Windows Server and System Center – Semi-Annual Channel

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Microsoft has released some information about new Windows Server Releases yesterday. At the same time they announced Windows Server and System Center joining the Semi-Annual Channel. So they will have the same release cycle as Windows 10 and Office 365

Windows Server Servicing – SAC and LTSC

Microsoft will release new Windows Server Releases in Semi-Annual Channel (SAC) and in Long-Term Servicing Channel (LTSC) for Nano Server and Windows Server Core.

Long-Term Servicing Channel

LTSC (earlier LTSB – Long Term Servicing Branch) is a well known release cycle. Every 2-3 years there will be a new LTSC release with 5 years of mainstream support and 5 years of extended support. Optionally you can add additional 6 years with Premium Assurance.

LTSC is the right channel for workloads that require longer term stability and predictability.

In the Semi-annual Channel, feature updates are cumulative, so each release builds on the prior one and adds new capabilities, which ultimately culminates in the next LTSC release.

Windows Server 2016 is a LTSB (or new LTSC) release… so keep calm

Semi-Annual Channel

The Semi-Annual Channel matches the release cycle of Windows 10 and Office 365. So we expect two releases per year, one in march and one in September. SAC is for customers who are innovating quickly to take advantage of new operating system capabilities at a faster pace, both in applications – particularly those built on containers and microservices, as well as in the software-defined hybrid datacenter.

It will be available for Nano Server with a focus of Container, Performance and Footprint-Optimization and Server Core with a focus on Datacenter Systems and Containers for traditional applications.

So Server Core is going to be the base for infrastructure workloads, like it is already in Azure and Azure Stack.

To access Semi-Annual Channel there are two ways:

  • Windows Server Standard or Datacenter customers who are covered by Software Assurance will automatically have access to Semi-annual Channel releases as they are made available
  • Customers can also access these new Windows Server images in Azure or other cloud and hosting environments

SAC will also be available in MSDN

System Center Release

Also the System Center Team announced, they will adopt the Semi-Annual Channel Release Model. So we will see two releases of System Center too.

One exception from this is System Center Configuration Manger which will have three releases per year…like now.

To access Semi-Annual Channel of System Center an active Software Assurance will be required.

In the first release, the focus will be on System Center Operations Manager, Virtual Machine Manager and Data Protection Manager. The key areas of investment will include support for Windows Server and Linux, enhanced performance, usability and reliability, and extensibility with Azure-based security and management services.

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