Q. What are Server Management Tools with Windows Server 2016?
Dept - Windows Server 2016
A. Server Management Tools are a new capability that provide an Azure integrated toolset for managing Windows Server 2016 instances. Currently this is provided through the Azure public service but is expected to make its way to Azure Stack in the future to enable management for non-Internet connected scenarios. Microsoft has a good introductory article at http://blogs.technet.com/b/nanoserver/archive/2016/02/09/server-management-tools-is-now-live.aspx. The initial workload this is targeted at is Nano server which has no local management tools however this toolset is optional. Nano server can still be managed with PowerShell and other management tools such as Server Manager, MMCs and so on. This toolset provides an integrated management experience through a portal (in this case Azure).
The servers being managed do not have to be contactable by Azure. Instead a server management tools gateway is deployed on-premises and this gateway server creates a connection to Azure and through that connection the management via the portal is performed. Because the gateway connects outbound no ports or exceptions are required on the firewall to enable the connectivity. Each gateway can facilitate the connections to multiple target Windows servers. The picture below shows the high level architecture.
The process to enable is simple:
- From the Azure portal use the marketplace and create a new Server Management Tools instance
- Enter the name of the server that will be managed by the Server Management Tools and if this is the first server you will need to create a new gateway. Create a name you will refer to the gateway as and select a resource group and region. Click Create
- Once this is created select the new Server Management Tools instance and select the Server Management Tools gateway instance which will be in error. Select Settings then select Setup. Click the Generate a package link and use that link to download the package for the gateway.
- Install the gateway package on the gateway instance on-premises. Once installation is complete refresh the state of the gateway and it will now show connected. Also refresh the Server Management Tools instance. Click the Manage as button to enter credentials to connect to the target server and this will enable the connection and data and tools for its management will be available.
You are now managing your on-premises Windows Server 2016 instance(s) through the Azure portal. Once again I expect this capability to be added to Azure Stack over time so this will not only be available via the public Azure portal.