Nano Server Administration using 5nine Manager

nano_server_blog

Why Nano Server?

 

Microsoft is on the verge of releasing dare we say one of the biggest technology changes since Windows NT, — Nano Server. Their foray into becoming a huge service provider with Azure and Office 365 has reinforced some key datacenter needs. Although have never really liked the following expression it applies in this case, “They have been eating their own dog food”, meaning Microsoft is using their own software as a customer, on a scale like never before.

Lessons were learned and certain things became very apparent about how to efficiently operate a datacenter. The first major need was a common way to automate management and configuration across all products, this is achieved with PowerShell. This is a key technology to provide automation to increase operational efficiently. PowerShell has been around for a while and is maturing nicely. There are however many Windows admins that are still only comfortable using a GUI.

Secondly, minimize unnecessary resource consumption on servers. Historically, a lot of computing power was being utilized by processes and the graphical user interface (GUI), it is necessary on the desktop, but not needed in the datacenter. The GUI results in increased computing resource utilization, which requires additional servers that consume more electricity, which turns into heat that needs to be cooled. All the extra servers would require larger emergency backup power systems and other redundancies in the infrastructures. Computing inefficiencies in the datacenter have a snowball effect or in other words, an exponential cost associated with them.

Nano Server is designed to address server resource efficiency. Compared to Server with a GUI, Nano Server has:

  • 93 percent lower VHD size
  • 92 percent fewer critical bulletins
  • 80 percent fewer reboots

See http://blogs.technet.com/b/windowsserver/archive/2015/04/08/microsoft-announces-nano-server-for-modern-apps-and-cloud.aspxfor more information.

It has only the necessary bits of server code needed to run a few key roles in the datacenter that support the Cloud OS infrastructure and apps that run on it. It will eventually expand out to be the standard deployment for all server editions, and one thing is for sure – Nano Server itself will not have a graphical user interface. This much smaller footprint also means a huge reduction in the amount of code that needs to be patched. At the Microsoft Ignite conference this year, Jeffrey Snover (Nano Server architect and PowerShell inventor) told us they analysed the patches release in 2014 and Nano Server would have only required one tenth (1/10) that the full GUI versions of Windows Server did. This means a lot less downtime or scheduled maintenance, but on another front it also means a far more secure environment as well. The attack surface area has been greatly reduced. The old adage “do more with less” does indeed apply.

Nano Server allows organizations to deploy quickly, manage and service fewer components with a more secure server. But since there is no GUI…how do you manage it? With 5nine Manager you can get a full GUI to easily deploy, configure, manage and optimize Nano Server!

 

Why 5nine Manager for Nano Server?

5nine Manager from 5nine Software provides a graphical user interface that allows you to remotely manage Hyper-V VMs and clusters running on Nano Server without needing to be a scripting pro with PowerShell or command line. The public release of 5nine Manager v8 and earlier does not support Nano Server or Windows Server 2016. Please contact Info@5nine.com if you are interested in joining our private evaluation program to test Nano Server or Windows Server 2016.

 

5nine Manager Features on Nano Server

1Figure 1 – Nano Server Host

 

The 5nine Manager GUI has several tabs that show information and allow the administrator to perform various management, monitoring, capacity planning and agentless anti-malware tasks. The Summary Tab shows a dashboard with the current state and health of the Nano Server VMs, including the latest alarms. This gives the administrator a quick overview on the health and availability of the whole environment. On the Hyper-V Tab all the Nano Server VMs are displayed including the status and real-time table information for critical performance indicators such as CPU usage, assigned memory, virtual machine uptime among others. It can be customized to change the order the data is displayed or include other fields, such as guest OS IP addresses.

2Figure 2 – Virtual Network Manager

The virtual network manager provides the ability to manage virtual networks on the Nano Server remotely. You can deploy all configurations including the creation of External, Internal and Private networks.

 

5nine Manager also provides the ability to control the complete life cycle of Virtual Machines (VMs) that are running on a Nano Server host. Management tasks are simplified through wizards. For example the create virtual machine wizard steps through the process of VM creation.

3Figure 3 – Create Virtual Machine Wizard

 

The summary window shows all of the desired configuration information that has been set on the Nano Server host.

4Figure 4 – Create Virtual Machine Wizard Summary Window

 

The progress and status for all tasks are stored and can be reviewed in the task log.

5Figure 5 – Task Log

 

5nine Manager can also monitor your key virtual infrastructure performance metrics which are displayed for the Nano Server host and the individual VMs running on that host. Performance metrics are retained and detailed information over specified time periods can be displayed along with predictive trend lines.

6Figure 6 – Monitoring Tab

7Figure 7 – Set Custom Alert Thresholds

Monitoring thresholds can be configured to provide warning or critical notifications. These notification can be set for the base resources, CPU, Memory, Disk and Network for both the host and VMs. Any individual resource can be ignored if desired and there is also the ability to exclude any host or VM from being monitored at all.

5nine Manager with Antivirus will also automatically and immediately secure all your virtual machines, networks and disks running on Nano Server with protection from Bitdefender, Kaspersky Labs or ThreatTrack. By leveraging industry’s fastest security and least-disruptive scanning technology, it detects malicious files without causing antivirus storms or performance bottlenecks, allowing you to run more VMs on each Nano Server host. Now you can spend less on hardware by increasing your VM density on Nano Server by up to another 30%.

8Figure 8 – Antivirus

5nine Manager 5nine Manger will allow you to create, validate, deploy and configure a Nano Server Failover Cluster from 5nine Manager without launching additional consoles. Verify that your cluster validation has passed from the same console. Eliminate the legacy approach of console-hopping with in-box tools and manage all your Nano Serer hosts, Clusters and VMs in one place!

9Figure 9 – Create and Validate Cluster

 

5nine Manager allows you to manage virtual machines running on Nano Server, just like a regular Hyper-V host using wizards and simple user interfaces to streamline management tasks. Any organization that has a datacenter will seriously look at Nano Server, not just the large enterprises. It is already garnering quite a bit of attention and will likely be embraced sooner rather than later due to the cost savings, simplified operations and tightened security compared to Windows Server and Server Core.

You also can watch a short video of how 5nine Manager works with Nano Server at Microsoft Channel 9:

https://channel9.msdn.com/Series/Nano-Server-Team/5Nine-Manager-and-Nano-Server

 

Thank you for your interest in 5nine Manager with Nano Server!

Dr. Konstantin Malkov
Chief Technology Officer
5nine Software

Morgan Holm,
VP of Product Management,
5nine Software

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