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Today we are excited to announce the general availability of Windows Admin Center version 2103! A big THANK YOU to the Windows Admin Center community, customers, partners and fans! We have continued to listen to your feedback and, as a result, developed Windows Admin Center into a unique, multi-purpose management tool that just keeps getting better.
We have several new features in this release, including in-app updates for both the Windows Admin Center platform and extensions. We expect this update feature to deliver continuous functionality updates and an improved user experience. Additionally, we’ve made improvements to both accessibility and to core tools like the Events tool, the Virtual Machine tool, and to Azure hybrid center. Our partners have also begun releasing their integrated snap-in experiences for Azure Stack HCI workflows, providing a seamless driver and firmware update mechanism. This ensures that IT Administrators keep their Azure Stack HCI systems up to date.
Here’s a video demoing the new features in Windows Admin Center version 2103.
New features and updates
Windows Admin Center supports Azure IoT Edge for Linux on Windows
Early this year, the Azure IoT Edge team announced the public preview of Azure IoT Edge for Linux on Windows. IoT Edge for Linux on Windows works by running a Linux virtual machine on a Windows host. The Linux virtual machine comes pre-installed with the IoT Edge runtime. The IoT Edge extension for Windows Admin Center facilitates installation, configuration, and diagnostics of IoT Edge on the Linux virtual machine. By using Windows Admin Center, you can deploy IoT Edge for Linux on Windows on the local device or can connect to target devices and manage them remotely.
Windows Admin Center in the Azure Portal is now in public preview
In addition to the general availability announcement of Windows Admin Center v2103, today we also announced the public preview of Windows Admin Center in the Azure Portal. This new capability enables seamless and granular management of your Windows Server Azure IaaS virtual machines (VMs) from within the Azure Portal. The user interface in this experience is the same as the Windows Admin Center you know and love, which allows you to configure, troubleshoot, and perform maintenance tasks in a familiar way, all while providing cloud capabilities that were once only available to on-premises users.
To read more about Windows Admin Center in the Azure Portal, see this documentation or visit the Azure Portal to start using it today.
What’s new in Windows Admin Center v2103
Automatic in-app updates
We are happy to share that we are addressing one of our oldest User Voice requests! Windows Admin Center is introducing in-app and automatic updates. Your Windows Admin Center instances are always going to be up to date with seamless auto-updating for both your gateway and extensions. This will not only allow you to get updates faster, but also reduce the bi-yearly struggle of filling out our evaluation form to get the latest updates.
Please note that this feature is currently in preview and will be improving over our next few releases.
Automatic platform updates:
- Navigate to the Settings menu using the gear on the top right corner
- Select Updates
Automatic extension updates
This new feature allows you to keep all your extensions up-to-date, even between releases of the Windows Admin Center platform, all by using a toggle. Manage your automatic extension updates by following these steps:
- Navigate to the Settings menu using the gear on the top right corner
- Select Extensions
- Select the toggle near the top of the page to enable or disable automatic extension updates
Gateway proxy support
Windows Admin Center can now redirect your outbound traffic through a proxy. This means you can access Azure services, extensions, and internet communication through your custom proxy. This has been a widely requested feature for many years so we’re glad to bring this to you. Set a proxy server by navigating to the Proxy tab in settings:
Each of the tools in Windows Admin Center can now be managed in a pop-up window. You can “pop out” the tool by hovering on the tool name in the tools list.
We’re bringing your Windows Admin Center privacy settings front and center. We know that your privacy is very important. To help you manage these settings, we have a new page for you to toggle the amount of data your Windows Admin Center instance sends to Microsoft. In this release, you will see two new screens for privacy management: one in your gateway settings (Diagnostics & feedback) and one in the installer itself.
Core management tools
Events tool redesign
We know the Event Viewer is a staple for IT Administrators and is regularly used by customers to better understand what is going on with their systems. When you need to investigate or troubleshoot, there’s no better place to turn to than Event Viewer. The classic Event Viewer interface was introduced in 1993 and hasn’t changed much since. We, on the Windows Admin Center team, believed it was about time you got an upgrade. That’s why in this release, we’ve enhanced the way in which you understand how features, apps, and devices are working. You can access our new and improved Event Viewer by enabling the preview toggle in the top right corner of the tool.
With this look and feel, you can tailor your experience to the specific events and severity levels you’re interested in and display the data over a period in the form of both a list and a new stacked bar format. Like our Performance Monitor tool, you can create and save workspaces, allowing you to bring up all your desired data quickly and easily. You are no longer restricted to viewing events one at a time, which was the case in the previous Events tool. Now you can easily group events from different channels.
This tool is under active development and is still missing some crucial features. The original event viewer will remain accessible.
Virtual Machine tool
Virtual Machine management continues to be a large area of investment for the team. We are working to continuously improve the experience and bring you new features. In this release, new and improved features include:
- Integration services settings – There is now an Integration Services tab in the VM settings menu. You can use this tab to configure settings like time synchronization, heartbeat, and shutdown.
- Editable columns and groupings – The ability to edit your columns and groupings is here. As an IT admin, you now have full control of which information about our virtual machines you are interested in and what your view looks like, whether in the server or cluster view. Just like in some of the other tools, the button is on the top right corner of the tool.
- Edit virtual switches during VM move – In the past, your virtual machine migration would fail if the name of the virtual switches between the source and destination were not the same. Not anymore! When migrating a VM with a virtual switch configured between nodes or clusters, you now have the option to reassign your virtual switches using a simple drop down.
- Bug fixes – We’ve fixed several bugs in this tool, including an error that would result when you attempted to load a cluster with a large number of nodes and a large number of clustered VMs.
Azure hybrid center
We’re investing in improving Windows Admin Center’s Azure services, and we’re starting off with the main tool—Azure hybrid center. In this release, you’ll notice we modified the UI to make your experience of setting up Azure services more streamlined. We now recommend you onboard to Azure Arc prior to onboarding to other Azure services for the best user experience.
Azure Stack HCI
We’ve also made improvements to networking in the deployment wizard of Windows Admin Center. Some of these improvements include addressing issues with adapter detection, management adapter teaming, detection of RDMA supportability and storage spaces configuration.
The announcement that we are most excited about in this space is the release of integrated snap-in experiences by some of our Original Equipment Manufacturing (OEM) partners. These extensions provide a seamless integrated experience in the deployment wizard. If you are running HCI clusters on a validated OEM partner hardware, the WAC partner snap–in will bring in the latest firmware and drivers to keep your cluster nodes up to date.
These snap-in integrations are also available as part of Cluster-Aware Updating (CAU). If you’re planning on trying out a snap-in experience, make sure you have the latest version of the Cluster Manager extension.
Windows Admin Center is built to be an extensible platform, and we value the contributions of our partners to the Windows Admin Center ecosystem. Our partners have been hard at work developing their integrated snap-ins for Azure Stack HCI workflows. As of today, four partners have released extensions containing snap-ins.
The Dell EMC OpenManage extension has been updated with an integrated snap-in for both the Azure Stack HCI cluster deployment flow and Cluster-Aware Updates, as well as performance improvements. The Dell EMC OpenManage extension for Windows Admin Center enables IT administrators to manage Dell EMC PowerEdge servers as hosts, Microsoft failover clusters created with PowerEdge servers, Dell EMC Integrated System for Microsoft Azure Stack HCI, and Dell EMC HCI Solutions for Microsoft Windows Server with Dell EMC Microsoft Storage Spaces Direct Ready Nodes or AX Nodes. This simplifies the tasks of IT administrators by remotely managing PowerEdge servers, clusters, HCI and Dell EMC Solutions for Microsoft Azure Stack HCI throughout their life cycle.
Version 2.0.0 of the Dell EMC OpenManage extension contains several major updates and feature improvements, including:
- Support for the management and monitoring of Azure Stack HCI version 20H2 OS
- Hardware, firmware, and BIOS updates in the Windows Admin Center Azure Stack HCI cluster create wizard through snap-in integration
- Full stack Cluster-Aware Updating through the integration of a snap-in, which provides hardware, BIOS, and firmware updates in addition to the operating system updates available in Windows Admin Center
- Schedule Cluster-Aware Updating for hardware updates
- Numerous enhancements, including support for target nodes running Windows Server Core, an improved Update Source catalog selection view, improvements in compliance generation, and a new way to view license details
For a complete list of new features and updates, check out the Dell EMC OpenManage version 2.0.0 release notes.
The Lenovo XClarity Integrator extension has been updated with an integrated snap-in for the Azure Stack HCI Cluster create wizard and several new features. The Lenovo XClarity Integrator for Windows Admin Center provides IT administrators a smooth and seamless management experience across Windows Server hyper-converged and physical infrastructure. This standalone Windows Admin Center solution extends Server Manager, Failover Cluster Manager, Firmware Update, and Hyper-Converged Cluster Manager in a single unified UI to enable simple server management.
Version 3.0.5 of the Lenovo XClarity Integrator extension includes the following improvements and updates:
- Firmware/driver update snap-in for Azure Stack HCI cluster creation
- Firmware/driver updates without the need for Lenovo XClarity Administrator installation
- Firmware/driver update package repository management
- HTTP proxy settings
- Log settings
- Native OS management settings
- Support for previous versions of Windows Admin Center and XClarity Integrator
The DataON MUST Pro extension is now generally available. DataON MUST Pro integrates with the Windows Admin Center cluster deployment flow and cluster-aware updating functionality to simplify deployment and updates to Microsoft Azure Stack HCI, with minimal disruptions to your infrastructure. MUST Pro automatically compares your DataON Integrated Systems for Azure Stack HCI against DataON’s latest quarterly validated server component image baseline. It also ensures that servers have the same OS version, drivers, firmware, BIOS, and BMC, and checks the drivers and firmware for network cards, host bus adapters, and SSD and HDD drives.
This extension release includes the following features:
- Support initial HCI Cluster creation flow via full integration WAC
- Support maintenance update flow via Microsoft cluster aware update features for bios, firmware, drivers and BMC
- Support both Online and Offline mode
- Update MUST Inventory Page to support bios, firmware, drivers and BMC comparison between existing cluster hardware to latest golden image built
- Support DataON Integrated Systems for Microsoft Azure Stack HCI
The SecureGUARD Blazics Updates extension is now generally available. The SecureGUARD Blazics Update extension for Windows Admin Center provides an easy-to-use interface to select and install SecureGUARD-approved updates for SecureGUARD Blazics servers. The mechanisms for driver and firmware updates are directly integrated into the workflow when creating a hyperconverged cluster based on Azure Stack HCI OS 20H2 as well as the workflow for cluster-aware updates (CAU).
This extension is a snap-in and will appear when using the cluster create wizard or cluster-aware updating (CAU) flows.
Other partner extension updates
- QCT Management Suite – The new version of this extension includes an added firmer/driver download list.
- DataON MUST – The new version of this extension includes bug fixes.
We hope you enjoy this latest update of Windows Admin Center, the various new functionality in preview, and all the extensions now available. Learn more and download today!
As always, thanks for your ongoing support, adoption, and feedback. Your contributions through user feedback continue to be very important and valuable to us, helping us prioritize and sequence our investments.
Windows Admin Center Team (@servermgmt)
Brought to you by Dr. Ware, Microsoft Office 365 Silver Partner, Charleston SC.