As sysadmins we spend much time to realize what went wrong, who did the last configuration change, what setting affected unexpected behavior in our data center environments. Those days are long gone now. Recently System Center Advisor team introduced Change Tracking Intelligence pack which allows you to track all the software and windows service changes in your servers, be it physical or virtual.
Key features include,
Track software and windows service changes for any time period
Logon Account, Start-up Type, Status changes in the last 24 hours or any time period
Changes applied to any application specific workload i. e Exchange, SQL, SharePoint etc…
Patch tracking – Did patch A get applied on a particular set of servers
Application Inventory – On what servers is a particular application installed
Configuration change management – Track computers with top configuration changes
System Center Advisor is still in it’s Limited preview so we can expect more feature for the core product itself within the first quarter of 2015. With the introduction of System Center Preview, Advisor will become more important in monitoring workloads.
Microsoft wishes to add more change tracking scenarios to the list but values your input on this. You can answer a short survey and get involved in the development of this particular feature.
Those who have used SCOM for monitoring know what it takes to filter out the unnecessary monitoring information from all those alerts, monitors and logs. If your SCOM setup is just click click install kind of setup then you probably have more unwanted monitoring scenarios configured by default. Sometimes your boss needs to look at the big picture of monitoring once in a while, present it to the management at a meeting. How do you achieve these challenges? You can fine tune your SCOM installation, override unnecessary MPs, create reports, dashboards etc… But guess what, you don’t have to be that thorough anymore if you are using Microsoft System Center Advisor integrated with you SCOM environment.
System Center Advisor is a free (selected countries) online service which lets you to analyze your SCOM data or individual Microsoft Workloads to provide different insights on your data center health. Currently it is in Limited Public preview, so you can grab your Microsoft Account or Corporate Account to sign up for a preview. The beauty of this product is you can use it even without System Center Installation by installing Advisor agent on individual servers that you want to monitor and let the online service to worry about the rest. Below are some features that Advisor is capable of.
System Center Advisor can collect, combine, correlate and visualize all your machine data. That is it can separate required monitoring history from the noise. It is also capable of searching through multiple systems in your data center to identify root cause for any issues.
With advisor you can be proactive not reactive. Advisor enables you to see what capacity shortages such as storage, Allocation bottlenecks such as CPU, Memory & Network and it even let you to plan capacity for future workloads
You can avoid configuration issues with Advisor as it proactive assess the best practices that you define in your data center. This feature doesn’t require SCOM installation and can be separately configured.
Advisor is capable of keeping track of your system patches. Be it on-premise or cloud, Advisor sees through the data center for any non-compliant servers and reports back for remediation.
As you have probably guessed by now, Advisor is also capable of monitoring your environment for viruses & malware. It can report which of your servers have security threats and any actions to rectify same.
Now let’s see how we setup Advisor in your SCOM environment. Though there are some per-requisites for this.
You should be running either System Center 2012 Service Pack 1 or System Center 2012 R2
Microsoft .NET Framework 3.5 SP1 should be installed
Windows Server 2008 upwards
Supported technologies for analysis
Advisor analyzes the following workloads.
Windows Server 2012/2012R2/2008/2008 R2 (Active Directory, Hyper-V Host, General operating system)
Hyper-V Server 2012/2012R2
SQL Server 2008 and later (SQL Engine)
Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010
Microsoft Exchange Server 2010
Microsoft Lync Server 2010
Microsoft Lync Server 2013 (new in October 2013)
System Center 2012 SP1 – Virtual Machine Manager
Setting up Advisor with SCOM
Sign in to the Advisor Limited Public Preview through here. You may have to sign up if you already don’t have an account (requires Microsoft Account or Corporate Account).
Open Operations Manager Console and navigate to Administration
Select System Center Advisor, and then select Advisor Connection.
Click Register to Advisor Service.
Sign in with your Microsoft or Organizational accounts in step 1.
Create a new Advisor account or choose an existing Advisor account associated with your Microsoft/Corporate account.
Save the changes.
Select Actions, click Add a Computer/Group.
Under Options, select Windows Server or All Instance Groups, and then add servers that you want data to be collected from.
Below are some useful references that you can use to learn more about System Center Advisor.