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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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