Posey's Tips & Tricks

Hyper-V Predictions for Windows Server 2019

For starters, don't be surprised if Microsoft takes an axe to Server Manager in favor of Project Honolulu.

Microsoft recently released a preview of Windows Server 2019, which is slated for release sometime before the end of the year.

Although Microsoft's announcement was somewhat light on details, it did discuss some of the features that will be making their way into this new release. More importantly, the announcement contains lots of clues as to the future of Hyper-V -- if you read between the lines.

It's All About Hybrid Cloud
Microsoft has a history of focusing most of its attention on one specific area of functionality in each Windows Server release. In Windows 2000, for example, Microsoft focused on Active Directory. In Windows Server 2012, Hyper-V was the focus, and in Windows Server 2016, Microsoft's focus was on security.

This time around, Microsoft's primary focus seems to be on improving the hybrid cloud experience.

The Microsoft announcement actually touched on four different subjects: hybrid clouds, security, application performance and hyperconverged infrastructure. Even so, these areas are all related to one another. But I'm getting a little bit ahead of myself.

Microsoft has no choice but to focus on hybrid clouds. Hybrid clouds are the direction that everyone is going, and the VMware-Amazon Web Services partnership has put Microsoft in a difficult position.

Microsoft's end game (even if we don't see it in this release) is undoubtedly going to be to allow Hyper-V virtual machines (VMs) to be seamlessly live-migrated between on-premises Hyper-V hosts and Azure. A secondary goal that is almost as important will be to allow Hyper-V VMs to seamlessly connect to Azure services.

With that in mind, it makes sense that Microsoft would improve its hyperconverged solution, because Hyper-V VMs can directly benefit from running on a hyperconverged platform.

RIP Server Manager
Right now, there are plenty of tech journalists rehashing Microsoft's Windows Server 2019 announcement and making predictions about the new OS, just as I am doing right now. However, I am going to make one prediction that is more than a little bit outlandish: I think that by the time Windows Server 2019 is released, Microsoft will have removed (or at least deprecated) Server Manager.

A few months ago, I wrote an article discussing Microsoft's Project Honolulu. For those who might not be familiar with Project Honolulu, it is a Web-based management tool for Windows Server. The version that I tried out when I wrote that article was a work-in-progress, and very limited in its capabilities. Even so, it provided a peek as to what we might expect in the future.

Microsoft's Windows Server 2019 announcement was only 1,534 words in length (including the Q&A at the end), and yet it referenced Honolulu eight times, even going so far as to include multiple screen captures. This tells me that Microsoft considers Honolulu to be of great importance. My guess is that Honolulu will eventually provide a single-pane-of-glass management tool that spans the entire hybrid cloud.

So what about Hyper-V? I look for Microsoft to integrate the functionality from the Hyper-V Manager into Honolulu (although I doubt it will be called Honolulu by the time it is released).

Oh, and one more thing: Microsoft has also announced that a new version of System Center will accompany the Windows Server 2019 release. If Microsoft's goal in creating Honolulu is, as I am guessing, to provide a single interface that can manage both on-premises and cloud resources, then I look for Microsoft to do something similar with System Center. I wouldn't be surprised to see the Virtual Machine Manager console's functionality rolled into a Web interface that acts as a consolidated platform for all of the System Center tools.

If all of this seems a bit far-fetched, then consider the evolution of PowerShell. PowerShell is an extensible management tool for all of Microsoft's server products. Microsoft had the right idea by creating a unified management tool, but PowerShell hasn't caught on in the way that Microsoft had hoped. Microsoft may be trying to create a new unified tool, but with a GUI interface.

Let's Not Forget Linux
The Microsoft announcement was kind of light on details specifically about Hyper-V. Hyper-V is going to remain a core component of Microsoft's hybrid cloud vision, but it seems as though the core hypervisor isn't going to be getting many upgrades. Not surprisingly, of the three Hyper-V enhancements that were mentioned, two pertained to Linux. (In case you are wondering, the non-Linux Hyper-V feature that was announced was virtual network encryption.)

Way back in 2016, I wrote a column in which I speculated as to whether Microsoft wants Windows to eventually morph into Linux. In any case, Microsoft has shown clear interest in making Linux VMs first-class citizens in Hyper-V land.

Hence, Windows Server 2019 will support shielded Linux VMs, and Microsoft will extend Virtual Machine Connection to improve troubleshooting for shielded VMs, regardless of whether those VMs are running Windows or Linux.

In conclusion, I think that Hyper-V 2019 is going to look a lot like the 2016 version. Most of the improvements to Hyper-V will probably come in the form of improvements to related infrastructure such as hyperconvergence, back-end storage and management tools.

About the Author

Brien Posey is a 22-time Microsoft MVP with decades of IT experience. As a freelance writer, Posey has written thousands of articles and contributed to several dozen books on a wide variety of IT topics. Prior to going freelance, Posey was a CIO for a national chain of hospitals and health care facilities. He has also served as a network administrator for some of the country's largest insurance companies and for the Department of Defense at Fort Knox. In addition to his continued work in IT, Posey has spent the last several years actively training as a commercial scientist-astronaut candidate in preparation to fly on a mission to study polar mesospheric clouds from space. You can follow his spaceflight training on his Web site.


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