Sneak peek #4: Introducing Project “Honolulu”, our new Windows Server management experience

This blog post was authored by Samuel Li, Principal Program Manager Lead, Windows Server.

Today, we are thrilled to unveil the next step in our journey for Windows Server graphical management experiences. In less than two weeks at Microsoft Ignite, we will launch the Technical Preview release of Project “Honolulu”, a flexible, locally-deployed, browser-based management platform and tools.

Project “Honolulu” is the culmination of significant customer feedback, which has directly shaped product direction and investments. With support for both hybrid and traditional disconnected server environments, Project “Honolulu” provides a quick and easy solution for common IT admin tasks with a lightweight deployment.

This blog post continues our recent “sneak peek” series, and we highly recommend “Honolulu” as a graphical management solution for Windows Server, version 1709, and several other versions of Windows Server too!

Yes, we (still) love GUI tools!

If you’re a longtime Windows Server IT admin, you probably “grew up with” and still regularly use MMC and other in-box GUI tools for some management and administrative tasks. You probably also have some level of PowerShell expertise since scripting and automation have become increasingly important as our industry evolves and embraces cloud-scale concepts and deployments.

For scripting and automation, Windows Server has done a great job of providing PowerShell coverage, while for graphical management, cloud-hosted solutions like Operations Management Suite (OMS) are providing added value for larger scale and hybrid environments. Still, IT admins have repeatedly told us that PowerShell is necessary but not sufficient, and that Windows Server ease-of-use is still largely dependent on GUI tools for core scenarios and new capabilities.

Indeed, as you’ll see with Project “Honolulu”, we will continue to invest in GUI tools. Whether it’s for scenarios where GUI has an inherent advantage like data visualization or comparison, or for ad hoc configuration or troubleshooting, we will evolve and expand core GUI tools that are complementary to investments in PowerShell and larger scale management solutions like OMS.

Modernized, simplified, integrated, and secure experiences

Project “Honolulu” is the next step in our journey to deliver on our vision for Windows Server graphical management experiences.

Our vision starts with modernizing both the platform and the tools. For us, modernizing the platform means giving users greater flexibility in how and where they deploy and access the tools. Modernizing the platform also enables partners, both internal and external, to leverage and easily build on top of a growing ecosystem of tools and capabilities. For platform adoption and growth, it means supporting a reasonable set of existing Windows Server versions, not just the latest, and licensed as part of Windows Server with no extra cost. Modernizing the graphical management platform reduces the friction of creating modernized admin tools.

Our vision continues with simplifying the experience where appropriate. Deployment is quick and easy, with no Internet dependency. Tools are familiar, and cover the core set of administrative tasks for troubleshooting, configuration, and maintenance. Some Windows Server capabilities, which were previously manageable only via PowerShell, now also have an easy-to-use graphical experience.

Our vision also includes integrating the management experiences in compelling ways. Each tool is available not just together in one place, but can be filtered to show contextual data inside of another tool. One tool can link to another with context, and these links are just URLs which can be launched from external sources. The architecture also allows for cloud integration in the future.

Finally, our vision is to deliver a secure platform, helping solutions be secure by default, and optimizes support for security solutions. A future blog post in this series will describe in more detail what we’re doing with security and assurance.

Project “Honolulu” Technical Preview – coming (very) soon!

By late next week we’ll publish the Project “Honolulu” Technical Preview package for everyone to install and use. We’ll update this blog post with the download link once it’s available. Stay tuned!

[Update September 22] As promised, here’s the follow-up announcement with download link.

If you are registered to attend Ignite, we invite you to come visit our station in the Hybrid Platform area of the expo, and join us at our breakout session where we’ll provide a lot more details about Project “Honolulu”, along with plenty of demos:

The screenshot below is a sneak peek at the scope of core tools in the Server Manager solution in Project “Honolulu”:

Project Honolulu

Hyper-converged infrastructure management (early preview)

One of the most exciting new tools we’re previewing as part of Project “Honolulu” Technical Preview is a brand-new solution for managing hyper-converged clusters (Hyper-V with Storage Spaces Direct). Together in one modern, simple, and integrated experience, provision and manage VMs and volumes, see drives, servers, and their health status across the cluster. See historical and real-time performance charts for cluster-wide CPU/memory/network usage and storage IOPS, throughput, and latency, then drill in to see metrics for individual VMs, volumes, and drives.

Again, if you’ll be at Ignite, we also invite you to join us at our second breakout session where we’ll dive into the HCI UX in Project “Honolulu” and show lots of demos:

The screenshot below is a sneak peek at the scope of the Hyper-Converged Cluster Manager solution in Project “Honolulu”:

Hyper-Converged Cluster Manager solution in Project Honolulu

Customer quotes

Project “Honolulu” has been in Private Preview for the past 5 months with several version updates and around 150 users. With their permission, we are happy to share some of their comments with you.

“The first reaction from many people in our organization was: ‘That’s the tool we’ve been waiting for!’”

– Rick Kutschera, Engineering Manager, bwin.party Digital Entertainment

“Very easy and straight forward deployment. Light weight installer package makes the Honolulu install very quick.”

– Muruganantham Raju, Systems Engineer, Intel

“Managing GUI-less server has never been easier.”

– Thomas Maurer, Cloud Architect, itnetX

“Honolulu has REALLY helped us gain centralized visibility and simplified management of our Windows servers (both on-prem and in Azure) in ways we were never able to do before! We have LOVED the frequent release of updates for Honolulu that builds upon the feature sets that help us better manage and administer our environment. Honolulu has gone from being ‘good’ to being ‘invaluable’ in our management and administration strategy for our servers!”

– Rand Morimoto, President, Convergent Computing (CCO)

“I use Honolulu to manage hyperconverged cluster based on Storage Spaces Direct and what a tool. Honolulu provides me metrics, alerts and ease of management from a web interface. I can now easily manage my volume and get the state of my infrastructure. Honolulu looks like really flexible and Microsoft can add features really quickly.”

– Romain Serre, Technical Architect, AVA6

“The advanced dashboard offers performance view, events, alerts and all the information that all IT Pro need.”

– Silvio Di Benedetto, Founder and Senior Consultant, Inside Technologies

“I really loved SMT in Azure but there was always the concern that it’s running online. The cloud connection was a showstopper for many of my customers. But with this new solution we really address the needs of IT.”

– Eric Berg, Principal IT Architect, COMPAREX AG

“Try Honolulu, even if you have established management tools. It is easy and fast to setup, needs no client, does no harm and provides fast information and tools. You will see, that you will love it and start doing things with it. Start small and fast and you will accelerate.”

– Jeron Mehl, Department Manager IT Services, FZI Forschungszentrum Informatik

Project “Honolulu” is designed for you, and with you! Customer feedback has been invaluable, and as we launch Project “Honolulu” Technical Preview publicly, ongoing feedback from all of our valued users and partners will continue to be crucial in helping us prioritize and sequence future investments.

Don’t forget to sign up for the Windows Insiders program to get early access to preview builds and the Microsoft Tech Community so you can join the conversation!

See you at Ignite!

Check out other blogs in this series: