momius - Fotolia
The Hyper-V Manager has always been the default tool for managing Microsoft Hyper-V. Although Hyper-V has evolved considerably since its initial release in Windows Server 2008, the Hyper-V Manager still looks and behaves in much the same way that it did in its first release. In fact, the version of the Hyper-V Manager that is included with Windows Server 2016 is almost indistinguishable from its Windows Server 2012 counterpart. Even so, Microsoft has made some significant improvements to the Hyper-V Manager. Although these improvements are not immediately visible when looking at the Hyper-V Manager interface, they still have the potential to make Hyper-V easier to manage.
Support for alternate credentials
The first of the improvements to the Hyper-V Manager is support for alternate credentials. The Hyper-V Manager has always been a server-centric management tool. Each Hyper-V Server contains its own copy of the Hyper-V Manager, which displays the VMs that exist on that specific server. Even so, it has long been possible to add additional Hyper-V servers to the Hyper-V Manager console, so a number of different Hyper-V servers -- and the VMs residing on them -- can be managed through a single console.
The problem, however, was the console only allowed administrators to connect to the Hyper-V servers for which their current credentials were valid. This was fine for connecting to other Hyper-V servers within the current domain, but it tended to cause problems with connecting to Hyper-V servers residing in a different domain or to those that were not domain-joined.
The Hyper-V Manager that is included in Windows Server 2016 supports using an alternate set of credentials when attaching to remote Hyper-V servers. To use this feature, simply right-click on the Hyper-V Manager container and choose the Connect to Server command from the resulting shortcut menu. This will cause the Select Computer dialog box to be displayed. As you can see in Figure A, this dialog box contains an option to connect as another user.
As you look at the figure above, you will also notice the Set User button. Clicking on this button not only allows you to provide a set of credentials, but it also gives you the opportunity to store those credentials, so you don't have to enter them again the next time.
Support for earlier versions of Hyper-V
Another improvement Microsoft has made to the Hyper-V Manager is added support for earlier versions of Hyper-V. By right-clicking on the Hyper-V Manager container and selecting the Connect to Server command from the shortcut menu, it's possible to connect to remote Hyper-V servers, even if those servers are not running Windows Server 2016.
Although this capability is more or less self-explanatory, there are two things you need to know about it. First, the Windows Server 2016 version of the Hyper-V Manager can't connect to every legacy version of Hyper-V. The Hyper-V versions that are officially supported include Windows Server 2016, Windows 10, Windows Server 2012, Windows 8, Windows Server 2012 R2 and Windows 8.1. The Hyper-V Manager doesn't support connecting to Windows Server 2008 or 2008 R2 Hyper-V.
The other thing you need to know about using the Hyper-V Manager to connect to legacy Hyper-V servers is you can't use alternate credentials when connecting to an older version of Hyper-V. Alternate-credential support only works with Windows Server 2016 and Windows 10.
Updated management protocol support
One more change Microsoft has made to the Hyper-V Manager involves updating the management protocols that are used. Previous versions of Hyper-V gave administrators a choice between using CredSSP and Kerberos-based authentication for functions such as live migrations. CredSSP, however, has a hop-count limitation that essentially requires administrators to work directly from the server console. Kerberos is more secure, and it doesn't have the hop-count limitation, but requires administrators to enable constrained delegation.
Microsoft has updated the Hyper-V Manager, so it now connects to the underlying Hyper-V services using the WS-MAN protocol. This means it's now much more practical to use CredSSP for administrative actions, because the hop-count limit has become less of an issue. Of course, CredSSP has the added benefit of not requiring constrained delegation.
Microsoft has made significant improvements to the Hyper-V Manager, even though these improvements exist mostly behind the scenes. Collectively, these improvements should make the Hyper-V Manager more useful for remote Hyper-V server management.
Should you upgrade to Windows Server 2016?
Learn about changes to Windows Server 2016 licensing
Get ready for Windows Server 2016 containers