Cloudy Server Configuration Advice (“Cloudy April” – Part 29)

Microsoft System Center Advisor


System Center Advisor is:


Good stuff

“That’s very pretty, Kevin.  But what does it all mean?”

Here’s the idea.  You have servers, infrastructure roles (like Active Directory) and server applications that are configured and running.  But are they configured and running properly? 

“Yes, I think so.”

But do you KNOW?


Serving-up server monitoring services.Exactly.  And of course Microsoft has tools such as various Best Practice Analyzers can scan your installations and tell you if everything is okay.  And we also sell System Center Operations Manager (SCOM) for rich, ongoing monitoring of servers and services.  System Center Advisor is a cloud-based application (meaning you can access it from anywhere) that, along with agents installed on your servers, and a secured, authenticated gateway for access to your servers, you can have an ongoing monitor and health status maintained of all of your important servers and server applications. 

System Center Advisor Customer Benefits

Historical data is also maintained.  One of the big ideas here is that you can use this to track when a change may have caused an issue.  You can proactively resolve issues that would otherwise have caused problems down the line.  And Microsoft Product Support can use that data to help you troubleshoot further, in case you need their help.

It also allows Microsoft another way to track any trending issues among many customers, and proactively address problems that appear to be occuring more frequently.  Say for example a new driver or patch comes out for some device and it’s causing widespread problems.  Microsoft can see that through the data collected and work quickly with that device driver or patch vendor to resolve the issue.

Note: No personal information is recorded saved.  And this tool is NOT going to ever collect and use software license information.  (A skeptic might think that Microsoft could use this to enforce software license compliance.  The ULA makes it clear that we will never do that.)

Note that the Release Candidate only monitors Windows Server 2008 or later and SQL Server 2008 or later. Here are the details from the web site:

Advisor analyzes the following workloads:

  • Windows Server 2008 and later:
    • Active Directory
    • Hyper-V Host
    • General operating system
  • SQL Server 2008 and later
    • SQL Engine

For SQL Server, the following 32-bit and 64-bit editions are supported for analysis:

  • SQL Server 2008 and 2008 R2 Enterprise
  • SQL Server 2008 and 2008 R2 Standard
  • SQL Server 2008 and 2008 R2 Workgroup
  • SQL Server 2008 and 2008 R2 Web
  • SQL Server 2008 and 2008 R2 Express

In addition, the 32-bit edition of SQL Server is supported when running in the WOW64 implementation.

The product is currently a “Release Candidate”, and is scheduled to be released before the end of 2011.

“What does it cost?”

The release candidate is a free trial. 

“No.. I mean, what WILL it cost when it’s released?”

It will be yet another added benefit to purchasing your Microsoft products with Software Assurance.   So.. if your Windows Server 2008 R2 was purchased with SA, you can monitor it.  If you purchased Exchange or SQL Server with SA, you can monitor those.  And so on. 

Visit for more details, and to sign up and try it out.

Are you using or considering using cloud-based monitoring or maintenance services like System Center Advisor or Windows InTune?  Got any ideas for other cloud-based solutions?  Let’s discuss it in the comments!

In part 30 (last one!) tomorrow, I’m going to summarize my cloudy thoughts, and provide a list of links to all of the Cloudy April series articles.

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