image*** Day 2 of 31*** (For background click here)

Welcome to day 2 of the 31 Days of our Favorite Things: Windows Server 2012 Blog series. Today I am focusing on the new Server Manager tool. It is a completely new look with completely new abilities.

A great place to start after you finish an install of Windows Server 2012 is Server Manager.

So what is so great about Server Manager?image
Well I am glad you asked. It is the new graphical Swiss Army knife for server management. Here is a short list of the great things it does:

Feature Reason why it’s awesome (or at least nice to have)
Server Manager offers a nice GUI that runs PowerShell under the hood. This means you can use the GUI or use PowerShell to do any of these management actions. Because sometimes you want a GUI and other times you want a script for your best server work. Often the GUI will even tell you the script it is going to run so you can grab that for your script work. – way cool!
Dashboards and alerting In the graphic above you can see that there are boxes with a red title bar and the ones that have a green line. The dashboard is green when all is well. Red indicates an error of some type. Many of the error conditions can be fixed right from the dashboard. It is possible to fix several computers in just a few clicks. Either way it is a great place to start trouble shooting.
Server Manager is extensible I think of it as the new MMC tool type tool. The MMC console is still around but components are moving to Server Manager as the place to create the new management tools. When you add roles or features to the server often new “snapins” appear o the left side of Server Manager that expand the functionality to manage the feature. Your in-house developers can extend Server Manager too.
The PowerShell commandlets that run under Server Manager use Windows Remote Management (WinRM) as the communication protocol.

This offers several benefits.

  • Because we use WinRM, the Microsoft implementation of WS-Management Protocol, a standard (SOAP)-based, firewall-friendly protocol – we can easily set firewall rules. Anyone who has tried to set rules for DCOM will appreciate this.
  • You get the same results if you are local or remote because the commands execute through the same stack if it is local or remote.
  • Sure you can manage Server 2012 – but you can also manage Server 2008 and 2008 R2 with Server 2012 Server Manager as long as you install the Windows Management Framework 3.0 (it includes PowerShell 3.0) on your 2008 and 2008R2 Servers. Download that that here: http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=34595
  • You can manager your servers from a Windows 8 desktop with the Remote Server Administration Tools including Server Manager. Get that here: http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=28972
Enables you to Group Servers

Building on the ability to perform remote management, Server Manager also enables you perform group management. Perform an action on the group and each server in that group has the action performed on it. Sweet!

Add / Remove Roles & Features Server Manager is where you configure your server. It is the tool where you add Active Directory or Remote Desktop. It does enable you to add these roles to the local server or a remote server. This feature does not have the ability to choose several servers in the GUI yet. So if you want to add IIS to 100 server – I suggest you use the PowerShell command prompt. –unless you’re a consultant and your looking for billable hours… Smile
Wizard setup of complicated tasks In Server Manager when you choose to add  Roles & Features you have a new option. The Remote Desktop team has created a wizard that will configure your Remote Desktop services for you. This is a nice tool because there are a lot of parts you need to configure to get RDS working. This helps make it easier. So far RDP is the only feature to use this.
View Event Logs You are able to view the event logs on any server that is being managed by Server Manager. Nice.
Performance Counters Server Manager allows you to setup and view performance counters on the servers that you are managing.
Best Practice Analyzer embedded The Best Practices Analyzer (BPA) tool is integrated into Server Manager. The mission of BPA is to help administrators reduce configuration mistakes by scanning the server and reporting best practice violations.
Various Administrative Tasks There are a whole lot more things this tool does. For example Active Directory is now setup from Server Manager and not DCPROMO.exe. Better yet you don’t need to do a “forest prep” or “domain prep” – Server Manager takes care of all of that for you.

 

This has been a quick overview of Server Manager in Windows Server 2012 and I hope it has helped your understanding of the tool. If you haven’t taken the tool for a test drive yet – may I suggest you download the Windows Server 2012 code and install it and kick the tires. Server 2012 is a really big step forward and Server Manager is just one of the many changes that may impress you. Take it for a spin and let us know what you think!

-Brian

 

Looking for some more information? Here are a few links to further reading on Server Manager in Windows Server 2012.