Tag: Windows Admin Center

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Windows Server 2019 Azure Network Adapter

Windows Server Azure Network Adapter

In my series about Windows Server 2019, I have a new feature I want to introduce you to. Windows Server 2019 Azure Network Adapter is one of the Hybrid Cloud efforts Microsoft is making in Windows Server 2019. A lot of workloads are running cross cloud and require connections to virtual machines running in Azure. To achieve this there are several options like Site-to-Site VPN, Azure Express Route or Point-to-Site VPN. With Windows Admin Center and Windows Server 2019 Azure Network Adapter, you get a one-click experience to connect your Windows Server with your Azure Virtual Network using a Point-to-Site VPN connection.

Even this is might not for every enterprise scenario, there are a lot of scenarios where you might quickly want to connect a server to Azure. The Azure Network Adapter functionality gives you that feature with a one click button. And by the way it also works on Windows Server 2012 R2 and higher.



PowerShell Windows Server System Insights

Windows Server 2019 System Insights

Currently Microsoft is releasing preview versions of Windows Server 2019 to the public. In one of the latest Windows Server Insider Preview builds, Microsoft released a new feature called Windows Server System Insights. The Windows Sevrer 2019 System Insights capability is a machine learning or statistics model that analyzes system data to give insight into the functioning of your Windows Server deployment. These predictive capabilities locally analyze Windows Server system data, such as performance counters or ETW events. This is helping IT administrators proactively detect and address problematic behavior in their Windows Server environment.

Windows Admin Center System Insights CPU Capacity forecasting

System Insights runs completely locally on Windows Server. All of your data is collected, persisted, and analyzed directly on your local machine, allowing you to realize predictive analytics capabilities without any cloud-connectivity. However, if you are using for example Azure Log Analytics (OMS), you forward the events created by System Insights to Azure Log Analytics, which than can give you a unified view about your environment.



Windows Server 2019

Windows Server 2019 – What is coming Next

A while ago Microsoft announced the next key versions Windows Server 2019 and System Center 2019. And a couple of weeks ago, at the Windows Server Summit, Microsoft was taking more about what is new in Windows Server 2019. Microsoft also talked a lot about the positioning of Windows Server and what we can expect in the future. With the news finally released to the public, I can start talking and blogging about the new features and investments. I decided to create a series of blogs, to show the world the great new features. This blog post here, should give you a high level overview about how Microsoft is investing in Windows Server 2019.

Windows Server – The Power behind the Intelligent Cloud and the Intelligent Edge

Intelligent Cloud and Intelligent Edge

Windows Server is not only powering the Intelligent Edge where you have a great Software-Defined Datacenter plaform running Hyper-V or Stroage Spaces Direct, or as application platform. It is also powering the Microsoft Azure Intelligent Cloud. Windows Server is running the foundation of the platform of Azure and also many many services running in Microsoft Azure and Microsoft Azure Stack. If the innovation happening in the Microsoft Public Cloud, we as customers also benefit from that.

Windows Server – Hybrid Cloud in the DNA

Windows Server Hybrid Cloud

Windows Server is a great platform and it runs where ever you are. If you run on-premises in your Software-Defined Datacenter running in on physical hardware or in virtual machines or on Azure Stack, Windows Server is your platform. If you are running in the Public Cloud, Windows Server is not only the platform powering Azure. Windows Server is also a great platform for you to run application in Microsoft Azure or other cloud services providers.

Azure Hybrid Benefit for Windows Server

Azure Hybrid Benefit for Windows Server Reserved Instances

The Azure Hybrid Benefit for Windows Server is also a great option to run Windows Server workloads in the cloud. It allows customer to leverage the licensing they already have. This can bring down cost by a huge factor, and this together with Azure Reserved VM Instances up to 82%.

Windows Server 2019 – Innovation and Investments

Windows Server 2019 Investments

If we have a look at the investments done in Windows Server 2019, we can see that we can categorize them in 4 categories.

  • Hybrid Datacenter Platform
  • Security
  • Application Innovation
  • Hyper-Converged Infrastructure

Unique hybrid datacenter platform

Windows Server 2019 brings new functionality and features to extend your datacenter to Azure to maximize existing investments and gain new hybrid capabilities. To achieve this Microsoft brings improvements to Windows Server 2019 like built-in Azure Active Directory integration, Azure Backup, Azure Site Recovery, Storage Migration Services and many more.

Enhanced security capabilities

One of the key factors in today’s IT landscape is security. Microsoft started the journey by bringing enhanced security features to Windows Server 2016. With Windows Server 2019 Microsoft improves these security features of their server operating system. Microsoft adds new capabilities like Shield Virtual Machines for Linux, Exploit Guard, Encrypted Virtual Networks and under a lot of others. My favorite, the integration of Windows Defender Advanced Thread Protection or Windows Defender ATP.

Faster innovation for applications

With the Semi-Annual Channel releases of Windows Server, Microsoft already released some great investments to enable developers and IT pros. These allow them to create cloud native apps or modernize their traditional apps using containers and micro-services. In Windows Server 2019, Microsoft goes one step further and releases the SAC Improvement s like Linux Containers on Windows Server and the Windows Subsystem for Linux on Windows Server to the LTSC release. Microsoft also invest heavily to improve the container experience on Windows Server, by optimizing the container images for Server Core and Nano Server, a new Windows Container Image and better integration into orchestrators like Kubernetes and Service Fabric.

Unprecedented Hyper-converged Infrastructure

Microsoft is also improving your software-defined datacenter experience to achieve greater efficiency and security. With Windows Admin Center, Microsoft introduced a new web-based management UI which will be a perfect solution to manage your Windows Server 2019 servers. However, Microsoft is also investing in more hardware support like Storage Class Memory support. But also, on adding scale, resilience and performance improvements to your Storage Spaces Direct deployments. This includes improvements like Cluster Sets, improved performance for Mirror-accelerated parity volumes and much more.

In the next couple of days and weeks I will release some blog posts. These will covering the new features and improvements in Windows Server 2019 with a little more technical depth. And I am sure we will even have more to share after Microsoft Ignite. So ,stay tuned and follow my blog 🙂



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