Tag: Management

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Windows Admin Center

Windows Admin Center – The Next Generation Windows Server Management Experience

Back in September Microsoft released Project Honolulu, which is the codename for a new Windows Server management experience. Today Microsoft announced the Windows Admin Center. Windows Admin Center is a flexible, locally-deployed, browser-based management platform and tools to manage Windows Server locally and remote. Windows Admin Center (WAC) gives IT Admins full control over all aspects of their Server infrastructure, and is particularly useful for management on private networks that are not connected to the Internet.

I had the chance to test and work with Windows Admin Center for a while in a private preview program. This give me the chance to test and work with WAC for quiet some time.

Windows Admin Center is the modern evolution of the “in-box” management tools of Windows Server, like Server Manager, MMC, and many others. It is complementary to other Microsoft Management solutions such as System Center and Operations Management Suite. And as Microsoft clearly states, WAC is not designed to replace these products and services. WAC is a replacement for the local only tools and is especially handy if you run Windows Server Core.

Windows Admin Center Deployment Overview

(Picture for Microsoft)

You might remember the Azure Server Management Tools (SMT). SMT were management tools hosted in Azure and allowed you to manage your servers in the cloud and on-primes. Basically a hosted services of Windows Admin Center. The feedback however was, that a lot of customer preferred a on-premise solution for their management experience. Microsoft took that feedback and created Windows Admin Center formally known as Project Honolulu.

Windows Admin Center Functionality

Windows Admin Center PowerShell

  • Simplified server management – WAC consolidates many distinct tools into one clean and simple web interface. Rather switching between different tools, you can final everything in one place.
  • Illuminate your datacenter infrastructure – With WAC you can manage Windows Server 2016, 2012/2012 R2, Hyper-V Server 2012 and higher. WAC not only allows you to manage standalone servers, but also complete solutions such a failover clusters, hyper-converged clusters based on Storage Spaces Direct and much more. And I am sure you can bet it will also support Windows Server 2019 when it arrives.
  • The tools you know, reimagined – Windows Admin Center provides the core familiar tools you have used in the past.
  • Manage Hyper-Converged Infrastructure –  WAC brings solutions to manage your Hyper-Converged systems. You get a single pane of glass to manage and operate your Storage Spaces Direct Clusters. You can easily get an overview about resources, performance, health and alerts.

Windows Admin Center Management Experience

Windows Admin Center Solutions

WAC has different solutions which give you different functionality. In the technical preview there are three solutions available, Server Manager, Failover Cluster Manager and Hyper-Converged Cluster Manager.

Server Manager

The server manager lets you is kind of like the Server Manager you know from Windows Server, but it also replaces some local only tools like Network Management, Process, Device Manger, Certificate and User Management, Windows Update and so on. The Server Manager Solution also adds management of Virtual Machines, Virtual Switches and Storage Replica.

Failover Cluster Manager

As you might think, this allows you to manage Failover Clusters.

Hyper-Converged Cluster Manager

The Hyper-Converged Cluster Manager is very interesting if you are running Storage Spaces Direct clusters in a Hyper-Converged design, where Hyper-V Virtual Machines run on the same hosts. This allows you to do management of the S2D cluster as well as some performance metrics.

WAC Deployment Options

Windows Admin Center Deployment

(Picture from Microsoft)

WAC can be deployed in several different ways, depending on your needs.

WAC Topology

Windows Admin Center On-Premise Architecture

Windows Admin Center leverages a three-tier architecture, a web server displaying web UI using HTML, a gateway service and the managed nodes. The web interface talks to the gateway service using REST APIs and the gateway connected to the managed nodes using WinRM and PowerShell remoting (Similar like the Azure Management Tools).

Windows Admin Center On-Premise and Public Cloud Architecture

You can basically access the Web UI from every machine running modern browsers like Microsoft Edge or Google Chrome. If you publish the webserver to the internet, you can also manage it remotely from everywhere. The installation and configuration of Windows Admin Center is straight forward and very simple.

The WAC Gateway Service can be installed on:

  • Windows Server 2016 (LTSC)
  • Windows Server, version 1709 (SAC)
  • and higher

You can manage the following operating systems

  • Windows Server 2012
  • Windows Server 2012 R2
  • Windows Server 2016 and higher

Identity Provider and RBAC

Windows Admin Center Azure Active Directroy

In Project Honolulu during the preview time, one of the missing pieces was the missing RBAC (Role-Based Access Control). Windows Admin Center now comes with RBAC so you can configure it for your needs. Also new is the possibility to use Azure Active Directory as a Identity Provider. In this case you can use your Azure AD users and groups to access the Windows Admin Center.

Conclusion

In my opinion Windows Admin Center provides us with the Windows Server management tools we were looking for. It helps us to manage our systems form a centralized, modern HTML5 web application and makes managing GUI-less servers easy.

I still think the Server Management Tools hosted in Azure were a better overall solution. Since we only needed to deploy a gateway in our datacenter and we could access and manage our systems from the Azure portal. However a lot of customers didn’t like the dependency on the cloud, so the Windows Admin Center makes perfect sense as a on-premise solutions. Of course WAC brings right now much more functionality then SMT. And the possibility to extend it with solutions and extensions form third parties makes it even better.

You can download Windows Admin Center here: http://aka.ms/WindowsAdminCenter 



Project Honolulu Server Overview

Microsoft Project Honolulu – The new Windows Server Management Experience

Last week Microsoft introduced the world to Project Honolulu, which is the codename for a new Windows Server management experience. Project “Honolulu” is a flexible, locally-deployed, browser-based management platform and tools to manage Windows Server locally and remote.

Microsoft today launched the Hololulu Technical Preview for the world, I had the chance to already work with Microsoft during the last couple of months in a private preview. Project Honolulu helps you to managed your servers remotely as a new kind of Server Manager. This is especially handy if you run Windows Server Core, which I think is the new black, after Microsoft announced that Nano Server is only gonna live as a Container Image with the next version of Windows Server.

Project Honolulu took many features for the Azure Server Management Tools which were hosted in Azure, and allowed you to manage your servers in the cloud and on-premise. But the Feedback was simple, People wanted to install the Management expierence on-prem, without the dependency to Microsoft Azure. Microsoft listened to the feedback and delivered the with Project Honolulu a web-based management solution, which you can install on your own servers.

Honolulu Management Experience

Project Honolulu Server Overview

Project Honolulu has different solutions which give you different functionality. In the technical preview there are three solutions available, Server Manager, Failover Cluster Manager and Hyper-Converged Cluster Manager.

Server Manager

The server manager lets you is kind of like the Server Manager you know from Windows Server, but it also replaces some local only tools like Network Management, Process, Device Manger, Certificate and User Management, Windows Update and so on. The Server Manager Solution also adds management of Virtual Machines, Virtual Switches and Storage Replica.

Failover Cluster Manager

As you might think, this allows you to manage Failover Clusters.

Hyper-Converged Cluster Manager

The Hyper-Converged Cluster Manager is very interesting if you are running Storage Spaces Direct clusters in a Hyper-Converged design, where Hyper-V Virtual Machines run on the same hosts. This allows you to do management of the S2D cluster as well as some performance metrics.

Honolulu Topology

Project Honolulu On-Premise Architecture

Project Honolulu leverages a three-tier architecture, a web server displaying web UI using HTML, a gateway service and the managed nodes. The web interface talks to the gateway service using REST APIs and the gateway connected to the managed nodes using WinRM and PowerShell remoting (Similar like the Azure Management Tools).

Project Honolulu On-Premise and Public Cloud Architecture

You can basically access the Web UI from every machine running modern browsers like Microsoft Edge or Google Chrome. If you publish the webserver to the internet, you can also manage it remotely from everywhere. The installation and configuration of Project Honolulu is straight forward, but If you want to know more about the installation check out, my friend and Microsoft MVP colleague, Charbel Nemnom’s blog post about Project Honolulu.

Project Honolulu Gateways Service can be installed on:

  • Windows Server 2012 R2
  • Windows Server 2016

You can manage:

  • Windows Server 2012
  • Windows Server 2012 R2
  • Windows Server 2016 and higher

Conclusion

In my opinion Microsoft Project Honolulu provides us with the Windows Server Management Tool we need so much. It helps us to manage our servers from a centralized HTML5 web application, and really makes management of GUI less servers easy. Deployment and configuration is very easy and simple and doesn’t take a lot of effort, while drastically removing the need to locally logon to a server for management reasons. I hope with that we will see a higher deployment of Windows Server Core installations, since we don’t need the GUI on every single server anymore.

You can download the Project Honolulu Technical Preview here: Project Honolulu Technical Preview

You can give feedback to Project Honolulu here: User Voice Project Honolulu

 



Microsoft MVP 2017-2018

Microsoft MVP 2017-2018 Cloud and Datacenter Management

I am proud to announce that I got the Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP) award in the category Cloud and Datacenter Management for another year

This is the 6th year in a row since 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016 since my first Microsoft MVP Award. The Microsoft MVP Award is not only a huge honor for the community work I did in the past year, with it’s great opportunities, it also adds a lot of benefits to my work. Especially being able to join the Microsoft MVP Summit in Redmond, where we have the chance to meet the Microsoft Product Groups and talk about products and solutions. It also gives me the chance to travel, speak at different conferences and visit different places and meet people all over the world.

Of course there are a lot of people I have to thank, but I want to keep the list as short as possible. I would like to thank my employer itnetX which is supporting me in the best possible way year over year, my current and former colleagues, the Microsoft MVP community and of course Microsoft employees in Redmond and all over the world. I also have to thank my understandable girlfriend for her help, because it sometimes it needs a lot of time and energy.

Get more information about the Microsoft MVP award: Microsoft MVP Award Website



AzureStack Admin Portal

Microsoft Azure Stack – Azure Extension in your Datacenter

A couple of weeks ago, I had the chance to attend the Microsoft Azure Certified for Hybrid Cloud Airlift in Bellevue WA, which is close to the Microsoft campus in Redmond. I had the chance to spend the week there and talk with the Microsoft PG about different Azure Stack scenarios. Most of the discussions and presentations are under NDA, but there are a few things I can share, since they are publicly announced. I prepared this blog post already a couple of months ago, when I was talking to a lot of different customers about Azure Stack, and since then Microsoft also shared some new information about the release of Azure Stack Technical Preview 3.

The Azure Stack Announcement

Azure vs Azure Stack

Microsoft announced Azure Stack at Microsoft Ignite in May 2015. Back at this time Microsoft did only mention about the vision of Azure Stack and that it will bring cloud consistency between the Microsoft Azure Public Cloud and your Private Cloud. But Microsoft did not really announce exactly what Azure Stack will be and how it will be implemented in your Datacenter.

During the Microsoft World Wide Partner Conference (WPC 2016), Microsoft announced more information about the availability of Azure Stack. For more information, you can read the Microsoft blog posts, but I tried to summarize the most important parts.

Building a true Hybrid Cloud and Consistency with Microsoft Azure

Azure Stack

This is probably the most important part about Azure Stack today. Microsoft Azure Stack will bring Azure consistency between the Microsoft Azure Public Cloud and your Private Cloud or your Hosters Service Provider Cloud using the Azure Resource Manager. So you will be able to not only operate an Azure-like environment, like you could with Windows Azure Pack and System Center, you now get real consistency between Azure and Azure Stack. You not only get the exact look and feel from the Microsoft Azure Public Cloud, you also can use the same Azure Resource Templates and deployment methods as you can in the Public Cloud. This allows customers to really operate in a Hybrid Cloud environment, between the Microsoft Public Cloud, their own Private Cloud and also local Service Provider Clouds.

Bring the agility and fast-paced innovation of cloud computing to your on-premises environment with Azure Stack. This extension of Azure allows you to modernize your applications across hybrid cloud environments, balancing flexibility and control. Plus, developers can build applications using a consistent set of Azure services and DevOps processes and tools, then collaborate with operations to deploy to the location that best meets your business, technical, and regulatory requirements. Pre-built solutions from the Azure Marketplace, including open source tools and technologies, allow developers to speed up new cloud application development.

The Integrated System Approach

Azure Stack Integrated System

(picture by Microsoft)

Microsoft announced that Azure Stack will be available as an appliance from different hardware vendors in Mid 2017. The confirmed hardware providers delivering Azure Stack Appliance at this point in time will be: Dell EMC, HPE and Lenovo and later in 2017 we will also see an appliance from Cisco, Huawei and Avanade.

The big difference here is that Microsoft delivers the Azure Stack platform first in an appliance way, which is really different from the way they delivered Windows Azure Pack. Windows Azure Pack was based on System Center and Windows Server and every customer could design his own environment based on their needs.

This was great, but also had some huge challenges for customers. Clouds needed different designs, this ended up in very complex design workshops where we basically discussed the customer solutions. The installation and configuration of a Windows Azure Pack platform was also very complex and a lot of work which needed a lot of resources, knowledge and of course a lot of project costs. Before customers could start saving money, they had to invest money to get things up and running. Of course, system integrators like itnetX and others, built automation to spin up clouds based on Windows Azure Pack, but still the investment needed to be done.

The use of an appliance approach not only helps to spin up clouds faster, but also build environments on tested hardware, firmware and drivers. Another point here which makes a great case for an appliance solution, are management and operations. Management and operation of a cloud-like environment is not easy, doesn’t matter what software you are using. Keeping the platform stable, maintained and operational will end up in a lot of work, especially if every cloud looks different. The last thing I want to mention here is upgrading, if you want real Azure consistency, you need to keep up with the ultra-fast pace of the Azure Public Cloud, which is basically impossible or extremely expensive. An integrated system scenario can really help you keep things up-to-date, since updates and upgrades can be pre-tested before they are released for you to deploy. This will help you save a huge amount of testing since every environment looks the same.

Operating Azure Stack

Azure Stack Administration and Operation

As already mentioned, Azure Stack will be delivered as an integrated system. OEMs, will help you to setup and install your Azure Stack appliance in your datacenter, but they will not fully manage the Azure Stack environment. You will need to have some Cloud Operator managing and operating your Azure Stack. With this all the host will be sealed and administrators do not have access to the hosts or Hyper-V Manager or Failover Cluster Manager to mange the systems. Instead, Administrators or Cloud Operators will manage the system for a management portal.

Azure Stack Platform

Since this is an integrated system, you don’t even need to care what it is running in the background. But still for a lot of us it is still very interesting to see how Azure Stack is built. In the back Azure Stack runs on “common” rack mount servers from HPE, Dell, Lenovo and Cisco, for HPE this is the DL380 Gen9. From the software stack it is running Windows Server 2016, and the Software Define Datacenter features such as Storage Spaces Direct, the new Windows Server 2016 Software-Defined Networking Stack an Hyper-V. In the release version of Azure Stack we will see a Hyper-Converged Storage Spaces Direct architecture starting from 4 nodes. On top of this Microsoft used code from Azure to bring the Azure Resource Manager, Azure Resource Providers and the Azure Portal to the Azure Stack.

Azure Stack POC – Microsoft Azure Stack Development Kit

Azure Stack Development Kit

Very early in the development process of Azure Stack, Microsoft releases Technical Previews to customers, so they could test Azure Stack on one node deployments. This is called the Azure Stack POC and you can download it today on a single physical server, and it was only designed for non-productive, non-HA environments. Microsoft officially announced that they will rename the Azure Stack POC to Azure Stack Development Kit after the General Availability of Azure Stack Mid 2017. This is really a great solution to quickly spin up a test environment of Azure Stack without having to invest in hardware.

Azure Marketplace Syndication

Azure Stack Marketplace Syndication

You will be able to create your own Marketplace items in Azure Stack, building your own templates and images and offer them to your customers. One of the greatest editions Microsoft made in the Azure Stack Technical Preview 3 is the Azure Marketplace Syndication. This allows you to get Marketplace items from Azure and offer them in your Azure Stack offering to your customers. With that you don’t need to build all Marketplace items by yourself.

Azure Stack Identity Management

Azure Stack has to be integrated into your datacenter. In terms of Identity, Microsoft allows you to use two ways to integrate. First, and from my site the preferred option, is Azure AD (AAD) which allows you to integrate with an existing Azure Active Directory. Azure AD can be synced and connected with your on-premise Active Directory and this will allow you to login to Azure as well as Azure Stack. The other option Microsoft is offering is using ADFS to bring identities to your Azure Stack.

The Azure Stack Business Cases

Since Azure Stack is consistent with Microsoft Azure, the question comes up, why are we not just using Azure. There are many good reasons to use Azure, but there are also some challenges with that. Azure Stack can make sense in a couple of scenarios.

  • Data Sovereignty – In some cases data cannot be stored outside of a specific country. With Azure Stack, customers have the option to deploy in even their own datacenter or on a service provider within the same country.
  • Latency – Even Microsoft offers a solution to reduce network latency to Azure, with using Azure Express Route, in some scenarios latency is still a big issue. With Azure Stack can customers place Azure very close to the location where resources are accessed from.
  • Disconnected Scenarios – In some scenarios you really want to benefit form the consistent deployment model, and for example use Azure Resource Manager (ARM), but not everywhere on earth do you have access to Azure or sometimes you have a very bad connection. Think about cruise ships or other scenarios where you need to run IT infrastructure but you are not able to connect to Azure.
  • Private Instance of Azure – For some companies shared infrastructures can be challenging, even security standards in Azure are extremely high, it is not always an option. With Azure Stack, companies can basically spin up their completely own instance of Azure.
  • Differentiation – Service Providers or even Enterprise companies cannot only use the Azure Marketplace, but they can also build their own solutions for the Azure Stack and make them available to their customers.

Pricing and Licensing

As mentioned Microsoft will offer Azure Stack from 5 different OEMs. HPE, Dell and Lenovo will deliver a solution at GA in mid-CY17, Cisco and Huawei will be available later. The hardware needs to be bought directly from the OEM or Partner. Some of the also offer a flexible investment model like the HPE Flexible Capacity. For the pricing model of Azure Stack software, Microsoft decided to deliver the licensing of Azure Stack on a pay-per-use base. This meets of course the cloud economics and there will be no upfront licensing costs for customers. Services will be typically metered on the same units as Azure, but prices will be lower, since customers operate their own hardware and facilities. For scenarios where customers are unable to have their metering information sent to Azure, Microsoft will also offer a fixed-price “capacity model” based on the number of cores in the system.

Azure Stack will be offered in two different models, Pay-as-you-use model and Capacity model. The pay-as-you-use model is licensed by Microsoft via the Enterprise Agreement (EA) or Cloud Service Provider (CSP) programs. The capacity model is available via EA only. It is purchased as an Azure Plan SKU via normal volume licensing channels. For typical use cases, Microsoft expects the pay-as-you-use model to be the “most economical” option.

The Azure Stack pricing models

Azure Stack will be offered in two different models, Pay-as-you-use model and Capacity model. The pay-as-you-use model is licensed by Microsoft via the Enterprise Agreement (EA) or Cloud Service Provider (CSP) programs. The capacity model is available via EA only. It is purchased as an Azure Plan SKU via normal volume licensing channels. For typical use cases, Microsoft expects the pay-as-you-use model to be the “most economical” option.

Azure Stack Pay-as-you-use model

For the pay-as-you-use model you will you can take advantage of the cloud economics and only pay for resources which are actually consumed, plus additional costs for the Azure Stack hardware and the operations.

Service prices:

  • Base virtual machine $0.008/vCPU/hour ($6/vCPU/month)
  • Windows Server virtual machine $0.046/vCPU/hour ($34/vCPU/month)
  • Azure Blob Storage $0.006/GB/month (no transaction fee)
  • Azure Table and Queue Storage $0.018/GB/month (no transaction fee)
  • Azure App Service (Web Apps, Mobile Apps, API Apps, Functions) $0.056/vCPU/hour ($42/vCPU/month)

Azure Stack Capacity model

For the capacity model, two packages are available which makes you license the physical cores of your Azure Stack system via an annual subscription. The packages are only available via Enterprise Agreement (EA).

  • App Service package ($400/core/year)
    Includes App Service, base virtual machines and Azure Storage
  • IaaS package ($144/core/year)
    Includes base virtual machines and Azure Storage

You will also need additional licenses if you deploy Windows Server and SQL Server virtual machines, like you would do if you are using your traditional Hyper-V servers.

What else will you need

  • Integrated System (hardware) – you will need to purchase the Azure Stack hardware from one of the OEM vendors
  • Support – you will need to purchase support from Microsoft for software support and a support package for the hardware from the hardware provider. If you already have Premier, Azure, or Partner support with Microsoft, your Azure Stack software support is included.
  • Service Providers – Service Provider can also license Azure Stack to others using the CSP (Cloud Solution Provider) channel.

Azure Stack Roadmap

At the Azure Stack GA release this summer, Microsoft will deliver hardware with provides from HPE, Dell and Lenovo. Later in 2017 Microsoft will also deliver Azure Stack with Cisco, Huawei and Avanade hardware. Azure Stack at GA will support 4-12 nodes, 1 single scale-unit and a single region.

Microsoft will also deliver some of the services at General Availability on Azure Stack, and will add more and more services over time. At GA we will see:

  • Virtual Machines
  • Storage (Blob, Table and Queue)
  • Networking (Virtual Networks, S2S VPN, …)
  • App Service (in Preview)
  • SQL (in Preview)
  • MySQL (in Preview)

After GA, Microsoft  will continuously deliver additional capabilities through frequent updates. The first round of updates after GA are focused on two areas: 1) enhanced application modernization scenarios and 2) enhanced system management and scale. These updates will continue to expand customer choice of IaaS and PaaS technologies when developing applications, as well as improve manageability and grow the footprint of Azure Stack to accommodate growing portfolios of applications. Please be reminded that this will not just be a product you purchase, think about it as a service which will add features and functionality over time.

The choice for your datacenter

Windows Azure Pack

Obviously, Microsoft is pushing Azure Stack since it will bring consistency to the Azure public cloud, which means your companies and people need to understand the advantages of using methods like DevOps and Infrastructure in code. This will help you to make the most out of Azure Stack and the Azure Resource Manager. If you already have Microsoft Azure know-how, this is great, because it will also apply to Azure Stack.

No worries, if you are not there yet, or for some reason this doesn’t make sense to you, Microsoft still has a great solution to build traditional Virtualization platforms together with automation using System Center, Windows Server and if needed Windows Azure Pack. Both solutions, System Center and Windows Azure Pack, will be supported in the future and will get updates.



VCNRW Nano Server and Container

Nano Server – The future of Windows Server – Just enough OS

Finally, Microsoft released Windows Server 2016 and with Windows Server 2016 we also get the first version of Nano Server. I had the opportunity to speak on several different events and conferences about Nano Server, so I tried to create a quick summary of my presentation in this blog post.

Nano Server installation option Just enough OS

Nano Server - Just enough OS

Nano Server is a redesign version of Windows Server which is very lightweight, very small footprint and fully remote managed and it is designed to solve some of the datacenter challenges we have today. Nano Server is a headless, 64-bit only deployment option of Windows Server. Microsoft basically removed all components from the base image. Roles and feature are not directly included in the base image and they have to be added while creating a new Nano Server Image or online using PowerShell Package Management. Not even the drivers are included in the base image, since you don’t want the physical drivers in a virtual machines, and you don’t want the virtual drivers on a physical machine This is also the reason why Nano Server does not show up during the installation dialog when you boot the Windows Server 2016 ISO file.

Nano Server Key Scenarios

The first version of Nano Server is designed for the following key scenarios:

  1. Born-in-the-cloud applications – support for multiple programming languages and runtimes. (e.g. ASP.NET Core, C#, Java, Node.js, Python, etc.) running in containers, virtual machines, or on physical servers.
  2. Microsoft Cloud Platform infrastructure – support for compute clusters running Hyper-V and storage clusters running Scale-out File Server and Storage Spaces Direct.
  3. But Microsoft also added some other roles like DNS and IIS to the Nano Server and we can expect more roles and features in the future.

In this version Nano Server will of course not replace Windows Server Core and Windows Server (Full or Server with Desktop Experience), but it will be definitely be they way going forward.

Nano Server Footprint

Nano Server has a very small foot print, The default WIM file has a size around 170 MB and if you create a Nano Server VHD or VHDX file it can be only around 400 MB in size. If you add more roles, features and drivers the size of the image gets bigger, but even if you add more stuff the size will be around 800 MB for an Hyper-V server including the Hyper-V role, Failover Clustering Feature, DCB feature, Physical OEM drivers and additional network adapter and storage controller drivers. If you compare Nano Server to Windows Server you can see some of the following changes:

  • 93 percent lower VHD size
  • 92 percent fewer critical bulletins
  • 80 percent fewer reboots

Nano Server Servicing Improvements

Nano Server Servicing Improvments

Nano Server Deployment Improvements

Nano Server Deployment Improvments

This not only reduced deployment time and gives you some operational improvements, it also reduces the attack surface by a lot and this is a huge security improvement.

To achieve these results, Microsoft removed some parts of Windows Server such as:

  • GUI stack
  • 32 bit support (WOW64)
  • MSI support
  • RDP
  • Some default Server Core components
  • Basic OEM Drivers
  • and more

Nano Server Management

By removing the User Interface stack, Microsoft made this server to a true headless server, without any login screen or RDP support. By removing the Graphic User Interface, Windows Administrator have to learn new ways how they manage servers, or better use existing ways to manage a Nano Server environment. The answer is simple and is the best practice for managing servers for a long time called Remote Management. Nano Server will offer some advanced remote Management features such as:

  • WMI
  • PowerShell Remoting
  • PowerShell Direct
  • PowerShell Desired State Configuration
  • RSAT Tools (Server Manager, Hyper-V Manager, Failover Cluster Manager, …)
  • System Center and other Management tools
  • Server Management Tools (Azure Web-based management tools to replace local inbox management tools)

With that, existing Remote Management Tools, such as Server Manager and other RSAT tools, will continue to work. But Microsoft also improved PowerShell Remoting and introduces the Azure Serivce for Server Management Tools.

Server Management Tools

Microsoft Azure Server Management Tools Topology

This service allows you to manage your servers directly from Azure using a web-based HTML5 portal. I personally think that this could also replace Server Manager and allows you to easily manage non-GUI servers such as Windows Server Core and Nano Server.

Azure Remote Server Management Nano Server

If you want to know more about the Sever Management Tools, check out my blog post: Manage Nano Server and Windows Server from Azure using Remote Server Management Tools

The Server Management Tools do not only support Nano Server, they also support Windows Server 2016, Windows Server 2012 R2 and Windows Server 2012 with WMF 5.0 and higher.

Remote Manage Nano Server with PowerShell

Nano Server PowerShell Remoting

The simplest way to manage Nano Server is by using PowerShell Remoting using for exmaple the following command.

If you are directly on a Hyper-V Server you can also use PowerShell Direct which allows you to directly connect to a Virtual Machine using the Hyper-V VMBus.

If you want to know more about Managing Nano Server check out the following blog posts How to Remote Manage your Nano Server using PowerShell or Hyper-V PowerShell Direct.

Manage Nano Server using System Center

Nano Server can also be managed using System Center Virtual Machine Manager and System Center Operations Manager. With SCVMM you can deploy new Hyper-V and Storage Spaces Direct hosts as well as Virtual Machines.

Deploy Nano Server

To deploy Nano Server as a virtual machine or as a physical host you have to create a new Nano Server Image. For this you have basically have two option. The first one is using the built in Nano Server Image Generator PowerShell module and the second option is the Nano Server Image Builder UI wizard.

Nano Server Image Generator PowerShell module

New-NanoServerImage

The Nano Server Image Generator PowerShell module allows you to create new Nano Server Images. You can find this on the Windows Server 2016 media in the Nano Server folder. Here is a quick example how to create a new VHDX using the PowerShell module.

Nano Server Image Builder

Nano Server Image Builder

The Nano Server Image Builder is a UI based wizard to create Nano Server Images in VHDX, VHD, WIM or ISO to install Nano Server on all possible systems.

The Nano Server Image Builder can help you with the following tasks:

  • Graphical UI to create Nano Server Images
  • Adding drivers
  • Choose Windows Server Edition
  • Adding roles and features
  • Adding drivers
  • Adding updates
  • Configuration of Network Settings
  • Configuration of Domain settings
  • Set Remoting Options
  • Create an ISO file to boot from DVD or BMC (remote connection like HP ILO)

First download and install the Windows Assessment and Deployment Kit (ADK) and the Nano Server Image Builder.

If you need more information about deploying Nano Server check my blog post about Create a Nano Server using the Nano Server Image Builder and How to create a Nano Server Image using PowerShell.

Nano Server Packages

Nano Server Packages

Roles, Features and Drivers live outside of the basic Nano Server Image have to be added while creating the Nano Server Image or after that using PowerShell Package Management.

You can find and install Windows Packages from the online package repository by using the NanoServerPackage provider of PackageManagement (OneGet) PowerShell module.

Troubleshooting Nano Server

Nano Server Recovery Console

Hyper-V Nano Server Console

When you boot Nano Server you can not really login to Nano Server and browse the file system. What you can do is login to the Nano Server Recovery Console which allows you to do some basic tasks:

  • Shows computer info like Name, IP Configuration, OS Version and more
  • Reset Networking to DHCP
  • Reset basic Windows Firewall rules
  • If the Server is a Hyper-V Server you can see the VM running on the system and remove the Virtual Switch

Sysinternals for Nano Server

Sysinternals for Nano Server

There is also a Sysinternals version for Nano Server.

Nano Server over a serial port with Emergency Management Services

Emergency Management Services (EMS) lets you perform basic troubleshooting, get network status, and open console sessions (including CMD/PowerShell) by using a terminal emulator over a serial port. This replaces the need for a keyboard and monitor to troubleshoot a server.

You can include this using the following cmdlets

Nano Server Servicing

Nano Server Servicing

Windows Server are usually from the Long Term Servicing Branch and have 5 + 5 years of servicing and only get security and quality fixes, no new features. In Windows Server 2016 Server Core and Server with Desktop Experience follow this traditional servicing model. Nano Server on the other hand will be in a new servicing branch called Current Branch for Business (CBB).

  • Nano Server will not have an LTSB with Windows Server 2016 and therefore not have 5+5 years of servicing
  • Nano Server installations will have to move forward to future CBB releases of Nano Server to continue to be serviced
  • Licensing Nano Server will require Software Assurance (SA)
  • Installation of new CBBs are always controlled by administrators, no forced upgrades

Nano Server Key Wins

  • Easy and fast to deploy
  • Lightweight
  • Easily integrates with our automated approach
  • Reduces attack surface
  • Works with existing deployment tools (WDS, SCVMM, SCCM and boot from VHDX)
  • Reduces operational overhead
  • Highly stable
  • Delivers on scale and performance

Conclusion

In my opinion the effort Microsoft does with Nano Server really makes sense and will help Service Providers as well as Enterprise companies to deploy clouds even faster, more secure, more efficient and with less management overhead. Of course it is still early and Nano Server may not fit every case and scenario today, but definitely in the future.

 

 

 



VMM 2012 R2 Update Rollup 6 Azure IaaS Management

Generation 2 Virtual Machine in Service Templates and Managing Azure IaaS VMs in VMM with UR6

Microsoft just announced System Center 2012 R2 Virtual Machine Manager Update Rollup 6 with some highly requested features. Two of them are support for VMM Service Templates with Generation 2 Virtual Machines and managing Microsoft Azure IaaS Virtual Machines directly from the Virtual Machine Manager Console.

If you want to know more checkout that video:



System Center Universe Europe 2013

System Center Universe Europe – The Microsoft CloudOS Event you shouldn’t miss

In about 6 weeks System Center Universe 2014 opens it doors and if you want to learn and network about Microsoft CloudOS or Microsoft Datacenter solutions, you should definitely book this event.

System Center Universe Europe 2014

Register now for System Center Universe 2014 in Basel Switzerland. Date: September 17-19, 2014 Location: Basel-Switzerland Venue: Congress Center Basel Conference Language: English

SCU Europe 2014 is the successor of System Center Universe DACH 2013 in Bern, Switzerland. SCU DACH 2013 was a very successful community event, and got a lot of great feedback.

Never seen such a great event before. Thanks again for the great work and organization!

SCU DACH Is a potential succesor of MMS for people in Europe

Lineup was great.

Incredible high skilled speakers there. Loved it!Thanks to the organizators to bring up so many good speakers.Nice location, good beer and food and awesome people.

Absolut excellent! The entire team did a great job! Thank you for that.

Great job organizing this event. I would love to come back next year.

Extreme good organized, highly skilled speakers, very cool people and the content was amazing. Loved it and will be back next year for sure.

The Content

System Center Universe

This time System Center Universe Europe 2014 will be even bigger, with more speakers, more sessions and more experts. This time in for tracks there are around 60 breakout sessions around topics for the Microsoft Datacenter, Private Cloud, Public Cloud and Hybrid Cloud, focusing on technologies like:

  • Microsoft Hyper-V
  • System Center 2012 R2
  • Windows Server 2012 R2
  • Configurations Manager
  • Windows 8.1
  • BYOD
  • Software Defined Storage
  • Software Defined Networking
  • Microsoft Azure
  • Windows Intune
  • PowerShell
  • Windows Azure Pack
  • and a lot more…

For event attendees, only the best is good enough! SCU Europe will host the crème-de-la-crème of the Windows Server and System Center Community from all over the world, including a variety of Microsoft Most Valuable Professionals (MVPs) and Microsoft employees. Take the opportunity to learn from the best and most experienced experts and community leaders in the Microsoft System Center Cloud and Datacenter Management area. In addition to classic breakout sessions, attendees also have the opportunity to discuss specific topics with several experts in small groups. So make sure you bring your questions and problems with you to discuss them with the experts. A real added value!

More Value

SCU Experts

So you will have a lot of great content and real word examples in the breakout sessions. But this is not the only benefit. In this three days you will have a lot of opportunities to talk to experts and other attendees to share some real world experience.

As in SCU DACH 2013, SCU Europe 2014 will included lunch and some networking parties so there is enough time to share experiences and knowledge.

The Location

Messe Basel

The location is different this time. Last time SCU DACH 2013 was hosted in Bern Switzerland. This time, since the location had to grow, the event will be held in Congress Center in Basel Switzerland. Basel is a great city with a lot of things to see around the event it self. With it’s two train stations and it’s airport, Basel is a perfect location for an international conference like this. You can reach the event location from anywhere in about 15 minutes.

SCU Location Map Basel

Conclusion

Well if I would have the summarize all this, I would find the following reasons to go to the SCU Europe 2014:

  • A huge number of Microsoft Cloud and Datacenter Management Experts from all over the world.
  • Around 60 breakout sessions
  • Great networking opportunity, meet the who is who in the Microsoft Cloud and Datacenter Management stack.
  • 26 Microsoft MVPs
  • Speakers from Microsoft
  • Great organization
  • First Class catering
  • Perfect location
  • Networking Party
  • Perfect for a city trip in the heart of Europe
  • Cheap price CHF729 (599.88 Euro) for a three day pass including lunch and Networking party
  • exhibition & networking area with a lot of different vendors showing there products
  • Easy to reach (Airport, Train or Car)

So make sure you reserve the date and register for System Center Universe Europe 2014:

System Center Universe Europe 2014

Register now for System Center Universe 2014 in Basel Switzerland. Date: September 17-19, 2014 Location: Basel-Switzerland Venue: Congress Center Basel Conference Language: English