New Server Management Tools (SMT) suite now on supports Windows Server 2012 and Windows Server 2012 R2, as it has been recently announced by Microsoft.
SMT includes a collection of well-known tools, such as Task Manager, Registry Editor, Event Viewer, Device Manager and Control Panel. Windows Update has been also added to that list few months ago. The difference is that now these tools actually are services housed in Microsoft’s Azure datacenters. Organizations must set up an on-premises gateway (which is called “server management gateway” by Microsoft) in order to use them.
“All SMT tools, except Windows Update and Device Manager, will now work with Windows Server 2012 R2 and 2012,”- Microsoft.
Tools for Remote Management
The SMT collection of tools was first introduced as one way to manage the headless Nano Server component of Windows Server 2016, which is a much smaller version of the also headless Server Core deployment option (said to have a footprint 20 times smaller than Server Core).
Nano Server can only be managed remotely by certain tools, as Microsoft stripped out the graphical user interface (GUI) from Windows Server 2016 with the Nano Server option. It can also be managed using “Windows PowerShell, Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI), Windows Remote Management, and Emergency Management Services (EMS),” (MS TechNet documentation).
Organizations using Windows Server 2012-branded products will be able to use the new SMT tools through the Azure portal, as they have browser-based GUI-like management capabilities, along with PowerShell scripting features.
New SMT Features
– Credentials can now be saved to the server management gateway. They are encrypted at Azure datacenters using AES 256 encryption, but can only be unlocked via credentials stored on an organization’s server management gateway;
– a new Certificate manager tool addition to the SMT suite will let organizations diagnose problems and remotely manage certificates on servers, with commands such as import, export and delete;
– a GUI for checking firewall rules on servers;
– a file browsing capability to the PowerShell script editor in SMT, which allows saving the scripts to Azure Blob storage.
– a separate Storage SMT tool that provides “detailed information” about disk use, file shares and volumes.
File Explorer capabilities right now in SMT still just have limited functionality, namely “browse, rename and delete” (Microsoft), but File Explorer capabilities are planned to be added to other SMT tools, such as the “PowerShell Script Editor and Processes for opening and saving files.”
The SMT preview requires Windows Management Framework 5.0 for Windows Server 2012 R2, but it’s not needed for Windows Server 2016 Technical Preview. Also, an Azure subscription is needed in place. The preview is accessible through an Azure portal account via the Marketplace.
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