Windows Admin Center is the new browser-based management tool developed by Microsoft to monitor and manage Windows servers, failover clusters, and hyperconverged clusters.
The Dell EMC Ready Nodes for Storage Spaces Direct offer software-defined storage building blocks to create highly available and highly scalable hyperconverged Infrastructure (HCI). These Ready Nodes are preconfigured with certified components and validated as a Storage Spaces Direct solution that includes Ready Nodes with Dell EMC networking switches as building blocks with simplified ordering and reduced deployment risks. Dell EMC offers configuration options within these building blocks to meet different capacity and performance points. The HCI clusters that are created on these building blocks can be seamlessly monitored and managed by using the Windows Admin Center.
You can download Windows Admin Center version 1910 from Microsoft download center and install it on Windows 10, Windows Server 2016, Windows Server 2019, or Windows Server version 1709. You can install Windows Admin Center directly on a managed node to manage itself. You can also install Windows Admin Center on other nodes in the infrastructure or on a separate management station to manage the HCI nodes remotely. It is possible to implement high availability for Windows Admin Center by using failover clustering. When Windows Admin Center is deployed on nodes in a failover cluster, it acts as an active/passive cluster providing a highly available Windows Admin Center instance.
The Windows Admin Center installer wizard performs the configuration tasks that are required for Windows Admin Center functionality. These tasks include creating a self-signed certificate and configuring trusted hosts for remote node access. Optionally, you can supply the certificate thumbprint that is already present in the target node local certificate store. By default, Windows Admin Center listens on port 443; the port can be changed during the installation process.
Note: The automatically generated self-signed certificate expires in 60 days. Ensure that you use a certificate authority (CA)-provided SSL certificate if you intend to use Windows Admin Center in a production environment.
For complete guidance on installing Windows Admin Center on Windows Server 2016 and Windows Server 2019 with desktop experience or Server Core, see https://docs.microsoft.com/windows-server/manage/windows-admin-center/deploy/install.
Note: This section assumes that you have deployed the Storage Spaces Direct Ready Node Cluster from Dell EMC by using the deployment guidance that is available at: https://dell.com/azurestackhcimanuals.
After the installation is complete, you can access Windows Admin Center at https://managementstationname:<PortNumber> .
For monitoring and management purposes, add the hyperconverged cluster that is based on Dell EMC Solutions for Azure Stack HCI as a connection in Windows Admin Center.
The Add Cluster window is displayed.
Windows Admin Center discovers the cluster and the nodes that are part of the cluster.
The cluster is added to the connection list and Windows Admin Center is configured to monitor and manage the HCI cluster.
To view the dashboard for the HCI cluster that you have added to Windows Admin Center, in the Cluster Manager window, click the cluster name.
This dashboard provides the real-time performance view from the HCI cluster. This view includes total IOPS, average latency values, throughput achieved, average CPU usage, memory usage, and storage usage from all cluster nodes. It also provides a summarized view of the Ready Nodes with drives, volumes, and virtual machine health.
You can drill down into any alerts by clicking the alerts tile in the dashboard.
To view the server details, click the tools pane and go to Servers > Inventory.
View the total number of drives in the cluster, the health status of the drives, and the used, available, and reserve storage of the cluster as follows.
To view the drive inventory from the cluster nodes, from the left pane, select Drives, and then click the Inventory tab.
The HCI cluster is built on three Dell EMC Solutions, each with 2 x 1.6 TB NVMe drives and 8 x 1.92 TB SSD drives.
By clicking the serial number of the drive, you can view the drive information, which includes health status, slot location, size, type, firmware version, IOPS, used or available capacity, and storage pool of the drive.
Also, from the dashboard, you can set the drive options as Light On or Light Off, or Retire or Unretire from the storage pool.
You can manage and monitor the Storage Spaces Direct volumes using Windows Admin Center.
The following features are supported in Windows Admin Center:
To access the volumes on the HCI cluster, select the cluster and, in the left pane, click Volumes. In the right pane, the Summary and Inventory tabs are displayed.
The Summary tab shows the number of volumes in the cluster and the health status of the volumes, alerts, total IOPS, latency, and throughput information of the available volumes.
The Inventory tab provides the volume inventory from the HCI cluster nodes. The volumes can be managed and monitored.
Create volumes in Storage Spaces Direct in Windows Admin Center as follows.
The Create volume window is displayed.
The volume is created.
Open, expand, delete, or make a volume offline as follows.
The Expand volume window is displayed.
Data deduplication helps to maximize free space on the volume by optimizing duplicated portions on the volume without compromising data fidelity or integrity.
Note: To enable data deduplication on an HCI cluster, ensure that the data deduplication feature is enabled on all the cluster nodes. To enable the data deduplication feature, run the following PowerShell command: Install-WindowsFeature FS-Data-Deduplication.
Enable data deduplication and compression on a Storage Spaces Direct volume as follows.
The Enable Deduplication window is displayed.
Deduplication is enabled and the Storage Spaces Direct volume is compressed.
You can use Windows Admin Center to monitor and manage the virtual machines that are hosted on the HCI cluster.
To access the virtual machines that are hosted on the HCI cluster, click the cluster name and, in the left pane, select Virtual machines. In the right pane, the Summary tab and the Inventory tab are displayed.
The Summary tab provides the following information about the virtual machine environment of the HCI cluster:
The Inventory tab provides a list of the virtual machines that are hosted on the HCI cluster and provides access to manage the virtual machines.
You can perform the following tasks from the Windows Admin Center console:
The virtual switches tool in Windows Admin Center enables you to manage Hyper-V virtual switches of the cluster nodes.
The virtual switches tool supports the following features:
You can manage Windows updates on a cluster node. All the updates are performed in cluster-aware mode.
In the right pane, the Available Updates and Update History tabs are displayed.
The Available Updates tab provides information on the last updates and their status.
The Update History tab provides information about the previous updates, including cluster node name, last run time stamp, update status, update title, and update description.