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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.
Microsoft announced several Azure hybrid services with Windows Admin Center such as Azure Backup, Azure File Sync, Azure Network Adapter, Azure Site Recovery, and more. Please check the following document for the complete list of Azure hybrid services.
Today Microsoft announced the GA release of Windows Admin Center version 1904. With the latest release, the Windows Admin Center team added a lot of new features and improvements as follows:
- Updated user experience.
- Core tools: Power options, Containers, Active Directory, DNS, DHCP.
- Hybrid services: Azure Monitor, Azure File Sync, Storage Migration, Azure Backup, Automate deployment in Azure.
- Hyperconverged Infrastructure update: Hyper-V, Cluster, Storage Spaces Direct, Software-Defined Networking.
- And so much new stuff…
You can read all about the new update and enhancements in the following article.
In this blog post, I will show you how to set up Azure File Sync in Windows Admin Center 1904.
For the latest update about Azure File Sync integration with Windows Admin Center 1910, please check the following guide.
Azure File Sync
In July 2018, Microsoft announced the GA release for Azure File Sync. With Azure File Sync, you can centralize your files in Azure and then install a storage sync agent on a Windows Server whether it’s on-premises or in Azure to provide fast local access to your files. Your server and Azure Files are constantly in sync, so you have one centralized location for your files with multi-site access powered by a fast local cache and cloud tiering.
For more information about Azure File Sync, check my previous step-by-step guide on how to get started with Azure File Sync. Configuring Azure File Sync with PowerShell or with the Azure Portal is a lengthy process. Thanks to Microsoft for adding the Azure File Sync extension in Windows Admin Center to make that process easier.
The prerequisites are very simple as follows:
1) You need to make sure you are running Windows Admin Center (WAC) Version 1904 or later.
2) The file server in which you want to enable Azure File Sync should be running Windows Server 2012 R2, Windows Server 2016, or Windows Server 2019.
3) You need to have an Azure subscription with existing Storage Sync Service, storage account, and Azure File Share resources created. Please check the following article to see how to create a Storage Sync Service.
4) Connect Windows Admin Center gateway to Azure. Please check the following article to see how to register Windows Admin Center gateway with Azure.
Once Windows Admin Center 1904 is deployed in your environment with all prerequisites, you are ready to start.
Set up Azure File Sync
Launch the Windows Admin Center portal and take the following steps:
1) Choose the desired server, then select the Azure File Sync from the left-hand side, and then click Set up to enable the Azure File Sync feature.
2) If the server does not have an Azure File Sync agent, you will be prompted to install the Azure File Sync service. Click on Next to continue.
3) Here you can see the installation directory, by default the Opt into Microsoft Update for this server is selected to keep the agent updated. If you are using a proxy in your environment, then enable the custom proxy settings. In this case, I am not using a proxy. Click Deploy agent to install the Azure File Sync agent.
4) Once the installation is completed, you will receive a notification message. Click on Next to continue and configure your Azure subscription (You will be prompted to authenticate to Azure).
5) In this step, you need to select your Azure subscription if you have more than one subscription, then choose the resource group which contains the Storage Sync Service that you created earlier. Click on Next to continue.
6) For sync to start, your file server and the Storage Sync Service resource in Azure need to trust each other. Thus, you need to register your server. Click Register server. After a moment, the registration process will complete, click on Finish.
7) You can see the installed agent version, as well as the latest available agent version.
8) Since I just configured this server, I don’t have any share synced yet. Before you sync any share, you can check the namespace compatibility for the share you want to sync, this will make sure there are no compatibility issues with your files. Select the tab New Sync Group and then enter the full path for the share and click Run check. Behind the scene, Windows Admin Center will run the Invoke AzStorageSyncCompatibilityCheck cmdlet to validate the path. This check requires the NuGet package provider version ‘126.96.36.199’ or newer to be installed on the file server. You can do so by running the following command: Install-PackageProvider -Name NuGet -MinimumVersion 188.8.131.52 -Force
9) The remaining steps need to be completed in the Azure Portal. Open the storage sync service this server is registered to and either add this server to an existing sync group or create a new one and then add this server and the share path above as a server endpoint to it. Microsoft added deep links, so if you can click on the Sync group name in Windows Admin Center, it will take you directly into that specific Sync group so you can continue the remaining steps.
10) Once you add/create sync groups in Azure as well as add the server and the share path as a server endpoint to it, you will see the Server endpoints details in Windows Admin Center as shown below.
That’s it there you have it!
Azure File Sync in Windows Admin Center is an easy way for you to set up a File share sync into Azure without logging in to your file server. Even if you have actually set up the shared sync to Azure, Azure File Sync in Windows Admin Center will show you the existing server endpoints, and walk you through in a way that is easy to set up. Behind the scene Azure File Sync will do the following:
- Installing the Azure File Sync agent.
- Updating Azure File Sync agent to the latest version when available.
- Register the file server to the storage sync service in Azure.
- Microsoft also added deep links, if you can click on any Sync group in Windows Admin Center, it will take you directly into that specific Sync group so you can do more advanced configuration directly from the Azure portal such as (file share, sync group, cloud/server endpoint).
At the time of this writing, Azure File Sync in Windows Admin Center is still in public preview, I hope that Microsoft will add Sync Groups and Server endpoints management so you can set up Azure File Sync end-to-end without leaving the Windows Admin Center portal. I expect an additional enhancement in the near future.
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, and enjoy the modern server management.
Thank you for reading my blog.
If you have any questions or feedback, please leave a comment.