With Preview 1909, Microsoft introduces an extension for Windows Admin Center (WAC) to manage IIS web services. In its first release, it already covers most functions of the conventional IIS Manager, but the WAC extension uses a different naming convention that might be confusing for administrators.

Wolfgang Sommergut

Wolfgang Sommergut has over 20 years of experience in IT journalism. He has also worked as a system administrator and as a tech consultant. Today he runs the German publication WindowsPro.de.

Until recently, Windows Admin Center (WAC) lacked support for several important server roles, thereby significantly limiting its usefulness. During the last six months, however, Microsoft has added several features to the browser-based tools that were previously reserved for MMC snap-ins. These include the management of AD Domain Services, DNS, and DHCP.

IIS management via extension ^

However, Microsoft did not implement these new functions as part of the core system, but as extensions. This is also the case with IIS management, so you have to install it separately. According to Microsoft, even more agile development should be possible due to this decoupling. Currently, all the mentioned extensions are only available as previews.

IIS Administration is installed as an extension for the Admin Center

IIS Administration is installed as an extension for the Admin Center

Having added the IIS extension, it only appears in the WAC navigation when you connect to a server that has the web server role installed. When you start the IIS module for the first time, a message indicates that the host requires the IIS Administration APIs.

The WAC extension requires IIS administration on the server

The WAC extension requires IIS administration on the server

Installing IIS administration ^

The IIS extension offers to download the APIs from Microsoft's website and install them on the server. However, this might fail, showing an error message; if this happens, you will have to get and install the add-on yourself. Microsoft does not offer any help in this case.

If the installation of IIS Administration fails, you have to add it manually

If the installation of IIS Administration fails, you have to add it manually

The required file, named IISAdministrationSetup.exe, can be found on Github. Copy this file into a directory on the web server and specify this path in the browser during manual installation.

For the installation, the WAC extension requires the path to IISAdministrationSetup.exe

For the installation, the WAC extension requires the path to IISAdministrationSetup.exe

Management of sites ^

After successfully connecting to the web server, the WAC extension will list all websites set up there. You can also create a new site at this point. If you click on one of the entries, you can start, stop, delete, or edit that site via the respective icons.

Comparing the features of WAC and IIS Manager

Comparing the features of WAC and IIS Manager

If you edit a site with the browser tool, the left menu bar displays most of the commands already known from the conventional IIS Manager. For many of the functions here, Microsoft uses terms that are different from the MMC tool. Since WAC doesn't offer all features, you have to find out which of the commands known from IIS Manager are available.

Current functional deficits ^

Overall, the WAC extension is already capable of handling most IIS management tasks. A comparison with the MMC tool shows that certain functions are missing, such as the definitions of errors pages.

The options for managing SSL certificates are also quite limited. If, for example, you want to request an SSL certificate, then you have to fall back on IIS Manager. In addition, WAC is currently limited to web services, hence FTP sites cannot be managed with it.

Graphical display of the workload ^

In contrast, the extension for the Admin Center offers an advantage over IIS Manager by integrating a monitor. As in the WAC server overview, the IIS extension provides a live diagram showing the current number of requests and the data volumes transferred.

The monitor displays the current load of the web server graphically

The monitor displays the current load of the web server graphically

Simplified remote management ^

Overall, WAC simplifies the remote administration of IIS. The classic IIS Manager requires a cumbersome configuration for each individual host, and the administrator also has to install a plug-in on the workstation.

WAC should also make the management of IIS farms considerably easier, even if it is currently not possible to set up a shared configuration.

The IIS role can be added remotely from the Admin Center

The IIS role can be added remotely from the Admin Center

Apart from the currently missing functions, which also include parts of the authorization management, web servers can now be managed almost continuously from a browser. The WAC also allows the installation of IIS by adding the required web server role.

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