Summary: Windows Server 2008’s Server Manager console allows for remote administration of Windows servers. Rick Vanover offers preparation steps for using the console.
When I first saw beta versions of Windows Server 2008, I immediately noticed the Server Manager console. It is quite different from the Windows NT version of Server Manager, but it’s still extremely important to Windows Server.
Above all else, the new Server Manager is the administration console of choice for Windows Server Core installations.
Server Manager is not just for Core installations–it can also be useful for everyday administration; however, the default Windows installation may not let Server Manager perform remote administration from the start. Figure A shows the error message you may get when trying to remotely manage another Windows Server.
The fix is on the remote machine to run the winrm quickconfig command and answer the prompt to confirm the permission to allow remote management connections (Figure B).
The next step is that IIS needs to be installed on the destination server.
There are pros and cons to adding this role simply for remote administration. This is another surface area (additional running service) vulnerability, as it is a service that would need to be patched and configured. On the other hand, using Server Manager for remote administration would mean that administrators are logging onto a server directly for fewer things.
Server Manager is clearly the best way to administer remote servers for Windows Server 2008 Core installations, as the console is not available, but it is tough to make a general recommendation for other installs. IIS is typically reserved for Web servers, but many applications such as SQL Server and other popular titles now use the Web engine for internal functions as a requirement.
For the full installations of Windows, the surface area exposure for IIS is a consideration to mull against your requirements and operational preferences.
Rick Vanover is an IT infrastructure manager for Alliance Data in Columbus, Ohio. He has years of IT experience and focuses on virtualization, Windows-based server administration and system hardware.