Earlier this year, Microsoft introduced its Windows Admin Center as an evolution from its Project Honolulu. The browser-based graphical management system for Windows Server helps customers manage their infrastructure. Today, Microsoft is offering another update for the Admin Center, bumping the service to Version 1809.
Microsoft has been expanding the capabilities of Windows Admin Center throughout the year. When launched, the company described the management system as:
“Windows Admin Center is a new, locally-deployed, browser-based management tool set that lets you manage your Windows Servers with no Azure or cloud dependency. Windows Admin Center gives you full control over all aspects of your server infrastructure and is particularly useful for managing servers on private networks that are not connected to the Internet,” explains Microsoft.
“Windows Admin Center is the modern evolution of “in-box” management tools, like Server Manager and MMC. It complements System Center and Operations Management Suite – it's not a replacement.”
Today's update is truly extensive, with changes for core functionality, and the introduction of Hybrid, HCI, and Windows Server. As usual, Microsoft has provided a full changelog:
Windows Admin Center continues to provide you with increasing value for single server or single cluster troubleshooting, configuration and maintenance tasks.
- View Script: See and copy the underlying PowerShell scripts for actions in supported modules, with syntax coloring.
- Scheduled Tasks: View, edit, enable/disable, start/stop, and create scheduled tasks.
- File Shares: View, edit, and create file shares and permissions in the Files tool and Storage tool.
- Installed Apps (Windows Server): View and remove Win32 applications which are installed.
- Apps and Features (Windows 10): View and remove Store and Win32 apps which are installed. Enable/disable Windows features.
- Hyper-V: Improvements include multi-VM bulk actions, VM and host settings including nested virtualization and hypervisor scheduler configuration, integrated VM Connect web console, and more!
- Failover Cluster: Added support for Cluster-Aware Updating, add/remove cluster node, validate cluster and an all-new cluster validation report UI. Hyper-V host settings on a cluster now allows you to make changes across all cluster nodes at once!
- Tags: Editing and filtering improvements to better group and organize large connection lists.
- Gateway settings: Improved categorization and updates to improve clarity.
- Notifications: Improved notification system provides a more organized experience.
- Windows Server 2008 R2: Supported as a connection target, with limited functionality.
Windows Admin Center continues to empower you with new and improved ways to optionally leverage Azure services from your on-premises environment:
- Discover, deploy, and use Azure services: Enjoy streamlined setup right from Windows Admin Center, where it automatically provisions required Azure resources, installs necessary agents, and initializes the service behind-the-scenes. Windows Admin Center currently integrates with:
- Azure Site Recovery: Protect business-critical workloads running on Hyper-V virtual machines from disaster.
- Azure Backup: Protect your servers from accidental-deletion of data, corruptions and even ransomware-attacks.
- Azure Update Management: Manage operating system updates across all the servers in your environment.
- Azure AD authentication: Bolster the security of your Windows Admin Center gateway with features like conditional access policies and multi-factor authentication.
- Azure Network Adapter: Connect an on-premises Windows Server 2016/2019 instance to an Azure virtual network via simplified configuration of point-to-site VPN.
- Manage Azure IaaS VMs running Windows Server: Granular troubleshooting or configuration using Windows Admin Center, wherever you run Windows Server instances.
Hyper-converged infrastructure (HCI)
Windows Admin Center continues to be the best way to manage and monitor hyper-converged infrastructure, including Storage Spaces Direct and SDN, powered by Windows Server 2016 or Windows Server 2019. With this update, most HCI functionality is now generally available.
- Clustering and Hyper-V: All the new features listed above, including multi-VM bulk actions, add/remove node, and cluster-aware updating, apply to HCI clusters too. For Windows Server 2019 HCI clusters, the VMs list loads as much as 5X faster, and VM detail pages include performance history (hour/day/week/etc.).
- Storage Spaces Direct: Create, open, resize, or delete Storage Spaces volumes with just a few clicks. With this update, you can see pool reserve capacity and read/write cache statistics for Windows Server 2019 clusters.
- Software-Defined Networking: All-new tools and capabilities to manage and monitor virtual networks, subnets, connect virtual machines to virtual networks, and monitor SDN infrastructure.
- General: The HCI Dashboard and pages are more colorful, more consistent, load faster, and reflow better to different window sizes.
Windows Server 2019 platform
Windows Admin Center lights up several platform features which are new or improved in Windows Server 2019. In addition to several already mentioned in the sections above (Azure Network Adapter, Storage Spaces Direct, Software-Defined Networking), the following platform features rely exclusively on Windows Admin Center for graphical management:
- Storage Migration Service: Migrate servers and their data without reconfiguring applications or users. It's fast, consistent, and scalable while taking care of the enormous complexity and subtle environmental problems inherent to server migrations, all with an intuitive graphical workflow.
- Storage Replica: Set up and configure disaster protection easily via replication of volumes using Windows Admin Center.
- System Insights: Manage native predictive analytics capabilities in Windows Admin Center. Use rich visualizations and a simple management interface to understand future resource consumption across storage, compute, and networking.
Extensibility and ecosystem
Windows Admin Center is an extensible platform, and partner extensions continue to contribute towards greater customer value:
- Extension Manager: Users can now get notified of available extension updates, update in just one-click, and use extensions from multiple extension feeds simultaneously.
- SDK: Now generally available after several months of validation by multiple partners building compelling extensions. Recent improvements include a CLI to help you get started quickly and easily, updated samples which leverage the latest features, new and improved documentation topics, and a new PowerPoint design toolkit to enable quick and consistent design mock-ups.
- Partners: The Windows Admin Center ecosystem continues to grow with more partners developing and releasing extensions for monitoring and managing servers, clusters, hyper-converged infrastructure and storage devices. DataON is releasing an all-new extension for HCI management, Fujitsu's preview extension is now generally available, Squared Up provides unique monitoring capabilities based on SCOM, and Pure Storage is releasing an extension for FlashArray management. The following new partners are currently developing extensions and will be demoing their progress in their respective expo hall stations at Ignite: Cisco, HPE, Lenovo, NEC, QCT, and Riverbed.
Windows Admin Center version 1809 is now available to all users. As this is an evolving platform, all features launched in previous versions are carried over to this update. Microsoft wants to make it clear that some features are still in development and will be marked under “preview”.