Windows Server 2019 – System Insights

After a small hiatus on Twitter, I got back just in time to notice a Tweet about the following [sorry, was unable to find who created the original Tweet, but saved the link luckily]:

Getting started with System Insights in 10 minutes

This fit in perfectly with my recent post on the Windows Admin Center, and I’ve got 10 minutes to spare, so let’s go!

Installing System Insights

As you can imagine, this is simply a breeze

Where is it?

Ok, I’ve installed the Admin Center and enabled System Insights, but I still don’t see the option.

For me this was the case, even after closing my browser and reconnecting.

Once you’re in the Admin Center, go to the Settings gear icon in the top right and choose Extensions [under Gateway]

Select the Windows Server System Insights (Preview) extension and Install it

Using System Insights

Once installed, you will see System Insights added to the Tools section of the server that has it installed.

It comes predefined with 4 settings it will check up on:

  • CPU capacity forecasting
  • Network capacity forecasting
  • Total storage consumption forecasting
  • Volume consumption forecasting

You can simply select one and click on Invoke to actually generate the data required for the forecast.

Unfortunately, if you run this on a fairly new machine [<2 hours], there’s a big chance you’ll run into this ‘notification’

Be sure to check out the videos on what kind of data you can expect if you’re impatient

Isn’t this a PowerShell related blog?

Well, yes, mainly it is 🙂

So it turns out, you can full access all this data through your friendly neighbourhood automation swiss knife!

It’s good to see that the terminology used in the Windows Admin Center mimics the cmdlets used in PowerShell, so it’s easy to reproduce what you’re trying to accomplish.

will simply show you all of the currently available forecasts, while

will start the process.

Do note generating analytics can be a process intensive operation, so PowerShell will actually warn you about this

Also interesting to keep in mind that Invoking capabilities though the Windows Admin Center will generate a notification in the Notification area, doing so through PowerShell will NOT.

Here’s what I love

Now while this is all nice and dandy, my favourite option can be found under the Settings -> Actions option for each Capability:

You can link Actions in the form of PowerShell scripts to be performed depending on the returned prediction status.

For example:

On the Volume consumption forecasting capability, you can  have an Action set on Warning that the system should try to clear out log files in a certain directory, or perhaps clear the C:\Windows\SoftwareDistribution\Download folder to quickly clear up some hard needed space.

Just imagine all the posibilities!

I want analytics, but I don’t want my to share my data

Now just in case you’re into tinfoil hats and are a little paranoid, you might wonder “where do they get all the data from to provide me with these analytics?”

Apparently it’s all local based analytics, so no sending data to evil cloud providers or Cambridge Analytica 😉 .
And even better, it’s fully operational through PowerShell, what more can I ask for?

 

Well, this might have been a little over 10 minutes, but I hope it’s been worth your while!

Play around with it, see what kind of cool things you can make and be sure to share them!

Happy Scripting! 🙂

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Windows Server 2019 – Windows Admin Center

After having played around a bit with Windows 2019 server, it was time to see what this “Project Honolulu” was all about.
Only to find out it’s no longer called that, it’s now been re-branded to it’s [hopefully] final name: Windows Admin Center

What IS the Windows Admin Center?

Well, according to Microsoft it’s simply this:

Windows Admin Center is a new, locally-deployed, browser-based management tool set that lets you manage your Windows Servers with no Azure or cloud dependency. Windows Admin Center gives you full control over all aspects of your server infrastructure and is particularly useful for managing servers on private networks that are not connected to the Internet.

Windows Admin Center is the modern evolution of “in-box” management tools, like Server Manager and MMC. It complements System Center – it’s not a replacement.

The quick definition for me would be a better version of the Server Manager, now accessible through your browser!

But enough talk, let’s take it for a spin!

Let’s prepare the prerequisites

Off we go, downloading the latest LTSC build for Windows Server 2019 [you will need that version if you want Desktop Experience] and while we’re at it, I’ll grab a copy of the new Windows Admin Center  🙂

Spinning up my test lab machine [Intel NUC6i5SYH in case you’re interested], I immediately create a new 2019 VM to see what’s what.

Literally 3 minutes after clicking on the install button I was looking at my logon screen 🙂

This is going to be a good night!

New toy time! Windows Admin Center

Ok, so we have our server up and running, let’s install the Windows Admin Center and see what we can do!

First we’ll need to copy the installation file from our lab to our VM:

Presto Chango, files are copied on to the VM [if you didn’t know about this before, you might want to look up something called PowerShell Direct]

I’m using all the defaults to install the Windows Admin Center, using default ports and a self signed certificate [usable for 60 days].
Of course in production you’d want to look into securing this, but this is still preview and test-lab, so knock yourself out 🙂

Ehm… what’s this?

Once Windows Admin Center’s installed, you want to start using it to see all the cool toys…
You open the browser and enter the URL https://<servername> , only to be greeted with the following error:

Turns out, you’re supposed to manage your severs from a management machine [preferably Windows 10 of course] and not on your server.
Since this is a quick test lab however, I’ll just install a decent browser and get along with the show!

Do note that due to the self signed SSL certificate, you will still get an error message, it’s just safe to proceed

 

Phew, that’s better!

After all those errors, it’s time to actually start up what we came here for [well, part of it]

You’ll first be greeted by the Tour window, but the contents are currently rather shabby

After that’s closed, you get to the actual heart of the Admin Center

Select the machine you want to manage and click Connect.
This will prompt you for the machine’s credentials [first time only] and will give you access to all the sexy tools it has to offer…

Now we’re talking!

Honorable mentions

Now I won’t go through ALL the features the Admin Center has to offer [although I’m really tempted], but I’ll throw in some features I thought were just AWESOME to be able to manage centrally:

  • Firewall settings
  • Network settings
  • PowerShell
  • RDP
  • Registry
  • Updates

They all just work IN THE BROWSER!!

Start playing around to see how it works, how FAST it actually is and be amazed at how user friendly it all is!

Have fun!

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Blogging – the mental game

 

After my last blog, I thought it would be time for something non-technical for a change.
The reason: blogging!

I tend to have a love/hate relationship with blogs.

As a consumer of content, I think they’re awesome: an ideal form of a quick content fix along with a peak into how others approach issues, techniques, struggles etc.

As a creator of content, I tend to struggle with blogging quite a bit, getting various highs and lows on an almost steady schedule, like a sine curve.

The Lows

It has to be perfect

A big issue with me and blogs is being a perfectionist…
I feel like content should be 100% perfect, 100% of the time before I publish it, otherwise there’s no use in publishing it.

This not only holds true for my blogs [as in the text], but also the code I might want to show.
It means that in order for me to even start writing, I want my code to be working exactly as I need it to, having all the features that I have in mind.

As you can imagine, this is a pain to manage because every time I want to blog, I know it will eat up a lot of my time to do  so.

Which leads me to my second problem

Time

Since I have 2 young kids and a full time job, time is something I do not have an abundance of.

I know you need to make time for such things, as it is an investment in yourself and the most appropriate quote for me would be

If you’re not willing to invest in your career, why should anyone else?

But on the other hand it’s finding a balance combined with the extra weight of perfectionism that tends to make me think twice about blogging.

Impostor Syndrome

Until recently I was unaware of such a thing, but the moment a friend of mine suggested this, things fell in place.

While on the one hand I feel like I’m not half bad at what I do and my gained knowledge can be used to help others, I always have this nagging feeling that no matter how much effort I put into it, it’s not good enough and others can do/have done it better.

Luckily there are various articles to be found online on how to combat this and what to learn from it instead.

And while knowing is half the battle, it doesn’t mean that it I’m no longer affected by it.
I just try to follow the following advice:

No matter how good or bad you are, there are always people in front of you and people behind you. So why waste time thinking about it?

The Highs

Don’t get me wrong, it might sound as if I find blogging horrible and should just stop completely for my mental sanity.
There’s also a good side to it!

Sense of accomplishment

Whenever I’ve gotten myself to actually write a piece again, I feel happy and relieved.

I’ve managed to overcome all the negative associations and worked through them and actually created content!
Not even thinking about how it might be received, I’m just happy that I’ve managed to get it out of my head and onto the web.

Reference point for information

One of the main reasons I had created this blog was to create a sort FAQ on technical content that I had spent too much time on to find over various sites.
A single point of content to easily browse through and find whatever I had been struggling with at that time or the recent period.

Reception by others

While I write blogs as a means for me to clear my mind and to be able to  document my technical findings for future reference, it’s always nice if other people actually appreciate your work.

Basically this post is inspired by a previous blog post I had made, which I thought was so-so, to which I had received nice comments and likes by people I regard highly.

I as astonished that it was so well received while I thought this was a subject already covered many a times.

But it turns out that while there might be like 50 blog posts to be found on any matter, it doesn’t mean yours is worse than any of them and perhaps the person reading was able to find your post instead of the others..and liked it!

Sometimes it turns out I even made an error here and there, but people still thought it is good, so it’s great to help combat both Impostor Syndrome and perfectionism!

What’s next?

Well, for now I’m on the high side of things and am really hoping to be able to change the sine curve into either having smaller ups/downs or simply making the highs longer than the lows.

All in all, I hope to get more content out, making me more familiar with the process and less time spent on creating it.

That’s it for now, I hope it helps someone who has the same thought process see they’re not alone 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

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