10 New Features Found in Server 2019
| technology | system admin - Graeme Messina

10 New Features Found in Server 2019

Windows Server 2019 has been out since late 2018. Despite this, not many people have much hands-on experience with Server 2019. So, we thought that it would be a good idea for us to run through some of its new features. Some of the integrated Azure features in this release might not come as a surprise, but it is still worth covering.

We can essentially divide the improvements to Server 2019 by: Hybrid Cloud, Security, Application Platform, and Hyper-Converged Infrastructure (HCI). There would be a lot to go through if we were to investigate all the latest and greatest updates in this release. We've chosen six of the best.

New Server 2019 Features at a Glance

Not everything in Server 2019 requires a technical break down or deep dive. Some of its newer features are user friendly and very easy to use.

1. Windows Admin Center

The Windows Admin Center is a worthy addition to Microsoft's new and existing operating systems. It is basically just a web-based console for managing your system. It is local on your computer so you can access it even if your instance does not have an internet connection. It allows you to manage servers and clusters, as well as Hyper Converged Infrastructure. Windows 10 PCs are also managed from the admin center.

2. System Insights

System insights brings you a native system built into Windows Server, which includes predictive analytics. The great thing about this feature is that it also works when there is no internet connection. Windows Server 2019 able to predict and warn users when certain conditions are met.

The interesting thing about this feature is that it uses a local instance of a machine learning module to make these predictions. It analyzes metrics such as performance counters, events and other system data that gets generated while running.

When this data is gathered and analyzed, it generates trends and contextual limits that it associates with normal operations. If these levels are breached, then it alerts you and helps you to take appropriate steps to resolve any issues that come up.

3. Desktop Experience

Windows Server 2019 is a LTSC release, so it comes with the option of installing the desktop components. If you don't need to run those elements, then you can choose to install the server with Server Core instead. Please note that many server installations don't require the full desktop experience, so excluding it can help to improve overall performance.

4. Hybrid Cloud

One of the biggest improvements is the Windows Server Core compatibility features that have been added. Essentially this is a selection of executables that come straight from Windows Server with Desktop Experience installed, without actually installing Desktop Experience.

This improves overall compatibility with apps that would require a GUI to execute correctly. This comes with the added benefit of freeing up resources and allowing your system to run more efficiently.

Windows Server's Improved Security

Microsoft takes security far more seriously in 2020 than it ever has before. Gone are the days of relying on third-party security solutions to lock down your Windows Server environment.

5. Windows Defender ATP (Advanced Threat Protection)

Windows Defender is not exactly new, as it has been around for over a decade already. What is new is Windows Defender Advanced Threat Protection. This is a more deeply ingrained security suite that is able to stop attacks like ransomware, memory, and kernel vectors of attack. To use this service, you will need to onboard your systems onto the platform.

6. Exploit Guard

This new feature offers four components to help secure your system against many different types of malware attacks. A great feature that's included is the ability for you to set the level that you want the system to lock down threats. This lets you balance the requirements between system usability and security.

  • ASR (Attack Surface Reduction) is the first of these features. This basically blocks certain file types all together. This can be painful for everyday users who might be logging onto the server. But if you have a mission critical system that can be locked down like this, then it will make it all the more secure.
  • Network Protection is the next component. It specifically targets and denies web-based threats from reporting back to base. This means that applications need to be whitelisted before they are able to connect to the internet. This is all done through the Windows Defender SmartScreen.
  • Restricted Folder Access is another area that has been improved. Malware and ransomware are denied access to system folders and protected folders. Prevention is better than a cure, after all.
  • Exploit Protection is a set of prebuilt mitigations that protect your applications and system by default. This is the replacement for EMET. Additional configuration is very simple if you need to tweak it and make any changes.

7. Windows Defender Application Control

This feature has been around since Windows Server 2016, but it has always been tricky to deploy effectively. It is now known as Code Integrity and has been built into Windows Server 2019 as CI policies.

The key security feature here is that Windows files and Microsoft applications like SQL Server are able to block known applications and executables that bypass CI.

8. Improved SDN Security

Also known as Security with SDN (Software Defined Network), Microsoft's HCI work now includes more security focused offerings with its virtual datacenter products. Whenever there are on premise, cloud and hybrid systems, there are unique security challenges that arise. Even though the SDN platform has been with us since Windows Server 2016, Security with SDN is now fully integrated.

9. Storage Migration Service

Migrating systems to newer versions of Windows Server has never been for the faint of heart. The introduction of the Storage Migration Service improves the chances of successful migrations and simplifies the process greatly.

It includes a graphical tool that collects an inventory of software and data on your server and then allows you to migrate that data over to your new server. It then copies over all network and system related information, so your new server comes online with all the required network settings — such as IP address and DNS configurations.

10. Linux Containers on Windows

Containers have really made the coexistence between Windows and Linux systems all the more harmonious. You can now run both Windows and Linux containers on the same container host, with the same docker daemon. This makes it much easier when grouping applications together and makes it that much easier for your developers to work between systems.

Final Thoughts

There are so many great features in Windows Server 2019 that it was difficult to choose 10 of them to highlight. We've gone for some of the most readily accoiled features that you are likely to use on a day-to-day basis.

For more esoteric and technical improvements then feel free to check out Microsoft's very own run down of the new improvements that can be found in Windows Server 2019 right here.



Ultimate Security Cert Guide

A 62-page guide to every Palo Alto, Offensive Security, (ISC)2, Check Point, CompTIA, and Cisco certification, and how they fit into your career.

I have read and understood the privacy policy, and am able to consent to it.