Introducing Nano Server: Born-in-the-cloud Operating System

By Asif Malik @condordeitgroup


What is Nano Server?

Nano Server is a change to the traditional types of servers we are familiar with when installing and configuring windows servers. The analogy Microsoft give for this new breed is that today we treat our servers as kittens; when they get poorly, we spend huge amounts of time trying to troubleshoot and diagnose the issue. Instead, Microsoft say we should treat servers like a cattle; if one of the herd is ill, slaughter it, and get a new one.

 Easy to say, but how do we implement this?

Imagine a configuration file that can be applied to a server, which takes on the settings from the file of that server e.g. an Internet Information Service. If the server becomes unresponsive or you need more of the same server: copy and clone this file and deploy a new server from it. This is what Microsoft called Desired State Configuration.

As a headless version of Window Server (NOT CORE!), Nano Server will run with a very small services, memory and disk footprint (currently will only run a few apps). There is no MSI support, so it cannot run many of the applications that you currently use. For example, you cannot use Nano Server as a Remote Desktop Services Session Host (RDSH) server due to its lack of desktop.

The local Graphical User Interface (GUI) will not have a local login: it is designed to be managed remotely.

Currently Nano Server is 64 bit only; Microsoft have stripped out its 32 bit compatibility to reduce the amount of service and memory requirements.

 What can I use it for?

Microsoft puts forwards a few scenarios for Nano Server.

  • Physical machines (see Nano Server with Hyper-V running 3400 virtual machines on one server)
  • Virtual machines
  • Hyper-V Containers
  • Windows Server Containers
  • Scale-Out File Servers (SOFSs)
  • Born-in-the-cloud applications that are running in virtual machines

Nano Server currently supports a number of different runtimes including C#, Java, Node.js, and Python. Nano Server is API-compatible with Windows Server within the subset of components that Nano provides. An API server list can be found here: 

Nano Server is currently in beta, and available in Windows Server 2016 Tech Release 4.

If you would like to find out more about Nano Server or simply need professional advice on the latest server or virtualisation solutions, please email us on or contact us on 08432 480000 and we will happily assist you.

Want to keep up with Concorde's posts on LinkedIn? Follow us here or tweet us via our Twitter page.

 About the author

Asif Malik is the Head of Cloud Services at Concorde IT Group, responsible for managing the cloud platform. Asif has worked in the IT industry since 1995 and has been with Concorde since 2014.