Install and configure ADDS on Windows Server 2022 Core in Azure (Part 2)

A question I often get is ‘why should I use Windows Server Core edition’? This is difficult to manage and I do not like a server without a graphical interface.

The first thing I always tell you is, you DON’T HAVE to do anything, but my advice is to do it. Especially for a number of crucial server roles.

Some advantages of Windows Server Core edition at a glance:

· It’s faster (less services running, no overhead, no graphical user interface)

· More secure

· It’s modern

· Less disk space required

· Smaller footprint

· Smaller attack surface

· Faster deployment

Difference in installed services:

On Windows Server 2022 with a graphical user interface, there are 210 installed services. On the Windows Server Core edition, there are just 127 installed services. That’s a big difference of 83 services.

image

image

Defference in running services:

On Windows Server 2022 with a graphical user interface, there are 73 running services. On Windows Server Core edition, there are just 66 running services. That’s a difference of 7 servies.

image

image

Used diskspace on the C drive

On Windows Server 2022 with a graphical user interface, the installation of the operating system uses around the 13 GB of space.

image

The Windows Server Core edition, just uses arount the 9 GB of space for the operating system.

image

Performance (CPU and memory)

In performance, there is a little difference on ‘normal’ usage of the server. The memory usage on Server Core edition is around the 1,6 GB and 2,1 on the graphical version. The CPU load is also a little less as you can see.

image

image

Summary:

The choice of whether or not to deploy Windows Server Core within the infrastructure depends on a number of things. First of all, the workload or application must be suitable to run on Server Core. This is certainly not the case for all applications or server roles.

Especially for crucial server roles, such as domain controllers, it is advisable to use Server Core. It offers a number of advantages, which contributes to a more stable and secure environment.

And with Remote Server Administration Tools (RSAT), Microsoft Management Console (MMC), Windows Admin Center or Arc, a Windows Server with core edition is easy to manage.

Install and configure ADDS on Windows Server 2022 Core in Azure (Part 1)

Today, I’m going to show you how to install and configure Active Directory Domain Services on Windows Server 2022 Core edition on Azure.

I’ve used some ARM templates to deploy my two domain controllers in Azure, based on Windows Server 2022 Core edition. These servers are in a separate subnet within my Azure environment. In this example, Í’ve two domain controllers, mss-dc-core001 and mss-dc-core002.

The first step is to configure the following things:

  • Machine name
  • Static IP from the Azure Portal (NOT within the VM)
  • Static DNS from the Azure Portal (NOT within the VM)
  • Date and Time
  • Install all the latest updates

image

image

image

After logging in to the first domain controllers, there’s just one big black screen with ‘SCONFIG’ open, that’s all!

image

The next step is to prepare the data partition on our second disk to place the ADDS database, NETLOGON and SYSVOL directories. For this configuration, we are using DISKPART. We have created a new volume on the second disk It’s drive D: with 16 GiB storage and disk caching is disabled.

image

After the first configuration of the servers, we are ready to start the installation of the necessary services and features. Press ‘15’ to enter Powershell.

Install-windowsfeature -name AD-Domain-Services -IncludeManagementTools

image

Install-ADDSForest -DomainName "network.lab" -DomainMode 7 -ForestMode 7 -DatabasePath "D:\NTDS" -SYSVOLPath "D:\SYSVOL" -LogPath "D:\Logs"

image

image

Because we are using Windows Core edition, we don’t have any graphical management tools on the domain controllers. Therefore, we have installed the Remote Server Administration Tools or RSAT on a management server.

image

Here we can start ‘Active Directory Users & Computers’ to take a look into our new created Active Directory environment.

Install-windowsfeature -name AD-Domain-Services, DNS -IncludeManagementTools

image

Install-ADDSDomainController -DomainName "network.lab" -DatabasePath "D:\NTDS" -SYSVOLPath "D:\SYSVOL" -LogPath "D:\Logs" -Credential (Get-Credential "network.lab\azlocadmin")

image

image

Now we have two active domain controllers in our Active Directory environment, based on Windows Server 2022 Core edition.

image

Create a Central Store for your group policy ADMX and ADML files. Copy all the files from:
”C:\Windows\PolicyDefinitions” to “\\network.lab\SYSVOL\network.lab\Policies\PolicyDefinitions”.

image

Open the Group Policy Editor again and see if the policy definitions are loaded from the Central Store.

image

Wrap up:
We have created two domain controllers in Azure, based on Windows Server 2022 Core edition (no graphical user interface). We have created a new Active Directory Forest with a single domain ‘network.lab’. And last we have created the Central Store for storing the group policy definitions (ADMX and ADML) files.

In the next parts we are going to harden some security settings, configure Log Analytics for monitoring and configure Azure Backup for Back-up and Disaster Recovery.

Enable Azure Hybrid Benefit with Azure Resource Manager (ARM)

In Azure, you have the option to bring in your own licenses (Azure Hybrid Benefit). If you deploy a virtual machine using Azure Resource Manager (ARM) templates, this option is not enabled by default. Certainly for test environments, demos, but in many cases also production environments, you want to enable this option.

By adding the line below to your ARM template, the Azure Hybrid Benefit is enabled.

2021-10-19_21h12_41

2021-10-19_21h04_48

Use Azure Bastion to access your virtual machine in Azure

As most of you know, it’s possible to provide a virtual machine in Azure with a public IP address. This IP address can then be used to build a connection to, for example, RDP or SSH.

This way of connecting takes place over the Internet, which entails a great security risk. In many environments we see jumpbox or stepping stone servers, which are placed in the DMZ. These servers can be accessed from the Internet, and from these servers a connection can be made to a server or multiple servers on the internal network.

Such an arrangement is not safe, unmanageable and vulnerable. Azure Bastion is a great addition to facilitate a secure connection to a virtual machine in Azure. Azure Bastion integrates into the Azure portal, requiring multi-factor authentication. The virtual machines do not need to have a public IP address, so they are not accessible directly from the Internet.

Azure Bastion is a fully managed, autoscaling and hardened PaaS service, to provide you secure RDP and SSH connectivity. Het is eenvoudig te configureren in slechts een aantal stappen. Door gebruik te maken van virtueel netwerk peering, is het mogelijk om Azure Bastion eenvoudig toe te voegen aan een bestaande configuratie in Azure.

image

  1. Configure a new virtual network for Azure Bastion
  2. Create a new subnet named ‘AzureBastionSubnet’ required for Azure Bastion
  3. Configure virtual network peering to your other networks
  4. Create an Azure Bastion host
  5. Login in the VM through the Azure portal using Azure Bastion
  6. See the list of active sessions in the Azure Bastion Host properties

2021-05-20_16h00_34    2021-05-20_16h00_532021-05-20_16h00_59    2021-05-20_16h01_102021-05-20_16h01_45    2021-05-20_16h11_542021-05-20_16h12_54    2021-05-20_16h15_14

Now you can securely connect through Azure Bastion to a virtual machine running RDP or SSH. As you can see, the virtual machine I’m connecting to has no public IP address, only a internal IP address.

image

Insider Preview: Windows Server 2022

Microsoft has releashed the Insider Preview of Windows Server 2022. There is not that much information available, but a few new features are: Microsoft Edge with the Chromium engine is installed by default, TLS 1.3 support, AES-256 encryption for SMB traffic and a realy great look!!

You can download Window Server 2022 insider preview here.

You can download the: ISO, VHDX, Microsoft Server Language Pack/Features on Demand and Windows Admin Center.

I already installed the new Insider Preview and here are some first pictures.

2021-02-26_18h18_24   2021-02-26_18h25_32 2021-02-26_19h00_10   2021-02-26_19h21_192021-02-26_19h23_18   2021-02-26_19h25_05

Free ebook ‘Azure for Architects’

Do you want to know all the ins and outs about cloud computing. What is the cloud? What is Azure? What kind of functionalities and concepts are available within this cloud?

cloud_1220

You’ll find all  the answers in this great free ebook ‘Azure for Architecs’.

Download the free ebook here.