Home > Articles > Operating Systems, Server > Microsoft Servers

  • Print
  • + Share This
This chapter is from the book

Overview of Microsoft System Center

Beginning with SMS 2003, Configuration Manager has been a component of Microsoft's System Center strategy. System Center is the brand name for Microsoft's product suite focused on IT service delivery, support, and management. As time passes (and Microsoft's management strategy progresses), expect new products and components added over time. System Center is not a single product; the name represents a suite of products designed to address all major aspects of IT service support and delivery.

As part of a multiyear strategy, System Center is being released in "waves." The first wave included SMS 2003, MOM 2005, and System Center Data Protection Manager 2006. In 2006, additions included System Center Reporting Manager 2006 and System Center Capacity Planner 2006. The second wave includes Operations Manager 2007, Configuration Manager 2007, System Center Essentials 2007, System Center Service Manager, Virtual Machine Manager, and new releases of Data Protection Manager and System Center Capacity Planner. Presentations at popular Microsoft conferences in 2008 included discussions of a third wave, expected to begin around 2010-2011.

Microsoft System Center products share the following DSI-based characteristics:

  • Ease of use and deployment
  • Based on industry and customer knowledge
  • Scalability (from the mid-market to the large enterprise)

Reporting in System Center

The data gathered by Configuration Manager 2007 is collected in a self-maintaining SQL Server database and comes with numerous reports viewable using the Configuration Manager console. ConfigMgr delivers more than 300 reports out of the box for categories including asset intelligence, agent health and status, hardware and software inventory, and several others. Using the native functionality in SQL Reporting Services (SRS) in ConfigMgr 2007 R2, reports can also be exported to a variety of formats, including a Report Server file share, web archive format, Excel, and PDF. You can configure ConfigMgr to schedule and email reports, enabling users to open these reports without accessing the Configuration Manager console.

Together with the reporting available in Operations Manager 2007, administrators will find a very complete picture of present system configuration and health, as well as a detailed history of changes in these characteristics over time.

Ultimately, the integrated reporting feature for System Center is moving under the to-be-released System Center Service Manager product and then will no longer be a separate product.

Operations Management

Microsoft rearchitected MOM 2005 to create System Center Operations Manager 2007, its operations management solution for service-oriented monitoring. Currently in its third release, the product is completely rewritten. The design pillars in Operations Manager (OpsMgr) include a focus on end-to-end service monitoring, best-of-breed manager of Windows, reliability and security, and operational efficiency. Features in OpsMgr 2007 include the following:

  • Active Directory Integration—Management group information and agent configuration settings can be written to Active Directory, where they can be read by the OpsMgr agent at startup.
  • SNMP-enabled device management—OpsMgr can be employed to discover and perform up/down monitoring on any SNMP-enabled server or network device.
  • Audit Collection Services (ACS)—ACS provides centralized collection and storage of Windows Security Event Log events for use by auditors in assessment and reporting of an organization's compliance with internal or external regulatory policies.
  • Reporting enhancements—Reporting has been retooled to support reporting targeted to common business requirements such as availability reporting. Data is automatically aggregated to facilitate faster reporting and longer data retention.
  • Command shell—Based on PowerShell, the OpsMgr Shell provides rich command-line functionality for performing bulk administration and other tasks not available through the Operations console UI.
  • Console enhancements—The console interfaces of MOM 2005 have been consolidated into a single Operations console to support all operational and administrative activities. The new console has an Outlook-like look and feel to minimize the need for training users how to navigate the interface. (A separate console is provided for in-depth management pack authoring.)
  • Network-Aware Service Management (NASM) and cross-platform monitoring—In Operations Manager 2007 R2, Microsoft delivers network-aware service management using technology acquired from EMC Smarts, along with native cross-platform monitoring for a number of common Linux and Unix platforms.

System Center Essentials

System Center Essentials 2007 (Essentials for short) is a System Center application, targeted to the medium-sized business, that combines the monitoring features of OpsMgr with the inventory and software distribution functionality found in ConfigMgr into a single, easy-to-use interface. The monitoring function utilizes the form of the OpsMgr 2007 engine that utilizes OpsMgr 2007 management packs, and Essentials brings additional network device discovery and monitoring out of the box. The platform goes beyond service-oriented monitoring to provide systems management functionality, software distribution, update management, as well as hardware and software inventory, all performed using the native Automatic Updates client and WSUS 3.0. Using Essentials, you can centrally manage Windows-based servers and PCs, as well as network devices, by performing the following tasks:

  • Discovering and monitoring the health of computers and network devices and viewing summary reports of computer health
  • Centrally distributing software updates, tracking installation progress, and troubleshooting problems using the update management feature
  • Centrally deploying software, tracking progress, and troubleshooting problems with the software deployment feature
  • Collecting and examining computer hardware and software inventory using the inventory feature

Although Essentials 2007 provides many of the same monitoring features as OpsMgr (and ConfigMgr to some degree), the product lacks the granularity of control and extensibility required to support distributed environments, as well as enterprise scalability. The flip side of this reduced functionality is that Essentials greatly simplifies many functions compared to its OpsMgr and ConfigMgr 2007 counterparts. Customization and connectivity options for Essentials are limited, however. An Essentials deployment supports only a single management server; all managed devices must be in the same Active Directory forest. Reporting functionality is included, but only accommodates about a 40-day retention period.

Essentials 2007 also limits the number of managed objects per deployment to 30 Windows server-based computers and 500 Windows non-server-based computers. There is no limit to the number of network devices.

Service Manager: A Complete Service Desk Solution

Using System Center Service Manager (not yet released) will implement a single point of contact for all service requests, knowledge, and workflow. The Service Manager (previously code-named "Service Desk") incorporates processes such as incident, problem, change, and asset management, along with workflow for automation of IT processes. From an MOF perspective, Service Manager will be an anchor for the MOF Supporting quadrant. Figure 1.10 illustrates the mapping between the quadrants of the MOF Process Model and System Center Components.

Figure 1.10

Figure 1.10 MOF quadrants and related System Center applications

Service Manager is Microsoft's new help desk product and fills a gap in Operations Manager—What do you do when OpsMgr detects a condition that requires human intervention and tracking for resolution? Until Service Manager, the answer was to create a ticket or incident in one's help desk application, which generally required a third-party product connector to facilitate data exchange between OpsMgr and the ticketing system. Now, within the System Center framework, OpsMgr can hand off incident management to Service Manager. Similarly, you can use Service Manager in conjunction with ConfigMgr for software distribution. Design goals of Service Manager include the following:

  • Incorporating Self-Service Portal technologies to help organizations reduce support costs, including providing the administrator with a view into the overall performance of the IT environment using reports and dashboards.
  • Ready-to-use process-automated workflows based on processes defined in the Microsoft Operations Framework, using DSI models.
  • A Service Manager Solution Pack framework, similar to the Operations Manager management packs, to enable customers and partners to develop additional custom functionality for the Service Manager.
  • A Configuration Management Database (CMDB) based on SML and XML schema. Microsoft is positioning the CMDB as the foundation of its asset and change management capability, which parallels the CMDB function as defined in ITIL.

Supported scenarios include the following Service Management Functions (SMFs) and capabilities from the MOF Operating and Supporting quadrants:

  • Incident management—Creating incident records based on information in management tools
  • Problem management—Identifying problems by searching common incidents
  • Asset management—Tracking movement and ownership of hardware assets
  • Change management—Reviewing and approving change requests
  • Self-Service Portal—Resolving an issue without calling the help desk

The console interface of Service Manager in style mirrors that of OpsMgr and Essentials, which have an appearance similar to Outlook. It uses the OpsMgr agent, and the console will have the ability to run OpsMgr tasks. Service Manager brings the "designed for operations" moniker full circle by providing a means to feed production and user data back into the development process using Visual Studio through incident and problem tracking.

Protecting Data

System Center's Data Protection Manager (DPM) 2007 is a disk-based backup solution for continuous data protection supporting servers running Windows 2003 Service Pack 1 and above. DPM provides byte-level backup as changes occur, utilizing Microsoft's Virtual Disk Service and Shadow Copy technologies.

Microsoft describes DPM 2007 as a "best of breed" product, adding support for tape media. The Enterprise Edition offers native protection for Windows applications such as Microsoft SQL Server, Exchange, SharePoint Portal Server, plus bare-metal restore capability. This means that in addition to selecting file shares, you can back up SQL Server databases and Exchange Server storage groups. Via online snapshots, disk-based recovery can maintain backup points to a 15-minute window.

To support the burgeoning presence of virtual machines, DPM supports host-based backups of virtual machines using a single agent on the host. To support branch office and low-bandwidth scenarios, DPM advances de-duplication technology and block-level filter technology that only moves changed data during full backups.

Capacity Planning

System Center Capacity Planner is designed to provide tools and guidance to determine an optimal architecture for successful deployments, while also incorporating hardware and architecture "what-if" analyses for future planning. The Capacity Planner assists with planning deployments of Operations Manager, Exchange Server, and Microsoft Office SharePoint 2007.

In conjunction with the second "wave" of System Center, the newest version of Capacity Planner includes a model for OpsMgr 2007, which supports modeling the following areas:

  • All core server and database components
  • Gateway servers
  • Backup servers for the Operations database, Root Management Server (RMS), and data warehouse
  • 64-bit hardware support
  • Database sizing recommendations
  • Support for background loads
  • Trusted and untrusted agents
  • An enhanced predeployment wizard

The OpsMgr model for Capacity Planner only supports those OpsMgr 2007 installations running SP 1 and above.

The Capacity Planner creates models with information on topology, hardware, software, and usage profiles. It also allows you to run iterative simulations on the models for performance information. Capacity Planner ties into the DSI strategy by identifying when systems deviate from a defined performance model, providing guidance to correct those variations.

Virtual Machine Management

System Center Virtual Machine Manager (VMM) 2008 is Microsoft's management platform for heterogeneous virtualization infrastructures, providing centralized management of virtual machines across several popular platforms, specifically Virtual Server 2005 R2, Windows Server 2008 Hyper-V, and VMware ESX 3.x. VMM enables increased utilization of physical servers, centralized management of a virtual infrastructure, delegation of administration in distributed environments, and rapid provisioning of new virtual machines by system administrators and users via a Self-Service Portal.

VMM also delivers advanced functionality for enterprise environments, such as guidance in placement of Microsoft and VMware virtual guests (called intelligent placement), reliable physical-to-virtual (P2V) conversion, as well as virtual-to-virtual (V2V) transfer of VMware hosts. Integration with OpsMgr 2007 provides VMM access to historical performance data in the System Center data warehouse to augment intelligent placement decisions.

  • + Share This
  • 🔖 Save To Your Account

InformIT Promotional Mailings & Special Offers

I would like to receive exclusive offers and hear about products from InformIT and its family of brands. I can unsubscribe at any time.

Overview


Pearson Education, Inc., 221 River Street, Hoboken, New Jersey 07030, (Pearson) presents this site to provide information about products and services that can be purchased through this site.

This privacy notice provides an overview of our commitment to privacy and describes how we collect, protect, use and share personal information collected through this site. Please note that other Pearson websites and online products and services have their own separate privacy policies.

Collection and Use of Information


To conduct business and deliver products and services, Pearson collects and uses personal information in several ways in connection with this site, including:

Questions and Inquiries

For inquiries and questions, we collect the inquiry or question, together with name, contact details (email address, phone number and mailing address) and any other additional information voluntarily submitted to us through a Contact Us form or an email. We use this information to address the inquiry and respond to the question.

Online Store

For orders and purchases placed through our online store on this site, we collect order details, name, institution name and address (if applicable), email address, phone number, shipping and billing addresses, credit/debit card information, shipping options and any instructions. We use this information to complete transactions, fulfill orders, communicate with individuals placing orders or visiting the online store, and for related purposes.

Surveys

Pearson may offer opportunities to provide feedback or participate in surveys, including surveys evaluating Pearson products, services or sites. Participation is voluntary. Pearson collects information requested in the survey questions and uses the information to evaluate, support, maintain and improve products, services or sites, develop new products and services, conduct educational research and for other purposes specified in the survey.

Contests and Drawings

Occasionally, we may sponsor a contest or drawing. Participation is optional. Pearson collects name, contact information and other information specified on the entry form for the contest or drawing to conduct the contest or drawing. Pearson may collect additional personal information from the winners of a contest or drawing in order to award the prize and for tax reporting purposes, as required by law.

Newsletters

If you have elected to receive email newsletters or promotional mailings and special offers but want to unsubscribe, simply email information@informit.com.

Service Announcements

On rare occasions it is necessary to send out a strictly service related announcement. For instance, if our service is temporarily suspended for maintenance we might send users an email. Generally, users may not opt-out of these communications, though they can deactivate their account information. However, these communications are not promotional in nature.

Customer Service

We communicate with users on a regular basis to provide requested services and in regard to issues relating to their account we reply via email or phone in accordance with the users' wishes when a user submits their information through our Contact Us form.

Other Collection and Use of Information


Application and System Logs

Pearson automatically collects log data to help ensure the delivery, availability and security of this site. Log data may include technical information about how a user or visitor connected to this site, such as browser type, type of computer/device, operating system, internet service provider and IP address. We use this information for support purposes and to monitor the health of the site, identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents and appropriately scale computing resources.

Web Analytics

Pearson may use third party web trend analytical services, including Google Analytics, to collect visitor information, such as IP addresses, browser types, referring pages, pages visited and time spent on a particular site. While these analytical services collect and report information on an anonymous basis, they may use cookies to gather web trend information. The information gathered may enable Pearson (but not the third party web trend services) to link information with application and system log data. Pearson uses this information for system administration and to identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents, appropriately scale computing resources and otherwise support and deliver this site and its services.

Cookies and Related Technologies

This site uses cookies and similar technologies to personalize content, measure traffic patterns, control security, track use and access of information on this site, and provide interest-based messages and advertising. Users can manage and block the use of cookies through their browser. Disabling or blocking certain cookies may limit the functionality of this site.

Do Not Track

This site currently does not respond to Do Not Track signals.

Security


Pearson uses appropriate physical, administrative and technical security measures to protect personal information from unauthorized access, use and disclosure.

Children


This site is not directed to children under the age of 13.

Marketing


Pearson may send or direct marketing communications to users, provided that

  • Pearson will not use personal information collected or processed as a K-12 school service provider for the purpose of directed or targeted advertising.
  • Such marketing is consistent with applicable law and Pearson's legal obligations.
  • Pearson will not knowingly direct or send marketing communications to an individual who has expressed a preference not to receive marketing.
  • Where required by applicable law, express or implied consent to marketing exists and has not been withdrawn.

Pearson may provide personal information to a third party service provider on a restricted basis to provide marketing solely on behalf of Pearson or an affiliate or customer for whom Pearson is a service provider. Marketing preferences may be changed at any time.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information


If a user's personally identifiable information changes (such as your postal address or email address), we provide a way to correct or update that user's personal data provided to us. This can be done on the Account page. If a user no longer desires our service and desires to delete his or her account, please contact us at customer-service@informit.com and we will process the deletion of a user's account.

Choice/Opt-out


Users can always make an informed choice as to whether they should proceed with certain services offered by InformIT. If you choose to remove yourself from our mailing list(s) simply visit the following page and uncheck any communication you no longer want to receive: www.informit.com/u.aspx.

Sale of Personal Information


Pearson does not rent or sell personal information in exchange for any payment of money.

While Pearson does not sell personal information, as defined in Nevada law, Nevada residents may email a request for no sale of their personal information to NevadaDesignatedRequest@pearson.com.

Supplemental Privacy Statement for California Residents


California residents should read our Supplemental privacy statement for California residents in conjunction with this Privacy Notice. The Supplemental privacy statement for California residents explains Pearson's commitment to comply with California law and applies to personal information of California residents collected in connection with this site and the Services.

Sharing and Disclosure


Pearson may disclose personal information, as follows:

  • As required by law.
  • With the consent of the individual (or their parent, if the individual is a minor)
  • In response to a subpoena, court order or legal process, to the extent permitted or required by law
  • To protect the security and safety of individuals, data, assets and systems, consistent with applicable law
  • In connection the sale, joint venture or other transfer of some or all of its company or assets, subject to the provisions of this Privacy Notice
  • To investigate or address actual or suspected fraud or other illegal activities
  • To exercise its legal rights, including enforcement of the Terms of Use for this site or another contract
  • To affiliated Pearson companies and other companies and organizations who perform work for Pearson and are obligated to protect the privacy of personal information consistent with this Privacy Notice
  • To a school, organization, company or government agency, where Pearson collects or processes the personal information in a school setting or on behalf of such organization, company or government agency.

Links


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that we are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of each and every web site that collects Personal Information. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this web site.

Requests and Contact


Please contact us about this Privacy Notice or if you have any requests or questions relating to the privacy of your personal information.

Changes to this Privacy Notice


We may revise this Privacy Notice through an updated posting. We will identify the effective date of the revision in the posting. Often, updates are made to provide greater clarity or to comply with changes in regulatory requirements. If the updates involve material changes to the collection, protection, use or disclosure of Personal Information, Pearson will provide notice of the change through a conspicuous notice on this site or other appropriate way. Continued use of the site after the effective date of a posted revision evidences acceptance. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns about the Privacy Notice or any objection to any revisions.

Last Update: November 17, 2020