Even though SCA uses some of the core components of SCOM (Agents, Gateways and customized Management Packs) it does NOT offer real time monitoring. Instead, it offers advices based on Best Practices and experiences from Microsoft CSS. So SCA can be looked upon as a stand alone complimentary service alongside SCOM.
When you have Software Assurance (SA) in place for SQL Server and/or Windows Server. you get the service for FREE! Last but not least, you can sign up for a 60 day free trial as well.
Also good to know, installing SCA is a walk in the park. Almost a Next > Next > Finish experience. No need for deep and detailed knowledge about installing SCA. It’s a walk in the park :).
Some useful Microsoft links about SCA:
- SCA Demo: http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/showcase/details.aspx?uuid=32e32209-71c4-43d2-b2ae-015598bf5b7d
- SCA blog posting by Microsoft: http://blogs.technet.com/b/server-cloud/archive/2012/01/26/system-center-advisor-released.aspx
- SCA website: https://systemcenteradvisor.com/
Some useful community links about SCA:
- SCA, how does it work (credits go to Stefan Stranger): http://thoughtsonopsmgr.blogspot.com/2011/03/scom-in-sky.html
- SCOM, using the SCA MPs: http://scug.be/blogs/scom/archive/2011/05/02/using-system-center-advisor-management-packs-in-opsmgr.aspx