A major server operating system upgrade is always an event for IT services providers to look forward to, and the expected arrival of Windows Server 2016 in the months ahead is no exception. But a new survey of 300 IT professionals conducted by SpiceWorks suggests that for most organizations the migration process to Windows Server 2016 is going to occur in 2017 and beyond.
Only 17 percent of the IT professionals surveyed said they would be using Windows Server 2016 within the first year of its availability. Less than half (44 percent) said they plan to adopt it within two years of its release, and 57 percent said they would make the switch within three years. That also means that 43 percent currently have no plans to make the switch.
While there’s still plenty of time for Microsoft to make a stronger case for Windows Server 2016, the features cited most often in the survey as reasons to upgrade were enhanced Microsoft Hyper-V functionality (31percent), enhanced PowerShell functionality (21percent), and improved security (19 percent). Way down the list were advanced technologies such as containers and the lightweight version of Windows Server 2016 called Nano, each with 12 percent.
Opportunities for IT services providers
IT services providers should also take note of the fact that a full 68 percent of those surveyed said they would be spending less than $10,000 on licensing and hardware to make the migration to Windows Server 2016. Only 18 percent said they plan to spend between $10,000 and $25,000, and approximately 14 percent plan to spend $25,000 or more. This would suggest that the opportunity surrounding Windows Server 2016 will have more to do with the application environment surrounding it than the operating system itself.
Of course, Microsoft’s biggest competitor might actually be itself. Many organizations are content to run previous versions of Windows Server for as long as they can. That might not reflect the quality of Windows Server 2016 as much as the fact that many IT organizations appear to have other higher priorities these days.
Impact of containers on Windows Server 2016
In general, however, Windows Server 2016 is arriving at a crucial time for Microsoft. A seismic shift toward containers is well underway inside most organizations. At this juncture, the majority of new application development is taking place on containers, and many of those applications will be moving into production environments this year and next.
CoreOS, a provider of a lightweight distribution of Linux, has already made significant gains in those environments, mainly at the expense of Red Hat. But if Microsoft fails to gain traction with Nano, the implications for where many of the next generation of applications will wind up running in production environments could be substantial.
To overcome that challenge, Microsoft announced this week that a preview of Docker containers running as a service on the Microsoft Azure cloud is now available. Eventually, Microsoft hopes to use Docker to help drive a hybrid cloud computing strategy that will rely heavily on Docker containers running on instances of Windows Server 2016 hosted inside and outside of the cloud.
In the meantime, however, IT services providers would do well to note that while Microsoft’s vision for the future of hybrid cloud computing is sound, the timetable appears to be extended.