After Microsoft announcement on discontinuing Server Management Tools (SMT) Azure service on June 30, 2017. The server management team at Microsoft was working very hard on replacing SMT by a new server management experience called (Microsoft Project ‘Honolulu’), which is kind of similar management experience but targeting on-premises workloads only.
Last week, Microsoft introduced project ‘Honolulu’ which is the future of remote server management, designed to modernize and simplify the IT administrator experience. You can read all about it here.
Today, if you want to perform a management task on a machine, there are almost 20 different tools you need to open on a single machine, to name a few (Device Manager, Task Manager, Windows Firewall, Computer Management, Event Viewer, Server Manager, Registry Editor, Hyper-V Manager, Failover Cluster Manager, etc.). Microsoft has consolidated all these tools into a single intuitive remote server management experience.
Think of ‘Honolulu’ as the evolution of a traditional inbox management tools like (MMC). It’s great for IT administrators that need a lightweight management solution for smaller scale deployments, or Ad Hoc management for larger scale deployments. Honolulu complements existing tools like System Center or Azure Operations Management Suite by providing granular server management capabilities.
Project ‘Honolulu’ is a collection of separate solutions. Honolulu currently consists of three major solutions:
Server Manager is where you will find all the familiar MMC tools.
Failover Cluster Manager
Failover Cluster Manager provides a holistic overview of the entire cluster resources.
Hyper-Converged Cluster Manager
Finally, Hyper-Converged Cluster Manager empower IT administrators with a UI for managing their Windows Server Hyper-Converged Infrastructure based on Storage Spaces Direct (S2D) cluster.
In this blog post, I will walk you through how to deploy and install the first Technical Preview of project ‘Honolulu’ and get straight to managing the servers in your environment.
At its core, Honolulu is a lightweight service locally-deployed browser-based management platform and solution that requires neither Azure nor an Internet connection. It supports scenarios where users require full control over all aspects of the deployment, and for scenarios where private networks which are disconnected from the Internet.
Honolulu consists of two main components: The first, is the Gateway which manages the servers via Remote PowerShell and WMI over WinRM. The second, is the Web Server which listens to HTTPS requests and serve the UI (HTML) to the client Web Browser.
These components are packed in a single lightweight .msi package (31MB in size) that can be installed on Windows 10 Client, a dedicated Gateway server (Windows Server 2012 R2 or newer) or a managed server, giving IT administrators the flexibility to deploy in a way that make sense in their unique environment.
By publishing the Web Server to the public Internet, you can connect to and manage your servers from anywhere.
The first technical preview of Microsoft Project ‘Honolulu’ can be used to manage Windows Servers that are version 2012 and newer. If you want to manage Windows Server 2012 and 2012 R2 servers with ‘Honolulu’, then you need to make sure to install Windows Management Framework (WMF) V5.1. WMF 5.1 is required for servers older than Windows Server 2016.
Installing Microsoft Project ‘Honolulu’
The UI and the gateway service are combined in a single installer .msi package. If you install the package on Windows 10, you will get an app-like experience, launched from the Start menu or system tray. If you install it on Windows Server 2016, a network service listens on the port you specify during the installation (more on that later). Any machine that can connect to that server/port with a web browser can interact with the service through the user interface.
Now take the following steps:
- Launch the ServerManagementGateway.msi installer package. Select I accept the terms in the License Agreement and click Next.
- By default, project ‘Honolulu’ will modify the machine’s trusted hosts settings. You can select Create a desktop shortcut to launch Project ‘Honolulu’.
- In this step, you need to specify on which TCP port the network service will listen. Next, you can select Generate a self-signed SSL certificate which will expire in 60 days. And another better approach is to use an SSL certificate installed on the gateway server (you can leverage your exiting PKI infrastructure or you can use a third-party certificate).
- If you decide to use an SSL certificate installed on this computer, then you need to pay attention on how copy the certificate thumbprint to the Configure Gateway Endpoint wizard. Because If you try copy and paste thumbprint from mmc Certificate snap-in, an extra (invisible) unicode character is being copied also. For example, copy and paste thumbprint into notepad, it appears that thumbprint is copied correctly, but if you try to paste the thumbprint into the wizard, it reports that the certificate thumbprint contains invalid characters. To avoid this error, you can type in the first character manually, then paste the rest of the thumbprint without spaces. You can read about Certificate thumbprint displayed in MMC certificate snap-in has extra invisible unicode character.
- Click Install and wait for the Setup Wizard to install Project ‘Honolulu’ (Technical Preview).
- One the installation is completed, click Finish.
- Launch Honolulu by clicking on Project ‘Honolulu’ (Technical Preview) shortcut. As of now, Honolulu is only supported with Microsoft Edge browser and Google Chrome.
- If you attempt to launch ‘Honolulu’ with Internet Explorer, you will receive a self-explanatory error message! we need ‘Honolulu’ to be supported on more bowsers, please submit your feedback on User Voice Project Honolulu.
- First, you will see a start guide to give you a look on how to navigate through ‘Honolulu’.
- Next, you can go straight to All Connections section and start adding your servers by clicking on the +Add button. You can add a single server, a Failover Cluster or a Hyper-Converged Cluster, so you can manage the nodes as well as the cluster itself.
- If you want to import multiple servers at the same time, you can import a list of server names in a simple text file.
Microsoft Project ‘Honolulu’ is the future of remote server management experience. This is a great step by Microsoft for on-premises environment to have a single pane of glass for managing our servers. Microsoft also announced that Windows Server will move to Windows Server as a Service model, this new model works as Semi-annual Channel (SAC). This means that Server Core will be the recommended choice for hosting virtual machines, infrastructure workloads as well as for containers. In fact, Microsoft will release only Server Core for the Semi-annual Channel and they won’t release Server with Desktop Experience. Thus, Microsoft Project ‘Honolulu’ will help to manage and configure Server Core installations and drastically remove the need to logon locally to a server for management reasons. We don’t need a GUI on every single server anymore.
This is the first technical preview and there is still a lot of work to do. Meanwhile, you can download the Technical Preview today at http://aka.ms/HonoluluDownload and share your feedback on User Voice Project Honolulu.
Thanks for reading!