There are many reasons to step away from your desk. Coffee, for example, is an excellent reason. Or maybe you just need to stretch your legs (honestly, you probably deserve to take a break). But managing the functionality provided by your servers need not be a reason to leave your desk. With the right mix of tools you can control and manage many aspects of your servers and your domain(s) from the convenience of your primary machine.
When it comes to managing the network at a distance Windows Terminal Services\Remote Desktop and VMWare’s ESX VSphere (for those of you with a little virtual in your infrastructure) are two well-documented options. In this article I’d like to introduce you to a third, possibly less well known option – the Remote Server Admin Tool (RSAT). This optional update from Microsoft (KB958830, although it is not available through Windows/Microsoft Update) can allow easy access to server functions right from your desktop.
RSAT extends the functionality provided by the Microsoft Management Console (MMC). The MMC offers a centralized interface into which specific functionalities can be snapped.
Manage Server Roles and Features
- You can access the MMC by pressing the Start button and typing MMC into the search box. Note: Depending on the current inherent or delegated administrative rights assigned to your user account, you may need to use the “Run as Administrator” function when opening the MMC.
- Here, you can see the MMC in its default state.
- The default console is rather sparse, so your next step is to start adding snap-ins. From within the MMC, click on “File”, and then “Add/Remove Snap Ins”.
- By selecting items from the left pane (“Available snap-ins”), and clicking “Add” to move them to the right pane (“Selected snap-ins”), you will add those items into the console, as shown here.
You can now manage those Server Roles and Features as if you were interacting with them directly on the server! This is especially useful for unlocking domain accounts, managing group assignments, or (re)configuring group policy objects. However there are quite a few more specialized features you can manage with RSAT, some of which are shown in the “Add/Remove snap-ins” screenshot above.
Setting Up RSAT
- Pre-requisites: RSAT is only available for use on Windows 7 devices, and can only be used to manage Windows Server 2003 and 2008 servers.
- Additionally, the domain account you are logged into when you use MMC will need to have access to those functions on the server in order to remotely manage them from the MMC.
- You will need to ensure that the Windows Remote Management service (WinRM) is enabled and started on each server you want to manage.
- You can download the RSAT here.
- Once you have installed the update, you will need to enable it from “Control Panel” -> “Programs and Features” -> “Turn Windows features on or off”, which will open the window shown below:
- You can enable the check mark next to any features you would like to manage. Once you have confirmed your choices, those items will be available from the “Add/Remove snap-ins” function in the MMC described below.
One more note on the MMC: Nobody likes to repeat themselves, so once you have selected your snap-ins of choice, you should save your console to a location of your choosing for quick access.
In summary, after a brief initial setup you can use the Remote Server Admin Tool to enhance the Windows Microsoft Management Console and manage aspects of your Domain, Active Directory, and Network directly from your desktop. You may be surprised at just how quick, easy, and powerful the combination of RSAT and MMC can be. Now, how about that cup of coffee?