Microsoft's New Server Management Tool

Project Honolulu

Project Honolulu: What to Expect of Microsoft's New Server Management Tool

Microsoft used the Ignite in late September to showcase a brand-new server management product, developed under the working title “Project Honolulu”. Honolulu will come in to replace the discontinued Azure Server Management Tools. Eric Berg, Microsoft Most Valuable Professional, was invited to be part of the project from its beginning, test it and even influence the product with his feedback. As one of the first users, he gives an idea of why server admins will love "Project Honolulu”.

Microsoft released a sneak peek article with initial details of "Project Honolulu”, before making the installation data of the technical preview available for download in mid-September.

Why does the Microsoft World need Project Honolulu?

Increasing numbers of server admins have been calling for a solution to provide adequate server management in the cloud as a response to the spiraling deployment of cloud technologies and the initial methodologies for multi-cloud solutions. While management using PowerShell, Server Manager or RSAT tools now belong to the bread-and-butter of daily routines in the on-premises world, system management in cloud issues continues to raise question marks in regard to connectivity, reachability and configuration. The growing interest in core and/or nano-servers also demands new management options.

Fig. 1: Structure/function of the Azure Server Management Tool (SMT)

Now while it may be true that the RSAT tool essentially provides remote management tools, they are currently associated with a range of drawbacks:

  • The need for an adequate client OS
  • No RSAT tools for cross-platform management
  • RSAT tools need to be reinstalled following Windows 10 in-place upgrade
  • Management via PowerShell, Windows Remote Management etc.
  • A comparatively high number of ports needed for remote management

In the Azure Server Management Tools, Windows developed a web-based solution for server management. Integrated in the Azure portal, the solution was able to replicate the basic activities of server management in a HTML5 browser, including functions like a browser-based PowerShell session. But many customers were put off by the dependence on the cloud. Microsoft has now responded to its customers’ feedback and developed an on-premises solution. The available Azure SMT solution was withdrawn on 30 June 2017.

What can Honolulu do for You?

Project Honoluluis now the implementation of web browser-based server management for the on-premises world. This involved installing the Honolulu software on a management system. The management website is available after installation.

Fig 2: Structure/Function of on-premises server management with Honolulu

This site is then used to manage various servers. The following management modules are currently available:

  • Certificate management
  • device manager
  • EventViewer
  • file management
  • firewall
  • users and groups
  • networks
  • process view
  • registry
  • rolls and features
  • services
  • storage management
  • storage replica
  • virtual machines
  • virtual switches
  • Windows update
Fig. 3: Screenshot of "Project Honolulu" – here "Roles & Features"

Which New Management Tools does Honolulu Provide?

The release of Project Honolulu gives us a first look at graphic user interfaces for features like Software Defined Storage, Storage Replica or Hyper-Converged Systems. The product also includes an integration feature to control Azure Site Recovery configurations.

Fig. 4: "Project Honolulu" - Software Defined Datacenter Dashboard (source: Microsoft )

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Eric Berg

Microsoft MVP, independent Azure expert

Microsoft MVP for Microsoft Azure and Cloud & Datacenter Management

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