Windows Admin Center to rule hybrid cloud solutions on Azure and on prem

Windows admin center is a free tool to configure and manage your windows servers and linux servers on premise as well as on the cloud. No matter if you want to monitor performance on lots of servers, maintain TCP Services for your network or active directory validations, check security updates history on several servers, manage storage massively even for several partner providers such as HPE, DELL-EMC, etc or last but not least you want to migrate VMs to the cloud.

A simple pane of glass to work with your infrastructure on a hybrid model increase efficiency, reduce human errors and improve rapid response when needed.

Previously there were lots of “mmc consoles” to manage several aspect of daily sysops tasks. With Windows admin center, you solve this problem and also provide a unique approach to manage a hybrid cloud. Something that not all the cloud providers are facing right now. And believe me, it’s pretty useful.

What are the most important features that brings this tool?

  • Extension to integrate Servers hardware details– Let’s say you need to know the health of several components on your on prem HPE Servers, Fujitsu, Lenovo, Dell-EMC,etc. Now you have extensions to manage all this information and check the power supply status, the memory usage, CPU,storage capacity and other details. Even if you want an integration with ILO or IDrac, for example, well, through the Window Admin Center it’s possible.
  • Active Directory extension- It is crucial for a sysop to maintain the Active Directory and to work with quite usual tasks such as:
    • Create a user
    • Create a group
    • Search for users, computers, and groups
    • Details pane for users, computers, and groups when selected in grid
    • Global Grid actions users, computers, and groups (disable/enable, remove)
    • Reset user password
    • User objects: configure basic properties & group memberships
    • Computer objects: configure delegation to a single machine
  • Manage a DHCP Scope- Another cool option, DHCP extension allows you to manage connected devices on a computer or server.
    • Create/configure/view IPV4 and IPV6 scopes
    • Create address exclusions and configure start and end IP address
    • Create address reservations and configure client MAC address (IPV4), DUID and IAID (IPV6)
  • DNS extension –  allows you to manage connected devices on a computer or server.
    • View details of DNS Forward Lookup zones, Reverse Lookup zones and DNS records
    • Create forward Lookup zones (primary, secondary, or stub), and configure forward lookup zone properties
    • Create Host (A or AAAA), CNAME or MX type of DNS records
    • Configure DNS records properties
    • Create IPV4 and IPV6 Reverse Lookup zones (primary, secondary and stub), configure reverse lookup zone properties
    • Create PTR, CNAME type of DNS records under reverse lookup zone.
  • Updates– allows you to manage Microsoft and/or Windows Updates on a computer or server.
    • View available Windows or Microsoft Updates
    • View a list of update history
    • Install Updates
    • Check online for updates from Microsoft Update
    • Manage Azure Update Management integration

To summarize Microsoft is supporting now daily sysops duties through Windows Admin Center.

  • Storage extensions– allows you to manage storage devices on a computer or server. For example, let’s say you want to use the Storage Migration Service because you’ve got a server (or a lot of servers) that you want to migrate to newer hardware or virtual machines on Azure. You can install the Storage Migration Service extension on your Windows 2019 version 1809 or on a later operating system to work. Previous OS versions don´t have this extension available. With this extension you can do cool staff as follows:
    • Inventory multiple servers and their data
    • Transfer files, file shares, and security configuration from the source servers to destination. Even some Linux Samba repositories if needed.
    • Optionally “Copy&Paste” the identity of the source servers (also known as cutting over) so that users and apps don’t have to change anything to access existing data
    • Manage one or multiple migrations from the Windows Admin Center user interface in parallel
  • Create Virtual Machines on Azure- Windows Admin Center can deploy the Azure VMs, configure its storage, join it to your domain, install roles, and then set up your distributed system. This integrates VM deployment into the Storage Migration Service that i was explaining above. So you don’t need to connect to the Azure Portal or run a powershell script for example. But create and configure directly the VMs you need on the Windows Admin Center Portal.
  • Integration with Azure File Sync- Consolidate shared files using Azure File Sync. This is pretty useful if you have lots of small branches and want to centralize all the daily documents on a cloud repository with backup included. We will explain how it works in the next post.

As you can see , Microsoft has done a big effort providing a tool to work daily tasks as maintain TCP Services or manage your data, no matter if it is on premise on a Fujitsu Server with local disks, a SAN or on the cloud. Even helps you to leverage the cloud functionalities to remove old servers and hardware.

See you them in the next post. I hope you enjoy the journey to the cloud…

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