Wednesday, March 23, 2011

SCOM In The Sky?

Anyone working in the ICT or having any related job for that matter, can’t deny it: things are changing. Much is to be found and told about the cloud and what it can do.

The cloud comes in many shapes and formats, like IaaS, Paas & SaaS. Also the formats can be different, like public, private, hybrid and community based. Even though this blog isn’t about the cloud, there is no doubt that it will affect SCOM as well. The question isn’t when nor why but more like how?

The first steps in moving SCOM into the cloud have been made. What started under codename ‘Atlanta’ has been rebranded into Microsoft System Center Advisor (SCA).

What it does? For now it does NOT deliver real time monitoring like SCOM. Taken directly from the website:

At the moment it supports:

  • Microsoft SQL Server 2008 and future editions;
  • Windows Server 2008 and future editions.

How it works? I have borrowed this diagram from Stefan Strangers weblog. Thanks Stefan!

Basically SCA works along the same lines as SCOM. MPs are required, Agents and Gateways. Since Kerberos can’t be used here, a certificate will be generated on the fly while the Agent is pushed out to the server being monitored by SCA. On premise the customer will install a Gateway Server which communicates with SCA in the cloud and the monitored servers on-premise. The MPs are already present in the cloud and need no further attention.

For now SCA isn’t meant for real time monitoring like SCOM. Why? It is aimed at assessment of the configuration of the monitored servers. This assessment runs on periodic basis. SCA collects data on intervals of 4-8 hours. This data is analyzed once per day and uploaded to the cloud once a day. So no real time monitoring (for now that is).

However, the assessments are based on best practices. So when you want to know whether your servers are up to specs, based on BPs, SCA can tell you that.

When you want to test drive the Release Candidate of SCA, go here. All you need is a Windows Live ID. The installation is pretty straight forward.

SCA and the Future
For now SCA supports a limited set of systems/services. But that will most certainly grow in the future as well as the functionality. So for me the question is not whether SCA will deliver SCOM functionality (real time monitoring) but when.

To be continued…

Cloud and more
I look upon myself as a consultant who is at the moment specialized in SC products and especially SCOM. But ICT is an ever changing landscape. So in order to stay in business, I have to change as well. Even better, to embrace it. And to be frankly, that’s why I like ICT. Never ever a dull moment. Because the cloud is becoming BIG and all major companies are aiming at it (Microsoft will target this year +90 % of it’s total R&D budget to the cloud…) I have to take a deeper dive in it as well.

I have made that plunge and it is awesome. Even to such an extend that I am working on a new blog, all about the cloud. Don’t know when it goes live, but it certainly will. Here a sneak preview of the placeholder:

More and more SC products will move towards the cloud. First steps might seem small, but soon it will gain momentum and grow rapidly. Another thing to look at is Windows Intune, a cloud based management solution for managing Windows 7 based systems. As you can see, the sky is getting crowded…

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