Somewhere between the physical and the virtual
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As a Configuration Manager (ConfigMgr) administrator, you might hear quite often a seemingly simple (but in reality very difficult) question: How many workstations our company exactly has? You know exactly how many ConfigMgr clients are on the ConfigMgr database, but how many of those are actually online and healthy? Which clients have problems with technologies that ConfigMgr utilizes e.g. WMI? If users have administrative rights on their workstations, they might even stop ConfigMgr client service. How could you identify those computers?
ConfigMgr 2007 R2 has an optional component: Client Status Reporting. It can nicely give you information about the status of your ConfigMgr clients, but too few customers are actually using it and it cannot repair any problems.
ConfigMgr v.Next has major improvements over ConfigMgr 2007’s Client status report. Firstly, client health components are fully integrated to ConfigMgr v.Next, so you don’t need to do any separate installations. Secondly, v.Next can actually remediate ConfigMgr clients.
The new solution has two components:
· Server-side metrics for evaluating client activity
· Client-side health evaluation, remediation and reporting component
Server-side evaluation is based on client status reporting: when clients have requested policies, when last hardware, software inventory, or heartbeat DDR was taken, and when client has sent the last status message. From those information, server can calculate which clients are active and which are in-active.
Clients’ network presence is now based on computer account’s last Active Directory logon timestamp. ConfigMgr 2007 is using ICMP ping for determining network presence. The new mechanism works much better with current network infrastructure, where you cannot trust whether ping is blocked on personal firewalls.
ConfigMgr v.Next is smart enough to give ConfigMgr admin an alert if the percentage of inactive ConfigMgr alerts is too high. All you have to do is to define an appropriate threshold.
When ConfigMgr client is installed, it automatically installs a client evaluation engine (CEE) as part of client.msi. CEE component shares no dependencies with standard ConfigMgr client. It has out-of-box support for the following features:
Client evaluation engine leverages extensible rule manifests, so you could modify different checks and remediation features if necessary. The component runs as a scheduled task based on admin-defined schedule. This task is automatically created when ConfigMgr client is installed. Also, ConfigMgr client re-creates the task, if it has been deleted.
Monitoring client health is a virtual cleaning chore that very few ConfigMgr admins like to do. ConfigMgr v.Next is makes this important chore as easy as possible.
About Panu Saukko: Panu has been a technical trainer and consultant for about the last two decades. He has been a Microsoft Certified Trainer (MCT) from 1995 and Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (SMS/ConfigMgr) from 2005. Panu’s main areas of expertise are Microsoft System Center products (ConfigMgr, OpsMgr, Service Manager and Data Protection Manager), workstation deployment and Active Directory. Panu lives in Espoo, Finland.
These features are long overdue... looking forward to it.
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