How I Manage Servers in my House

How I Manage Servers in my House

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Last week I posted a description about the servers (physical and virtual) that I have configured in my house.  Today I would like to spend a moment to talk about how I manage this environment.

All of my management is done from my Windows 7 computer. 

I had a couple of goals when setting up my management environment:

  1. I wanted a single console for server management. 

    I want it to be easy to diagnose issues – so I do not want to be jumping between different tools depending on what server I am looking at.

  2. I wanted to maintain good security etiquette. 

    To this end I have three user accounts setup in my environment:
    1. “Benjamin” – This is the account that I use for day-to-day desktop computing.  This account has no special rights in my domain.
    2. “David” – This is a user account in the domain that I have given permission to manage my various servers.  This account is not a member of the domain administrators group. (In case you were curious - “David” is my middle name).
    3. “Administrator” – This is the domain administrator account.  It is my goal to only ever use this account when I need to create / edit objects in active directory.

To meet these goals I installed the Remote Server Administration Toolkit, and enabled the remote administration tools for Hyper-V, Remote Desktop Services and DHCP.

I then created my own MMC snap-in that contains entries for:

  1. System Center Operations Manager (SCOM)

    SCOM does not provide an MMC based management interface, but it does provide a web based one.  A little known fact is that you can embed pretty much any web page in MMC.  You do this by:
    1. Opening the File menu on MMC
    2. Selecting Add/Remove Snap-in…
    3. Selecting Link to Web Address from the Available snap-ins list and clicking Add
    4. Enter the web address from the SCOM website and clicking Next
    5. Enter the friendly name for the site to be displayed under MMC and click Finish
    6. Finally click OK

  2. Remote Desktop Services

    This is a great tool.  It allows you to easily switch between Remote Desktop sessions on multiple computers.  This is the usual method I use to interact with most of my virtual machines.  There are a couple of reasons why I like it:
    1. I can use this tool to manage my physical computer and virtual machines, and never have to think about when I am connecting to one over the other.
    2. I can redirect my local drives, and get an easy way to move files around.
    3. By configuring this tool to remember my credentials, I never need to login when connecting to a server.
    4. I get clipboard integration (the ability to copy and past data).

  3. Hyper-V

    Hopefully you can guess why this is here.  I use it for creating and configuring virtual machines and virtual hard disks.

  4. Event Viewer

    I have Event Viewer configured to connect to my physical computer that is running Hyper-V.  This way I can keep an eye on the health of the system, without having to login to it directly.

  5. Performance Monitor

    I do not use Performance Monitor that much – but I keep it handy so that I can diagnose any performance issues that I might encounter.

  6. DHCP

    I have the DHCP management tools here so that I do not need to login to my domain controller to troubleshoot network problems.

Finally, I have created a shortcut that starts this MMC snap-in with my “David” account.  Normally you cannot use “runas” to launch MMC – but you can work around this by wrapping it with CMD.EXE.  The shortcut I have created runs the following command:

runas /user:ARMSTRONG\David "cmd /c C:\ServerAdministration.msc"

This works like a charm:

home management

My only complaint is that I would like to get to a point where I only use Remote Desktop for trouble shooting – but as a number of my servers do not support remote administration (or do not integrated with MMC) I cannot do this.

So what setup do you use for managing your servers?

Cheers,
Ben

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  • Nice the way you manage all that, i think that my problem right now is all the stuff i have to open to administer my servers at home, i`m using ESXi atm but after reading the setup you got there i`m starting to think about migrating to Hyper-V. A few days ago i installed Hyper-V R2 but was a pain to start managing from my Win7 without a domain.

  • Agreed, managing Hyper-V servers without a domain is somewhat frustrating. SCVMM will even refuse to run. The new 10-second guide for HVRemote is excellent though.

  • Never heard of the SCOM Operations Console?

  • I'm surprised you don't use SMS

  • Ariel Antigua / betterzerg -

    I have done management of Hyper-V in a workgroup environment, but yes - it is much easier in a domain environment.

    Jack -

    The SCOM console provides me with a good way to look at event log / performance monitoring of my servers, and I can use Remote Desktop from there - however I cannot create virtual machines / view the DHCP leases / perform general role configuration and management.  Which means that I have to open seperate tools for those actions - which is why I prefer using MMC.

    Alberto -

    I have looked at SMS, but haven't had the time to figure out whether it makes sense in my house.

    Cheers,

    Ben

  • Very elegant way of looking at home infrastructure over wire. Really like the setup and ideas. Interestingly enough you have mentioned about SCOM console. I have read about it but has not put my hands on it. Will try it.

    Have you given a shot to APP-V or MED-V kind of scenarios where family members can have their apps on netbooks or thin desktops. ? Just curious because I am thinking to stream various games, music collection, productivity tools using that and looking for tips on it.

    Thanks to share your home infrastructure management configuration.

    Phoenix2Life

  • Phoenix2Life -

    At the moment I am the only user of MED-V in my house.  I have toyed with the idea of using App-V for both myself and others in my house - but I have not had the time to make this come to fruition.

    Cheers,

    Ben

  • Hey Ben,

    This post has inspired me to build one of these for my house to host a WHS and provide a test platform for all the various MS technologies I need to know about. One question, is your Hyper-V-DC a host for the VMM server?

    Thanks for the great blog!

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