SCOM 2012 R2 – System Center Advisor Overview

A few month ago Microsoft released a preview version of System Center Advisor for SCOM 2012 SP1. This service was announced at MMS 2013 and gave you some idea what there might be coming. In that SCOM 2012 SP1 preview version you needed to download and configure separate components which was not as handy as it could be. In SCOM 2012 R2 preview, and I assume it will stay the same for the final version, Microsoft has integrated the setup and the necessary components into the SCOM 2012 R2 console making it a 1-2-3 experience to setup.

Let’s have a look what System Center Advisor (SCA) actually is. SCA is a service located in Azure which analyzes your Microsoft server software according to best practices and well known problems. If there is a problem an alert will be raised telling you WHAT is the EXACT problem and HOW do you solve this problem PRECISELY. The rules are added by the Microsoft Customer Service and Support people which are the guys who fixing customer problems on a daily base and know best what are the most common problems. This knowledge of the most common problems (detected by System center Advisor rules) and the solution (KB article) are added into System Center Advisor which then will directly flow into your organizations analysis. It is (almost) like an external Microsoft consultant checking your infrastructure if it is setup correctly and telling you how to fix it.

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If you think about this you will realize quickly how System Center Advisor will faster resolve issues, proactive avoid misconfiguration, finally reduce downtime and therefore increase your productivity.

In this post I would like to show how to setup and configure System Center Advisor…

Setup

Just to make sure, this setup is for SCOM 2012 R2 and not for SCOM 2012 SP1. In previous versions of Advisor, the Advisor agent used a gateway to communicate with the Advisor service. When you use Advisor as an attached service in Operations Manager (SCOM 2012 R2), the agent communicates directly with the management server, which in turn talks to the Advisor service. You can continue to use Advisor as a standalone service, using the Advisor gateway for communication with the service; using Advisor as an attached service in Operations Manager simply extends the value of Advisor to Operations Manager (TechNet).

1.) Install SCOM 2012 R2, in my case I am using the SCOM 2012 R2 preview version. I am not showing how to setup SCOM 2012 R2 because this is not the focus of this post.

2.) Sign up for a Microsoft account aka Windows Live ID

3.) Go to Administration/System Center Advisor/Advisor Connection and choose Register Advisor. Because I have already setup SCA there is only a Re-configure Advisor link on the screenshot…

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A wizard will open and you need your previously created Microsoft account…

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Enter a new Advisor Account by typing an account name. I have accounts created before therefore I will select scomfaq. You can create as many Advisor accounts as you want. These accounts will be used to separate the data if you login into the System Center Advisor portal. There you will be prompted or you can select via dropdown to choose from which account to want to see the data….

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If you click Update in my case or Done if you run this wizard for the first time, your setup is finished. YES, that’s it, the Advisor setup is finished! So easy…

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If you go to Administration/Internal Connectors you will see 2 new connectors have been added…

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Configuration

As a next step we need to tell Advisor which computers to monitor. Therefore we go to Administration/Advisor Managed/Add a Computer Group…

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You can add computers and groups, this means you can create a dynamic group and add this group to Advisor and Advisor will automatically analyze all objects in this group…

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SCOM Views

After a few hours the first alerts are flying into your management group. Go to Monitoring/System Center Advisor and you will find a bunch of alerts. Look close at the alert description how detailed the information appears…

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On the right hand side you will find 4 tasks…

  • Ignore Alert…
  • Manage Alert Rules…
  • View Configuration
  • View Solution/KB Article

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Ignore Alert will allow you to disable the rule…

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Manage Alert Rules, will show you all the rules available…

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View Configuration will show you all the detailed properties collected from the system where the alert occurred…

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View Solution/KB Article shows you the solution to this problem…

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If you navigate to Advisor Health State dashboard you will have an overview if the management server is connected correctly to System Center Advisor and if all the Advisor agents are in a healthy state…

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Advisor Portal

If you would like to check your data online navigate to http://www.systemcenteradvisor.com and login with your Microsoft account…

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You will get a nice dashboard with your most important information…

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Or detailed alert information as you have seen in your SCOM console…

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You also can change the rules, account information or add and remove Advisor agents.

System Center Advisor FAQ (System Center Advisor):

What data is collected?
The full list of data points collected by the agent is available for download here, from the Microsoft Download Center, in an Excel spreadsheet.
For example, included in this list are properties about SQL Server like data from SERVERPROPERTY, sys.databases, and sys.configurations.
In addition to this list of data points, we collect some diagnostic data from event logs to help identify any problems with the Advisor on-premise software.

How does System Center Advisor collect data?
The System Center Advisor agent collects data about your environment from the following locations:

  • Windows Registry
  • Windows WMI calls
  • SQL OleDB queries
  • Windows event log
  • Error logs generated by supported workloads
  • Agent error logs

This data is analyzed for any issues or deviations from defined best practices. If any are identified, alerts are generated to help you resolve the issues. This data is also used to provide configuration information for the computers in your environment. You can view the configuration on either the Configuration: Current Snapshot or Configuration: Change History pages.
The specific data that is collected is determined by configuration information sent to the agent from Advisor. Every 24 hours, the on-premise software queries Advisor for updates to the configuration. The gateway server automatically downloads this content and stores it to be picked up by the agent.

What are the current workloads monitored?
For the following workloads exist at this moment rules…

  • Lync
  • SharePoint
  • SQL Server
  • Windows Server
  • Fabric Components

Will there be more rules available in the near future?
I assume Microsoft will add more rules for other workloads e.g. for System Center products.

Does System Center Advisor cost anything?
No. System Center Advisor is completely free.

I am concerned about the privacy and data collected by Microsoft. Where can I find the privacy and legal statements?
Here is an overview of the System Center Advisor Legal Notices.

Are there any useful links about System Center Advisor?
You can find more information here…

System Center Advisor Helphttp://onlinehelp.microsoft.com/en-us/advisor/default.aspx

What’s New in System Center Advisor – http://social.technet.microsoft.com/wiki/contents/articles/5176.what-s-new-in-system-center-advisor.aspx

12 Comments

  1. I’ve been trying to get this up and running, but whenever I try to register I get prompted for my LiveID, that’s fine, then Select/Create Adviser Account works fine, but when I click the create button if shows the Saving wait ring and then comes up “Error 3000: Unable to register to Advisor Service. Please contact the system administrator.” However (assuming I’ve created a new Adviser Account) I get the email saying welcome.

    I cant See anything using Fiddler (withh SSL Decode enabled) that would indicate a big error, I see the login, and I see a ‘tunnel’ to http://microsoftsystemcenter.112.2o7.net:443

    Any Ideas?

  2. @Ashleigh – we will be documenting the error codes. 3000 has to do with the exchange of certificates – which must happen within 5 minutes. Check if your time is accurate/in sync with a public time server?
    Of course the account has been provisioned on our backend for you, and that’s why you got the email… but the Operations Manager infrastructure hasn’t successfully been “connected” to the Advisor service if you get this error.

  3. Pingback: SCOM 2012 R2 – Integrate SC Advisor Website | SCOMfaq.ch

  4. Pingback: SCU 2013 DACH – Session Video “Space Shuttle Launch Exploring other Galaxies with Operations Manager” | SCOMfaq.ch

  5. Pingback: SCOM 2012 R2 – Integrate SC Advisor Website - SysManBlog

  6. Pingback: SCOM 2012 R2 – System Center Advisor Error: 3000 Unable to register… - SysManBlog

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