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Matt McSpirit on Virtualisation, Management and Core Infrastructure

Monitor Mission-Critical Apps with Service Level Dashboard 2.0

Monitor Mission-Critical Apps with Service Level Dashboard 2.0

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Going forward, my role is becoming more and more focused on the management of virtualisation, and just today, I’ve already seen a couple of items in the blogosphere, including this one, that are highlighting management as the big battleground in 2010, and to be honest, I agree.  That’s not to say that the virtualisation layer isn’t important – far from it, VMware, Microsoft and Citrix to name but three, will still stress the importance of a stable, performant and robust platform to run your workloads on, but once virtualised, how can you ensure you’re getting the best out of the workloads you’ve invested in?  How can you ensure that Exchange, right through to Outlook, is performing effectively, and is healthy?  The same could be asked for SharePoint, SQL, Active Directory, Terminal Services, and more, not to mention the countless non-Microsoft platforms and technologies that something like System Center Operations Manager can effectively monitor and report upon.

There’s a key point right at the end of that last sentence.  ‘Effectively monitor and report upon’.  Monitoring is one thing, and can provide massive benefits around proactivity (I may have made that word up…), alerting, and automated recovery, however, being able to prove systems are functioning efficiently, and effectively, is just as valuable to the business, especially where SLA’s are concerned.

This brings me nicely on to the Service Level Dashboard 2.0.  SLD 2.0 is a free download, that bolts onto, and extends the current SLD in SCOM 2007 R2, and provides a much richer experience when it comes to visualising the status of your infrastructure, and subsequently reporting on said infrastructure.  If you’re wondering what I mean by ‘much richer experience’, take a look at this:

SLD 2.0 Dashboard

Anyone who’s used SLD 1.0 will know this is a pretty big improvement, and provides a much clearer, simple-to-understand interface, enabling users to quickly identify healthy/non-healthy areas of their infrastructure.  The dashboard automatically displays application or system availability and performance in near-real time. Using the dashboard, customers can easily keep track of availability, performance trends, and head-off problems before they occur. They can also create role-specific dashboards to support different departments, such as HR, Finance, or Operations, so it really can be tailored to the needs of the organisation.

I’m sure you’re wondering how all the ‘bits’ fit together, but fear not, I have a diagram to explain!

SLD2.0 Architecture

You need WSS at the backend, so those of you who were worrying you’d need full-blown Microsoft Office SharePoint Server can relax!  The IT chap defines the Service Level Goals, specifying targets around things like Availability, Performance etc.  The dashboard is configured based on these tracking definitions, and Windows SharePoint Services displays the dashboard, building it from the System Center Operations Manager Data Warehouse.  OK OK, that’s a 100,000ft view, and it’s more complex than that, so if you’re looking for more information, here it is:

Hat-tip to Matt Hester, an IT Pro Evangelist, who’s recorded these SLD Videos.  If you’re interested, the download of SLD 2.0 is here.

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