What is Azure Server Management Tools?
Azure server management tools is an Azure service that is basically a Html 5 web based GUI and command line tool that allows you to manage your on-prem Windows Servers. This comes in very handy when you need to manage headless servers such as Nano Server and Server Core. The tools provide a nice common dashboard for you to manage your on-prem servers as you would your Azure servers. This is the way Microsoft are plans you to manage servers in Azure Stack.
At the moment the server management tools are in preview and only support a set of basic server diagnostics tools, but this is always being updated. At the moment the tools are working on Windows Server 2012, Windows Server 2012R2, Windows Server 2016, and Nano Server.
How does Azure Server Management Tools Work?
Azure Server management tools require a gateway which can be configured on any server in your environment. I personally do not recommend running it on a DC. I would put this server in the DMZ, or perhaps on a server that is already in the DMZ. The gateway software is what enables communication between the Microsoft Azure portal and your Windows Servers.
The below image shows a very basic overview of how things work.
Step by Step Guide.
Open Azure by going to https://portal.azure.com.
Click More Services > (bottom left, it might just show a >) and type server management tools.
Click Server Management Tools connections.
Click + Add
Enter the name of your server that is going to be your gateway server (I have chosen one of my DC’s as I am lazy).
Select your subscription.
Use an existing resource group or create a new one.
Enter a name for the gateway. (do not use the same name as the server that is going to have the gateway.)
Select a location. (Only 4 locations work at the moment).
You should now have a screen like this one.
Click your newly created object.
You will notice the orange banner at the top of the screen saying Gateway not detected. Click it.
Now click the blue banner at the top of the new blade.
You can select either automatic or manual updates. I like to use automatic, makes life easier. You can always change this later.
Now click generate package.
Copy the URL to the server you want to use as your Server Management Tools Gateway.
Download the Zip file and extract it.
Now run GatewayService.msi
* At the moment the gateway msi will only install on 2016. I believe that soon you will be able to install on 2012 r2, as the error message I got stated you need to be running 2012 r2 or greater. (That’s why I have changed the server name halfway through) *
Tick I accept the terms in the License Agreement and then click Install.
In production you should use a certificate from a trusted supplier. This is just for a lab, so I am picking Generate a self-signed certificate.
Then click Finish.
Now go back to Azure Portal.
Refresh the Azure Portal.
Now click Manage as.
Enter the credential you would like to use to manage your servers. You can save them to Azure if you like.
You should now start to see some metrics of the gateway server. Use the controls on the left to manage the server.
Even though it is only in preview at the moment. I am really liking this. With Azure stack around the corner, I like the way Microsoft are trying to create a central management solution for all your servers. Hopefully one day we will be able to use this set of tools to even rdp to the servers if needed and perhaps even control failover and hyper-v manager.
Let me know what you think.