Monthly Archives: September 2018

  • How to Connect to Azure VM to RDP (Remote Desktop Protocols)

    azure vm rdp connection

    Azure cloud services are perfect for hosting VM's and offer ways for businesses to drive IT costs lower. The advantages of VM's cannot be minimized so creating and accessing them are very important to get up and running as soon as possible as well as gaining access to them with Remote Desktop. If you are getting started with Azure here are instructions to accomplish creation of a VM and then connect to your virtual environment.

    For anyone in need of testing VM's, Remote Desktop is part of the mix of helpful tools for using Azure hosting services or even developing a virtual footprint.

    • Everything begins with accessing the Azure Portal and creating a virtual machine. Once an account is established on Azure, it is then time to lay some foundations with testing over a remote connection.
    • Within the dashboard, build a VM by clicking on New from the menu.
    • This action will bring you to a choice of operating systems. After clicking your choice, you are then presented with a form where you will name and configure your VM.
    • Among the other settings you will choose are type of disk (SSD or HDD), the login credentials, the type of subscription, a resource group type and name, as well as the region where the VM will reside. Be aware that SSD is costlier than HDD if budget is a concern. If this is a test configuration, it may be best to stay with a HDD configuration and put your money into SSD-based VM's for your high-end server needs.
    • The next step in the process is choosing your machine type. There will be several choices based on subscription and your choice of disk types. Once you have chosen the type and the amount of vCPU and memory, you're ready to move to the next step.
    • Networking is the third step, where you will be presented with options to define your virtual network, subnet and other settings. The Auto-Shutdown feature is helpful because up-time is part of you cost in Azure. If the VM is not needed at all times, then this choice can cut costs, especially in a developmental environment. If you choose this setting you can define when the VM will be shutdown.
    • Once you complete all these steps, you are presented with a summary at which point you confirm and launch the VM creation process. After the VM build is completed, you are ready to begin working in your Azure environment. Once the VM is running, RDP (Remote Desktop) is now a primary tool to manage your virtual machine.

    However, if you first try to use the connect button, you may find that it will be grayed out. In this case, you need to configure a Network Inbound Rule which will allow connectivity to the machine (via the firewall created with the VM). Creating these rules can be very important since you may have a variety of security configurations and concerns. The main idea is to create a rule that you will be able to use for a number of different VM's. Also, regarding security, consider how many different IP addresses will be allowed to connect to your VM environment. For security purposes, the fewer addresses you allow the better, so plan appropriately.

    To access Network Inbound Rules, find Network Security Group in your Azure Portal dashboard. You may well find that applying some basic rules to your future VM's will be helpful. To complete creating the rule, you will need the port number used by RDP which is 3389. With this inbound rule now defined, you can use RDP to connect to your VM.

    When using RDP be aware that there are a number of options available. These can range from local accounts to domain logons. It will be up to you to use Azure's security to manage what accounts will have access over RDP to your VM's. Policies can be set in place which allow regular users frequent access via domain accounts over the RDP client. Accounts used for support and management can be placed in a separate policy since these may have administrative access. Other account level access can also be managed through security policies which you can create.

    Here are some quick instructions to connect with the RDP client:

    • From your Azure dashboard, click into Virtual Machines.
    • Select a VM to log onto with RDP.
    • There will be a connect symbol to click at the top of the VM page.
    • Clicking the symbol will trigger the "Connect to Virtual Machine" page from which you choose options and then click to "Download RDP file".
    • Once downloaded, click to open the file and connect (there may be a notice that the file is from unknown publisher but this is not unusual).
    • The Windows security page will appear where you will enter login credentials for the local VM or domain account you intend to use.

    Note that, unless the VM is a domain controller you will either use a local VM account or a domain user account. This means that if you are using a local account, you will enter the name of your VM as the domain name (vmname\username). Otherwise, if the VM is a domain member, you will enter the domain name and account (domain\username). In both cases there should be a password for the account being use which you already have. If your VM is a domain controller you must login with the credentials for a domain administrator account. Click "Yes" to verify connectivity and you should be logged onto your VM.

    VM's are extremely handy tools for creating virtual desktops and servers, so when you begin your Azure experience make sure you understand how to create and access them. Using security best practices will help you manage users accessing the virtual network appropriately while keeping intrusions to a minimum. Because of the nature of the VM's, RDP becomes an essential way to access them, so managing inbound rules with security groups and appropriately assigning user account security policies is most important. However, you can create and run VM's very quickly in your environment with little trouble and begin building your virtual network.

    To learn more about Azure products, RDP or RDS, contact the cloud experts at

  • RDS Licensing

    remote desktop licensing (rds)

    Accessing your remote server implementations is highly important. With Microsoft server 2016, this is accomplished with Remote Desktop Services so that administrators can access and manage servers. This management is especially vital when servers exist in the cloud as virtual deployments. However, RDS is subject to licensing so let's take a look at how this process works as well as how you can implement license access to your virtual server environment. Before we get into how to setup the license server, let's discuss the types of licensing and other requirements.

    Licensing Modes and Other Concerns

    Every server comes with two Client Access Licenses (CAL) for accessing the operating system which is useful depending on the number of people who will log on your VM's. To start your RDS licensing, make sure you install the RDS role on all your servers. Next you need to make sure you have a license server installed on your network within 120 days of implementation or RDS will stop functioning. Once you have your license server installed then you must activate it and add your purchased CALs.

    With RDS licensing, there are two different modes which you can use. First is per user mode which means you must purchase a CAL for each and every person who will be using RDS to access your VM's. In this mode it does not matter how many devices are being used, but rather the number of users that are licensed. You must make sure that your CALs are added so that affected users can all log on and manage servers remotely. Using this mode, a licensed user can even use more than one device at a time since the licenses are associated with specific accounts. A server will accept any and all connections in this mode, however it is important to remember to buy the correct number of licenses and that they remain current with the agreement.

    The second mode of licensing is per device. Since licenses can be expensive, if you have a large number of people who will be accessing VM's but not constantly, then you may want to consider CALs per device. Licensing on a per device basis means that only a certain number of devices will be allowed connection via RDS at any given time. Your pool of CALs will provide the access until they are all used up, then other users will not be able to logon and will have to wait for an available CAL. But multiple users can still login from the same device if you wanted to purchase one license for a specific computer to be used for the purposes of RDS access.

    Other details to keep in mind for your Remote Desktop Services licensing are as follows:

    • CALs must be the same Windows server version as that to which the user or device will be connecting.
    • Your chosen RDS licensing server must be version 2016. Licenses for any previous versions can be hosted on Windows server 2016. The compatibility runs backward but not forward, meaning that a licensing server using Windows server 2012 could not host licenses for Windows server 2016.
    • There is no way to convert old licenses to 2016.
    • Upgrading the license server requires the need to delete the license database and then upgrade the server. This means it's better to create a new server and install the licensing role with the newest CAL version.

    Installing Remote Desktop License Manager

    Installing the Remote Desktop licensing role is a straightforward process, especially if you have installed roles on servers previously. A best practice is to install the license server on your domain, commonly done on domain controllers. Here are the instructions to follow:

    1. From Server Manager, click on the RDS node.
    2. Then click on RD licensing.
    3. Where you are logged on, click Next and Add RDS Manager
    4. Soon after you have added the role it will complete installation.
    5. Activate RD licensing by opening the Remote Desktop Licensing Manager (open Server Manager, click Tools, click Remote Desktop Services, click RD Licensing Manager).
    6. Right-click on the name of your RD license server and then left click on activate server.
    7. A wizard will appear and you will click next, then leave the next setting on "Automatic connection if the license server is connected to the Internet".
    8. Enter all the required information and any optional information that you wish to include, then click Next.
    9. Note that Start Install Licenses Wizard now will be checked by default so you can just click Next.
    10. Another welcome page will appear on which you can click Next to view the license program page where you will pick the type of license to be installed. Here you must choose the type of license which has been purchased, then click Next.
    11. Now you will be given the opportunity to enter all of the license codes which have been purchased. Once complete click Next.
    12. At this point, you will see all of the licenses by description in the right window pane when you click on the license server on the list in the left pane.

    License Management

    There are several considerations of which you should be aware for managing your licenses:

    • Any new licenses purchased must be added to the RDS license server from the Remote Desktop Licensing Manager where you will use much the same process to add them.
    • Once you have installed your license manager, if you see a yellow triangle warning beside your server you may need to add the licensing server to your active directory domain (if you have not done so already, which is a good reason to install it on a domain controller). To add the licensing server, simply right-click on your server list and select review configuration where you will have the option to add it to an Active Directory group. This action should resolve your problem. You can also confirm that your license server is correctly added to the proper AD group by using Active Directory Users and Computers (ADUC) to navigate to built-in groups and checking the subgroup for Terminal Server License Servers.
    • Otherwise there may be times when you need to migrate your CALs to another server. This is done from the Licensing Manager where you will right-click on the name of the licensing server and then select manage licenses. This action will open a wizard and you will click Next on the welcome page and then choose the first option on the Action Selection page. You can then choose that you are replacing your license server and, after clicking Next, you will enter the name or IP address of the replacement server. At this point you will be required to enter in your server key or agreement number, then confirm all the licenses you are migrating by adding all of them, then click Next. The licenses will be transferred to the new license server. If the new license server is offline, you will have to obtain the license server ID by logging onto the new server and obtaining it from the license server properties and entering the information into the wizard on your original license server.
    • You may also need to remove specific license packs from your license server. This is done by accessing the license server database with PowerShell (use the command: Get-WmiObject Win32_TSLicenseKeyPack, to see the list of license packs, then use the number of the license pack, or PackKeyID, with the command: wmic /namespace:\root\CIMV2 PATH Win32_TSLicenseKeyPack CALL UninstallLicenseKeyPackWithId [PackKeyID]). Once these series of commands are completed, you will need to rebuild the database either manually or automatically using the wizard from right clicking on the server name in the license manager. Choose manage licenses and this time in the action selection page choose the second choice for rebuild database. After you click next you will confirm that the database will be deleted after which you have the opportunity to reinstall your licenses with the wizard. Rebuilding manually means that you must stop the licensing services and rename the database file from TLSlic.edb to something like TLSlic.old, then restart the service.

    Those are the basics for understanding CALs for RDS, installing the Remote Desktop license manager and managing your CALs. To learn more about Azure Services, VM's and Remote Desktop Client access, contact our experts at Your online source for cheap OEM, Retail & Cloud products.

  • Office 365 vs. Office 2019 - What's the Difference?

    office 2019 vs office365

    There’s a brand-new version of the Microsoft Office on the way. Some customers who are eligible have access to a preview version right now. But what exactly is new in this version and why you should go for this version over the older version? Comparing the Office 365 with Office 2019, which done so you think will be the right one for you?

    As announced on the official Microsoft blog a few days ago, Microsoft Office 2019 comes with a new range of features as well as improvements of the old components such as Excel, PowerPoint, and Word. According to Microsoft, the updates will come with several new and improved features, such as tilt effects, roaming pencil case, and pressure sensitivity. In Excel, there will be more data analysis features including new charts, new formulas, and the ability to integrate Power BI. There will also be sophisticated features for presentation in PowerPoint.

    To qualify for the preview, you must be a business customer of Microsoft. This means that you should already be using Office 2016. The preview is not available for the general public yet.

    Another requirement is for you to be running Windows 10. Therefore, if you’re still using Windows 7 or an older version, then you’ll not be eligible for the preview. Besides, Windows 7 will be outdated soon so you should now consider getting an upgrade.

    When Will Microsoft Office 2019 Be Released?

    Microsoft is yet to release an official statement regarding the release date of Microsoft Office 2019. However, they have already talked about the possibility of releasing it during the second half of 2018. As for the Office 2016, it was released around the end of September. Therefore, it’s safe to think that the Office 2019 might be released about the same time. However, there’s really no way of knowing for sure when we will be able to get our hands on this latest update of the Microsoft Office.

    Customers who have a commercial license may also be eligible for a preview of the Office 2019 before it will be officially launched, thanks to the Commercial Preview program that Microsoft is offering. To qualify for the preview, your business should be registered with the Microsoft Collaborate program.

    Office 2019 vs. Office 365

    Of course, Microsoft also comes with a major office suite on top of the Office 2016. Their cloud-based Office 365 comes with a subscription service allowing business to have ongoing access to the latest version of their software, plus the advantage of cloud computing, including remote access and easy synchronization.

    The Microsoft Office 2019 is a one-time purchase only, similar to its predecessor, the Office 2016. Businesses will purchase the license, and in return, they will have unlimited access to it. As expected, the upfront cost will be higher.

    This might be ideal for some businesses, most especially for those that cloud computing is not desirable or viable. However, when it comes to Office 365 vs. Office 2019, it’s the 365 that will always be on the lead regarding features. As a matter of fact, each and every new feature of the Office 2019 has already been made available in the Microsoft Office 365 Pro Plus.

    So it’s clear to see where Microsoft’s focus is. As the company pointed out, Microsoft Office 2019 will come with an easy way to upgrade to the Pro Plus version of the 365. Furthermore, the Microsoft Office 365 Pro Plus promises to deliver continuous cloud-powered innovation that could lead to an increase in productivity, improved security, and having the lowest cost of ownership.

    The Microsoft Office 2019 will receive regular security updates. New features are also expected to be added in the future, although if you want to own the most modern office suite in the market that comes with the security and convenience of the cloud, the Office 365 would be the best choice.

    If, for instance, you don’t want the cloud-based tools, the Microsoft Office 2019 may be worth checking out, especially if you’re using Microsoft Office 2010, which is expected to reach its end of support by 2020.

    Office 2019 and Office 365 Licensing Schemes Explained

    Microsoft Office comes with the standard software that’s being used mostly in the corporate environments. Although Microsoft used to sell Office as a one-time purchase, it’s now pushing for the 365 Option.

    With the Microsoft Office 2019 on the horizon, Microsoft has imposed lots of new restrictions and has made some changes leaving everyone confused.

    So let’s break down the licensing schemes of Microsoft Office in such a way that it will be easy for everyone to understand.

    Office 365 vs. One-Off Purchases

    Before we discuss the changes that will take place in Office 2019, it may be best to clarify the two available plans when buying Microsoft Office.

    It’s always possible to purchase the latest version of Microsoft Office as a one-time purchase. This will give you the right to use the software as often as you want to, although this doesn’t come with any major updates. Therefore, if you have purchased the Office 2016, which is the current version, you may have to pay once more if you want to upgrade to Microsoft Office 2019.

    Microsoft Office 365 is basically Microsoft’s subscription plan. By paying a monthly fee per user, you’ll have full access to the Microsoft Office apps that include Excel, Word, Publisher, etc. The Microsoft Office 365 subscribers will also receive regular updates.

    As soon as you sign up for the Microsoft Office 365, you’ll continuously receive updates for as long as you remain a subscriber. Depending upon the plan that you will go for, your purchase may also come with cloud storage from OneDrive, making it easier to share and sync files.

    Expected Office 2019 Features

    It’s hard to speculate about what to expect from the new Microsoft Office 2019.

    However, Microsoft has always teased the interests of its users by offering several new interesting features.

    1. Microsoft Word 2019 is focused on getting things done easier. Thus, they will add new features like Office sounds, Black theme, text to speech, accessibility improvements, improved inking, learning tools audio descriptions and captions.
    2. Microsoft Excel 2019 aims to perform better when it comes to analyzing data. Thus, new features will be added like the 2D maps and funnel charts, publish Excel to Power BI, new functions, and connectors, Power Pivot Enhancements, as well as Power Query Enhancements. When it comes to analyzing and managing data, Excel is still the best app, and Microsoft is planning to kick up a notch in the 2019 version.
    3. Microsoft PowerPoint 2019 will be focused on developing content that has more impact and will add new features like zooming capabilities of slides during a presentation, inserting and managing icons, morphing transition features, SVG, improved roaming pencil case, and 3D models. These features have already been added in the Microsoft Office 365 Pro Plus and are not available to those who are currently using the Microsoft Office 2016.
    4. Microsoft Outlook 2019 is focused at managing emails even more efficiently, and new features are expected to be added like focused inbox, updated contact cards, Office 365 Groups, @mentions, as well as delivery and travel summary cards. Microsoft is hoping that these new additions will help users to manage their emails more effectively and efficiently.
    5. Improved inking Users of Microsoft Surface devices are already a big supporter of Microsoft’s digital pen, a tool that allows them to jot down notes, draw, and doodle on their phones. Microsoft Office 2019 is expected to introduce all of the new inking capabilities in all its apps, including pressure sensitivity and tilt effects, which adjusts the thickness of the ink depending upon the pen’s angle. There’s even a roaming pencil case, a feature that allows users to organize and store their favorite highlighters, pens, and pencils to be used across different platforms.

    Why is Microsoft Releasing Office 2019 After Changing Its Strategy for Office 365 in a Cloud?

    A lot of the cloud-powered innovation can be found in Office 365. However, Microsoft is aware that some users are not capable of moving to the cloud in the new feature. Yet, they want to be able to support all their customers in their transition to cloud and at a pace that will be easy for them to keep up.

    Office 2019's Extended Support

    Microsoft is expected to reduce the Office 2019’s support lifecycle.

    Usually, Microsoft provides mainstream support for new Microsoft Office products up to five years after their release and then it offers “extended support.” As soon as a product enters the extended support, Microsoft will only release the security patches for it. However, Office 2019 will receive only 2 years of extended support right after the 5-year mainstream support is over.

    According to Microsoft, since the older software is a bit harder to secure, it’s understandably less productive. As the changes speed up, it’s even more necessary to transition their software into a more modern beat. With the 5+2 years of support, the Office 2019 could lower such exposure.

    It’s clear to see that Microsoft simply wants to streamline its support to lower the number of old software that it’s supporting.

    Older Office Products Will Lose Support

    Although the reduced life cycle might seem bad, it’s not really the most important change in the Microsoft Office. The company once said that moving forward, standalone releases of the Office wouldn’t be able to connect to the Office 365 services right after they left the mainstream support. Therefore, the Office 2016 won’t be able to connect right after it leaves the mainstream support on 2020.

    The services of Office 365 include Exchange Online, OneDrive, as well as Skype for Business. This is pretty significant since only the latest version can connect to the wide variety of online services of Microsoft. Without the OneDrive integration, you won’t be able to sync your Office 2016 files with your colleagues easily. This could also mean that the Office 2016 will not be able to connect with the emails of your company.

    As soon as Office 2016 loses the support by 2020, the only option is to upgrade to 2019 or perhaps switch to the Office 365. The older versions of the Microsoft Office can still work offline allowing you to create documents as well as edit the existing ones. However, the lack of online features will drive others to upgrade as soon as possible.


    Microsoft released another announcement regarding the Office 2019 that it will only work on Windows 10. Although Windows 7 has extended support that goes until early 2020, while Windows 8.1 is until the year 2023, Microsoft will not be able to support the latest version of Microsoft Office on them. Nevertheless, Office 365 would go on to function in the same way as the older operating systems.

    Considering all these announcements, it’s clear to see that Microsoft is doing its best to push businesses to transition to the Office 365 and Windows 10. The change might appear a bit “forced” because both Office 365 and Windows 10 are good products, which is highly beneficial for most businesses.

    The reduced lifecycle of the Microsoft Office 2019 goes well with the company's efforts to support older products. This way, Microsoft wants to decrease the number of legacy products that are in use.

    To sum it all, here are some of the most significant changes in the Office 365 and Office 2019:

    • Office 2019 is expected to come around the second half of this year and will be released as a one-time purchase unlike the Office 365, which is subscription based. It will only operate on Windows 10.
    • Unlike the previous products, Office 2019 will only come with 2 years of extended support right after its 5 years of mainstream support is over.
    • After the standalone Office products leave the mainstream support, they will no longer be able to connect to the services of Office 365 such as the OneDrive.
    • If you’re am a user of the Office 365, you’ll always have access to the latest features, and you no longer need to upgrade separately.

    It seems that the Office 2019 will be the last one-off purchase that Microsoft will be offering for Office and it’s clear to see that they are pushing their customers to Office 365 right after the Office 2019 support ends. But we’ll have to see that once the time comes.

  • Definitive Guide to Windows Server 2019

    guide to windows server

    Just like with the release of every new Windows Server, the release of Windows Server 2019 is expected to come with several new features. However, there are a couple of things that caught our attention, most especially concerning the future of Hyper-V.

    VM Shielding for Linux

    Perhaps the feature of the Hyper-V that has received the most attention is the VM (virtual machine) shielding of the Linux VMs.

    While it might be something that’s nice to have, we believe that from Microsoft’s perspective, it might be necessary to deliver such feature in this upcoming release.

    In the past, Microsoft had achieved a near-monopoly in the industry of enterprise servers. Nowadays, however, the Linux servers occupy a good percentage of the Virtual Machines operating in many datacenters all over the world. From a business perspective, Microsoft won’t neglect these Linux VMs. If the Hyper-V is going to be successful in the long-term, then it needs to support the Linux VMs just as much as it supports the Windows VMs.

    The ReFS File System

    The ReFS file system is another thing that caught our attention during the Windows Server 2019’s presentation. We noticed that Microsoft has made some improvements to it.

    The ReFS was first released with Windows Server 2012 as a way to replace the NTFS file system that’s already old. The main goal of Microsoft with the creation of the ReFS is to come up with a file system that can meet the demands of the datacenters of today while providing a high level of resiliency at the same time.

    As a matter of fact, the term “ReFS” was derived from Resilient File System. Thus, it’s designed to automatically detect data corruption and conduct an automatic correction while the affected data continues to stay online.

    There have been lots of great features that were included within the ReFS file system that help maintain data integrity. However, there’s one small problem about the ReFS file system, and that’s because no one is actually using it.

    Well, there are probably a few people who make use of the ReFS. However, we haven’t seen anyone operating the ReFS within a production environment.

    To us, the ReFS file system seems like a work in progress. We were expecting that Microsoft would have a great idea in mind when it decided to create ReFS. However, it looks like the group of engineers who designed it ran out of time and ended up delivering an unfinished product instead.

    We are happy to say that Microsoft is finally reviewing the ReFS for the Windows Server 2019 and has added a data deduplication feature. Still, the file system doesn’t support compression or encryption. But this is not a big deal. Adding the data de-duplication feature will finally help make the ReFS a great choice for use in volumes that contain Hyper-V virtual machines.

    Failover Clustering

    Major work has been done on the failover clustering for the Windows Server 2019 release. One of its new capabilities is being able to easily transfer an entire failover cluster from one domain to the other. Perhaps, what’s even more important is the fact that Microsoft has made it possible to come up with groups of clusters. With this, users will be able to live-migrate the Hyper-V virtual machines in between clusters.

    We have two reasons why we find these new features useful from the perspective of the Hyper-V. First, we believe that they will lay the groundwork for being able to effortlessly live-migrate the virtual machines in between Azure and our datacenters. Second, by having the ability to come up with cluster groups that could potentially become a catalyst for a major architectural change in the way that virtual machine resources are arranged. But we’re merely speculating here. As far as we know, Microsoft hasn’t really talked about this. However, we could end up with clusters designed to support specific roles in VM.

    For instance, we could create clusters that can be used solely for hosting the web frontend servers or the mail servers, as well as some other role. In the same way, we could come up with workload-specific clusters with all the virtual machines making up a specific workload belonging to a dedicated cluster.

    Since it’s now possible to live-migrate the virtual machines between clusters, we’ll now have the ability to architecturally structure the failover-clustering infrastructure in a way that will make the most sense for the needs of the organizations.

    Enterprise-Grade Hyper-Converged Infrastructure (HCI)

    Upon releasing the Windows Server 2019, Microsoft has rolled up three years’ worth of updates for its HCI platform, or the Hyper-Converged Infrastructure. This is because the gradual schedule of upgrade that Microsoft is now using includes what they call the Semi-Annual Channel releases. This means that the incremental upgrade is done as soon as they are available. Then, after every couple of years, it will make a major release known as the LTSC version or the Long-Term Servicing Channel. This includes upgrades from the earlier semi-annual channel releases.

    The LTSC Windows Server 2019 is expected to be released this fall, and it’s now available to users that are part of Microsoft’s Insider program.

    Although the main components of the HCI that includes computing, storing, and networking, have all been improved in the semi-annual channel releases, for those organizations that are building data centers and high-scale software-defined platforms, Windows Server 2019 will definitely be an important release for a software-defined data center.

    With this latest version, HCI is bundled within the server license. This means that a server backbone will be running the Hyper-V to allow for a dynamic decrease or increase of the workload without the need for downtime.

    Windows Server 2019 GUI

    One thing that has surprised the many enterprises that have started using the semi-annual channel versions of the Windows Server 2016 is its lack of GUI for these releases. The semi-annual channel only supports Server GUI-less configurations. With Windows Server 2019’s LTSC release, IT professionals will once again need to have their desktop GUI of Windows Server aside from the GUI-less Server Core, and Nano releases.

    Project Honolulu

    With the launch of the Windows Server 2019, Microsoft plans to release the Project Honolulu server management tool formally. This is basically a central console allowing IT professionals to be able to easily manage both GUI and GUI-less Windows 2012R2, 2016, and 2019 servers within their environments.

    Early adopters of the tool love the simplicity that comes with using Project Honolulu. It rolls up some of the most common tasks like Performance Monitoring, Server Configuration, and Setting Tasks which run within the server systems. The tool has made it easier for administrators to be able to manage a combination of servers within their environment.

    Security Improvements

    Microsoft has continuously included a built-in security feature to help companies have an “expect breach” model when managing security. Instead of assuming that the firewalls will be able to prevent any security compromises, the Windows Server 2019 assumes that the servers and applications within the data center have already been compromised.

    The Windows Server 2019 comes with the Windows Defender ATP or the Advanced Threat Protection that would evaluate common vectors to detect any security breaches. Once detected, it will automatically block and alert any potential malicious attacks. Users of Microsoft Windows 10 received many of the features of the Defender ATP in the past few months. This included Windows Defender ATP within the Windows Server 2019, allowing them to use network transport, data storage, and security-integrity components, to keep the Windows Server 2019 systems from being compromised.

    Smaller Containers

    Organizations have been swiftly reducing the footprint and the overhead of their IT operations. They have replaced bloated servers with containers that are thinner and more efficient. Members of the Windows Insiders were able to benefit by achieving a higher density of computing to improve the overall application operations without the added expansion of hardware capacity or the added expense in hardware server systems.

    The Windows Server 2019 comes with a smaller and leaner Server Core image that’s capable of cutting virtual machine overhead by 50-80 percent. If the organization is able to get more functionality within a significantly smaller image, they will be able to lower their costs and improve the efficiency of their IT investments.

    Windows Subsystem on Linux

    About a decade ago, one could rarely say that Linux and Microsoft were similar regarding complimentary platform services, but this has changed now. The Windows Server 2016 had open support for Linux as virtual machines, and the recent release of the Windows Server 2019 has made a huge headway by adding an entire subsystem that’s been optimized for the Linux Systems to operate on the Windows Server.

    The Linux Windows Subsystem has extended the basic VM operation of the Linux within the Windows Server and offers a more profound layer of network integration, security controls, and file system storage. It can also allow for the encrypted Linux virtual instances to be enabled. This is exactly how Microsoft provided the Shielded VMs for Windows within the Windows Server 2016, but it’s now natively shielded for Virtual Machines of Linux within Windows Server 2019.

    The optimization of the containers together with their ability to support Linux natively within the Windows Server hosts can possibly decrease the cost by eliminating the need to have 2-3 infrastructure platforms. It will instead run them within the Windows Server 2019.

    Since most of the latest features within the Windows Server 2019 have been included in the updates made in the last couple of years, these features don’t really come as a surprise. But this also means that features in the Windows Server 2019 that were part of the semi-annual channel releases in 2016 have already been tried and tested. This way, organizations using the Windows Server 2019 will no longer have to wait for up to a year for the bug fixes.

    This is definitely a major change and helps organizations plan for the adoption of the Windows Server 2019 sooner than they usually do for a major release.

    What Will Windows Server 2019 Offer for Data Centers

    Since Windows Server 2008 won’t have extended support anymore after January 2020, now it’s the perfect time to start planning your upgrades. The Windows Server 2019 is expected to be available around the second half of this year along with the System Center 2019. Furthermore, Microsoft has just started talking about the new features that it’s planning to bring.

    A few of the features have already been in the “Semi-Annual Channel” version. These include Windows Subsystem for Linux which allows you to run similar Linux scripts and utilities using a Windows server and with much smaller images of the Server Core. It also comes with improved support for the orchestration of the Kubernetes support, as well as the Hyper-V isolation for the Linux containers. Other features are mere logical progressions from the features of Server 2016 like the support for Shielded Virtual Machines with limited admin access for the Linux VMs.

    However, Windows Server 2019 also includes new options for hyper-converged infrastructure as well as cluster management that fit well with the current data center trends.

    HCI will conduct continuous enhancements that include increasing its resiliency towards hardware failure, health monitoring, the ability to diagnose, performance, persistent memory support, management, and more.

    The cluster sets have grouped together several failover clusters, whether they are for computing, storage, or hyper-converged clusters. With the cluster sets, resources like the Virtual Machines will not be part of an individual cluster, but they will belong to a cluster of clusters. This means that you’ll be able to scale up to a much bigger number of nodes and still get the benefits of having a single cluster without the fragility that comes with a single, giant cluster. This has made the fabric to be more scalable and reliable.

    Having the ability to encrypt network segments to protect the network layer in between servers can also appeal to those that operate larger data centers. According to Microsoft, the SDN encryption will give organizations the ability to encrypt subnet traffic, and this is extremely useful in a multi-tenant environment that has multiple virtual networks.

    While the cluster sets will appeal to the biggest enterprise data centers, the remote server management application of Windows Server 2019 or the Project Honolulu can carry out the benefits of the HCI into smaller setups.

    As stated by Siddhartha Roy, who was part of the Windows Server Team, “We’re very cognizant that even for the smallest footprints, for a 2 to 4 node segment, we would need a separate DIY software-defined data center.” He further added that there’s a need for a more self-managed solution that’s aimed at someone who will be more of an IT generalist.

    For more information on Windows Server, speak to our Microsoft Licensing experts at Royal Discount. Call 1-877-292-7712 or contact us here.