Virtual Hosting Solutions

If you’re looking to host a server, there are different factors to consider, should you be looking at a physical server or a virtual machine, what about on-premise or on the cloud like Azure. This article will help you make an informed decision, as well as providing a detailed comparison between Windows Server 2019 and earlier versions.

Why do I need a Server:
When you introduce a dedicated server (such as a Microsoft Windows Server or Linux Server) to a network setup, computers on the network communicate directly with the server instead of the other computers on the network.

Servers ‘serve’ client computers with information/data that users or other servers request.  Typically requests can consist of logon user account access to a device (user credentials via Active Directory), permissions to access files (NTFS Security Permissions via a File Server), running services or application (Sage/Data Services to Windows Server Update Services (WSUS) to CRM Dynamics and also SQL), to printing files, backups of your infrastructure or even more advanced configurations such as access to the Internet via a Web Proxy or Web Server, Network Policy Server (NPS), Active Directory Certificate Services (ADCS) to Active Directory Federated Services with SSO (ADFS SSO).  Dedicated Servers hardware is designed and built for this functionality, hence the performance tends to be more reliable and quicker.  If you don’t have a Server but think you may require one, please give Proxar IT Consulting a call and one of our consultants will be more than happy to discuss with you if based on the requirements we believe you need a Server or not.

What is a Server:
A Server is a Physical or virtual piece of equipment which provides far greater computing power and functionality which can allow for programs, users and computers to operate in a more advanced method on your corporate business network.

Physical Server vs Virtual Server (Virtual Hosting)

A Physical Server is a Server which has components, this will contain an outer casing shell,  will have a Server motherboard, CPU processors, RAM, Hard Disks and a PSU.  A physical Server will generally have a life span of about 5  years. Physical Servers require somewhere to be homed and contain parts which wear and can fail.  A Virtual Server is a server which you can’t physically see hardware, instead it lives inside a Physical Server (also known as a Hypervisor) and parts of the physical server’s hardware are assigned to a Virtual Server (Virtual Hosting).  With a Virtual Server (Virtual Hosting) the benefits are you can easily increase or decrease resources such as Disk Space, Memory and CPU Cores up to the maximum the Hypervisor has available.  In addition, you can also export the Virtual Server (Virtual Hosting) to be hosted on other Hypervisors within your network in the event of needing to perform maintenance to a Hypervisor if resulting in the need to turn off which ensures availability to the Virtual Hosting Machine being available to users.

Should I choose a Physical or Virtual Hosting Server:
For most businesses today, a combination of the two tend to be used however this is completely dependent on business requirements.  The things which generally are taken into account when making this decision include
Budget for Hardware, Deployment, Utilities, and labour.  Performance required will have an impact on spec
Business Continuity in the event of an outage should various functions be resilient
Risk Mitigation including if a vendor or supplier goes out of business what will the impact be
Security in the event of a hack or a data breach, physical space available within the Office, business growth and functionality as well as future business needs and Data.  Proxar IT can provide a reliable and fully scalable Virtual Hosting Solution which can span between two different data centres for resiliency purposes.  We have years of experience of designing not only the network but also creating the perfect infrastructure which best meets your needs. For more information please contact us

 Physical Server
Virtual Server
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(Cloud hosted – Azure)
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(Cloud hosted – Proxar)
Your IT team has full access to your dedicated server resources 24/7/365, which can be advantageous for high-demand or business-critical operations
Depending on your needs, the server may be located onsite or in a conveniently-located collocation facility
Your IT staff can fully customise and configure the server to your specifications and business requirements
Relatively high cost of server purchase, maintenance, and in the case of hardware failure, replacement
Your IT staff will be responsible for setup, configuration, and maintenance on a continual basis
You may need to hire a contractor or vendor for help if you have difficulty with configuration or repairs
Users cannot scale storage in small increments once you reach the maximum workload, since you purchase and own the hardware
Requires physical or collocation space
Fewer upfront costs, since you are not required to purchase hardware
Potential for lower lifetime costs on configuration and maintenance.
Access to expert assistance on setup, configuration, maintenance, and software licenses.
Reduced need for in-house IT
Potential to consolidate servers and increase workload efficiency
Reduced environmental footprint, due to shared workloads
Potential for higher recurring monthly costs, as opposed to higher upfront investment
Possible issues with application compatibility, which are best discussed with a knowledgeable vendor.
Not all vendors are amenable to scaling your agreement up or down in small increments, which largely depends on vendor policies and service level agreements (SLAs).
You are no longer independently in control of your physical server and the applications running on them.

Moving from Physical to Virtual Hosting:

Should your business need to move away from a Physical infrastructure to Virtual Hosting, may that be internally hosted, Microsoft Azure hosted or via other cloud hosted solutions, Proxar IT Consulting provide our very own Cloud hosted platform to meet your business needs.  This can be achieved in a number of ways
‘P2V’ (Physical to Virtual) which is where a Physical Server gets converted with its operating system, services and files and are migrated so that it can be used within a Virtual Hosting platform with resources being assigned from the hosting server (Hypervisor)
Clean Installation, which is a brand new server and operating system which would be configured from scratch to match a like for like.
Clean Installation with upgrade, which is a brand new server with the operating system (running Windows Server 2016, 2012 R2, 2012 or 2008) being upgraded to the latest and/or most compatible for your business.  We would check if any there are the potential bespoke pieces of software running which may cause any issues and advise on any licensing costs required to perform the upgrade

Upgrading my Server:
Most businesses will use at minimum 1 Server (if not several) and implement some form of Disaster Recovery (DR) in the event of a failure/outage to the core services for their business.  This may be in the form of resilient servers (duplicating service and/or data) which provides a continued working platform for users and this may be on-premise, Virtual Hosting or a combination of both.  Should you have experienced an outage which has been disruptive to your business or want to prevent an outage in the event of something like a server failure, hardware failure such as a switch/firewall/load balancer or even to be able to perform regular maintenance without an outage, DR should be something which is taken into account during the design or continued development of your infrastructure.  Proxar IT Consulting can provide not only consultants to advise you of best practises and what you can do to safeguard your infrastructure but also the skilled Microsoft Certified Engineers to implement. For more information, please contact us

Windows Server licencing and editions

No article on Windows Server would be complete without mentioning licencing, which can impact costs dramatically on top of hardware and other components. With Windows Server 2019 some features are only available with the Datacenter edition. This includes the following features, which you only get with Datacenter edition:

  • Software-defined networking
  • Software-defined storage
  • Shielded virtual machines (VMs)
  • Hyper-Converged Infrastructure

In addition to the above, the rights you get to run virtual machines are different, with only two virtual machines on Standard Edition by default while with Datacenter Edition you can run unlimited virtual machines.

Looking closer, there are also two further aspects to licencing to consider, core-based licencing and Client Access Licences (CALS). Core-based licencing starts with 16 core licences across two processors, this is based on the underlying hardware and processor specifics with how many physical cores they have. For example with Windows Server 2019 Standard Edition, for two processors with 16 cores each, for a total of 32 cores would require 16 two-core packs to be licenced.

Going back to how many virtual machines can be run on Windows Server 2019 Standard Edition, to run more than 2 virtual machines you have to licence the server again. With the example of two processors with 16 cores each, to run 4 virtual machines would require 64 cores to be licenced, which equals 32 two-core packs. Taking it a step further, to run 6 virtual machines would require 96 cores to be licenced with 48 two-core packs and so forth. When running lots of virtual machines, say 14, Datacenter Edition may be more economical though this will vary depending on the particulars.

Finally, don’t forget Windows Server Client Access Licences, CALs are needed for every user or device accessing a server. CALs can be either user-based or device-based. User CALs allow one user to access Windows Server from an unlimited number of devices, whereas Device CALs allow an unlimited number of users to access Windows Server from a single device.

Azure Server Hosting

Hosting virtual machines on Microsoft Azure is an option that may appear expensive, but this isn’t always the case. Azure is a great option for testing, development and when you need extra capacity that you perhaps don’t have access to otherwise. Also for services that don’t need to be online all the time, Azure is well worth considering. There is a myriad of different specifications available with Azure to pick from, if you need lots of storage or RAM or processor grunt, Azure has got it, or whether it’s something more modest, they have that too.

Where Azure Virtual Hosting is sometimes ruled out is for those services that need to be available full-time 24 x 7 virtual machines, where you don’t benefit so much from potential cost savings. This can be true with pay-as-you-go pricing but there are two options that provide substantial savings and these are Azure Reserved Virtual Machine Instances and Azure Hybrid Benefit. With Reserved Instances you commit to either a one or three year term and prepay for Windows Server or Linux virtual machines, with upwards of a 70% cost saving compared to pay-as-you-go pricing. With Azure Hybrid Benefit you can apply further savings if you have existing Windows Server licences with Software Assurance (SA). Even if you don’t have Software Assurance, Azure Hybrid Benefit can still be available with Server Subscriptions for Azure, when you don’t have existing licences with SA. Together, Reserved Instances and Azure Hybrid Benefit can offer up to 80% cost savings.

What can a Server be used for:
Microsoft provide a number of feature roles which can be used with Windows Server for both Physical and Virtual Hosting solutions:

Unique hybrid capabilities with AzureWindows Server
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Storage Migration Service helps to inventory and migrate data, security, and configurations from legacy systems to Windows Server 2019 and/or Azure.
Synchronising file servers to Azure helps centralise your organisation’s file shares in Azure Files while keeping the flexibility, performance, and compatibility of an on-premises file server.
System Insights brings local predictive analytics capabilities native to Windows Server. These predictive capabilities, each backed by a machine-learning model, locally analyse Windows Server system data to provide high-accuracy predictions that help reduce the operational expenses associated with reactively managing Windows Server instances.
Azure network adaptor easily connects to Azure virtual networks. Windows Admin Center performs the heavy lifting of configuring the VPN to a new network adapter that will connect Windows Server 2019 to a point-to-site Azure virtual network VPN.
VM protection replicates workloads running on physical and virtual machines (VMs) from a primary site to a secondary location.
Unprecedented Hyper-converged InfrastructureWindows Server
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Unified management in Windows Admin Center is an elegant browser-based HCI remote management interface that includes software-defined network configuration and monitoring.Partially Supported
Storage Spaces protect your data from drive failures and extend storage over time as you add drives to your servers.
Enhanced Storage Spaces Direct (S2D) build software-defined storage using industry standard servers with local storage that can scale up to 1PB per storage pool in Windows Server 2016 and 4PB per storage pool and 64TB per volume in Windows Server 2019.Partially Supported
Mirror-accelerated parity lets you create volumes that are part mirror and part parity for 2x better performance on storage spaces direct deployments. Writes land first in the mirrored portion and are gradually moved into the parity portion.Partially Supported
Nested Mirror Accelerated parity enables two-node clusters at the edge to survive multiple simultaneous failures.
Storage class memory support for new generation of server hardware including storage class memory, which drastically improves performance for server applications.Partially Supported
USB thumb drive (as cluster witness)support for USB thumb drive as cluster witness allows true 2 node HCI deployments, with no additional dependencies.
Storage Replica provides storage-agnostic, block-level, and asynchronous and synchronous replication between servers for disaster recovery and allows stretching of a failover cluster for high availability.Partially Supported
Storage Quality of Service (QoS) uses policies to define and monitor storage input/output minimums and maximums for VMs to enable consistent performance across VMs.
Data deduplication provides volume savings of up to 90% by storing duplicate files on a volume once using logical pointers. Windows Server 2019 add support for deduplication with ReFS volumes.Partially Supported
Deduplication for ReFS supported on ReFS to optimise free space on a volume by examining the data for duplicated portions.
Virtual machine storage resiliency provides intelligent means to retain VM session states to minimize the impact of minor storage disruptions.
Cloud Witness enables Azure blob storage as a witness in a quorum for a stretched cluster. Additionally, in Windows Server 2019 you can now create a file share witness that does not utilise the Cluster Name Object (CNO), but simply uses a local user account on the server the FSW is connected to.Partially Supported
Storage health monitoring provides continuous monitoring, reporting, and maintenance to support storage spaces directly.
Cluster-wide monitoring monitors memory and CPU usage, storage capacity, IOPS, throughput, and latency in real time with clear alerts when something’s not right.
Cluster sets allows you to create large scale-out clusters with greater flexibility (deploying and retiring clusters) without sacrificing resiliency.
Cluster OS rolling upgrade enables an administrator to seamlessly upgrade the operating system of nodes in a failover cluster from Windows Server 2012 R2 and Windows Server 2016 to Windows Server 2019.
Mixed OS mode cluster enables Windows Server 2012 R2 cluster nodes to operate with Windows Server 2016 nodes.
Site-aware failover clusters groups nodes in stretched clusters based on physical location, enhancing key cluster-lifecycle operations such as failover, placement policies, heart-beating between nodes, and quorum behavior.
Persistent memory support for persistent memory (PM) technology provides byte-level access to non-volatile media while also reducing the latency of storing or retrieving data significantly.
Linux and FreeBSD workloads enables most of the Windows Server software-defined data center features for Linux and FreeBSD guests running on Hyper-V for increased functionality, performance, and manageability.Partially Supported
Hot add and remove for disk, memory, and network allows you to add or remove a network adapter and adjust the amount of memory assigned while the VM is running, without any interruption. The memory adjustment capability works even when you have dynamic memory turned on for a Hyper-V host.Partially Supported 
Network controller provides a centralised, programmable point of automation to manage, configure, monitor, and troubleshoot virtualisation network infrastructure in your data center.
Virtual networking helps create network overlays on top of a shared multi-tenant physical fabric.
Software load balancer (SLB) a cloud-optimised Layer 3 and Layer 4 load balancer that provides both North-South and East-West load balancing.
Virtual network peering provides high speed connectivity between two virtual networks. Traffic between the virtual networks goes through the underlying fabric network with no gateway. Both virtual networks must be part of the same data center stamp.
Distributed firewall and micro-segmentation dynamically segment networks based on evolving security or application needs using a stateful firewall and network security groups.
Hybrid SDN gateways multi-tenanted, highly available gateways that connect customer virtual networks to Azure, other Windows Server-powered clouds, high speed WANs, and local non-virtualised resources.
Improved SDN gateway improvements up to 3x for GRE tunnels and IPSec site-to-site VPN.
Converged RDM storage traffic and tenant Ethernet traffic on the same underlying NIC team for significant cost savings, while also getting the desired throughput and quality of service.Partially Supported
Precision Time Protocol (PTP) enables network devices to add the latency introduced by each network device into the timing measurements, thereby providing a far more accurate time sample than Network Time Protocol (NTP).
Leap Second support for occasional 1-second additions to UTC to adjust as earth’s rotation slows increases accuracy, compliance, and traceability.
HTTP/2 support for HTTP/2 (RFC 7540) in the native HTTP server. Now, Windows Server 2019 delivers performance and security benefits to your website deployments with HTTP/2.
Latency Optimised Background Transport – LEDBAT with Windows Server 2019, we bring a latency optimised, network congestion control provider, Low Extra Delay Background Transfer (LEDBAT). LEDBAT is designed to automatically yield bandwidth to users and applications, while consuming the entire bandwidth available when the network is not in use.
IP address management (IPAM) and DNS now supports comprehensive DNS and DHCP management with role-based access control across multiple AD forests. DNS provides for traffic management, load balancing, split-brain deployments, and prevention of DNS amplification attacks.Partially Supported
High-availability RDS connection broker helps create a fault-tolerance connection broker for Remote Desktop Services (RDS) scenarios.Partially Supported
Software defined networking (SDN) with IPv4/IPv6 provides a method to centrally configure and manage physical and virtual network devices. Additionally, Windows Server 2019 now supports IPv6 and dual stack IPv4/IPv6 addressing as well.Partially SupportedPartially Supported
Enhanced security capabilitiesWindows Server
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Enhanced Windows Defender Advanced Threat Protection (ATP) is a new set of host intrusion prevention capabilities such as preventative protection, attack detection, and zero-day exploits.
Shielded VMs for Windows use BitLocker to encrypt disk and state for Windows OS-based VMs.
Shielded VMs for Linux protects Linux VMs from attacks and compromised administrators in the underlying fabric and extensive threat resistance components.
HGS offline mode for shielded VMs allows shielded VMs to turn on when HGS cannot be reached, if the security configuration of your Hyper-V host has not changed.
VM Connect for shielded VMs enhances the interactive session experience by providing a secure console connection while interacting with a shielded VM for Windows and Linux machines.
Cluster hardening new clusters running Windows Server 2019 will not require NTLM, which completely removes the requirement of Active Directory for clusters in Windows Server.
SDN encrypted subnet virtual network encryption provides the ability for the virtual network traffic to be encrypted between VMs that communicate with each other within subnets.
Just-enough administration limits administrative privileges to the bare minimum required set of actions (limited in space).Partially SupportedPartially Supported
Just-in-time administration provides privileged access through a workflow that is audited and limited in time.Partially Supported
Credential guard uses virtualisation-based security to help secure credential information against advanced persistent threats on the system and to protect it from being stolen by a compromised administrator or malware.
Control flow guard helps protect against classes of memory corruption attacks.
Remote credential guard works in conjunction with credential guard for Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) sessions to deliver single sign-on (SSO), eliminating the need to pass credentials to the RDP host.
Device guard (code integrity) helps ensure only authorized executables run on the server.
Dynamic access control enables administrators to apply access-control permissions and restrictions based on well-defined rules.
AppLocker provides policy-based access control management for applications.Partially Supported
BitLocker uses a hardware or virtual Trusted Platform Module (TPM) chip to provide disk encryption for data and system volumes.Partially SupportedPartially Supported
Faster innovation for applicationsWindows Server
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Linux containers allow application admins to manage both Windows and Linux applications on the same environment, reducing the management overhead.
Windows Server containers creates an isolated application environment in which you can run an application without fear of changes due to applications or configuration.
Server Core base container image reduced Server Core base container image size will reduce download time and further optimise the development time and performance.
Nano Server base container image will reduce download time and further optimise the development time and performance. For Windows Server 2016, Nano Server base container image optimisation is available with Semi-Annual Channel updates. This capability comes with Windows Server 2019 out-of-the-box.
Server Core Features on Demand (FoD) significantly improve the app compatibility of Windows Server Core by including a set of binaries and packages from Windows Server with Desktop without adding any of the Windows Server Desktop GUI or Windows 10 GUI experiences.
Kubernetes platform support with major improvements to computing, storage, and networking components.
Group Managed Service Accounts (gMSA) provides a single identity solution for services running on a server farm, or on systems behind network load balancer. Using a gMSA, services or service administrators do not need to manage password synchronisation between service instances. In Windows Server 2019, gMSA improves the scalability and reliability of containers to access network resources.Partially Supported Partially Supported 
Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) allows developers and application administrators to use tools in Linux environments alongside Command Prompt and PowerShell.
Hyper-V isolation provides a highly isolated container environment in which the host operating system cannot be affected in any way by any other running container.
Azure Service Fabric for Windows Server enables you to create a multi-machine Azure Service Fabric cluster in your own data center or in other public clouds.
PowerShell 5.1 provides enhanced scripting capabilities for configuration, management, and deployment of software-defined data center components.Partially SupportedPartially Supported
PowerShell Desired State Configuration (DSC) provides a set of PowerShell language extensions and cmdlets to declaratively specify how you want your software environment to be configured.Partially SupportedPartially Supported
Visual Studio Code supports development operations such as debugging, task running, and version control to provide the tools a developer needs for a quick code-build-debug cycle.
.NET Core helps create modern web apps, microservices, libraries, and console applications that run on Windows, Mac, and Linux.