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Making it easier to manage Windows Server VMs

September 16, 2020
Venkat Gattamneni

Group Product Manager

Google Cloud provides a first-class experience for migrating and modernizing Windows workloads. Organizations choose Google Cloud for reliability, performance, and cost savings from the underlying infrastructure, as well as for features, tooling and guidance that helps them modernize. Companies like Geotab rely on Google Cloud to keep ahead of change and increased demand, and reduce licensing costs by modernizing from a proprietary stack to open-source. We’re also incredibly proud to have earned the recognition of analyst firms such as IDC for helping companies migrate and modernize their Windows-based workloads.

Today we’re announcing a number of new features that will make running Windows Server workloads in Google Cloud easier: boot-screen diagnostics, auto-upgrade for Windows Server, new diagnostics tooling, and improved license reporting. Read on to learn about these new features.  

Boot-screen diagnostics (beta)

Windows VMs often rely on a virtual display device to report certain errors, and when connecting by Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) doesn’t work, accessing the virtual display screen becomes a necessity. Building on the Virtual Displays feature we launched last year, we’re now enabling you to more easily troubleshoot Windows VMs by capturing boot-screen screenshots without having to RDP into the machine. Capturing a screenshot from a VM can help diagnose issues if VMs are not otherwise accessible, for example, during the boot process, or if trying to start a VM with a corrupted disk image.

For those of us who miss seeing this blue screen, it is now viewable directly from within the Cloud Console :-)

Auto-upgrade for Windows 2008 (beta)

Many customers are still using Windows Server 2008 even after end-of-service was reached earlier this year. We want to make it easier for you to upgrade your instances by performing an in-place auto-upgrade for Windows Server 2008 using a single gcloud command. This command backs up your current VM, performs the upgrade, and handles roll-backs automatically if something fails. You can quickly test if a Windows OS in-place upgrade will work and then automate upgrades at scale. 

Collect diagnostic information (beta)

When you try to troubleshoot your Windows VMs or reach out to Google Cloud Support, it can be hard to provide all the necessary diagnostic information that you need to quickly and effectively troubleshoot a problem. A new diagnostic tool for Windows VMs helps collect all the necessary information so you can either troubleshoot the issue yourself or provide the necessary diagnostic information to Support. 

License reporting tooling

If you bring your own Windows licenses to Google Cloud, calculating licensing usage for Microsoft Enterprise Agreement True-ups and audits can be an onerous task. We have often seen customer procurement, engineering, and operations teams work for months to generate the data to satisfy complex licensing reporting needs. Further, these complex reports often need to be analyzed to identify high watermarks for physical server usage or understand license usage at any given time. 

For those of you running on sole-tenant nodes, the new Windows licensing reporting tool automates this process so you can quickly and comprehensively generate reports to quantify your physical server usage. The tool, which runs in a Windows environment, ingests log data and outputs graphical results and reports to users. 

Envision easier Windows management

Together, we hope these new features will make it easier for you to troubleshoot problems, upgrade, and manage the license requirements of Windows workloads running on Google Cloud. And we’re not done yet—stay tuned as we work to make Google Cloud the best platform on which to migrate, optimize, and modernize your Windows workloads, all with enterprise-class, Microsoft-backed support. 

Click here to learn more about running Windows on Google Cloud.

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