Category: Windows Server 2019

Windows Server 2019

Windows Server 2019 – App Compatibility Feature-on-Demand

In Windows Server 2019 Microsoft is focusing on a couple of things. One of the things Microsoft wants to improve with Windows Server 2019, is the Windows Server Core experience. Bringing a great remote management experience with Windows Admin Center is one thing, the other feature which should improve the Server Core experience, is the Server Core App Compatibility feature-on-demand (FOD).

In the past you might have some problems running application that required a local GUI interaction on Server Core. Some of the applications you couldn’t install, failed after the installation or just didn’t work right. With the Server Core App Compatibility FOD, Microsoft improves this situation in Windows Server 2019 Core. FoD improves application compatibility of Windows Server Core by adding binaries and packages from Windows Server with Desktop Experience, without adding the Windows Server Desktop UI.

Here are some Operating system components that are available with in the FOD package.

  • Event Viewer (Eventvwr.msc)
  • Performance Monitor (PerfMon.exe)
  • Resource Monitor (Resmon.exe)
  • Device Manager (Devmgmt.msc)
  • Microsoft Management Console (mmc.exe)
  • File Explorer (Explorer.exe)
  • Internet Explorer
  • Windows PowerShell (Powershell_ISE.exe)
  • Failover Cluster Manager (CluAdmin.msc)

Like the new Windows Container Image, the Server Core App Compatibility FOD should make sure you can run more apps on Server Core.

How to install Windows Server 2019  App Compatibility Feature-on-Demand

Windows Server 2019 App Compatibility Feature-on-Demand

First you will need to download the Feature-on-Demand ISO and safe it on your server. Mount the ISO Image:

Install Server Core App Compatibility

After that you can use DISM to add the FOD package to your Windows Server 2019, installation. Just be sure, this only works on Windows Server Core, Desktop Experiences already has these binaries.

Windows Server 2019 Core App Compatibility FOD

You will need to restart your server. After the restart you can run tools like explorer.exe, Device Manager and many more on Windows Server Core.

When to use which Windows Server 2019 Installation Option

With WIndows Server 2019 you now get a couple of installation options, I tried to summrize this in this table:

Installation OptionScenario
Windows Server CoreServer Core is the best installation option for production use and with Windows Admin Center remote management is highly improved.
Windows Server Core with Server Core App Compatibility FODWorkloads, and some troubleshooting scenarios, if Server Core doesn’t meet all your compatibility requirements. You can add an optional package to get past these issues. Try the Server Core App Compatibility Feature on Demand (FOD).
Windows Server with Desktop ExperienceWindows Server with Desktop Experience is still an option and still meets like previous releases. However, it is significantly larger than Server Core. This includes larger disk usage, more time to copy and deploy and larger attack surface. However if Windows Server Core with App Compatibility does not support the App or Administrators still need the UI, this is the option to install.

Windows Server 2019 Insider Preview for Server Core App Compatibility FOD

As of today Windows Server 2019 is still only available as Windows Server Insider Preview. You can download the Windows Server 2019 Preview and the App Compatibility Feature-on-demand from the Windows Server Insider download page.

You can read more about the Server Core App Compatibility Feature-on-Demand on the Windows Server Blog.

 



Extended Security Updates for SQL Server and Windows Server 2008 and 2008 R2 on Azure Stack

Extended Security Updates for SQL Server and Windows Server 2008 and 2008 R2 on Azure Stack

SQL Server and Windows Server 2008 and 2008 R2 will both be out of extended support within the  next 12 months (detailed dates below). This means if you have these versions, you’ll need to migrate to newer versions of SQL Server or Windows Server or buy Extended Support soon to maintain support and receive security updates and fixes. Buying Extended Support is not cheap. Customers with active Software Assurance or subscription licenses can purchase Extended Security Updates annually for 75 percent of the full license cost of the latest version of SQL Server or Windows Server. A lot of customer should start migrating to newer versions of these products to avoid these extra costs.

Extended Support dates

  • Extended Support for SQL Server 2008 and 2008 R2 will end on July 9, 2019.
  • Extended Support for Windows Server 2008 and 2008 R2 will end on January 14, 2020.

However, in mid-2018 Microsoft announced a new option for SQL Server 2008 and Windows Server 2008 End of Support. Customers running 2008 or 2008 R2 versions of SQL Server and Windows Server in Azure virtual machines will get Extended Security Updates for free. This will give customers some extra time to migrate to newer versions of SQL Server and Windows Server. Or even better, to Azure PaaS and serverless computing like Azure Functions.

The great thing about this, is that you can also combine this with your Azure Hybrid benefits, to use your SQL Server and Windows Server on Azure with your on-premise licenses.

Extended Security Updates on Azure Stack

If you are thinking to migrate to the cloud, this new option will bring down costs for you. However, not everyone is fully ready to move all their servers to the public cloud. You might still need or want to run some servers on-premise in your datacenter. This will leave you with buying Extended Support or what a lot of people don’t know, you can also run your SQL Server and Windows Server 2008 and 2008 R2 on Azure Stack and get Extended Security Updates for free, since it is basically Azure!

This is great, especially since Azure Stack also comes with great IaaS capabilities. And if you are thinking about using Azure in the mid-term, Azure Stack provides you with Azure capabilities, but still allows you to stay in your own datacenter.



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.



System Center release cadence

System Center 2019 – What’s new

Microsoft just launched Windows Server 2019 and Windows Admin Center, which also raised the interest in System Center 2019. At Microsoft Ignite, Microsoft was talking about what is new in System Center 2019, the future of System Center, and how it fits in with Windows Admin Center and other management tools.

Microsoft Cloud and Datacenter Management Story

Microsoft Cloud and Datacenter Management Overview

With Microsoft now offering a range of products to manage your Cloud and Datacenter environments, the question comes up “which is the best solution?”. It is not only depending on the size of your company, it also depends on which services you are using and what your job role is. Coming from the Azure site, you have Azure Security and Management, which allows you not only to manage your Azure resources but also integrates and extends with your on-premises environment. System Center is aimed to manage fatacenter environments at scale, and Windows Admin Center helps you to dig deeper to manage individual servers or single cluster management. Both Windows Admin Center and System Center 2019, can be used side by side and both are integrated into Microsoft Azure.

System Center Windows Admin Center better together

System Center vs Windows Admin Center

I often get the question, does Windows Admin Center replace System Center? The answer to this is no, System Center is aimed to do management at a datacenter scale, while Windows Admin Center is giving you deep management access to a single server or clusters. In small environments you might end up using Windows Admin Center only, but in larger datacenter deployments, you are likely to use a combination of System Center and Windows Admin Center.

System Center 2019 Suite Improvements

System Center 2019 Focus

The System Center 2019 release focuses on three main areas. First of all, it adds more capabilities to the existing components and features which were requested by customers. Secondly, it brings integration for the next version of Windows Server, Windows Server 2019 and brings new Windows Server features to life in System Center. Last but not least, System Center 2019 adds more Hybrid Cloud integrations with Microsoft Azure.



Geeksprech Podcast Windows Server 2019 with Thomas Maurer

GeekSprech Podcast – Windows Server 2019 (German)

Microsoft just released Windows Server 2019 to the public and with that I was invited to be a guest in the GeekSprech Podcast from Microsoft MVPs Eric Berg and Alexander Benoit. We talked about the Windows Server 2019 release and what great new features in this release. We also got off topic and had some chats about security, Azure Stack and more.

If you want to listen to it (it is in German), you can do this on the GeekSprech website or here:

It was an honor and a lot of fun talking with Eric and Alexander!



Intel NUC Windows Server

Building a Windows Server Lab with an Intel NUC

With the release of Windows Server 2019, which includes a ton of Hybrid Cloud integration features, it was time to build a new lab environment. The plan is to create a lab and demo environment for my presentations and workshops. Until today, I was still using my hardware from 2011, which was built from Cisco C200 and HPE ProLiant servers. This was, more or less, datacenter grade hardware, it was using a lot of electricity and made a lot of noise. Not really the thing for a home lab on your desk. With some pretty good deals out there, I decided to buy a brand-new Intel NUC. NUC stands for Next Unit of Computing, which is a small, light, cheap and not very noisy computer, which gives you the latest Intel CPUs and ports. Mostly used as desktop or media computers. However, the price and the features, are also making it a great option for a lab running Hyper-V.

If I look at the hardware our customers are using today, there is not really a good way to build a cheap home lab based on datacenter hardware. And with my workloads mostly running in Azure anyway, the Intel NUC seems to be a great option. For most of my demos a single server running Hyper-V should be enough. For demos on Storage Spaces Direct or Clustering I can still use Azure with Nested Virtualization.

Intel NUC Windows Server LAB

I decided to get an Intel NUC NUC8i7BEH – Bean Canyon with the following specs:

  • Intel Core i7-8559U
  • 32GB DDR4 RAM
  • 1TB M.2 Samsung 970 EVO
  • Intel Wireless-AC 9560 + Bluetooth 5.0
  • Gigabit LAN
  • USB-A and USB-C ports
  • Thunderbolt 3 port

Unfortunately, the Intel NUC is limited to 32GB of RAM and this version does not have a TPM chip. The good thing, it runs Windows Server 2019 and Windows Admin Center just fine. So far I don’t have any issues, except that there are some missing drivers for Windows Server 2019. We will see how it works out in the next couple of months.

Let me know if you have any questions in the comments.



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 complete 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, it 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.