Windows Server 2019 is an operating system created by Microsoft and created to run on servers. Servers are specialized computers that usually operate within the client-server network; servers handle requests from the clients on the network. The use of a server operating system can allow other applications to run on the server’s hardware, and this can help fill different server job functions, such as a mail server or print server.
Microsoft Windows Server 2019 is based on the popular Windows Server 2016, and aims to reduce business risk and enhance security through the multiple layers of security and protection embedded in the operating system. One of the difference from the previous versions is the addition of hyper-converged infrastructure (HCI) and Hybrid capabilities with Azure (which provides a number of cloud services like virtual computing, analytics, storage and networking).
Microsoft Windows Server 2019 is available in 2 editions, standard and datacenter. Choosing the right edition is extremely important so you don’t end up buying something which is either incapable of fulfilling your wants, or has unnecessary features which will add to your costs.
Every business has different needs and budget. Read on to know the major differences between the Windows Server 2019 Standard and Datacenter editions.
Windows Server 2019 Standard
Windows Server Standard 2019 is suitable for small and medium businesses, that does not have high virtualisation needs. This edition allows you to use up to 2 Virtual Machines with 1 Hyper-V host for each license. If you want to add 2 more virtual machines, you have to license all the cores in the server again.
Windows Server 2019 Standard enables you to modernize apps quickly, and download them faster, while enhancing the support system. However, this edition allows you to use only Windows containers, but you can use an unlimited number of such containers.
The Standard edition also lacks Host Guardian Hyper-V Support and thus does not ensure that the hoster knows about the Hyper-V hosts. Also, it does not allow you to manage the keys required to start shielded virtual machines.
This Windows Server 2019 Standard edition is also equipped with a Storage Replication; limited to 1 partnership and 1 resource group. It allows the customers to replicate a single volume of data up to 2 TB.
You can activate this edition as a guest only if you are hosted on the Datacenter edition. Also, the Standard edition lacks features like Software-defined Networking (which is responsible for enabling you to manage your network efficiently and monitor and improve its performance) and Storage Spaces Direct (responsible for creating a highly-available software-defined storage at a lower cost through the use of industry-standard servers along with local-attached drives).
Windows Server 2019 Datacenter
The Windows Server Datacenter edition offers the widest range of capabilities and features without a large number of licensing limitations. It allows you to use an unlimited number of virtual machines, with 1 Hyper-V host for each license.
This edition is suitable for businesses demanding advances storage and virtualization, and who have more demanding Information technology needs. It allows you to use all types of containers and does not set any limit to the number of containers that you can use.
The Datacenter edition is equipped with unique product features. One of them is the Host Guardian Hyper-V Support. This enables you to run a trusted software and manage the keys required to start up shielded virtual machines. This also ensures that the enterprise or hosting company is aware of the Hyper-V hosts.
The Windows Server 2019 Datacenter edition also has Storage Replica with no limits on the amount of data or number of volumes. This allows you to replicate or back up all your data for disaster recovery, and ensure smooth functioning of your website.
You can activate this edition either as a guest or as a host. This edition also has the feature of Software-defined networking, which allows you to program the network in a centrally-controlled manner. It also enables you to monitor and improve the network holistically, notwithstanding the network technology.
Another feature is Storage Spaces Direct, which gives incomparable performance and efficiency when it comes to storage of data. It uses industry-standard, highly-available servers to store your data in local-attached drives. All this comes at a price cheaper than the traditional NAS or SAN arrays.
Another advantage of the Datacenter edition is that you can virtualize an unlimited number of Windows Server instances within the physical Windows Server machine.
Comparison of Standard and Datacenter editions of Windows Server 2019**
Locks and Limits
|Maximum number of users||Based on CALs||Based on CALs|
|Maximum SMB connections||16,777,216||16,777,216|
|Maximum RRAS connections||unlimited||unlimited|
|Maximum IAS connections||2,147,483,647||2,147,483,647|
|Maximum RDS connections||65,535||65,535|
|Maximum number of 64-bit sockets||64||64|
|Maximum number of cores||unlimited||unlimited|
|Maximum RAM||24 TB||24 TB|
|Can be used as virtualization guest||Yes; 2 virtual machines, plus one Hyper-V host per license||Yes; unlimited virtual machines, plus one Hyper-V host per license|
|Server can join a domain||yes||yes|
|Edge network protection/firewall||no||no|
|DLNA codecs and web media streaming||Yes, if installed as Server with Desktop Experience||Yes, if installed as Server with Desktop Experience|
|Windows Server roles available||Role services||Windows Server 2019 Standard||Windows Server 2019 Datacenter|
|Active Directory Certificate Services||Yes||Yes|
|Active Directory Domain Services||Yes||Yes|
|Active Directory Federation Services||Yes||Yes|
|AD Lightweight Directory Services||Yes||Yes|
|AD Rights Management Services||Yes||Yes|
|Device Health Attestation||Yes||Yes|
|File and Storage Services||File Server||Yes||Yes|
|File and Storage Services||BranchCache for Network Files||Yes||Yes|
|File and Storage Services||Data Deduplication||Yes||Yes|
|File and Storage Services||DFS Namespaces||Yes||Yes|
|File and Storage Services||DFS Replication||Yes||Yes|
|File and Storage Services||File Server Resource Manager||Yes||Yes|
|File and Storage Services||File Server VSS Agent Service||Yes||Yes|
|File and Storage Services||iSCSI Target Server||Yes||Yes|
|File and Storage Services||iSCSI Target Storage Provider||Yes||Yes|
|File and Storage Services||Server for NFS||Yes||Yes|
|File and Storage Services||Work Folders||Yes||Yes|
|File and Storage Services||Storage Services||Yes||Yes|
|Host Guardian Service||Yes||Yes|
|Hyper-V||Yes||Yes; including Shielded Virtual Machines|
|Network Policy and Access Services||Yes, when installed as Server with Desktop Experience||Yes, when installed as Server with Desktop Experience|
|Print and Document Services||Yes||Yes|
|Remote Desktop Services||Yes||Yes|
|Volume Activation Services||Yes||Yes|
|Web Services (IIS)||Yes||Yes|
|Windows Deployment Services||Yes*||Yes*|
|Windows Server Essentials Experience||No||No|
|Windows Server Update Services||Yes||Yes|
*WDS Transport Server is new to Server Core installations in Windows Server 2019 (also in the semi-annual channel starting with Windows Server, version 1803)
|Windows Server Features installable with Server Manager (or PowerShell)||Windows Server 2019 Standard||Windows Server 2019 Datacenter|
|.NET Framework 3.5||Yes||Yes|
|.NET Framework 4.7||Yes||Yes|
|Background Intelligent Transfer Service (BITS)||Yes||Yes|
|BitLocker Drive Encryption||Yes||Yes|
|BitLocker Network Unlock||Yes, when installed as Server with Desktop Experience||Yes, when installed as Server with Desktop Experience|
|Client for NFS||Yes||Yes|
|Containers||Yes (unlimited Windows containers; up to two Hyper-V containers)||Yes (unlimited Windows and Hyper-V containers)|
|Data Center Bridging||Yes||Yes|
|Direct Play||Yes, when installed as Server with Desktop Experience||Yes, when installed as Server with Desktop Experience|
|Group Policy Management||Yes||Yes|
|Host Guardian Hyper-V Support||No||Yes|
|I/O Quality of Service||Yes||Yes|
|IIS Hostable Web Core||Yes||Yes|
|Internet Printing Client||Yes, when installed as Server with Desktop Experience||Yes, when installed as Server with Desktop Experience|
|iSNS Server service||Yes||Yes|
|LPR Port Monitor||Yes, when installed as Server with Desktop Experience||Yes, when installed as Server with Desktop Experience|
|Management OData IIS Extension||Yes||Yes|
|Network Load Balancing||Yes||Yes|
|Peer Name Resolution Protocol||Yes||Yes|
|Quality Windows Audio Video Experience||Yes||Yes|
|RAS Connection Manager Administration Kit||Yes, when installed as Server with Desktop Experience||Yes, when installed as Server with Desktop Experience|
|Remote Assistance||Yes, when installed as Server with Desktop Experience||Yes, when installed as Server with Desktop Experience|
|Remote Differential Compression||Yes||Yes|
|RPC over HTTP Proxy||Yes||Yes|
|Setup and Boot Event Collection||Yes||Yes|
|Simple TCP/IP Services||Yes, when installed as Server with Desktop Experience||Yes, when installed as Server with Desktop Experience|
|SMB 1.0/CIFS File Sharing Support||Installed||Installed|
|SMB Bandwidth Limit||Yes||Yes|
|Software Load Balancer||Yes||Yes|
|TFTP Client||Yes, when installed as Server with Desktop Experience||Yes, when installed as Server with Desktop Experience|
|VM Shielding Tools for Fabric Management||Yes||Yes|
|Windows Biometric Framework||Yes, when installed as Server with Desktop Experience||Yes, when installed as Server with Desktop Experience|
|Windows Defender features||Installed||Installed|
|Windows Identity Foundation 3.5||Yes, when installed as Server with Desktop Experience||Yes, when installed as Server with Desktop Experience|
|Windows Internal Database||Yes||Yes|
|Windows Process Activation Service||Yes||Yes|
|Windows Search Service||Yes, when installed as Server with Desktop Experience||Yes, when installed as Server with Desktop Experience|
|Windows Server Backup||Yes||Yes|
|Windows Server Migration Tools||Yes||Yes|
|Windows Standards-Based Storage Management||Yes||Yes|
|Windows TIFF IFilter||Yes, when installed as Server with Desktop Experience||Yes, when installed as Server with Desktop Experience|
|WinRM IIS Extension||Yes||Yes|
|Wireless LAN Service||Yes||Yes|
|XPS Viewer||Yes, when installed as Server with Desktop Experience||Yes, when installed as Server with Desktop Experience|
|Features available generally||Windows Server 2019 Standard||Windows Server 2019 Datacenter|
|Best Practices Analyzer||Yes||Yes|
|Dynamic Memory (in virtualization)||Yes||Yes|
|Hot Add/Replace RAM||Yes||Yes|
|Microsoft Management Console||Yes||Yes|
|Minimal Server Interface||Yes||Yes|
|Network Load Balancing||Yes||Yes|
|Server Core installation option||Yes||Yes|
|SMB Direct and SMB over RDMA||Yes||Yes|
|Storage Migration Service||Yes||Yes|
|Storage Replica||Yes, (1 partnership and 1 resource group with a single 2TB volume)||Yes, unlimited|
|Storage Spaces Direct||No||Yes|
|Volume Activation Services||Yes||Yes|
|VSS (Volume Shadow Copy Service) integration||Yes||Yes|
|Windows Server Update Services||Yes||Yes|
|Windows System Resource Manager||Yes||Yes|
|Server license logging||Yes||Yes|
|Inherited activation||As guest if hosted on Datacenter||Can be a host or a guest|
** Details from Microsoft website at https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/windows-server/get-started-19/editions-comparison-19
The Windows Server 2019 editions are quite similar in features. The only difference lies in the limits and a few unique product features. While the Standard Edition is suitable for small virtualized environments, the Datacenter edition is perfect for highly virtualized and cloud-based environments.
Standard Windows edition is ideal for small and medium businesses. Thoses that have to deal with their growing Information Technology needs and better web hosting techniques. However, if you want an highly-functional and efficient system to work on, use it on at a large scale, and need a higher degree of virtualization, then the Datacenter edition should be considered. It is the most comprehensive server system launched by Microsoft.
Both Windows edition can be installed as Server Core or with Desktop Experience. The Desktop Experience contains Graphical User Interface (GUI) and is compatible with a variety of applications. Server Core does not have GUI. It needs less RAM, use less disk space and CPU resources, and has a smaller attack surface which offers better resistance to cyber attacks. You should choose the right core, in order to use any edition to its fullest extent.