As a System Center Consultant I am often asked “will SCOM check to see if we are following the Microsoft best practices for a particular Microsoft product”. Before SCOM 2012 R2 came out I would answer with a “it depends”. Most Microsoft management packs are authored to provide information around the health of the application and sometimes the product group will throw in some rules or monitors around what they feel is a best practice. Most of the time these rules or monitors were at the result of customer feedback and Microsoft Support requests.
A really cool new feature in SCOM 2012 R2 is the integration with System Center Advisor. Per Microsoft, System Center Advisor is an online service that analyzes installations of Microsoft Server software and alerts the customer to potential issues. Issues can be as simple as missing a recommended patch or something more serious like a configuration issues.
First thing you need to do is register for a System Center Advisor account (don’t worry its free). You can either click on the link provided in the SCOM Console under Administration \ System Center Advisor \ Advisor Connection. Look under Get Started and you will see “Register to Advisor Service”.
Clicking this link will start the “Advisor Onboarding Wizard: Authentication”
I am going to click on the first option and use my Microsoft Live ID but you should review your options and select what makes sense for you.
Enter in your credentials and click “Sign in”.
On this screen, I need to provide a name for my Advisor Account. I am going to name it something that makes sense to me like “Kuehfus Lab”. Click Next.
Review your setting and click Create.
Once its finished click Close.
Add a Computer Group
A group can be used to control which servers Advisor checks. If you don’t already have a computer group to use you will first need to go to Authoring and create one (if you already have one scroll down a bit).
Click on the highlighted Task above
Give your group a name and store it in a management pack. I created a new management pack to store my group.
Click “Add/Remove Objects….”
In “Search for” I changed this to Windows Computer and select a few of my servers.
Click Next through the rest of the wizard and click Create.
Now, navigate to Administration \ System Center Advisor \ Advisor Connection and look for “Add a Computer Group” under Actions. Click on it. The Computer Search page should open. Under Options I changed it to “All Instances Groups” and selected my new Advisor Computers group.
- Configure Proxy Server is a very simple but important page where one enters in the proxy info. If you are unsure if you have a proxy check with your system admin.
Check the box and enter your proxy info
- Manage Alert Rules is where you go to enable or disable certain checks and alerts.
Selecting this link opens Internet Explorer where you first need to select the type of account you are using.
I am using the first choice list here the Microsoft account because I am using a live ID.
Enter your creds and click Sign in. Note: The Advisor site requires Silverlight and you will be prompted to install it if you don’t already have it.
Once the System Center Advisor site opens you will see a page with two tabs “Ignored Alert Rules” and “Available Alert Rules”. Seeing as this is the first time we are using Advisor for this account the “Ignored Alert Rules” is blank.
Click on the tab for “Available Alert Rules” and you will be presented with the list of rules.
From here you can drill into one of the Classes and uncheck one of the rules to disable.
In this example I deselected the “PowerShell was not enabled” rule and will now click apply.
Now under “Ignored Alert Rules” you can see I have one rule I am currently Ignoring.
As you work through using Advisor in a live environment you will be spending time disabling the checks that do not interest you.
Advisor in action
First lets click on the Active Alerts and see what’s coming in.
Looks like Advisor is notifying me that I am missing a Windows update (2871777) on my management servers.
According to the details, I should take a look at an article but it looks like no article is listed in the alert. But what you will see if a task called “View Solution/KB Article” in the task pane. Running this task brought me to the correct KB.
I think that is really cool and works quite well, although a little difficult to initially discover.
Let me run windows update to see if I missing this patch and if this corrects the issue.
Yup. I’m missing the patch. I updated my management server and rebooted to see if the Advisor alert will resolve on its own but because these are generated by rules not monitors we will need to manual resolve the alert. This brings us to the question of how long until the rule runs again to see if it comes back. A quick look at the override configuration has the Frequency at 300 seconds (every 5 minutes).
Managing Advisor Alerts from SCOM
I simple click on the “Ignore Alert…” task.
The Task takes me to the online Advisor portal where I needed to login and answer the following question:
In my scenario I only want to ignore this alert on this specific server because the SCCM database is managed by the SCCM software and I am not to mess with it. So I selected the second option “All alerts from this rule on the selected server” can clicked OK.
Advisor notifies me the Opt out rule is created. I click on Close and IE asks me to close the browser.
Hope this helps.