Microsoft has been extolling the virtues of Nano Server for some time. Nano Server is a headless, remotely managed version of its server product that comes as a separate installation option in Windows Server 2016. Windows Server 2016 is currently in Technical Preview 5, but by all accounts (and inside reports) represents the final feature version before RTM.
Many companies rely on Group Policy to manage corporate computers and devices. Group Policy has been a mainstay for many organizations, allow administrators to create and deploy system wide settings to configure features and settings and restrict functions for security purposes. Even those that have invested in System Center Configuration Manager as a management tool will often times utilize Group Policy in conjunction to deliver quick policy changes.
Nano Server is interesting as the disk and processing requirements are minimal, and much less than a full-blown Windows Server installation. This will be appealing to a number of IT organization – though how many is anyone’s guess. We’ll just have to wait and see if implementation wins out over simple curiosity.
However, for those that rely heavily on Group Policy to maintain the company’s computers, you may want to think twice before putting a lot of support behind moving to an all Nano model. In a recent post (almost a warning post), Microsoft states the following…
Group Policy and the associated Group Policy Management Console (GPMC), editor (GPMC), Group Policy client and local policy editor (GPEdit) tools are not present on Nano Server...Even when domain joined, Nano Server will not consume and enact Group Policy settings.
Microsoft is providing ways to deliver management for Nano Server through special PowerShell components (first one is HERE), but Nano Server will not be able to supply Group Policy to the organization. If you want to move off your older Windows Server version anytime soon and still utilize Group Policy, Windows Server 2016 and Windows 10 clients continue to have full support for Group Policy – so you’ll want to think about implementing Nano Server in more niche areas in your organization. Plan appropriately.
But, as the PowerShell inventor himself, Jeffrey Snover says...
Desired State Configuration (DSC) is the replacement for GP - it provides better semantics for server scenarios https://t.co/o8M7XuciWh— jsnover (@jsnover) May 10, 2016