Microsoft Brings Local Predictive Analytics Capabilities to Windows Server

ApplicationFrameHost 2018 05 20 17 01 29

Microsoft is steaming ahead with development of Windows Server 2019, which should see release later this year. The latest Insider preview adds System Insights, which is a local analytics feature that doesn’t require any connectivity to the cloud. System Insights brings predictive capabilities to Windows Server to help system administrators keep servers running smoothly.

Each predictive capability is designed to warn administrators if there could be a potential problem. Using data collected from performance counters and the Windows Event Log, System Insights machine-learning models help reduce the cost of managing Windows Server.

It’s not the first time this kind of capability has been available for Windows Server. Azure Operational Insights goes beyond what System Insights offers, also using data collected from servers and machine learning to help reduce administrative costs. The key difference with System Insights is that all data is collected and stored locally, and the machine-learning models also run without needing to connect to Azure or the Internet. In the current release, System Insights focuses on capacity forecasting and predicting future usage for compute, networking, and storage.

Administrators can look through predictive capabilities and start them on-demand or on a schedule. It’s also possible to trigger a task to run when a capability generates a specific result. Windows Admin Center provides System Insights with an administrative GUI, plus PowerShell support allows administrators to access remote System Insights instances and collect prediction results.

Microsoft is planning to add new features to System Insights before Windows Server 2019 is released, most in likely Fall 2018. Plans include optional clustered storage predictions, recommended PowerShell scripts to remediate problems, and improvements to the admin experience in Windows Admin Center.

Most of the features that Microsoft now adds to Windows Server are for running a local or hybrid cloud. System Insights is no different and will be of most benefit to Azure Stack customers. Microsoft runs Azure on Windows Server and is heavily invested in providing hybrid cloud solutions that allow organizations to keep part of their data on-premises. Microsoft is in a unique position to do this because of its history with on-premises servers, like Exchange, SharePoint, Active Directory, and Windows Server.

I haven’t had a chance to look at Windows Server 2019 yet. But it will be interesting to see what kind of storage requirements System Insights has. One key benefit of Azure Operational Insights is that it can store large amounts of data in the cloud and use that to predict trends over a long period.

If you are interested in testing out System Insights, you can download a preview of Windows Server 2019 here. Otherwise, I’ll be looking at System Insights in more detail in a future article on the Petri IT Knowledgebase.

Follow Russell on Twitter @smithrussell.