Windows 2016 Nano Server Veeamalaized

9892_windows-nano-server-leadMicrosoft Windows 2016 introduces many new technologies like storage spaces, containers, and new enhancements/features to virtualization. As a Veeam Solutions Architect, I’m very interested in virtualization, and Windows 2016 Server with Nano server provides a very useful path to virtualization using Hyper-V.

The Nano server is a cut-down version of Windows running on Windows 2016 Server; it is customized for a specific server role. However, if you, like me, expected to run the Windows 2016 DVD/ISO and then to choose the Nano server deployment, you would likely have been surprised, and probably disappointed, that the Nano server was not offered as a deployment option.

I am going to take you through the steps to deploy the Windows 2016 Nano server with a Hyper-V role enabled on a physical server. After that, we will take a look at how we can add the Nano Hyper‑V server to Veeam Backup and Replication for backing up the hosted virtual machines.

Let’s start with preparing a workstation with the following specifications:

  1. Workstation with a USB drive;
  2. Windows 2016 DVD or ISO instance;
  3. Nano Server Image Builder; and
  4. Windows Assessment and Deployment Kit.

Download and install the Image Builder and the Windows ADK on to the workstation, and then mount the Windows 2016 media.

Prepare a Bootable Nano Server USB Device

Our deployment will start with building a customized Nano server bootable USB image using the Nano server Image Builder application.
Start the Image Builder, then choose the option “Create a new Nano Server Image.” See Figure 1.

Figure 1 – Selection of Nano Server Image Creation

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From the selection of the server image creation, select the deployment type. See Figure 2.

Figure 2 – Selection of machine type

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For the next step, select the package type; in this example, shown in Figure 3, it will be the standard edition.

Figure 3 – Select the Package Type

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Following by network configuration (enable WinRM), inject drivers specifically for your physical server and more customized configuration.

On completing the image creation, you will see a VHD or VHDX file created on the path specified during the image creation process.

The next stage of the process is to create a bootable USB device to boot into the physical server. The creation of the bootable USB starts with the configuration of the partitions we will need on the physical server. You will notice in Figure 4 that the boot mode to be used by the physical server must be UEFI or BIOS. For these options, see the upper left drop down menu labeled Boot Mode.

Figure 4 – Boot Mode Selection

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On completing the USB provisioning and partitioning configuration, the result will be a bootable Nano server USB drive; we will use this to boot the physical server. The boot process will partition the physical server hard drive, and then copy the boot image to the C drive. See Figure 5 for the command line outputs of the build process.

Figure 5 – Setting up the Nano Command Line

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Remove the USB drive from the server.

Boot up and Configure the Nano Server

Boot up the server. We are presented with the screen in Figure 6.

Figure 6 – Log in Command Line

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To log in, enter the credentials you used to create the image.

The first thing we will configure is the network. On this example, we still have the default configuration (DHCP) as we used the default configuration during the Nano Server Image build.

We will select the “Networking” option to change the network setting; press Enter. Press F11 to change the IPv4 setting from DHCP to Static; use the F4 key to make the selection.

We will next configure the “Inbound Firewall Rules” to be enabled, or allowed, for all “File and Printer Sharing”; use Enter to select, and then F4 to change to Allow. This will help us browse the Nano server c$ drive later on.

The last step is to join the Nano server to the domain. You may have noticed that there is no option to select and join the physical server to the domain like the case with Windows core server. To add the Nano server to the domain, we will use the offline domain join using the following steps:

From the Domain controller.

Open a PowerShell command window; then enter the following command:

djoin.exe /provision /domain <DomainName> /machine <NanoServerHostName> /savefile c:\nanodgoin

Copy the newly created <nanodjoin> file to the Nano server C drive.

From the PowerShell command prompt, run the following commands:

$ip=”<NanoServerIPAddress>”

set-item WSMan:\localhost\Client\TrustedHosts $ip -Concatenate -Force

Enter-PSSession -ComputerName $ip -Credential $ip\administrator

djoin /requestodj /loadfile c:\nanojoin /windowspath c:\windows /localos

netsh advfirewall set allprofiles state off

netsh interface ip set dnsservers name=”Ethernet” static <DNS Server IP Address> primary

shutdown -r -t 0

The commands we have just run will join the Nano Server to the domain. See Figure 7.

Figure 7 – Nano Server Instance

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Add Nano Server to Veeam Console

With the release of Veeam Availability Suite 9.5, Veeam R&D added support for Microsoft Windows 2016 including Windows Nano server support. You need to upgrade or install Veeam version 9.5 to follow the below steps.

At this stage, the server preparation is complete; we are ready to add the Nano Hyper‑V server to the Veeam console (remember v 9.5). For this, we will run the Veeam console and then add the Nano Server to the Managed Servers – Microsoft Windows.

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Adding the server to Managed Servers will lead us to the last step; adding the server to New Hyper‑V servers. We can now use Veeam Backup to backup the VMs from our new deployed Nano Hyper‑V Server.

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Time to create a job and backup VM’s hosted inside the Nano HyperV server

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Conclusion

You will have noticed that deploying Windows Nano server is not an easy or a straightforward task, or at least we can claim that about the first version of the product.

Preparing this blog saw me spend some time working out the deployment process and discovering that the Nano Server Image Builder is a very helpful tool for streamlining the necessary tasks and building almost error-free Nano Server images.

Whatever you think of the processes we have described, it appears that Nano Server is going to be coming in the next generation of Windows Server, and will be with us for a while. It may be well worth getting your hands dirty and get into learning about this new technology.

I hope you found the blog informative, and please don’t forget to share it if you found it useful.

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