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Although Microsoft has continuously added functions to WAC in the course of several iterations, it is still far from being able to manage all the roles and features of Windows Server. Gaps exist not only because of the complete lack of support for services such as Active Directory but also because of the limited functionality of its existing modules.
WAC as an alternative to Hyper-V Manager ^
Hyper-V is one component you can administer almost completely using the web browser. This stretches from activating the Hyper-V role to subsequently configuring the settings. However, if you use traditional GUI tools for this task, you will need the Server Manager and the Hyper-V Manager.
After adding the server to the list of managed computers, you can take the necessary actions using the WAC gateway. No software, such as an agent, is required at the endpoint.
Adding the Hyper-V role ^
The first step is to select the menu item Role and Features from the navigation bar. From the list that appears, select Hyper-V and click on the plus symbol to add this feature. Since the installation of Hyper-V requires a restart, you can activate the automatic reboot option right away.
Configuring host settings ^
Once the server is available again, you can start configuring the main parameters. Do this under Settings, the lowest entry in the left navigation. Currently you will find five menu items in the Hyper-V host settings section.
The available options are largely the same as in Hyper-V Manager except that the paths for VMs and virtual drives are grouped under General. However, the configuration of Hyper-V Replica and that for virtualizing GPUs on Remote Desktop (RD) Virtualization Hosts is missing.
Creation of a vSwitch ^
Before you can start setting up VMs on the host, you must create one or more vSwitches and establish virtual networks. For this task, there is a separate entry in the navigation pane called Virtual Switches.
When creating a new switch, you only have the option of specifying its name and selecting the type (External, Internal, or Private). If you decide to use External, the tool displays the available NICs to which you can bind the vSwitch.
Other options, such as adding a description, are only accessible after saving the new vSwitch and editing its settings. Compared with the Hyper-V Manager, the assignment of a virtual LAN (VLAN) ID for the network of the management operating system is missing here.
Strengths and weaknesses of WAC ^
If you follow through the instructions described above until the Hyper-V host is ready to run VMs, you may start to doubt the advantage of using Windows Admin Center for this task.
You will notice that the web console response is sluggish, and all operations are quite slow compared with the MMC-based tools. In addition, some settings, although not frequently used, are missing. However, WAC offers a dashboard that presents the most important metrics of a host in a concise way.
Besides the fact you can accomplish the whole task in one interface, the main advantage of WAC, despite its moderate performance, is that it runs in the browser. Therefore, you can also set up hosts from devices not running Windows, but there's currently no support for mobile versions of web browsers.
Also conceivable are scenarios in which you place the WAC gateway in the DMZ, thus enabling management of the Hyper-V servers from outside the company network. Administrators who manage their environment on a Windows workstation in the LAN will most likely prefer to stick with the traditional tools.
In the next post of this Windows Admin Center series, I will cover role-based access control.