Windows Server IoT 2022 is for much more than IoT
The latest version of Microsoft’s IoT server is for appliances. Here’s what you need to know about Windows Server IoT 2022.
The Industrial Internet of Things is no longer a box stuck at the end of a piece of Ethernet, obtaining data from certain sensors; it is now a complete end-to-end infrastructure that may be best viewed as a blueprint for building state-of-the-art IT systems. Microsoft has worked hard to complement its offerings across the range of devices and services needed to deliver this platform on Windows and Azure.
This is certainly a wide range of devices and tools, starting at the microcontroller level with Azure RTOS and Azure Sphere for secure managed devices, through to Azure Stack managed hardware, by dropping cloud instances. in your network. In the middle are two Windows offerings: Windows IoT Enterprise and Windows Server IoT.
Introducing Windows Server IoT 2022
Microsoft recently released a new version of Windows Server IoT, based on the current version of Windows Server 2022. It is the same underlying platform as Windows Server, with a dedicated set of license terms that limit its use. The intention is that it is used to support a specific set of tasks and not as a general purpose server.
SEE: Windows Server 2022 Cheat Sheet (Free PDF) (TechRepublic)
This support model fits well with the idea of ââa server acting as a one-time hub for your other on-board systems. After all, this is the version of Windows that was previously called Windows Server for Embedded Systems and Storage Server. This is where you need to run code that aggregates data from your industrial IoT sensors, or store the data for further processing. It’s not just for device support, it’s where your Windows point-of-sale systems or restaurant management tools store and manage data.
We tend to think of servers as where we run business applications or where we store and share files, accessing them from PCs and laptops. With Windows Server IoT 2022Microsoft says these functions aren’t just for humans, they’re also for machine-to-machine interactions.
How to take advantage of new features in Windows Server
Building a hub for IoT applications on Windows Server 2022 makes perfect sense. Microsoft has slowly added hybrid cloud functionality to Windows Server, and this latest version contains most of what you need to extend Azure into your own data center (and vice versa). This gives you access to features like compressing SMB files to speed up the movement of large amounts of data over a network. If you are using Windows Server IoT 2022 as a data aggregation hub, SMB compression will help reduce the bandwidth requirements between edge facilities and analytics and machine learning systems in your data center or s ‘running in the public cloud.
Security remains essential, and the secure core functionality of Windows Server 2022 is backed by hardened hardware and firmware to protect your code and data. This is the same model that was introduced with Windows 11, so you will need supported hardware to take advantage of this feature. Since Windows Server IoT 2022 is only available from OEMs, it will ship on or with modern hardware that has all the necessary features.
OEM-only licenses are a game-changer for accessing Windows Server LTSC functionality. You can’t just download it from the Volume Licensing Center like any other version of Windows under your existing license agreements with Microsoft. You can only buy it with OEM hardware and only for a specific feature set. This means that it is going to be sold to you as what is best considered a device … material that is not intended for general use. It’s not a Windows server that you can set up and keep running, it’s a server that must have a specific purpose.
So what is Windows Server IoT 2022 for?
When you buy Azure Stack Edge hardware from Microsoft, you don’t think about the operating system you’re running it on, you think about the containers in your code and the Azure IoT Hub instances it runs. You should approach working with Windows Server IoT 2022 the same way, thinking about the code and the services it will run over the next decade, and not as a general-purpose server part of your IT infrastructure.
There are five different versions of Windows Server IoT 2022: Standard, Datacenter, Storage Standard, Storage Workgroup, and Telecommunications. Standard and Datacenter are best viewed as the self-managed equivalents of Microsoft’s own Azure Stack appliances, where you run code and containers at the edge of a network and don’t expect that code to change. These are servers that can be part of your Active Directory, but they’re only there to do one thing and stay there and keep doing it.
The other versions are more focused on specific tasks. Both versions of storage replace the original Windows storage server, where a Windows Server controller came with multiple drives in a single rack unit. Storage Standard is used to manage network storage, acting as a dedicated gateway to your storage arrays, while Storage Workgroup is a storage system that can accommodate up to 50 users. Both are intended to provide a Windows-based storage controller that can take advantage of new security and storage technologies in Windows Server 2022, as well as rely on features like storage spaces and integration with Azure cloud storage.
The final release, Windows Server IoT 2022 Telecommunications, is another targeted release, intended to power PBXs and other telecommunications tools and services. Integrated into specialized equipment, it should allow you to connect a telecom server to your network and manage it and your users from Active Directory.
Windows Server maintains its own long-term service model with the release of Windows Server 2022, so you don’t need to consider Windows Server IoT 2022 as an alternative to the usual local server. Instead, it’s a way to support new and old use cases, where a dedicated Windows Server appliance can take advantage of both Active Directory in your datacenter and Azure in the cloud. Instead of buying software, you are buying hardware; what matters is the ease of integration with the rest of your on-premises and off-premises network, which is why Microsoft offers Windows Server rather than a dedicated IoT operating system.