16 September, 2012

The Server Manager - Windows Server 2012

The All New Windows Server 2012 has a New "Server Manager"

In this post, we will try to explore the new features of this new "Server Manager". For this post, the Server Manager that you will see is not the Server Manager of a Raw Windows Server 2012. Indeed, It is a Server Manager of a Domain Controller and a DNS Server Installed on a Windows Server 2012 Server. I guess that should be the correct way of looking at Server Manager otherwise you will miss a lot of options which get added in Server Manager after you make the server as a Domain Controller

Server Manager is not new to our Server operating System. It was first introduced in Windows 2008 but takes my words... It has Changed... And for Good (ofcourse)

I usually don't do Praises (be it for People or Anything Else)... But In these few posts on Windows Server 2012, you will see me praising a lot about the new Windows Server 2012 and its features...
Not because I have been paid for it {I wish If I would... Rather I don't even get paid for writing these posts :( } but because genuinely speaking this time Microsoft has integrated lots of cool and useful features that can actually make administrators work earlier and simplified... Thanks Microsoft :)

Server Manager

The Server Manager is divided into three parts.... Honestly speaking, I don't know what Mcrosoft has termed these but for this post, I would say three panes

- Top Pane
- Middle Pane (The Main Part) (The Middle Pane is further divided into Sub Windows)
- Left Pane (Displays Roles Installed on that Server)

Once you click on any of the Role on the Left Pane, You will get few Sub Windows in the Middle Pane (These may vary depending upon the Role)

- Properties
- Events
- Services
- Best Practice Analyzer
- Performance
- Roles and Features

Lets Start Now.........

The Top Pane

On the Top Pane, We have the following options:-

- Refresh
- Notification
- Manage
- Tools
- View
- Help


Notification option will give us the details of any recent task or activity that were performed and any task which is pending

Click on the Notification button and you will get the list of notifications (At this time there are no recent task that is why its blank) and an option of "Task Details". Clicking on "task Details" will open up the Task Page

Tasks and Notification Window (As stated earlier, currently there are no recent Task/Notification that is why you don't see any Task here in this window. In upcoming posts, you will see a lot of Tasks here getting displayed)


Remember those old days when we use to click on the "Start" Button and then Select "Administrative Tools"..... Now....

Open Server Manager - Select Tools

This displays all the Snap-Ins / Features / Roles that are currently Installed on the Server


Zoom (In case you are either old or have forgotten your glasses at home :)) and "Hide Welcome Screen"

I really don't think you would like to hide the Welcome Screen because unlike Windows 2008, We have quite important options in the welcome screen. (As stated earlier, Microsoft have really worked on things keeping in mind the requirement of administrators)

Left Pane

- DashBoard
- Local Server
- All Servers
- File and Storage Services

(The above options are the "default" options available when you install the Windows Server 2012 Operating System without adding any other role. As and when you start adding roles and features, you will start getting more options on the left pane. For Example, One this server is promoted as a domain controller, you will get the option of "AD DS" which was not present earlier


One of the "Coolest" Feature of Server Manager. Dashboard displays a "Welcome Screen" and "Tiles"

Welcome Screen : Gives you the following options:-

- To Add Roles and Features
- Add another server to manage
- Create a server group
- Whats New
- Learn More

Tiles : I would say its displaying the Roles that are currently installed on the server in a very concise way which gives a glimpse of if the particular role is working fine or if there are some issues which needs to be addressed. As you can see, The AD DS Role (Since this being a domain controller) is Green which means that there are no issues in Active Directory where as the Local Server is Red which means that there are some errors which needs to be taken care of.... Cool.... Isn't it ??

Local Server

As stated in the beginning of this post, The Middle Pane is further divided into sub windows. So if I click on Local Server, then in the middle pane, I will set few Sub Windows like (Properties, Events, Services, Best Practice Analyzer, Performance, Roles and Features)

Local Server -> Properties

This gives you details about the machine like:-

- Name
- Domain / Workgroup
- Firewall Status
- Remote Desktop Enabled / Disabled
- IP Address
- Operating System
- NIC Teaming
- Updates Information
- IE Enhanced Security
- Time Zone
- Processor Information
- Disk Space

In Server Manager, With all the Sub Windows (Like Properties, Events....), On right top corner, you get an option of "Tasks"... Tasks related to that sub-window

Local Server -> Properties -> Tasks

So, In Local Server, Properties, When clicked on Tasks, We got the following options:-

- Shut Down Local Server
- Windows PowerShell
- Computer Management
- All the Snap-Ins/Roles/Features Installed on the Local Server

Local Server -> Events

A Concise Event Viewer "A Baby Event Viewer".. :) displaying all the events of the local server

Local Server -> Events -> Tasks

Configure Event Data

Local Server -> Services
Needless to say, displays the list of services running on the local server

Local Server -> Events -> Tasks

Just a Refresh Option

Local Server -> Best Practice Analyzer

Ahh... Was waiting for this to be discussed... :)

Two things which I think Microsoft have taken from Exchange 2007 and have incorporated in Windows Server 2012 are Best Practice Analyzer and PowerShell Commands... (I will discuss PowerShell Commands later)

Best Practice Analyzer : Currently there is nothing in this section, but I promise I will show you the usage of this later in this post.. And Yes... (Once I make a commitment… I don’t even listen to myself”)

But Yes... As we all know that there are something known as "Recommendation's". For every role (FSMO, AD. DC, DNS....) Microsoft have some Recommendation's... These are not something which HAVE to be followed by administrators, but then it is advisable to follow them for better results

On the same lines, Microsoft has created their Best Practice Analyzers for different components (AD, DNS, Exchange...).... The tool here just contains the Best Practices (Recommendation's) which is advisable to be followed. Here in this Window, Later You will see that there will be Errors/Warnings stating which part of the component is not working/installed/configured as per Microsoft Recommendation's.

Local Server -> Best Practice Analyzer -> Tasks

This option allows you to start a BPA Scan...

Local Server -> Performance

A Baby Performance Monitor

Local Server -> Performance -> Tasks

You can configure Performance Alerts (Thresholds)

Local Server -> Roles and Features

Displays the Roles and Features Installed on this Local Server

Local Server -> Roles and Services -> Tasks

Allows you to Add/Remove the Roles and Services

All Servers

Again, A very cool feature Introduced in Server Manager is the capability to add multiple servers

Right click on "All Servers" and you get an option of adding servers

There are three ways by which you can search for the servers to be added

- Active Directory
- Import

In Active Directory, You can search for the machines which are present in Active Directory

In DNS, You can search for computers with IP Address to be specified

In Import, You can specify a Txt File which will have names of the machines that you want to add here

I will be using Active Directory to add the Servers

Adding DC1 and DC2

DC2 is now added in the All Servers List

Showing Various Sub Windows (Events/Services/Best Practice Analyzer/Roles and Features)

Doing a Right Click on DC1 yields these many options...

But the best part is... Doing a Right Click on DC2 (A remote Machine) also showed the same many options...

So effectively, Now I can easily manage all other servers which are added here Remotely. For Example, doing a right click on DC2 and choosing the option "Active Directory Users and Computers"

Opens up Active Directory users and Computers Snap-In which is currently connected to DC2 and not DC1 (where we are working from)

Similarly, LDP...

And here`s a proof that it opened the ldp and connected the ldp to DC2


Only available if you have installed the Active Directory Domain Services Role on this Server


 Only available if you have installed the Active Directory Domain Services Role on this Server

Again, Just as in case to AD DS, In DNS as well when you do a right click on the server name, you get all these options

File and Storage Services

I personally think that with Windows Server 2012, Microsoft have proved that Cloud Computing is the next big thing... There are so many features in Windows Server 2012 which has been integrated keeping in mind Cloud Computing...

Another very useful feature added in Server Manager - The File and Storage Services

File and Storage Services has been divided into sub categories:-

- Servers
- Volumes
- Disks
- Storage Pools
- Shares

File and Storage Services -> Servers

Lists the name of the servers which are being monitored

File and Storage Services -> Servers -> Events

The point to note here is the events that are getting displayed here are not the same events that you would have seen in "Local Server -> Events". Events in Local Server will contain Events from all the Sources (System, Application...) but the Events displayed here "File and Storage Services -> Servers -> Events" will list only the Events related to Disk and the Roles which uses Data/Disk (Ex: DFSR)

You will not find Events related to Applications, Windows Time Service, Lssas, Etc....

File and Storage Services -> Servers -> Services

File and Storage Services -> Servers -> Roles and Features

Again It will list only those Roles/Features related to Storage/File Server/Disk

File and Storage Services -> Volumes -> Volumes

This shows the volumes that you have on the servers... Remember, Volumes are logical partitions, where as disks are physical drives

So in this screenshot, we have two servers added in Server Manager and both the servers have one volume each

And doing a Right Click on the Volume gives you the options:-

- New Share
- New Virtual Disk
- Scan File System for Errors
- Repair File System Errors
- Manage Drive Letter and Access Paths
- Format
- Extend Volume
- Delete Volume
- Configure Data Deduplication

So come to think of it... All the above options are not only for the Local Server.. You can do all these for any Remote Server as well from this GUI...

File and Storage Services -> Volumes -> Volumes -> Tasks

- New Volume
- Rescan Storage

File and Storage Services -> Volumes -> Shares

List all the Shares Present on that Server

And you cal also do a right click on a particular share and can stop the sharing... No... Saying that doesn't means you stop sharing Sysvol... Use your Grey Matter :)

File and Storage Services -> Volumes -> Shares -> Tasks

- New Share

File and Storage Services -> Volumes -> Disk

Displays the Disk Information for the "VOLUME"

File and Storage Services -> Volumes -> Shares -> Tasks

- New Volume (To create more volumes on that disk)

File and Storage Services -> Disks -> Disks

As stated earlier, Volumes are logical partitions, where as disks are physical drives. Here we are talking about Physical Drives

So in this screenshot, we have two servers added in Server Manager and both the servers have one drive each

Right Click on any drive and you can do the following:-

- New Volume
- Bring Online
- Take Offline
- Reset Disk

File and Storage Services -> Disks -> Disks -> Tasks

- New Volume
- Rescan Storage

Now I would like to show you the difference between Disk and  a Volume

If I Click on Volumes, It shows 1 Volume Per Server

And If I Click on Disks, then it shows 1 Disk Per Server

Now in the background, I have added one more Virtual Disk on to the server DC1

To make it visible, I have to Rescan the Storage:-

File and Storage Services -> Volumes -> Volumes -> Tasks
File and Storage Services -> Disks -> Disks -> Tasks

- Rescan Storage

After the Rescan, I don't see any addition of a drive in Volumes... Remember the fact, that I have added a Disk. A Physical Disk, where as Volume is Logical Partition on the Disk. So first the disk will be visible and then I have to create a volume on that disk. So I am at a wrong location indeed... I should look under Disk and not under volume

File and Storage Services -> Disks -> Disks

Ahh... I can now see that disk... My New Disk :)

See, the Partition is Unknown as its a Raw Disk... You have to create Partition on the Disk.. I mean... Volume

Bring it Online....

And now...Initialize the Disk...

Now... New Volume...

Yesss... Now Its Visible and hey... Its visible under "Volume" and not only under Disks.. That`s because now we have created a volume on that disk that we added

And to prove myself yet again.. The disk is getting displayed here in My Computer...

Instead of one volume, I could have created two volumes on the same disk

Then it would have showed two disks (old and new one) and under volume it would have showed three volume (one for the old disk and two for the new disk)...

File and Storage Services -> Storage Pools
Storage Pools : Storage Pool is a way of bringing together multiple hard drives, combining them logically so that they will "Appear" as a single drive and then creating multiple volumes out of that drive (As and when required)....
So its like creating a pool of drives....

You can also create New Storage Pool

Lists Virtual Disks and Physical Disks

File and Storage Services -> Shares

Displays all the Shares on all the Servers added in the Server Manager

You can stop sharing for any of the Share on any of the Server

Or You can also create New Shares on any Server added in Server Manager

File and Storage Services -> iSCSI

Displays the iSCSI Virtual Disks


Available only if the Hyper-V Role is Installed

And the most important part that i promised will discuss later.. Best Practice Analyzer

See here we can see few errors/warnings which came up because that part of component was not configures as per Microsoft Recommendation's...

And you can right Click on any Error/Warning and choose the following options:-

- Start BPA Scan
- Include Result
- Exclude Result

A very Important Feature of Server Manager... DASHBOARD

The DashBoard displays "Tiles" for Each and Every Role Installed on the Server

Currently the Tile for ADDS and DNS is Red which means that there are some Issues in AD and in DNS

Select the Tile (AD DS) and the select the option "BPA Results"

This will open up a new window which will show the result and the Error/Warning

I very neat way of Monitoring a Server

The Manage Option on the Top Pane was left Intentionally as I wanted to cover this option at last... So here we are...
Selecting the Manage Option will give you the following options:-
- Add Roles and Features
- Remove Roles and Features

- Add Servers
- Create Server Group
- Server Manager Properties

Add Roles and Features : To Add a role or a feature on the server

 Remove Roles and Features : To Remove a role or a feature on the server

Add Server : To add another server in the Server Manager to be Monitored

Server Manager Properties : Refresh Interval for Server Manager and If you want to display Server Manager at Logon or Not

Create Server Group

Ahh... At last.. One of the Coolest Feature of Server Manager

Creating a Group of Servers to be Monitored... Suppose you have two servers in a cluster or you have three domain controllers, two certificate servers, two DNS Servers

One thing that you can do is to add all these servers in this Server Manager Snap-In and all the server will then be listed in "All Servers"... But don't you think it will be a bit messy

Here is a solution.. Grouping of Servers

Create three groups (Example)... AD, DNS ,CA....
Add three domain controllers in the AD Group, Two DNS Servers in the DNS Group and Two CA Servers in the CA Group

Cool... Isn't It...?

So what are you thinking.. Lets Create a Group

Again, adding the servers can be done using Server Pool/AD/DNS/Import Options

Let`s select Active Directory and then this time I will do another Testing
I will select the Operating System as "Windows 8 / Windows Server 2012"

And yes.. Now I can view all of my three server (domain controllers and member server)

Selecting my CA Server

ok ok... Don't Shout... I will give a Name to this Group

Happy Now...

Wow... Saw something New...??

Now I have few more options in the left pane.. But hey.. Wait.. I just added CA Server.. So does it shows IIS.. That is because IIS Role is also Installed on the CA Server and that Role also has to be Monitored...

And See.. the Group Name also getting Displayed.. So it will Display the Group Name as well it will add the components to be monitored from the server added in the Group

And the Best Part... The Tiles... The Component from that server added in the Group are getting displayed as Tiles as well...

And A Tile for the Group Name as well :) So that no One is Unhappy.... :)