Server 2016 TP3, Containers and Azure – All Together

Sometimes I think I’ll never get caught up. Every day, there are new, interesting announcements from the technology companies we use every day, plus we have to juggle the tasks, fires and projects we have at work.  It’s really hard to keep up.  I’ll bet you are feeling that way right now.
This week, it’s possible for you to check a few new things off your list – ALL AT ONCE!  (And it’s already Friday!)
  1. Try out Azure
  2. Check out Server 2016
  3. Learn about Containers

 Ready?

First make sure you have an Azure subscription or trial.  If your company has an enterprise agreement with Microsoft, you might have credits to use in Azure and not even know it.  So check there first.  If not – go to http://aka.ms/NewAzureTrial to sign up for $200 you can use for the next 30 days.
Once you’ve got access to Azure, you’ll find we have two web portals for accessing it.  The “classic” or current portal at http://manage.windowsazure.com and the preview portal at http://portal.azure.com. Depending on what you need to do, the feature set varies between portals.  But for this, it doesn’t matter.
Whichever portal you pick, you’ve opened the door to the easiest way to test out new versions of Windows Server.  No hunting around for free hardware, no downloading ISO images and practically no wait. Just take advantage of your own personal datacenter in the “cloud”. 
  
Next, look for the Server 2016 versions – there are two of them. One is the Full GUI version, listed as Windows Server 2016 Technical Preview 3.  (In the new portal, the Full GUI version can be found in the Marketplace.)  The other one is listed as “Windows Server Container Preview”.
If poking around with the new full version is your goal, spin that up and get started.  RDP to it and you are good to go.  If you need a walk-thru on how to set up a VM on either portal, you can find it here : https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/documentation/articles/virtual-machines-windows-tutorial/
If your company develops software and is thinking about micro-services and “containers” are new buzzword in the office, you’ll want to spin up the Container Preview.  And even if your company doesn’t fit that description and you just want to see what this container/Docker thing is all about, spin up the Container Preview too.
Once that machine is up and running, you’ll log into to find yourself at a command prompt window and nothing else.  Containers are supported only on the Windows Core (and eventually Nano) versions. To get you started, take some time to review this documentation (http://aka.ms/windowscontainers) and dust of your command line skills.
Viola!  Now go check off that list. 🙂
Note: With the preview, there is A LOT of work to be done still, so don’t be surprised when things aren’t super polished and feature-rich yet.  And seriously, don’t try to use any of this for production.  This is just the tip of the iceberg to come.
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