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Microsoft

I traveled to a couple of Microsoft Ignite The Tour stops and was not just presenting but also speaking to a lot of IT admins around the globe. I was surprised at how many didn't know about our new Windows Server management tools. In this blog post, I am going to show you how you can manage Windows Server 2019 and even previous Windows Server versions with Windows Admin Center and PowerShell.

 

Classic Windows Server Management

 

First, let me start by saying the classic Windows Server management tools, like Server Manager, the Microsoft Management Console (MMC), sconfig on Windows Server Core, Perfmon, and the local-only tools are still part of Windows Server. And if you have built some automation and process using these tools, they are still going to work.

 

Classic Windows Server Management ToolsClassic Windows Server Management Tools

However, most of these tools have some limitations, especially when it comes to efficient remote management or automation. That is why I want to show you more modern ways to manage Windows Server 2019.

 

PowerShell

 

Windows PowerShell 5.1 is built-in into Windows Server, and it does not only provide an excellent automation experience to write scripts but also provides a secure way of remote managing your Windows Server environment. And with PowerShell Core 6 and PowerShell 7, you also get cross-platform support, to manage your Linux and macOS systems as well, using SSH remoting.

 

PowerShellPowerShell

Many of the new Windows Server features get their PowerShell module. For example, if you look at the new Systems Insights feature, which locally analyzes Windows Server system data, such as performance counters and events and provides you with insight into the functioning of your servers using machine-learning models, can be managed directly through PowerShell.

 

Windows Admin Center

 

Windows Admin Center is a locally deployed, browser-based app for managing Windows servers, clusters, hyper-converged infrastructure, as well as Windows 10 PCs. It comes at no additional cost beyond Windows and is ready to use in production. This is what it says on the official Microsoft Docs page of Windows Admin Center. I simply call it the next generation of your Windows Server management tools. 

 

Windows Admin CenterWindows Admin Center

You can download and install Windows Admin Center locally, in Azure or where ever you need to manage your Windows Server. Windows Admin Center runs in a web browser and manages and manages different versions of Windows Server, Clusters, and Windows 10, through the Windows Admin Center Gateway.  The gateway manages servers by using Remote PowerShell and WMI over WinRM, with no agent required.

 

So next to having a fast and elegant way to manage Windows Server systems remotely from basically any device, what are the other advantages of using Windows Admin Center?

 

Lightweight and easy to install

 

Windows Admin Center is very lightweight and easy to install. You can even install it on Windows 10, Windows Server 2016, Windows Server 2019, and start managing your machines in minutes. There is no need for an agent, and if you don't want to use Windows Admin Center anymore, you simply uninstall it.

 

Functionally you know, but remotely and secure

 

Windows Admin Center Performance MonitorWindows Admin Center Performance Monitor

Windows Admin Center provides you with the evolution of the classic and well-known management tools like MMC or local-only tools in a modern web-based experience. Besides, it also allows you to use these tools remotely, without connecting to your servers using Remote Desktop (RDP). This and many other enhancements, make your management platform more secure.

 

Extensible 

 

Windows Admin Center ExtensionsWindows Admin Center Extensions

Windows Admin Center was built with extensibility in mind from the beginning, with the ability for Microsoft and 3rd party developers to develop tools and solutions beyond the current offerings. Microsoft offers an SDK that enables developers to build their own tools for Windows Admin Center.

 

Manage Azure Stack HCI and Storage Spaces Direct

 

Windows Admin Center does not only allow you to manage single server instances but also Windows Server Failover Clusters and hyper-converged clusters such as Azure Stack HCI, which is part of the Azure Stack portfolio.

 

Azure Hybrid integration

 

Integrate Azure Hybrid servicesIntegrate Azure Hybrid services

If you want to take advantage of the Azure Hybrid services, to make your on-premises environment even better using Microsoft Azure, Windows Admin Center makes it easy to take advantage of services like Azure Active Directory, Azure Backup, Azure Site Recovery, Azure Update management and many more. You can find more about integrating Azure Hybrid services in Windows Server using Windows Admin Center on our blog.

 

Manage modern Windows Server 2019 features

 

Windows Server System InsightsWindows Server System Insights

 

The management UI for new features like System Insights and the Storage Migration Services, which allows you to easily migrate file servers, are built-in to Windows Admin Center.

You also get an extension to manage your Windows Containers. You can find a video about that here.

 

Get updates and new functionality 

 

Windows Admin Center gets monthly updates, including new features, to improve the management experience. Check out the Windows Admin Center release history here.

 

Windows Admin Center complements existing management solutions like Azure management, System Center, RSAT, Remote Desktop, and other in-box tools. You can find more about related management tools on Microsoft Docs.

System Center 2019

 

System Center OverviewSystem Center Overview

 System Center is an on-premises data center management solution for deployment, configuration, management, monitoring your entire data center. Windows Admin Center and System Center are complementary management solutions.

 

 

I hope this gives you an overview of the different management tools you can use with Windows Server 2019, depending on your needs. If you have any questions, please let me know in the comments.

6 Comments

Windows Admin Center Rocks :cool:

Microsoft

Yes, it does! @James van den Berg :)

Occasional Contributor

Although I'd heard of Admin Center previously, I hadn't realized you could use it to manage all Windows SKUs until this post. Guess I'll be trying it at home with my 4 Pro + 1 Home setup. 

 

It's nice to finally have a Windows equivalent to Webmin on FreeBSD, Cockpit on Linux, and Napp-It on Illumos (all of which I use.)

 

Thanks!

Occasional Contributor

@thomasmaurerSo I actually tried Windows Admin Center and it literally does not work. It seems Windows 10 node management is either poorly implemented, has incomplete documentation, or was never implemented at all.

 

Worse, it seems I'm not the only one with this problem, someone else posted about it in January on TechCommunity and no one has come to their assistance.

 

Besides that thread, I've also asked about this on Reddit and filed an issue on the Windows Admin Center UserVoice.

 

If Microsoft is actually serious about getting buy-in on Admin Center it's gonna have to start actually supporting it and helping folks who have issues. Considering that Linux, FreeBSD, and Illumos already have easy web management consoles, Windows is pretty far behind the curve in this respect.

 

Can we get some proper help and support on this issue please?

Occasional Contributor

@jdrch can you explain your issue more detailed? You can reach me out on twitter @tweet_alqamar.

 

Thanks for this great article. 

 

@thomasmaurer if you like to update your excellent blogpost I've noticed an easier way to install pshell 7 or preview

 

Install-module psreleasetools

 

Then install-pscore (release branch) 

Or

Install-pspreview  (prev branch)

 

It is a bit easier to read than the iex method you showed earlier. 

 

 

As for Windows Admin Center:

It is an overall great tool.

 

But it is not great enough. There are many many bugs, that are so important you have to fall back to legacy methods again. most reported on uservoice for long.

 

I've recently tried the cluster creation preview and yeah I know why it is preview. 

 

If you have a good connection to the WAC team, then we might team up and sharpen this tool to make it useable in junction with server manager for admins and I do see the potential especially for on premises, as currently WAC focus is certainly hybrid and cloud. 

 

I am absolutely willing to offer time aside uservoice to make WAC the best tool possible. Without these fallbacks.

 

Currently the main pain points are in these sections 

 

- Windows updates

- Storage

- Storage Spaces (not direct)

- RDP with non English keyb

- AD integration and sync

- dependencies and security settings. GPOs/ADMX would be feasible

- overall performance is low especially the WAC webservice (no idea why they don't use IIS), especially when more than one user is using the gateway

 

That's an excerpt. 

 

Don't read this as **bleep**ting on this. I really love it but it needs more love too. Soon. Otherwise I fear it will loose momentum to make legacy methods obsolete.

 

Many companies even automate things and wouldn't even bother with WAC as a gui based webtool, but it can combine both worlds. Automation and user friendly views, on premises and hybrid.

 

I have told Jeff many times that WAC has the potential to be a Swiss knife for admins.

 

Currently it is just another tool that ease things many other tools cannot do well and vice versa. 

So for KMUs it is not helpful at all. 

 

Server Manager doesn't get old either as long some of the main features aren't transferred like dashboard, ability to promote DCs, DHCP or other roles after installing them. Whatever you do you have to fall back to another tool. 

 

Again those that only use powershell and automation, wouldn't really care about that you can install an ADDS role in WAC but have to go back to Server manager to finish it. In Powershell you don't need to. 

 

Hope you get my point @thomasmaurer 

Occasional Contributor

Great article @thomasmaurer and some great points made. Always learning something new. 

 

Thank you :)