Windows Server 2016 adoption will be a marathon, not a sprint

Most businesses plan to wait at least a year to adopt Microsoft's new server OS

Microsoft is launching the next version of Windows Server next year, and IT departments plan to take their time adopting it, according to a survey released Wednesday.

Spiceworks asked 300 IT professionals at small, medium and large businesses about their plans for the new software, and found the majority plan to wait at least a year to deploy it after its release — if they plan to deploy it at all. Forty percent of those surveyed said they plan to wait between one and three years to start using Windows Server 2016, and 23 percent don't plan to use it.

Still, if the survey data holds true, the software's adoption in its first year will actually be more aggressive than that of Windows Server 2012, which after a year was running in 12 percent of businesses. Seventeen percent of respondents said they plan to pick up Server 2016 in the first year it’s available.

Spiceworks analyst Peter Tsai said the adoption pattern is likely fueled by a variety of factors, including a desire to wait until Microsoft irons out the kinks in its new product.

“Sometimes, IT departments have applications that aren’t necessarily compatible with the latest and greatest operating system,” he said. "And sometimes IT departments want to sit on the sidelines for maybe six months to a year, or a couple of years, before adopting a new technology, until they know that all the initial bugs are worked out."

What’s more, businesses aren’t planning to make Windows Server 2016 adoption a fiscal priority. Just over two-thirds of those surveyed said they plan to spend less than $10,000 on hardware and software directed to adopting the new OS. That’s a drop in the bucket, budget-wise. According to Spiceworks’s State of IT 2016 report, organizations plan to spend an average of nearly $200,000 next year on hardware and software combined.

Another notable finding is that IT managers aren’t necessarily looking forward to Windows Server 2016’s much-touted support for containerization. While the server software will provide native tools for working with two different types of containers, IT professionals surveyed were much more interested in enhancements to Hyper-V and PowerShell. While container adoption is taking off, Tsai said that he thinks smaller companies are still waiting for it to be battle-tested.

"I think some of the newer technologies like containers might be really appealing to very large organizations, or people who might be running really large data centers, or some of these service providers that provide lots of different cloud-based [services] for smaller organizations to use,” Tsai said. "But if you’re just an IT department who's running a dozen servers or less, I’m not sure that containers are really appealing, because they want to wait on the sidelines and see if it’s going to be a reliable technology and that all the bugs are worked out before they start adopting it."

That’s not to say it’s all bad news for Windows Server 2016. IT departments need to keep moving away from Windows Server 2003, which Microsoft ended support for earlier this year. According to Spiceworks, 59 percent of businesses still have at least one instance of Windows Server 2003 running. Companies will need to get away from Microsoft’s old server software if they are going to keep receiving security updates, so they may end up turning to Windows Server 2016.

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