Category: Windows Server 2012

New Windows Server Performance Monitor

New Performance Monitor for Windows Server

In this blog post, I am going to show you the new Windows Performance Monitor feature in Windows Admin Center. This feature was announced publicly at Microsoft Ignite 2019. But before we are going to have a look at the new Windows Admin Center Performance Monitor extension, it is time for some history. If you have worked with Windows or Windows Server in the past, you almost certainly have used a tool called perfmon.exe, or Windows Performance Monitor.

You can use Windows Performance Monitor to examine how programs affect your computer’s performance, both in real-time and by collecting log data for later analysis. It uses performance counters, event trace data, and configuration information, which can be combined into Data Collector Sets. Perfmon exists already for a long time. It is super powerful for troubleshooting Windows. However, it is definitely if you look at the classic MMC user-interface and the user-experience in general, probably not your favorite tool to use. That is why we needed something better.

Perfmon

Perfmon.exe

Windows Reliability and Performance Monitor is a Microsoft Management Console (MMC) snap-in that provides tools for analyzing system performance. From a single console, you can monitor application and hardware performance in real time, customize what data you want to collect in logs, define thresholds for alerts and automatic actions, generate reports, and view past performance data in a variety of ways.

You can find more about the classic perfmon.exe here.

A couple of weeks ago, I was contacted by Windows Server Program Manager Cosmos Darwin, who works at great features in Windows Server like Storage Spaces Direct. He asked me if I remember my feedback item in user voice, which I created a couple of years ago.

Windows Server Windows Admin Center User Voice Feedback

Windows Server Windows Admin Center User Voice Feedback

Back then, I wasn’t working for Microsoft, but I was working in a couple of different projects where we were using Windows Server and needed to build a real-time performance monitoring system. Which allowed us to monitor remote servers and clusters.

And here it is, the shiny new Windows Admin Center Performance Monitor extension. This new UI is integrated into the web-based Windows Admin Center management tool.

Windows Admin Center Performance Monitor

Windows Admin Center Performance Monitor

Using the Performance Monitor extension in Windows Admin Center uses the same performance data as perfmon, like performance counters, which means that it will just work with your existing configuration. However, it adds a couple of benefits. No worries, the classic perfmon.exe is still there for you to use it.

  • Easy Remoting ✔ – You can easily use it on your remote machine. Windows Admin Center uses PowerShell remoting in the background to connect to the remote computer.
  • Share Workspaces ✔ – You can create workspaces that you can save and use for multiple systems within the same Windows Admin Center instance. But you can also export them and import them on other Windows Admin Center gateway installations.
    Upload and Download Workspaces

    Upload and Download Workspaces

  • Search and highlighting ✔ – You can easily search for objects and counters. Performance Monitor also highlights the useful objects for your system. So you don’t have to guess which counter to use.
    Performance Monitor Search Counter

    Performance Monitor Search Counter

  • Different Graph Types ✔ – You can use different types of graphs, which make it easier to find and compare the right information depending on your scenario.
    Min-Max View

    Min-Max View

    Windows Server Performance Monitor Heatmap

    Windows Server Performance Monitor Heatmap

     

I hope this gives you a quick overview of the new Performance Monitor extension in Windows Admin Center. You can get Windows Admin Center from here. If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment. There is also a short survey, about different tools like perfmon, this will directly influence the work on Windows Admin Center. You can check out the official announcement blog here.

By the way, Windows Admin Center also offers a great set of Azure Hybrid services integration. Check out my blog post and videos about the Azure Hybrid services in Windows Admin Center.



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.



Migrate Hyper-V VMs to Azure using Azure Migrate

Assess and Migrate Hyper-V VMs with Azure Migrate

Today, the Azure Migrate team launched an update to the Azure Migrate service, which can help you discover, assess, and migrate applications, infrastructure, and data from your on-prem environment to Microsoft Azure. This is excellent timing since we all know that Windows Server 2008 and Windows Server 2008 R2 are soon out of support and you get free extended security updates if you migrate your VMs to Azure. With Azure Migrate, you can now centrally track the progress of your migration journey across multiple thrid-party and Microsoft tools. In addition, Azure Migrate can now assess and migrate your Hyper-V virtual machines (VMs).

With the latest release of Azure Migrate you can now:

  • Extensible approach with choice across Microsoft and popular ISV assessment and migration tools
  • Integrated experience for discovery, assessment, and migration with end-to-end progress tracking for servers and databases
  • Server Assessment and Server Migration for large-scale VMware, Hyper-V, and physical server migrations
  • Database Assessment and Database Migration across various database targets including Azure SQL Database and Managed Instance

You can find more about the Azure Migrate capabilities on Microsoft Docs. For more information on Azure Migration, check out my blog post about Azure Migration on the Nigel Frank International blog. In this post, I am going to show you how you can step-by-step assess and migrate Hyper-V VMs to Azure using Azure Migrate.

Preparation

First, you need to prepare your Azure to set the right permissions and prepare the on-premises Hyper-V hosts and VMs for server assessment and migration. You can find more about the details for permissions and host preparations on Microsoft Docs.

Next, you will need to create a new Migration project for servers. Click on Asses and migrate servers.

Azure Portal Azure Migrate

Azure Portal Azure Migrate

Now you will need to add the tools you want to use for the assessment as well as for the migration, click on “add tools”.

Getting started

Getting started

You will need to create a new Azure Migrate project. Enter the details for your subscription, resource group, and a name for the project. You will also need to choose a region where your project is going to be deployed. No worries, this will only store the assessment data, you can still select another region for the migration.



Azure Bastion Windows VM

Azure Bastion – Private RDP and SSH access to Azure VMs

Azure Bastion is a new service which enables you to have private and fully managed RDP and SSH access to your Azure virtual machines. If you wanted to access your Azure virtual machines using RDP or SSH today, and you were not using a VPN connection, you had to assign a public IP address to the virtual machine. You were able to secure the connection using Azure Just in Time VM access in Azure Security Center. However, this had still some drawbacks. With Azure Bastion you get a private and fully managed service, which you deploy to your Virtual Network, which then allows you to access your VMs directly from the Azure portal using your browser over SSL.

Azure Bastion Architecture

Source: Microsoft Docs

Azure Bastion brings a couple of advantages

  • Removes requirement for a Remote Desktop (RDP) client on your local machine
  • Removes element for a local SSH client
  • No need for local RDP or SSH ports (handy when your company blocks it)
  • Uses secure SSL/TLS encryption
  • No need to assign public IP addresses to your Azure Virtual Machine
  • Works in basically any modern browser on any device (Windows, macOS, Linux, etc.)
  • Better hardening and more straightforward Network Security Group (NSG) management
  • Can remove the need for a Jumpbox

If you want to know more directly here is the link to the Azure Bastion announcement blog and the Microsoft Docs.

Public Preview

Azure Bastion is currently in public preview. The public preview is limited to the following Azure public regions:

  • West US
  • East US
  • West Europe
  • South Central US
  • Australia East
  • Japan East

To participate in this preview, you need to register. Use these steps to register for the preview:

Register-AzureRmProviderFeature -FeatureName AllowBastionHost -ProviderNamespace Microsoft.Network
 
Register-AzureRmResourceProvider -ProviderNamespace Microsoft.Network
 
Get-AzureRmProviderFeature -ProviderNamespace Microsoft.Network

To use the Azure Bastion service, you will also need to use the Azure Portal – Preview.

How to set up an Azure Bastion host for a private RDP and SSH access to Azure VMs

Create Azure Bastion Host

First, you will need to deploy Bastion Host in your virtual network (VNet). The Azure Bastion Host will need at least a /27 subnet.

AzureBastionSubnet

Access Azure virtual machines using Azure Bastion

Azure Bastion integrates natively in the Azure portal. The platform will automatically be detected if Bastion is deployed to the virtual network your virtual machine is in. To connect to a virtual machine, click on the connect button for the virtual machine. Now you can enter your username and password for the virtual machine.

Azure Portal connect to Linux VM SSH

This will now open up a web-based SSL RDP session in the Azure portal to the virtual machine. Again, there is no need to have a public IP address assigned to your virtual machine.

Private access to Azure Linux VM

 

Roadmap – more to come

As Yousef Khalidi (CVP Azure Networking) mentions in his preview announcement blog, the team will add more great capabilities, like Azure Active Directory and MFA support, as well as support for native RDP and SSH clients.

The Azure networking and compute team are doing more great work on creating a great Azure IaaS experience. I hope this gives you an overview of how you can get a private RDP or SSH access to your Azure VM. If you want to know more about the Azure Bastion service, check out the Microsoft Docs for more information. If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment.



Azure Stack VM Update Management

Using Azure Update Management on Azure Stack

At Microsoft Ignite 2018, Microsoft announced the integration of Azure Update and Configuration Management on Azure Stack. This is a perfect example how Azure services from the public cloud can be extended into your datacenter using Azure Stack. Azure Update and Configuration Management brings Azure Update Management, Change Tracking and Inventory to your Azure Stack VMs. In the case of Azure Stack, the backend services and orchestrator like Azure Automation and Log Analytics, will remain to run in Azure, but it lets you connect your VMs running on Azure Stack.

Azure Update and Configuration Managemen Schemat

Today, the Azure Update and Configuration Management extension, gives you the following features:

  • Update Management – With the Update Management solution, you can quickly assess the status of available updates on all agent computers and manage the process of installing required updates for these Windows VMs.
  • Change Tracking – Changes to installed software, Windows services, Windows registry, and files on the monitored servers are sent to the Log Analytics service in the cloud for processing. Logic is applied to the received data and the cloud service records the data. By using the information on the Change Tracking dashboard, you can easily see the changes that were made in your server infrastructure.
  • Inventory – The Inventory tracking for an Azure Stack Windows virtual machine provides a browser-based user interface for setting up and configuring inventory collection.

If you want to use Azure Update Management and more on VMs on-premise (without Azure Stack) or running at another Cloud Provider, you can do this as well. Have a look at Windows Admin Center, which allows you to directly integrate with Azure Update Management. However, there will be a difference in pricing.



Install SNMP Feature on Windows Server Core

Install SNMP on Windows Server Core

If you run Windows Server as Core Installation, like Windows Server 2016 Core or any Microsoft Hyper-V Server edition and you want to use SNMP (Simple Network Management Protocol) on that system, you first have to install the SNMP feature on that Core Server. After that you can use the MMC to remotely connect to the services list on the Core Server.

Install SNMP on Windows Server Core

First lets see if the SNMP feature is installed, using PowerShell:

 
Get-WindowsFeature *SNMP*

By default the SNMP feature is not installed. To install the SNMP feature on Windows Server Core, you can run the following command:

 
Install-WindowsFeature SNMP-Service -IncludeAllSubFeature -Verbose


Windows Server FTP

Install FTP Server on Windows Server

Windows Server has IIS build in, which also offers an FTP server option. The File Transfer Protocol (FTP) is still a very popular protocol that allows users to simply upload and download files. Of course today you have more modern options, however, it is still very often used and a lot of legacy applications still support it. In this blog post, I wanna quickly go rough how you can install the FTP Server on Windows Server. I do this on a brand new Windows Server 2019 operating system, however, it didn’t really change since early Windows Server versions.

Install FTP Server Feature on Windows Server

Install FTP on Windows Server using PowerShell

First, you will need to install the FTP feature. I usually simply do that using PowerShell to install the FTP Server feature in Windows Server. You can also do that using the Server Manager. However, if you want to use PowerShell, you can use the following command:

 
Install-WindowsFeature Web-Ftp-Server -IncludeAllSubFeature -IncludeManagementTools -Verbose