have been disappointed. "They want the right to get it wrong. People are feeling they're building the wrong things. When you find out you're on the wrong road, you need to turn around, no matter how much progress you've made – people have the sense that they're on the wrong road.
"We hear this a lot with OpenStack. Customers say to us, 'now we've got a bunch of people who are experts in GitHub and open source but how does this help us sell more cars? Is this really moving our business forward?'"