Windows Admin Center (WAC) is a flexible, locally-deployed, browser-based management platform and solution. It contains core tools for troubleshooting, configuration, management and maintenance for Windows Server, Windows Client, Software-Defined Storage (SDS), Software-Defined Network (SDN), Microsoft Hyper-V Server, and more…
Windows Admin Center is not only for managing servers, clusters, hyper-converged infrastructure, and Windows 10 PCs, but it also lets you connect your Windows Server to Azure hybrid services whether they are running on-premises or in a different cloud provider. There are many more hybrid services for Windows Server, which you can leverage with Windows Admin Center.
- Azure Backup
- Azure File Sync
- Azure Network Adapter
- Azure Site Recovery
- Azure Security Center
- Azure ARC
- And much more…
Starting with Windows Admin Center (WAC) build 1910 or later, Microsoft has added an ability to create and deploy an Azure VM directly from the WAC portal which you can leverage to save a great time. In this blog post, I will show you how to deploy and create an Azure VM from Windows Admin Center.
To follow this article, you need to have the following prerequisites:
- You need to make sure you are running Windows Admin Center (WAC) Version 1910 or later. As of writing this article, Microsoft just released Windows Admin Center Version 1910.02.
- Azure subscription. If you don’t have an Azure subscription, you can create a free one here. In Azure you need to have the following resources already in place:
- Resource Group.
- Virtual Network.
- Azure Express Route or Site-to-Site VPN tied to the virtual network that allows connectivity from Azure VMs to your on-premises network so you can manage it afterward.
- Finally, make sure to connect the Windows Admin Center gateway to Azure. Please check the following article to see how to register Windows Admin Center gateway with Azure.
Create an Azure VM from Windows Admin Center
Creating an Azure VM from Windows Admin Center consists of 6 simple steps as follows:
- Basics: Azure details, VM details, local admin account on the VM.
- Size: You select VM size that meets your needs.
- Disks: You select a disk type and/or create a data disk(s).
- Domain: You can optionally specify an Active Directory domain to join the VM.
- Networking: You specify a network interface name and then select the desired virtual network, as well as the subnet.
- Review + Create: Finally, you review the details before you agree on creating the VM.
Launch the Windows Admin Center portal and take the following steps:
- Click + Add, in the Add resources page, select Azure VM and then click Create new.
- Windows Admin Center will authenticate with your Azure account and then open the Create an Azure VM wizard.
- In the Create an Azure VM wizard, you will see 6 different steps as mentioned above. In the Basics page, select the desired Azure Subscription, Resource group, give the VM a name, select an Azure region and choose an OS image. Please note that you can only choose Windows Server OS image (2012 R2, 2016 or 2019). Type your preferred Username and Password. Click Next: Size to continue.
- In the Size page, choose and pick a VM size. In this example, I will pick Standard_B2s VM size. Click Next: Disks to continue.
- In the Disks page, select a disk type for the Operating system. The disk type could be (Standard SSD, Premium SSD, or Standard HDD). You can also add and configure additional data disks for your VM. Click Next: Domain to continue.
- In the Domain page, you can “optionally” specify an Active Directory domain to join this VM. In this example, I won’t join this VM to the domain. Click Next: Networking to continue.
- In the Networking page, give a network interface card name. I like this option, if you are familiar with the Azure Portal VM deployment experience, you know that Azure will pick a random name for the network interface, and if you want to rename the network interface, you need to go through multiple steps as documented here: How to rename the NIC interface for an Azure virtual machine. Select a Virtual Network and Subnet. Please note that at the time of writing, Windows Admin Center won’t create/assign a Public IP address to your VM. Once you are ready, click Next: Review + Create to continue.
- In the final step, review the details and hit the Create button. Now it’s time to grab some coffee while the VM is getting deployed :)
- Windows Admin Center will kick off the job, and after a couple of minutes, the VM will be created successfully.
Now the important point to note here, once the VM is deployed successfully, Windows Admin Center won’t add the VM directly for you under All connections so you can manage it. At the time of this writing, there are a couple of steps you want to take:
- You need to Click + Add again, and then in the Add resources page, select Azure VM and then click Add.
- Click Sign In to Azure. Then select the desired Azure Subscription, Resource Group, Virtual Machine, and the IP Address.
That’s it there you have it!
As you can see, deploying Azure VMs from Windows Admin Center is very simple. Before Microsoft introduced this new capability, we used to go to the Azure Portal to create the VM by choosing the OS type, and then connect to it and do any additional steps which are time-consuming. Starting with Windows Admin Center (WAC) version 1910 or later, you can remain within the WAC portal to provision, join the VM to the domian and eventually manage it.
At the time of this writing, creating Azure VMs in Windows Admin Center is generally available (GA), I hope that Microsoft will support Linux virtual machines, so you can deploy different type of OS (Windows/Linux) end-to-end without leaving the Windows Admin Center portal. I would also like to see adding the Azure VM directly in Windows Admin Center list of connections after the VM is created successfully. I expect further enhancement in this area.
Windows Admin Center is a freely available management tool for anyone to use and makes managing a set of servers with or without GUI remotely, very easy, especially for “day-to-day activities”. Download the latest copy of Windows Admin Center from here, deploy it in a failover cluster for high availability, and manage your hybrid workloads whether on Azure or on-premises.
Thank you for reading my blog.
If you have any questions or feedback, please leave a comment.