A Quick Look At System Center Advisor (SCA)

Summary:   Milad Aslaner , a Microsoft Premier Field Engineer based in Germany, gives us a quick peek at System Center Advisor (SCA), a freely available cloud-based service from Microsoft that enables you to assess your server configurations and proactively avoid problems.

System Center Advisor OverviewAs you probably know by now, my passion is around reliability and performance. I just love to evangelize and engage with customers, partners and colleagues on how to optimize bits and bytes to achieve the best experience.

In this article I want to focus on System Center Advisor, or SCA for short. You can think about SCA as your little friend who proactively warns you if it detects misconfigurations on your server or if it identifies a potential threat. It’s backend is cloud-based and fully utilizes all advantages of Windows Azure. All tests cases are based on Microsoft’s own support data and best practices around configuration, optimization and manageability.

With SCA, we support the following technologies as of this writing: Windows Server, SharePoint Server, Lync Server, Exchange Server and lastly SQL Server workloads. You can download and read more about SCA at www.systemcenteradvisor.com.

So how does it work under the hood?

First you need to specify which servers you want to monitor and which server should communicate with Microsoft. Once you know that, go to www.systemcenteradvisor.com, sign-up and download the toolkit.

System Center Advisor Monitoring Screen

The next step is to install the software on your gateway server (i.e. the server which communicates with Microsoft) and add the certificate which is also downloadable from the web interface. Once this is done, you can go ahead and install the agent software on all servers you want to monitor.

Once this is done, the action really starts! After a while your machines will appear in the SCA console and you will start seeing alerts and recommendations.

This should give you a quick look on how to deploy System Center Advisor.  Stay tuned for the next blog post on SCA and some lessons learned from the field.  Btw, currently the largest organization which utilizes SCA is monitoring over 30.000 servers with this solution!

Written by Milad Aslaner; Posted by Frank Battiston, MSPFE Editor