The Server Manager tool in Windows Server 2012 R2 is an application that is the most obvious evidence of a major paradigm shift in Windows Server administration. Prior to Windows Server 2012, an administrator who wanted to install a role by using graphical controls had to work at the server console by either physically sitting at the keyboard or by connecting to it by using Remote Desktop Services (formerly Terminal Services). In contrast, the Windows Server 2012 R2 Server Manager can install roles and features to any server on the network.
The primary difference between the Windows Server 2012 and Windows Server 2012 R2 Server Managers and previous versions is the ability to add and manage multiple servers at once. When you log on to a GUI installation of Windows Server 2012 R2 with an administrative account, Server Manager loads automatically, displaying the Welcome tile.
The Server Manager interface consists of a navigation pane on the left containing icons representing various views of server resources. Selecting an icon displays a home page in the right pane, which consists of a number of tiles containing information about the resource. The Dashboard page, which opens by default, contains, in addition to the Welcome tile, thumbnails that summarize the other views available in Server Manager, as shown in Figure 1-11.
These other views include a page for the Local Server, one for All Servers, and others for server groups and role groups.
FIGURE 1-11 Dashboard thumbnails
Although only the local server appears in Server Manager when you first run it, you can add other servers, enabling you to manage them together. The servers you add can be physical or virtual and can be running any version of Windows Server since Windows Server 2003. After you add servers to the interface, you can create groups containing collections of servers, such as the servers at a particular office location or those performing a particular function. These groups appear in the navigation pane, enabling you to administer them as a single entity.
To add servers in Server Manager, use the following procedure.
1. Open Server Manager and, in the navigation pane, click All Servers. The All Servers home page opens, as shown in Figure 1-12.
FIGURE 1-12 The All Servers home page in Server Manager
2. From the Manage menu, select Add Servers. The Add Servers dialog box opens, as shown in Figure 1-13.
FIGURE 1-13 The Add Servers dialog box in Server Manager
3. Select one of the following tabs to specify how you want to locate servers to add:
– Active Directory Enables you to search for computers running specific operating systems in specific locations in an Active Directory Domain Services domain
– DNS Enables you to search for servers in your currently configured Domain Name System (DNS) server
– Import Enables you to supply a text file containing the names of the servers you want to add
4. Initiate a search or upload a text file to display a list of available servers, as shown in Figure 1-14.
FIGURE 1-14 Searching for servers in Server Manager
5. Select the servers you want to add and click the right arrow button to add them to the Selected list.
6. Click OK. The servers you selected are added to the All Servers home page.
For administrators of enterprise networks, it might be necessary to add a large number of servers to Server Manager. To avoid having to work with a long scrolling list of servers, you can create server groups based on server locations, functions, or any other organizational paradigm.
Adding roles and features
The Server Manager program in Windows Server 2012 R2 combines what used to be separate wizards for adding roles and features into one, the Add Roles And Features Wizard. Once you add multiple servers to the Server Manager interface, they are integrated into the Add Roles And Features Wizard, so you can deploy roles and features to any of your servers.
To install roles and features by using Server Manager, use the following procedure.
1. In Server Manager, from the Manage menu, select Add Roles And Features. The Add Roles And Features Wizard starts, displaying the Before You Begin page.
2. Click Next to open the Select Installation Type page, as shown in Figure 1-15.
FIGURE 1-15 Configuring the Select Installation Type page in the Add Roles And Features Wizard
3. Leave the Role-Based Or Feature-Based Installation option selected and click Next. The Select Destination Server page opens, as shown in Figure 1-16.
FIGURE 1-16 Configuring the Select Destination Server page in the Add Roles And Features Wizard
4. Select the server on which you want to install the roles or features. If the server pool contains a large number of servers, you can use the Filter text box to display a subset of the pool based on a text string. When you have selected the server, click Next. The Select Server Roles page opens, as shown in Figure 1-17.
FIGURE 1-17 The Select Server Roles page in the Add Roles And Features Wizard
NOTE: INSTALLING COMPONENTS TO MULTIPLE SERVERS
Although you can use the Add Roles And Features Wizard to install components to any server you have added to Server Manager, you cannot use it to install components to multiple servers at once. You can, however, do this by using Windows PowerShell.
5. Select the role or roles you want to install on the selected server. If the roles you select have other roles or features as dependencies, an Add Features That Are Required dialog box opens.
NOTE: SELECTING ALL ROLES AND FEATURES
Unlike earlier versions of Server Manager, the Windows Server 2012 R2 version enables you to select all the roles and features for a particular server configuration at once, rather than making you run the wizard multiple times.
6. Click Add Features to accept the dependencies and then click Next to open the Select Features page, as shown in Figure 1-18.
FIGURE 1-18 Configuring the Select Features page in the Add Roles And Features Wizard
7. Select any features you want to install in the selected server and click Next. Dependencies might appear for your feature selections.
8. The wizard then displays pages specific to the roles or features you have chosen. Most roles have a Select Role Services page, on which you can select which elements of the role you want to install. Complete each of the role-specific or feature-specific pages and click Next. A Confirm Installation Selections page opens.
9. You can select from the following optional functions:
– Restart The Destination Server Automatically If Desired Causes the server to restart automatically when the installation is completed, if the selected roles and features require it
– Export Configuration Settings Creates an XML script documenting the procedures performed by the wizard, which you can use to install the same configuration on another server by using Windows PowerShell
– Specify An Alternate Source Path Specifies the location of an image file containing the software needed to install the selected roles and features. Use this option when you have previously deleted the source files from the system using Features on Demand.
10. Click Install to open the Installation Progress page. Depending on the roles and features installed, the wizard might display hyperlinks to the tools needed to perform required postinstallation tasks. When the installation is complete, click Close to complete the wizard.
NOTE: USING AN EXPORTED CONFIGURATION FILE
To use an exported configuration file to install roles and features on another computer running Windows Server 2012 R2, use the following command in a Windows PowerShell session with elevated privileges:
Install-WindowsFeature –ConfigurationFilePath <ExportedConfig.xml>
Once you install roles on your servers, the roles appear as icons in Server Manager’s navigation pane. These icons actually represent role groups. Each role group contains all the instances of that role found on any of your added servers. You can therefore administer the role across all of the servers on which you have installed it.
Deploying roles to VHDs
In addition to installing roles and features to servers on the network, Server Manager also enables administrators to install them to VMs that are currently in an offline state. For example, you might have an offline web server VM stored on a backup host server, in case the computer hosting your main web server VMs should fail. Server Manager enables you to select a virtual hard disk (VHD) file and install or remove roles and features without having to deploy the VM.
To install roles or features to an offline VHD file, use the following procedure.
1. In Server Manager, from the Manage menu, select Add Roles and Features. The Add Roles And Features Wizard starts, displaying the Before You Begin page.
2. Click Next to open the Select Installation Type page.
3. Leave the Role-Based Or Feature-Based Installation option selected and click Next. The Select Destination Server page opens.
4. Select the Select A Virtual Hard Disk option. A Virtual Hard Disk text box appears at the bottom of the page.
5. In the Virtual Hard Disk text box, type or browse to the location of the VHD file you want to modify.
6. In the Server Pool box, select the server that the wizard should use to mount the VHD file, as shown in Figure 1-19, and click Next. The Select Server Roles page opens.
FIGURE 1-19 Configuring the Select Destination Server page in the Add Roles And Features Wizard
NOTE: WHAT IT MEANS TO MOUNT THE VHD FILE
The wizard must mount the VHD file on the server you select to look inside and determine which roles and features are already installed and which are available for installation.
Mounting a VHD file only makes it available through the computer’s file system; it is not the same as starting the VM by using the VHD.
7. Select the role or roles you want to install on the selected server, adding the required dependencies if necessary, and click Next. The Select Features page opens.
8. Select any features you want to install on the selected server and click Next. Dependencies might appear for your feature selections.
9. The wizard then displays pages specific to the roles or features you have chosen, enabling you to select role services and configure other settings. Complete each of the role-specific or feature-specific pages and click Next. A Confirmation page opens.
10. Click Install. The Installation Progress page opens. When the installation is complete, click Close to dismount the VHD and complete the wizard.