Next gen Microsoft management tool: Honolulu

Since the beginning of the year, Microsoft is working on a new management tool based on modern web languages such as HTML5, Angular and so on. This tool is called Honolulu. Honolulu is a user-friendly web interface that enables to manage Windows Server, Failover Clustering and Hyperconverged cluster. Currently, to manage hyperconverged cluster, Honolulu requires Semi-Annual Windows Server release.

Honolulu is currently in public preview release which means that the product is under construction :). Honolulu is built in a modular way where you can add or remove extensions. Each management feature is included in an extension that you can add or remove. Microsoft expects later that vendors develop third party extensions. To be honest with you, this is the set of tools I’m waiting for a while ago. Microsoft was in late in management tools compared to other companies such as VMware. I hope that Honolulu will close the gap with VMware vCenter and Nutanix Prism.

Microsoft listens customers and feedback to improve this product. So you can download the product here and report feedback in this user voice.

In this topic, we will see an overview of Honolulu. I’ll dedicate a topic about Honolulu and Microsoft hyperconverged solution because Honolulu requires Windows Server 2016 RS3 release (in Semi-Annual Channel) to work with and I have not yet upgraded my lab.

Getting started with Honolulu

In the below screenshot, you can see Honolulu home page. You get all your connections (and the type) and you can add more of them.

By clicking on arrow next to Project Honolulu, you can filter the connection type on Server Manager, Failover Cluster Manager and Hyper-Converged Cluster Manager.

By clicking on the wheel (top right), you can access to extension manager and you get installed extensions. For example you have extensions for firewall management, Hyper-V, failover clustering and so on. You can remove extensions you don’t want.

Sever Manager

As you have seen before, you can manage a single server from Honolulu. I will not show you all management tools but just an overview of Honolulu. By adding and connecting to a server, you get the following dashboard. In this dashboard you can retrieve real-time metrics (CPU, memory and network) and information, you can restart or shutdown the system or edit RDP access and environment variables. For the moment you can’t resize columns and tables and I think in near future that Microsoft will add this feature.

An interesting module is the Events. In this pane, you get the same thing as this good old Event Viewer. You can retrieve all the events of your system and you can filter them. Maybe a checkbox enabling real-time events could be interesting :).

The devices pane is also available. In a single view, you have all hardware installed in the system. If Microsoft adds the ability to install drivers from there, Honolulu can replace DevCon for Core servers.

You can also browse the system files and manage file and folders.

Another pane enables to manage the network adapters as you can see below. For the moment this pane is limited because it doesn’t allow to manage advanced feature such as RDMA, RSS, VMMQ and so on.

You can also add or remove roles and features from Honolulu. It is really cool that you can manage this from a Web service.

If you use Hyper-V, you can manage VMs from Honoulu. The dashboard also is really nice because there is counters about VMs and last events.

Another super cool feature is the ability to manage updates from Honolulu. I hope Microsoft will add WSUS configuration from this pane with some scheduling.

Failover Cluster management

Honolulu enables also to manage failover cluster. You can add a failover cluster connection from Honolulu home page. Just click on Add.

Then specify the cluster name. Honolulu asks if you want to add also the servers member of the cluster.

One it is added, you can select it and you get this dashboard. You get cluster core ressource states, and some information about the cluster such as the number of roles, networks and disks.

By clicking on disks, you can get a list of Cluster Shared Volumes in the cluster and information about them.

If your cluster hosts Hyper-V VMs (not in hyperconverged way), you can manage VMs from there. You get the same pane than in Honolulu server manager. The VMs and related metrics are shown and you can create or delete virtual machines. A limited set of option is currently available.

You can also get the vSwitches deployed in each node. It’s pitty that Switch Embedded Teaming is not yet supported but I think the support will be added later.

Hyperconverged cluster management

As I said earlier, hyperconverged cluster is supported but only for Windows Server Semi-Annual channel (for the moment). I’ll dedicate a topic about Honolulu and hyperconverged cluster once I’ll upgrade my lab.

Update Honolulu

When a Honolulu update is released, you get notified by Update Available mention. Currently, the update process is not really user-friendly because when you click on Update Available, an executable is downloaded and you have to run again the Honolulu installation (specify installation path, certificate thumbprint etc.). I hope in the future that the update process will be a self-update.

When I have downloaded the executable, I checked the package size and it is amazing: only 31MB.


Finally, they did it! A true modern management tool. I try for Microsoft this tool for 3 months and I can say you that developers work really quickly and they make a great job. Features are added quickly and Microsoft listens customers. I recommend you to post in the user voice the features you want. The tool is currently not perfect, some features are missing but Honolulu is still in preview release ! Microsoft is in the right direction with Honolulu and I hope this tool will be massively used. I hope also that Honolulu will help to install more Windows Server in Core edition, especially for Hyper-V and storage server.

About Romain Serre

Romain Serre works in Lyon as a Senior Consultant. He is focused on Microsoft Technology, especially on Hyper-V, System Center, Storage, networking and Cloud OS technology as Microsoft Azure or Azure Stack. He is a MVP and he is certified Microsoft Certified Solution Expert (MCSE Server Infrastructure & Private Cloud), on Hyper-V and on Microsoft Azure (Implementing a Microsoft Azure Solution).

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