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Azure Cloud Shell in Windows Admin Center

Run Azure Cloud Shell in Windows Admin Center

As you know Windows Admin Center enables you to not just manage Windows Server machines with a web-based user interface, but also to easily connect Azure Hybrid services to your on-premises Windows Server environment. Windows Admin Center allows you to connect services like Azure File Sync, Azure Update Management, Azure Backup, Azure Site Recovery and many more to your Windows Server and Azure Stack HCI environment. With the latest release of Windows Admin Center (WAC) which was announced at Microsoft Ignite 2019, we get another hybrid cloud feature. We get a new Azure Cloud Shell extension in Windows Admin Center. Azure Cloud Shell is an interactive, authenticated, browser-accessible shell for managing Azure resources. It provides the flexibility of choosing the shell experience that best suits the way you work, either Bash or PowerShell. We are able to use Cloud Shell directly from the Azure portal, shell.azure.com, in Visual Studio Code, in the new Windows Terminal or even in the Azure mobile app. Now with the new solution/extension, administrators can also run Cloud Shell directly within WAC.

How to run Azure Cloud Shell in Windows Admin Center

First, you will need to enable and install the new Azure Cloud Shell solution. For that open Windows Admin Center, go to Settings and in the menu click on Extensions.

Extensions

Extensions

Under available extensions, you will find the new Azure Cloud Shell (Preview) extension. Click on Install, the WAC portal will refresh automatically.

After the page has refreshed, the Cloud Shell option will show up in the top menu.

Start Cloud Shell in Windows Admin Center

Start Cloud Shell in Windows Admin Center

If you start Azure Cloud Shell for the first time, you will need to login to Azure.

After that, you can run the PowerShell or Bash experience, depending on what you prefer. You also have access to the clouddrive which comes with Cloud Shell.

Azure Cloud Shell in Windows Admin Center

Azure Cloud Shell in Windows Admin Center

In that, you can run tools like the Azure CLI, Azure PowerShell and much more. If you want to learn more about Azure Cloud Shell, check out my blog post, Mastering Azure with Cloud Shell. Windows Admin Center is a free download to use with your Windows Servers, you can download Windows Admin Center here. If you want to know more about the Hybrid capabilities, check out my blog post on ITOpsTalk.com.

I hope this gives you an overview of how you can run Azure Cloud Shell in Windows Admin Center. Let me know if you have any questions in the comments.



Connect Azure VMs with Windows Admin Center

How to manage Azure VMs with Windows Admin Center

Windows Admin Center is a browser-based management tool to manage your servers, clusters, hyper-converged infrastructure, and Windows 10 PCs. You can deploy it anywhere you want. If you run on-prem, you can install it on a Windows Server running in your infrastructure, or you can also install Windows Admin Center on an Azure virtual machine (VM). In this post, we want to address scenarios where you have deployed Windows Admin Center on-premises, and you want to manage some Azure VMs. In this post, I am going to show you how you can manage Azure VMs with Windows Admin Center (WAC).

If you want to know more about Windows Admin Center in general, check out my blog post.

How to manage Azure IaaS VMs with your on-premises Windows Admin Center gateway

As mentioned before, you can also install a Windows Admin Center server running on Azure IaaS virtual machine, but more on that in another post. In this post, I will cover how you can connect to an Azure VM from your on-prem Windows Admin Center (WAC) installation. There are two ways you can connect from WAC to Azure VMs.

The first one would be using the public IP address of a virtual machine running in Azure. This would mean that you need to open the PowerShell remoting port in the network security group (NSG), to be able to connect. I wouldn’t recommend this scenario since this exposes your virtual machines to the public internet. However, if you want to know more about that solution, check out the Microsoft Docs.

What I wound recommend is that you use a VPN connection to connect to your Azure virtual network where your VM is running. However, I know that in a lot of cases, you might not have a Site-2-Site VPN connection to your Azure virtual network. To still be able to connect form Windows Admin Center to an Azure VM, you can use the Azure Network Adapter feature. The Azure Network Adapter will create a Point-2-Site VPN connection from your Windows Server to Azure. And we are going to use this feature on our WAC gateway, so the WAC gateway is able to reach the virtual machine in Azure.

Add Azure Network Adapter

Add Azure Network Adapter

First, you will need to add a new Azure Network Adapter. This can be done in the Network extension in Windows Admin Center. This will open up a wizard that will guide you through the setup and if needed also helps you to register WAC in Microsoft Azure.

Create Azure Network Adapter

Create Azure Network Adapter

The setup can take a while, depending on if you already have a VPN gateway in Azure or not. WAC will create all the necessary resources in Azure, and create the Point-to-Site VPN connection for you. Also, keep in mind that the VPN gateway is an additional resource and will have an additional cost.

Connect to an Azure Virtual network

Connect to an Azure Virtual network

Now you can add and connect to your virtual machine running in Azure, using the private IP address of the machine.

Connect Azure VMs with Windows Admin Center

Connect Azure VMs with Windows Admin Center

You add a server by directly entering the IP address or you can use the Add Azure Virtual Machine wizard, to discover the VM in your Azure subscription.

Add Azure VM in Windows Admin Center

Add Azure VM in Windows Admin Center

I hope this helps you to connect your Azure virtual machines security without exposing ports to the public internet. If you have a site-to-site VPN connection to your Azure virtual network, you can use this as well without the need of setting up Azure Network Adapter.

If you are interested in other Azure Hybrid services in Windows Admin Center, check out the following blog post including the video series: Configure Azure Hybrid Services in Windows Admin Center

Besides, you can also have a look at my other blog post about how to set up Azure hybrid cloud services.

If you want to download Windows Admin Center, check out the download page. If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment.



Deploy and Configure Windows Admin Center in Azure VM

Deploy and Install Windows Admin Center in an Azure VM

The great thing about Windows Admin Center (WAC) you manage every Windows Server doesn’t matter where it is running. You can manage Windows Servers on-prem, in Azure or running at other cloud providers. Now if you want to use Windows Admin Center to manage your virtual machines running in Azure, you can use either an on-prem WAC installation and connecting it using a public IP address or a VPN connection, or you can deploy and install Windows Admin Center in Azure. This blog post will show you how you can deploy and install Windows Admin Center in an Azure virtual machine (VM).

How to deploy and install Windows Admin Center in an Azure virtual machine (VM)

With this guide, you can directly deploy and install a new Windows Admin Center gateway in an Azure VM. If you have already a VM deployed, you can also follow this guide to install Windows Admin Center manually. For the installation, we will use Azure Cloud Shell do run a PowerShell installation script.

Preparation

As mentioned we will run the installation script from Azure Cloud Shell. Optionally you can also install Azure PowerShell on your location machine and run the same steps for the installation on your local machine.

  1. Set up Azure Cloud Shell if you haven’t done it yet.
  2. Start the PowerShell experience in Cloud Shell.
  3. Optional: If you want to use your own existing certificate, upload the certificate to Azure Key Vault.

Installation

Now you can start with the installation process. First, you will need to download the installation script from the following URL. Navigate to your home directory and download the file using PowerShell.

Download Windows Admin Center with PowerShell in Cloud Shell

Download Windows Admin Center with PowerShell in Cloud Shell

# Navigate to your home directory
cd ~
 
# Download file
Invoke-WebRequest -Uri https://aka.ms/deploy-wacazvm -OutFile Deploy-WACAzVM.zip
 
# Expand Zip file
Expand-Archive ./Deploy-WACAzVM.zip
 
# Change Directory
cd Deploy-WACAzVM

After successfully downloading and unpacking the Windows Admin Center deployment script, you will need to modify a couple of parameters. I will use the default parameters to deploy a new Windows Server 2019 and generate a self-signed certificate. However, if you want to use other options, check out the script parameter list.

Configure Parameter

Configure Parameter

$ResourceGroupName = "demo-wac-rg"
$VirtualNetworkName = "wac-vnet"
$SecurityGroupName = "wac-nsg"
$SubnetName = "wac-subnet"
$VaultName = "wac-key-vault"
$CertName = "wac-cert"
$Location = "westeurope"
$PublicIpAddressName = "wac-public-ip"
$Size = "Standard_D4s_v3"
$Image = "Win2019Datacenter"
$Credential = Get-Credential
 
$scriptParams = @{
ResourceGroupName = $ResourceGroupName
Name = "wac-vm1"
Credential = $Credential
VirtualNetworkName = $VirtualNetworkName
SubnetName = $SubnetName
Location = $Location
Size = $Size
Image = $Image
GenerateSslCert = $true
}
./Deploy-WACAzVM.ps1 @scriptParams

This will deploy a new Azure virtual machine with Windows Admin Center installed and open the specific port 443 on the public IP address. You can find more install options and parameters to install WAC on an existing virtual machine or with an existing certificate on Microsoft Docs.

Deploy and Configure Windows Admin Center in Azure VM

Deploy and Configure Windows Admin Center in Azure VM

After the deployment has finished, simply click on the URL or IP address and it will open the Windows Admin Center portal.

Windows Admin Center Running in Microsoft Azure

Windows Admin Center Running in Microsoft Azure

I hope this gives you an overview about how you can deploy Windows Admin Center in an Azure VM. If you have any questions, please let me know in the comments.



Run Windows Admin Center on Windows Server Core

Run Windows Admin Center on Windows Server Core

Windows Admin Center is a locally deployed, browser-based app for managing servers, clusters, hyper-converged infrastructure, and Windows 10 PCs. If you ever asked yourself if Windows Admin Center (WAC) runs on Windows Server Core, the answer is yes. Run and install Windows Admin Center on Windows Server Core, simply copy the MSI installer to the Windows Server, or download it directly. If you are running Windows Server in a Hyper-V virtual machine, PowerShell Direct and be very handy to copy files using the VMBus from the Hyper-V host to the virtual machine.

Copy Windows Admin Center MSI to Windows Server Core VM PowerShell Direct

Copy Windows Admin Center MSI to Windows Server Core VM PowerShell Direct

Download Windows Admin Center (WAC) from here. You can simply use the following commands on your Hyper-V host to copy a file using PowerShell Direct.

$cred = Get-Credential
$s = New-PSSession -VMName WindowsServerInsider -Credential $cred
Copy-Item -Path .\WindowsAdminCenterPreview1908.msi -ToSession $s -Destination "C:\Users\Administrator"

Now you can run the MSI installer for Windows Admin Center. There is also an unattended option for WAC on Windows Server Core. You can find more about installing WAC here.

Install Windows Admin Center on Windows Server Core

Install Windows Admin Center on Windows Server Core

After the installation has finished you can now remotely access the Windows Admin Center web portal form your workstation. However, if you install the new Microsoft Edge Insider Preview, which runs on Windows Server Core as well. You can access the console form your local machine. Don’t do that in production, but it is great if you are running demos or you need to troubleshoot the installation.

Install Microsoft Edge on Windows Server Core

Install Microsoft Edge on Windows Server Core

You can download the Microsoft Edge Insider from here. Thanks to Jeff Woolsey for the tip.

If you want to know more about Windows Admin Center check out my blog post and the Microsoft Docs. If you have any questions, please let me know in the comments. By the way, also make sure that you check out the Windows Admin Center Hybrid features, which allows you to easily connect Azure services.



Azure File Sync Windows Admin Center

Sync File Servers with Azure File Sync in Windows Admin Center

One of the biggest challenges a lot of customers are facing is the capability to provide access to files everywhere and have DR plans in place. This becomes especially true when you are dealing with classic file server infrastructures. Where it is difficult to manage capacity, availability, replication and much more. The Azure Storage team is addressing that need with Azure File Sync. Azure File Sync allows you to sync your file servers with an Azure Files. Azure File is a simple, secure, and fully managed cloud file share solution, using SMB 3.0 and HTTPS.

Azure File Sync

In addition, the service allows the customer to use functionality like:

  • Cloud Tiering
  • Cloud Access
  • Multi-site Sync
  • Cloud Backup
  • Rapid File Server DR

In this post I will cover how, Windows Admin Center will help you to deploy Azure File Sync, if you want to know more, check out the Azure File Sync documentation page.



Setup VM Protection in Windows Admin Center_LI

Configure Azure Site Recovery from Windows Admin Center

With the Hybrid Cloud effort, Microsoft invested heavy to make Windows Server and Hyper-V better connect to Microsoft Azure. One way of doing that is with Windows Admin Center and Azure Site Recovery. The Azure Site Recovery integration in Windows Admin Center, allows you to easily replicate Hyper-V virtual machines to Microsoft Azure. The technology is not new, ASR does exist for a long time and allows you to not only replicate Hyper-V VMs, but also VMware VMs and physical servers. However, with the integration in Windows Admin Center, setting up Azure Site Recovery became super easy.

Set up Azure Site Recovery from Windows Admin Center

Setup VM Protection in Windows Admin Center_LI

In the Virtual Machines extension, you can already see a recommendation to setup ASR: “Help protect your VMs from disasters by using Azure Site Recovery.” Which will guide you through the onboarding steps. If you don’t see that banner, just click on the VM you want to protect and replicate to Azure. Click on More and select “Set up VM Protection“, this will guide you through the same wizard.

If you haven’t connected your Windows Admin Center to Microsoft Azure yet, the wizard will help you to go through and set up this connection.

Setup up Hyper-V ASR Host with Windows Admin Cenetr

After your WAC is connected to Azure, you will now setup Azure Site Recovery for the Hyper-V host in Azure. This can directly be done from Windows Admin Center. For example, this will let you select the Azure Subscription you want ASR to connect to. It will let you create a new Resource Group and Recovery Services Vault or use an existing one. After you have done the configuration part, WAC will create the specific Azure resources and configure the Hyper-V host for Azure Site Recovery. This can take up to 10 minutes depending if you are using existing resources or creating new once.

If you have a look at the Hyper-V Replica settings in Hyper-V Manager, you will see that ASR is completely setup and configured.



Azure Update Management Resource Group

Azure Update Management using Windows Admin Center

I already posted a couple of blogs about the Windows Admin Center. For example how you can use and configure Azure Backup or how you can configure the Azure Network Adapter directly from Windows Admin Center. Windows Admin Center does also allow you to manage Windows Updates on your Windows Server. However, if you want to have some more control over your updates and have a centralized orchestration for updates, Azure Update Management can help you. You can use the Update Management solution in Azure Automation to manage operating system updates for your Windows and Linux computers that are deployed in Azure, in on-premises environments, or in other cloud providers. With Windows Admin Center you will get a direct integration with Azure Update Management.

Setup Azure Update Management in Windows Admin Center

Windows Admin Center Windows Update Management

Setting up Azure Update management in Windows Admin Center is very simple. First, you will need to register your WAC installation with Azure, if you haven’t done this already. After that, you go to the Update extension and you will find a button to Set up now.

Windows Admin Center Setup Azure Update Management

Now you can configure Azure Update Management from Windows Admin Center. You can select your Azure Subscription where you want to deploy the solution. You can select an existing Resource Group and Log Analytics Workspace, or you can create a completely new setup.

Windows Admin Center Configured Azure Update Management

This will install the Microsoft Monitoring Agent on your Windows Server, which is used for the Azure Update Management.

Azure Update Management Resource Group

If you create a new setup, this will also create all the resources in Azure, like the Resource Group, Log Analytics Workspace, Azure Automation Account and adding the Update Solution.

Azure Update Management

Now you can start managing the Windows Updates centralized from Azure Update Management.

Azure Update Management supports not only Windows Server 2019 and Windows Server 2016, but it also supports Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1 and later.

This again shows Microsoft efforts to build Hybrid Cloud functionality directly into Windows Server and Windows Admin Center. This should help especially administrators, which are mostly managing on-premises environments, to extend and benefit from Microsoft Azure.

Configure Azure Hybrid Services in Windows Admin Center Video Series

I have created a short video series which shows how to set up the Azure Hybrid services directly from Windows Admin Center. You can start with the intro here and then follow the different videos, and check out our overview blog about Configure Azure Hybrid Services in Windows Admin Center.

Besides, you can also have a look at my other blog post about how to set up Azure hybrid cloud services.

You can download Windows Admin Center here. If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment.

How to buy Azure Stack HCI Solutions

WAC is also part of the Azure Stack HCI solutions, check out my blog about it.