Using Windows admin center for monitoring and managing hyper converged infrastructure built on Dell EMC Microsoft storage spaces direct ready nodes

Using Windows admin center for monitoring and managing hyper converged infrastructure built on Dell EMC Microsoft storage spaces direct ready nodes

Windows Admin Center (WAC; code named Honolulu) is the new browser-based management tool developed by Microsoft to monitor and manage Windows Servers, Failover Clusters, and Hyper-Converged Clusters.

The Dell EMC Microsoft Storage Spaces Direct (S2D) Ready Nodes offer software-defined storage (SDS) building blocks to create highly-available and highly-scalable hyper-converged infrastructure (HCI). These ready nodes are preconfigured with certified components and validated as the building blocks in a Storage Spaces Direct solution with Dell EMC networking switches and enable simplified ordering and reduces deployment risks. Dell EMC offers different configuration options within these building blocks to meet different capacity and performance points. The HCI clusters built on these building blocks can be seamlessly monitored and managed using the Windows Admin Center.

Installing Windows Admin Center

WAC is available as a free download from Microsoft download center and it can be installed on systems with Windows 10, Windows Server 2016 or Windows Server version 1709. WAC can be installed directly on a managed node to manage itself and other nodes in the infrastructure or on a separate management station to manage the HCI nodes remotely. It is possible to implement high-availability (HA) for WAC by using failover clustering. When WAC is deployed on nodes in a failover cluster, it acts as an active-passive cluster providing highly available WAC instance.

WAC installer wizard is easy to understand and performs the configuration required for WAC functionality. This includes creating a self-signed certificate and configuring trusted hosts configuration for remote node access. You can, optionally, supply the certificate thumbprint that is already present in the target node local certificate store. By default, WAC listens on port 443 which can be changed during the installation process.

Note: The automatically generated self-signed certificate expires in 60 days. It is important that you use an Certificate Authority CA provided SSL certificate if you intend to use WAC in production environment.

For complete guidance on installing WAC on Windows Server 2016 with desktop experience or Server Core, see

Note: Above article assumes that you have deployed the Dell EMC Microsoft Storage Spaces Direct Ready Node Cluster using the deployment guidance available at:

Once the installation is complete, WAC can be accessed at https://managementstationname:443. Figure 1 shows WAC interface during initial login.


Figure 1 - WAC Start Screen

Adding HCI Cluster Connection

At this point in time, the Hyper-Converged cluster based on Dell EMC Microsoft Storage Spaces Direct Ready Nodes can be added as a connection for monitoring and management. This is done by navigating to Windows Admin Center -> Hyper-Converged Cluster Manager. This is shown in Figure 2 and brings up the screen shown in Figure 3.

Figure 2 – HCI Cluster Manager access

Figure 3 – Adding HCI Cluster

In the Hyper-Converged Cluster Connections screen shown in Figure 3, clicking on + Add brings up the Add Hyper-Converged Cluster Connection wizard as shown in Figure 4.

Before adding the cluster, on the managed hyper-converged cluster nodes, ensure that you have April 2018 cumulative update or later installed on the Windows Server 2016 systems. The APIs required to manage Windows Server 2016 based HCI are available only if the April 2018 CU is installed.

Also, ensure that the SDDC cluster resource is available in the cluster. This can be confirmed by running the following PowerShell command.

Add-ClusterResourceType -Name "SDDC Management" -dll "$env:SystemRoot\Cluster\sddcres.dll" -DisplayName "SDDC Management"

Note: The SDDC Management resource is available only on systems with April 2018 CU. The above command needs to be run only on one of the cluster nodes.

Windows Admin
Figure 4- HCI cluster Connection

As shown in Figure 4, entering the cluster FQDN discovers the cluster and the nodes that are a part of the cluster. At this point, clicking Add will configure WAC to monitor and manage the HCI cluster. An HCI cluster added into WAC is shown in Figure 5. The cluster that you see in Figure 5 is a 2-Node hybrid configuration with 2x SSD for cache and 4x HDD for capacity.

HCl cluster
Figure 5- HCI cluster being managed in WAC

Accessing HCI Cluster

Clicking on the name of the cluster shown in the Hyper-Converged Cluster Connections will bring up the dashboard for the HCI cluster that you just added to WAC. This is shown in Figure 6.

This dashboard provides the real-time performance view from the HCI cluster. This view includes total IOPS, average latency values, throughput achieved, average CPU, memory, and storage usage from all cluster nodes. This dashboard provides a summarized view of the Ready Nodes with drives, volumes, and virtual machines health. You can drill down into any alerts by clicking on the alerts tile in the dashboard.

Figure 6 – HCI dashboard in WAC

Clicking on Servers in the Tools pane and navigating to Inventory tab will bring up the server details as shown in Figure 7.

Note: As mentioned before the above performance numbers are for a 2-node Dell EMC Microsoft Storage Spaces Direct Ready Node cluster with Hybrid drive configuration as shown in Figure 8.

Cluster Lab

Figure 7 – Server inventory in WAC

As shown in Figure 7, the nodes that are a part of the HCI cluster are the building blocks for a Dell EMC Storage Spaces Direct HCI cluster.

Navigating to Drives -> Inventory from the left pane will provide the drive inventory from the cluster nodes as shown in Figure 8.
Windows inventory

Figure 8 – Drive inventory in HCI cluster

As can be seen in Figure 8, this HCI cluster built on 2 x Dell EMC Microsoft Storage Spaces Direct Ready Nodes each with 2 x 800 GB SSDs for cache and 4 x 2 TB HDDs for capacity drives.


Dell EMC Microsoft Storage Spaces Direct Ready Nodes Overview

Dell EMC Microsoft Storage Spaces Direct Ready Nodes - Tech Center

Windows Admin Center

Article ID: SLN312343

Last Date Modified: 08/14/2018 07:30 AM

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