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Server Monitoring with System Center Advisor

04/16/2013

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System Center Advisor was already a product known to a few years, but at the beginning of March it was announced that he is now free for all customers!

What is System Center Advisor?

The Advisor is similar to System Center Operations Manager (SCOM) 2012, but with a series of rules based on good practice.

Currently it supports Windows Server 2008, Windows Server 2012, SQL Server 2005, SQL Server 2008, SQL Server 2012, Exchange Server 2010, Lync 2010 and SharePont 2010.

Its rules currently have 249 items (4/15/2013) and always being updated and added. It is possible to choose which rules will be used, by product or feature specifies.

It is important to note that the Advisor was not created to support stations, what is Windows Intune responsibility.

His canvases are the Dashboard that brings a summary of alerts by product type and server:

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Detailing each of the alerts, with data from the server and the items with their corresponding values that led the SCA to identify the alert:

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Finally, it is possible to see the history of hardware and software updates using configuration snapshots available, allowing you to compare the values of a date with the other, creating a CCM:

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How to register and Configure System Center Advisor?

To open an account in the SCA is only necessary to have a Microsoft Account (formerly Live ID/Passport) and enter the home in https://www.systemcenteradvisor.com/Default.aspx where the registration is simple and clear.

The next step is to install the agents, but we will talk about it in the next topic.

After you create the account already it is possible to configure the desired alerts, which can be accessed through the console Alerts >Alert Management > Roles shown in the images up on the screen alerts and view the image below:

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Note that it is possible to select by product type rules, as the image above, or even by specific alert, for example, if PowerShell is installed or not when it is verified the operating system:

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Another important configuration item to be accomplished is the creation of users and their roles in the portal.

The image below shows how security settings can add, edit, or delete users, and indicate what each user will receive alerts in your e-mail:

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The SCA does not allow you to select which items every portal user can receive, since the roles can be user only (preview) or administrator. To receive alerts, select the checkbox below:

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Installing agents on the servers

To install the agents it is necessary to download the application and the digital certificate, which is used for the Gateway as a form of authentication. The diagram below demonstrates how the communication process:

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To download the certificate and click on "Setting up System Advisor" in the Dashboard and select the items for download buttons:

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It is important to understand that the agent (binary) is one for any account, the certificate that identifies the client/account being monitored and can be used on multiple servers that will be gateway. In cases of standalone servers, it should be agent and gateway.

This installation option is made during the agent setup:

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If the installation is gateway, prompted the proxy data (if any) and the location of the certificate file. If the agent installation should be placed the name of the server that is the gateway. Obviously the first client to be installed should be the gateway server.

Logs and Settings

The configuration of agents/gateways can be made at any time by using the tool "System Center Advisor Configuration Wizard", where it will show the specific settings for agent or gateway, such as the two images below show:

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Also it is important to give permission to the agents at the gateway by using the local group "Allowed Advisor Agents" and add the computers that will communicate with him:

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To check the logs, must be used in the Event Viewer log "Operations Manager" or the directory Program Files\System Center Advisor \ < GatewayData > or AgentData \Logs.

Environments with SCOM and SCA

The SCA is the same agent used by SCOM, therefore the two monitoring systems can coexist, with the same machine can refer to two systems, that are identified by the Management Group, which in the case of SCOM is defined in the creation of the Management Server and in the case of the Advisor when creating the account in the service.

As the Operations Manager Agent is already designed to allow monitoring by multiple servers in different organizations SCOM, that’s no problem or solution for environments in which you want to use the two monitoring systems.

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