Export (0) Print
Expand All
This topic has not yet been rated - Rate this topic

Deploy Windows Server Essentials Experience as a Hosted Server

Published: January 15, 2014

Applies To: Windows Server 2012 R2, Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials

This document includes information that is specific to hosters who intend to deploy Windows Server 2012 R2 with the Windows Server Essentials Experience role (referred to as Windows Server Essentials in the remainder of the document) installed in their lab and intend to offer Windows Server Essentials Experience as a service to their customers. This document includes the following sections:

The Windows Server Essentials Experience is a server role that is available in the Windows Server 2012 R2 Standard and Windows Server 2012 R2 Datacenter. When the Windows Server Essentials Experience role is installed on a server running Windows Server 2012 R2, the customer can take advantage of all the features that are available in Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials without the locks and limits. The Windows Server Essentials Experience enables the following cross-premises solutions for small and midsize businesses:

  • Data storage and protection You can store the customer’s data in a centralized location and protect server and client data by backing up the server and client computers (less than 75) within the network.

  • User management You can manage the users and groups through the simplified server dashboard. In addition, integration with Windows Azure Active Directory enables easy data access for Microsoft online services (for example, Office 365, Exchange Online, and SharePoint Online) for users by using their domain credentials.

  • Service integration You can integrate the server with Microsoft online services (such as Office 365, SharePoint Online, and Windows Azure Backup). You can also integrate the server with your services or services provided by third-party providers.

  • Anywhere Access The customer can access the server, network computers, and data from virtually anywhere they have an Internet connection and by using almost any device. Remote Web Access enables them to access applications and data with a streamlined, touch-friendly browser experience. The My Server app enables them to access data from a Windows Phone or a Windows Store app.

  • Media streaming If you install the Media package on a server with Windows Server Essentials Experience enabled, the end customer can store music, video, and photographs in shared folders, then access these media files from networked computers or Remote Web Access.

  • Health monitoring You can monitor network health and obtain customized health reports.

Windows Server Essentials Experience is a role in Windows Server, so you can reuse the existing deployment and management framework in Windows Server to deploy and configure the Windows Server Essentials Experience role. Hosting the Windows Server Essentials Experience role provides the following benefits:

  • Streamlined deployment By simply turning on the Windows Server Essentials Experience role, some of the most commonly used roles and features are turned on and configured with best practices for small and midsized businesses. You can customize the Windows Server Essentials features, or hide some of the on-premises features. If you use the Windows Azure Pack, you can download the gallery template for Windows Server Essentials Experience on Windows Server 2012 R2.

  • Simplified dashboard The Windows Server Essentials Dashboard simplifies common tasks such as managing server folders, server storage, backup and restore, user or group accounts, devices, remote access, and email. Small and midsized business customers can perform daily management tasks instead of calling the Help Desk for technical support.

  • Extensibility The Windows Server Essentials Dashboard and Windows Server Essentials Connector software are extensible. You can add your own branding and service integration, so that your customers have one entry point for everything about their server and service.

  • Monitor A new version of the System Center Monitoring Pack is available to monitor and manage multiple servers running Windows Server Essentials. To download the management pack, see System Center Management Pack for Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials.

Windows Server Essentials Experience can be deployed as a domain controller in a new Active Directory environment; or it can be deployed into an existing Active Directory environment as a domain member.

We recommend that you first deploy Windows Server 2012 R2 Standard or Windows Server 2012 R2 Datacenter, and then install the Windows Server Essentials Experience role. With this deployment method, you get all the functionalities of Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials edition, without the locks and limits.

For more information about installing Windows Server 2012 R2 with the Windows Server Essentials Experience role, see Install and Configure Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials.

For more information about requirements, see System Requirements for Windows Server 2012 R2.

To use Windows Server Essentials Experience from a roaming client, VPN should be enabled. To enable remote access to the server from roaming clients, you need to open port 443 and port 80 on the server.

Here are the two typical server-side networking topologies, and how the VPN and Remote Web Access could be configured:

  • Topology 1 (This is the preferred topology, and it places all the servers and VPN IP range in the same subnet.):

    • Set up the Server in a separate virtual network under a Network Address Translation (NAT) device.

    • Enable the DHCP service in the virtual network, or assign a static IP address for the server.

    • Forward public IP port 443 on the router to local network address of the server.

    • Allow VPN passthrough for port 443.

    • Set the VPN IPv4 address pool in the same subnet range as the server address.

    • Assign second servers a static IP address within the same subnet, but out of the VPN address pool.

  • Topology 2:

    • Assign the server a private IP address.

    • Allow Port 443 on the server to reach a public port 443 IP address.

    • Allow VPN passthrough for port 443.

    • Assign different ranges for the VPN IPv4 address pool and the server address.

With Topology 2, second server scenarios are not supported because you cannot add another server to the same domain.

You can enable VPN during an unattended deployment by using our Windows PowerShell script, or it can be configured with the wizard after the initial configuration.

To enable VPN by using Windows PowerShell, run the following command with administrative privileges on the server running Windows Server Essentials, and provide all the necessary information.

##
## To configure external domain and SSL certificate (if not yet done in unattended Initial Configuration).
##

$myExternalDomainName = 'remote.contoso.com';   ## corresponds to A or AAAA DNS record(s) that can be resolved on Internet and routed to the server
$mySslCertificateFile = 'C:\ssl.pfx';   ## full path to SSL certificate file
$mySslCertificatePassword = ConvertTo-SecureString –AsPlainText –Force '******';   ## password for private key of the SSL certificate
$skipCertificateVerification = $true;   ## whether or not, skip verification for the SSL certificate

Set-WssDomainNameConfiguration –DomainName $myExternalDomainName –CertificatePath $mySslCertificateFile –CertificateFilePassword $mySslCertificatePassword –NoCertificateVerification
##
## To install VPN with static IPv4 pool (and allow all existing users to establish VPN).
##

Install-WssVpnServer -IPv4AddressRange ('192.168.0.160','192.168.0.240') -ApplyToExistingUsers;

noteNote
If you cannot provide a VPN connection before the customer takes possession of the server, ensure that server port 3389 is reachable over the Internet so that the customer can use Remote Desktop Protocol to connect to the server and configure it.

You can customize the image before configuring the Windows Server Essentials Experience role. To learn about the standard Windows Server Sysprep process, see Windows Assessment and Deployment Kit. After you prepare the image by using Sysprep, you can use it or reseal it into Install.wim for a new deployment.

If you are using Virtual Machine Manager, you can create a template by using the running instance. This process uses Sysprep to prepare the instance, and it shuts down the computer. After you store the template in your library, you can use it on a case-by-case basis.

After you install the Windows Server Essentials Experience role, you can customize the features in Windows Server Essentials. One of the most important customizations is the IsHosted registry key: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows Server\Deployment\IsHosted.

If this key is set to 0x1, some of the on-premises features will change behavior. These feature changes include:

  • Client Backup Client backup will be turned off by default for newly joined client computers.

  • Client Restore Service Client Restore Service will be disabled, and the UI will be hidden from the Dashboard.

  • File History File History settings for newly created user accounts will not be automatically managed by the server.

  • Server Backup Server Backup service will be disabled, and the Server Backup UI will be hidden from the Dashboard.

  • Storage Spaces The UI for creating or managing Storage Spaces will be hidden from the Dashboard.

  • Anywhere Access Router and VPN configuration will be skipped by default when you run the Set Up Anywhere Access Wizard.

If you want to control the behavior of each feature listed, you can set the corresponding registry key for each of them. For information about how to set the registry key, refer to the Customize and Deploy Windows Server Essentials in Windows Server 2012 R2

To automate the deployment, you need to first deploy the operating system and then install the Windows Server Essentials Experience role.

noteNote
Ensure that the time zone settings of the host virtual machine and the Windows Server Essentials Experience are the same. Otherwise, you may experience several errors. These include: the initial configuration of the server may not be successful on certificate related tasks, the certificate may not work for a few hours after the Windows Server Essentials Experience role is installed, and device information will not update correctly.

After deployment, use the Windows PowerShell cmdlet Get-WssConfigurationStatus to verify if the initial configuration was successful. The returned status should be one of the following: Notstarted, FinishedWithWarning, Running, Finished, Failed, or PendingReboot.

The server will be restarted during the initial configuration. If you need to prevent this automatic restart, you can use the following command to add a registry key before you start the Initial Configuration:

New-ItemProperty "HKLM:\Software\Microsoft\Windows Server\Setup"  -Name "WaitForReboot" -Value 1 -PropertyType "DWord" -Force -Confirm:$false

After the initial configuration starts, you can use Get-WssConfigurationStatus to check the initial configuration status, and when the status is PendingReboot, you can restart your server.

You can migrate data from servers running Windows Small Business Server 2011, Windows Small Business Server 2008, Windows Small Business Server 2003, or Windows Server 2012 Essentials to the server running Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials. Review the Migrate from Previous Versions to Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials migration guide for on-premises  2migrations, and make necessary customizations based on your hosting environment.

noteNote
We recommend that you put the source server and the destination server in the same subnet. If this is not possible, you should make sure that:

  • The source server and the destination server can access each other’s internal DNS names.

  • All the necessary ports are open.

After migration, you can upgrade your licenses to remove the locks and limits. For more information, see Transition from Windows Server 2012 Essentials to Windows Server 2012 Standard.

This section explains some of the common tasks that you can perform by using Windows PowerShell.

Syntax:

Enable-WssRemoteWebAccess [-SkipRouter] [-DenyAccessByDefault] [-ApplyToExistingUsers]

Example:

$Enable-WssRemoteWebAccess –DenyAccessByDefault –ApplyToExistingUsers

This command will enable Remote Web Access with the router configured automatically, and change the default access permissions for all existing users.

Syntax:

Add-WssUser [-Name] <string> [-Password] <securestring> [-AccessLevel <string> {User | Administrator}] [-FirstName <string>] [-LastName <string>] [-AllowRemoteAccess] [-AllowVpnAccess]  [<CommonParameters>]

Example:

$password = ConvertTo-SecureString "Passw0rd!" -asplaintext –force$Add-WssUser -Name User2Test -Password $password -Accesslevel Administrator -FirstName User2 -LastName Test

This command will add an administrator named “User2Test” with password “Passw0rd!”.

Syntax:

Add-WssFolder [-Name] <string> [-Path] <string> [[-Description] <string>] [-KeepPermissions] [<CommonParameters>]

Example:

$Add-WssFolder -Name "MyTestFolder" -Path "C:\ServerFolders\MyTestFolder"

This command will add a server folder named “MyTestFolder” at the specified location.

You can integrate Windows Server Essentials Experience with Office 365 or hosted Exchange Server. If you want your customer to use your hosted email, you need to develop an add-in to integrate Windows Server Essentials Experience with your hosted email solution. For more information, see Windows Server Essentials SDK.

This section discusses the native tools that are available in Windows Server 2012 R2 to monitor and manage the server.

Windows Server Essentials Experience leverages the native Group Policy support in Windows Server 2012 R2 and provides a user interface to configure Folder Redirection and security settings.

noteNote
In a hosted environment, if Folder Redirection for a user profile is enabled, it can increase the time for end user to sign in when the data size is big.

System Center Monitoring Pack for Windows Server Essentials Experience monitors the health alert system to help you manage large numbers of servers running Windows Server Essentials that are dedicated to small business organizations. For more information, see System Center Management Pack for Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials.

Windows Server 2012 R2 with Windows Server Essentials Experience allows you to back up server and client computers in the network.

Windows Server Essentials supports two ways to back up the server: on-premises backup and off-premises backup. You can customize these options if you want to deploy your own server backup solution.

  • On-premises backup Allows you to perform block-level incremental backups on a regular basis to a separate disk. As a hoster, you could attach a virtual hard disk to the virtual machine running Windows Server Essentials, and then configure the server backup to this virtual hard disk. The virtual hard disk should be located on a different physical disk than the virtual machine running Windows Server Essentials.

    noteNote
    If you have other backup solutions for your virtual machines and you do not want your users to see the Windows Server Essentials native Server Backup feature, you can turn it off and remove the related user interface from the Dashboard. For more information, see the Customize Server Backup section of Customize and Deploy Windows Server Essentials in Windows Server 2012 R2.

  • Off-premises backup Allows you to periodically back up your server data to a cloud-based service. You can download and install the Windows Azure Backup Integration Module for Windows Server Essentials to leverage the Windows Azure Backup that is provided by Microsoft.

    For more information, see the “Integrate Windows Azure Backup with Windows Server 2012 Essentials” section in Manage server backup in Windows Server Essentials.

    If you or your users prefer another cloud service, you should consider the following:

    • Update the user interface of the Dashboard so that it links to your preferred cloud service instead of to the default Windows Azure Backup.

    • (Optional) Develop an add-in for the Dashboard to configure and manage the cloud-based backup service.

Windows Server Essentials Experience supports two kinds of client data backup: full client backup and File History.

noteNote
Backing up the client might impact performance because the data needs to be transferred from the client to the server over VPN.

Full client backup is on by default for all the client devices that are connected to the Windows Server Essentials network. It fully backs up the system information and data for the client and supports data deduplication. The backup data will be stored on the server running . This enables a failed client to retrieve data from a previous backup point.

Some considerations for full client computer backup are:

  • Performance Initial client backup might be time consuming because of the amount of data to be uploaded.

  • Stability Sometimes the Internet connection is not stable on the client side. Client backup is designed to resume automatically, and the the client backup database creates a checkpoint every time 40 GB of data is backed up. You can change this value to a smaller number if you expect the Internet connection to be unreliable.

    • To enable a checkpoint job: On the server, set registry key HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Windows Server\Backup\GetCheckPointJobs to 1.

    • To change the checkpoint threshold: On the client, change HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Windows Server\Backup\CheckPointThreshold from its default value of 40 GB.

  • Client bare metal restore Because the Windows Preinstall Environment does not support a VPN connection, client bare metal restore is not supported. You should hide the Client Restore Service task by following the steps in Customize and Deploy Windows Server Essentials in Windows Server 2012 R2.

File History is a feature in Windows 8.1 and Windows 8 for backing up profile data (Libraries, Desktop, Contacts, Favorites) to a network share. You can centrally manage the File History setting of all computers running Windows 8.1 or Windows 8 that are joined to Windows Server Essentials network. The backup data is stored on the server running Windows Server Essentials. You should hide the Client Restore Service task by following the steps in Customize and Deploy Windows Server Essentials in Windows Server 2012 R2

Storage Spaces allows you to aggregate the physical storage capacity of disparate hard drives, dynamically add hard drives, and create data volumes with specified levels of resilience. You can do this on the host or on the virtual machine. If you want to hide this feature in a virtual machine running Windows Server Essentials, follow the instructions in Customize and Deploy Windows Server Essentials in Windows Server 2012 R2.

From the hosting perspective, we recommend that you test the following scenarios:

You can test the following server deployment scenarios:

  • Deploy a server running Windows Server 2012 R2 as a domain controller in your lab environment, and then install the Windows Server Essentials Experience role.

  • Deploy a server running Windows Server 2012 R2 in your lab environment, join this server to an existing domain, and then install the Windows Server Essentials Experience role.

  • Customize the Windows Server Essentials image as needed.

  • Automate the Windows Server Essentials deployment with unattended file and Windows PowerShell.

  • Migrate on-premises servers running Windows Small Business Server to hosted servers running Windows Server Essentials.

You can test the following server configuration scenarios:

  • Configure Anywhere Access (virtual private network, Remote Web Access, and DirectAccess).

  • Configure Storage and Server Folders.

  • Turn on BranchCache.

  • (If applicable) Configure Server Backup, Online Backup, Client Backup, and File History.

  • (If applicable) Configure and manage Storage Spaces.

  • (If applicable) Configure email solution integration (Office 365 and hosted Exchange Server).

  • (If applicable) Configure integration with other Microsoft online services.

  • (If applicable) Configure Media Server.

You can test the following server management scenarios:

  • Manage users and groups.

  • Configure and receive email notification of alerts.

  • Run Best Practices Analyzer to see if there is an error or warning message.

  • Configure the System Center Operations Manager pack.

  • Configure server recovery, in the event of corruption in the operating system.

You can test the following end user scenarios:

  • Deploy clients over the Internet (PC or Mac operating systems).

  • Use Launchpad on the client to access Shared Folders.

  • Access server assets over Remote Web Access from different devices (PC, phone, and tablet).

  • Access My Server app for Windows Phone.

  • (If applicable) Access File History, Client Backup and Restore, and Folder Redirection.

  • (If applicable) Verify the email integration experience.

You can download the Windows Server 2012 Essentials Software Development Kit (SDK) and the Windows Server Essentials Assessment and Deployment Kit (ADK):

Did you find this helpful?
(1500 characters remaining)
Thank you for your feedback
Show:
© 2014 Microsoft. All rights reserved.