Azure Server Management Tools

Even though they’ve been out in preview for almost a year, I only recently found out about Azure Server Management Tools! In essence, it’s a light version of Microsoft’s ‘Server Manager’ ported to the Azure web management GUI.

If you have a hybrid cloud deployment to Azure, or are looking for ways to manage on-premise Windows VM’s (including Nano), this tool could be for you.

In this quick guide, I’m going to show you how to setup a monitoring in Azure, installing the gateway agent, and some use scenarios.

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Installing Hyper-V Nano server to SD Card

2018 Update: Microsoft have unfortunately dropped support for Hyper-V on Server Nano. Windows Server Core should now be used instead.

Hyper-V Nano server is Microsoft’s true answer to VMware’s ESXi hypervisor. It weighs in at a tiny 500MB (approx) disk footprint and completely cuts out any sort of GUI, instead solely relying on remote management.

This really is the future of the Windows Server ecosystem: significantly reduced attack surface (92% fewer ‘critical’ vulnerabilities), scriptable PowerShell remote management, and a tiny disk footprint.

In this post I’m going to detail the steps I followed to setup a Windows Server 2016 Hyper-V Nano server image, and install it to the internal SD card of my home lab server, a HP ProLiant DL360 Gen8.

Prerequisites

Before getting started, you’re going to need a few things.:

  • Windows Server 2016 ISO image
  • Windows 10 ADK (link)
  • Nano Server Image Builder Tool (link)
  • USB Memory stick
  • 16GB SD Card

The image builder tool will need direct access to a USB flash disk, so this needs to be done on a physical Windows PC or a Mac running parallels.

Summary

This guide is going to be in three main parts. Building our custom Nano Server image, then onto generating the installation ISO/USB flash drive based on WinPE, and finally installing to the actual SD card.

Once we have generated a working installation USB drive or ISO, you can use this over and over again to easily install Nano Server.

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