This content is part of the Essential Guide: A guide to Microsoft Windows Server 2016

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How is Windows Nano Server managed?

Microsoft Nano Server sheds the traditional Windows Server GUI which means some administrators will need to adapt to adopt this deployment model.

There's a headless server deployment option coming to data center, but don't panic. Although Windows Nano Server doesn't include a built-in graphical user interface it can still be managed, albeit in a way many administrators will need to learn to use this type of server most effectively.

Being a headless server without a traditional Windows graphical user interface (GUI), Microsoft Nano Server cannot be managed with a local console, such as a command-line interface, or even Terminal Services. Nano Server can only be managed remotely. Managing a remote Nano Server deployment generally requires knowing its computer name or IP address, then adding that item to the management tool. If those details are unknown, the administrator can use several tactics to determine the IP address for remote management.

The good news is that there are lots of options for managing Microsoft Nano Server remotely. Administrators can employ familiar Windows tools including Windows Remote Management, Windows Management Instrumentation, Windows PowerShell and Emergency Management Services. Additional Microsoft-based tools include Microsoft Management Console, Desired State Configuration, and even Microsoft System Center for more formalized monitoring and management. Popular third-party management tools such as Chef, Puppet and others should also be supported. The thing to remember is that while Nano Server doesn't have a GUI or console, there is absolutely no reason why the remote management tool can't have a GUI or console.

Administrators can assign roles to Windows Nano Server using a combination of Features on Demand and Deployment Image Servicing and Management (DISM). Features on Demand first appeared with Windows Server 2012 and allows some role and feature components to be removed, if unused, or installed from remote locations. This can tailor specific physical or virtual installations, or be used to prepare new image files for deployment. Similarly, DISM offers a command-line tool that can modify an image file, set up a Windows Preinstallation Environment image, or alter a virtual hard disk file for Nano Server-based deployments. Windows Nano Server also supports remote functions like remote file transfers, remote debugging and remote scripting.

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