Previously in the blog, I shared details about the SERVERMANAGERCMD.EXE command line management interface for Windows Server 2008 (previously codenamed Windows Server "Longhorn").

By first launching the CMD.EXE command line tool (and you may want to right-click on this start menu icon, and select Run As Administrator on your test server) you can then launch SERVERMANAGERCMD with the 'help' switch to get the details on this tool:

Installs and removes roles, role services, and features. Also displays the list of all roles,
role services, and features available, and shows which are installed on this computer.

The model-based management functionality in Windows Server 2008 is based on Microsoft's System Definition Model (SDM) version3, which provided the basis for the Service Modeling Language (SML) proposal and submission to the World-Wide Web Consortium SML Working Group.

It is great to be able to experiment with model-based management in a familiar interface ... no dev required!. However, it may have been a challenge for the public to download the latest beta versions of Windows Server 2008, ensuring a recent release with the SERVERMANAGERCMD.EXE functionality was available in the beta download. And that's the GREAT NEWS FOR TODAY:

In June 2007, new Windows Server 2008 Beta version 3 online hands-on labs have been published on the portal. The URL to the new Windows Server 2008 Beta 3 Server Manager Virtual Lab is as follows:

I have tested this on a slow-link connection just for a kick, and yes you can run this Technet Virtual Lab on dial-up but you will be sloooooooooooooooooooooooooow in all experiences. Try a broadband connection, and you'll be surprised at the UI speed and functionality of this Virtual Lab -- all you need to provide are a Passport of Windows Live logon ID, a web browser with Javascript enabled, and a download of an ActiveX control to support access to the Virtual Machines in the lab. NOTE: When I tested access from behind the firewall at my work, I also needed a firewall proxy server client (I used the Microsoft Windows Firewall client, available with Microsoft ISA Server, but a downloadable update file from is also available) to access the virtual machines in this TechNet hands-on lab.

The lab is opened for about 120 minutes of access time; two Windows Server 2008 beta 3 virtual machines are provided, as is a PDF-based Lab Manual. The manual has lessons and exercises on using the new Server Manager configuration management interface, but essentially what you've got are two beta 3 demo system at your command, through your browser, in a safe 'sandbox' environment to use as you wish.

Note To Consultants and Writers ... virtual labs can make for convenient access, easily rebuilt, fast-setup, low-hardware-profile demonstration environments!

If you parse back through this blog, you'll find the post with the details on using SERVERMANAGERCMD.EXE to explore the XML model-based configuration management, especially the  -WhatIf  switch to try out configuration experiments and to dump console output to a logfile, for review of the XML configuration strings.

Look for more and hands-on virtual labs, and more labs in the future that showcase the under-the-covers configuration management provided in Microsoft emerging products using Microsoft's implementations of SML.


Disclaimer: This posting is provided "AS IS" with no warranties, and confers no rights.