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Server Manager (Server 2012)

On Sat 11th May 2013, 13:19 Jonathansays:

Server Manager has been around for a while but has changed dramatically in server 2012 to be more like a Windows 8 app (the same GUI changes to 8 apply in 2012). On logging on to 2012 you're presented with server manager and its brightly coloured "flat" interface and if I'm honest I was initially left wondering how I was supposed to manage a server with this "thing".

The answer is you don't, instead you manage multiple servers with it, very easily. Installing role and features is a simple task still (and quite obvious being on the dashboard) but whereas previously you'd need to connect to each server individually and lose sight of others when you did so to install a role, sever manager simply asks which server you'd like to perform the install on and offers to reboot it too.

WinRM is used in the background to allow management so needs enabling on servers along with the relevant firewall exception. From server manager you can restart a remote server and invoke a remote PowerShell - this is denoted by a change to the PowerShell prompt, prefixing it with the name of the server you're connected to.

Server health details are shown on the main dashboard, any problems indicated by a count in red. It's worth knowing that when a server has only just booted it will show on the dashboard in red due to services set to "delayed start" - this resolves itself quickly. For ease of management, server groups can be created although these aren't global and only show on the server you create the group on. Groups only make sense for clumping together servers of similar function (e.g. file servers) - I haven't found another purpose for them yet. ServerManager also shows detected roles across the servers it's connected to giving an overview if specific services across the network.

Once you're used to it, 2012's server manager can be a very powerful tool and, my appreciation of PowerShell not withstanding, I'd probably use ServerManager for a lot of the initial configuration of a 2012 network. After the initial config I'm probably back to using the usual tools (these can be launched via ServerManager).