Chapter 1: Service Management Basics

Excerpt from System Center Service Manager 2010 Unleashed.

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System Center Orchestrator 2012 will be based on Opalis Integration Server (OIS), acquired by Microsoft in December 2009. The product provides an automation platform for orchestrating and integrating IT tools to drive down the cost of one’s data center operations while improving the reliability of IT processes. Orchestrator enables organizations to automate best practices, such as those found in MOF and ITIL, by using workflow processes that coordinate the System Center platform and other management tools to automate incident response, change and compliance, and service life cycle management processes.

The IT process automation software reduces operational costs and improves IT efficiency by delivering services faster and with fewer errors. Orchestrator replaces manual, resource-intensive, and potentially error-prone activities with standardized, automated processes. The product can orchestrate tasks between Operations Manager, Configuration Manager, Virtual Machine Manager, Data Protection Manager, and third-party management tools. (OIS came with integration packs for BMC, CA, EMC, FTP, HP, IBM, Symantec, and VMware.) This positions it to automate any IT process across a heterogeneous environment, providing full solutions for incident management, change and configuration management, and provisioning and service management.

System Center Essentials

System Center Essentials 2010 (Essentials, for short) is a System Center application targeted to the medium-sized business that combines the monitoring features of OpsMgr with the inventory and software distribution functionality found in ConfigMgr, along with VMM 2008 R2 technology built in. This gives you a single console to manage a broad range of tasks against your physical and virtual servers, clients, hardware, software, and IT services.

The monitoring function utilizes the form of the OpsMgr 2007 engine that uses OpsMgr 2007 management packs, and Essentials brings additional network device discovery and monitoring out of the box. The VMM technology enables Essentials 2010 to provide a management solution for managing both your physical and virtual servers. The platform provides systems management functionality, software distribution, update management, and hardware and software inventory, all performed using the native Automatic Updates client and WSUS 3.0. Using Essentials, you can centrally manage Windows-based servers and PCs, as well as network devices, by performing the following tasks:

  • Discovering and monitoring the health of computers and network devices and view summary reports of computer health

  • Converting physical servers to virtual machines, including support for live migration

  • Centrally distributing software updates, tracking installation progress, and trouble­shooting problems using the update management feature

  • Centrally deploying software, tracking progress, and troubleshooting problems with the software deployment feature

  • Collecting and examining computer hardware and software inventory using the inventory feature

Essentials lacks the granularity of control and extensibility to support distributed environments and enterprise scalability. The flip side of this reduced functionality is that Essentials greatly simplifies many functions compared to its OpsMgr counterparts. Customization and connectivity options for Essentials are limited, however. An Essentials deployment supports only a single management server; all managed devices must be in the same AD forest. Reporting functionality is included, but only accommodates about a 40-day retention period.

Essentials 2010 also limits the number of managed objects per deployment to 50 Windows server-based computers and 500 Windows non-server-based computers. There is no limit to the number of network devices.

System Center Advisor

System Center Advisor promises to offer configuration-monitoring cloud service for Microsoft Windows Server and SQL Server deployments. Microsoft servers in the Advisor cloud analyze the uploaded data, and then provide feedback to the customer in the Advisor console in the form of alerts about detected configuration issues. System Center Advisor’s mission statement is to be a proactive tool to help Microsoft customers avoid configuration problems, reduce downtime, improve performance, and resolve issues faster. The web-based console itself is written with Silverlight and is very similar to the look and feel of the Microsoft InTune console, Microsoft’s cloud-based management service for PCs.~

The Value Proposition of Service Manager 2010

IT organizations must provide efficient and effective services while contending with pressures to reduce operating costs, ensure compliance, and add value to the business. Service Manager orchestrates people, process, and technology across the Microsoft platform. By integrating information, knowledge, processes, activities, and workflows, System Center Service Manager reduces the cost and improves the quality of IT services.

The value of Service Manager lies in these areas:

  • Delivering efficient and responsive support through the Self-Service portal for provisioning, self-help, and managing requests

  • Optimizing processes and ensuring their use through templates that guide IT analysts through best practices for change and incident management

  • Reducing resolution times by cutting across organizational silos, ensuring that the right information from incident, problem, change, or asset records is accessible through a single pane

  • Extending the value of the Microsoft platform by connecting the processes and activities among System Center products, and using reporting as a driver for KPIs


This chapter introduced you to service management. You learned that service management is a process that touches many areas within ITIL and MOF, such as change and configuration management, asset management, security management, and indirectly, release management. You learned about the functionality delivered in Service Manager that can be leveraged to meet these challenges more easily and effectively.

Microsoft’s management approach, which incorporates the processes and software tools of MOF and DSI, is a strategy or blueprint intended to build automation and knowledge into data center operations. Microsoft’s investment in DSI includes building systems designed for operations, developing an operationally aware platform, and establishing a commitment to intelligent management software.

Service Manager drives integration, efficiency, and IT business alignment. Together with Operations Manager, Configuration Manager, and the other members of the System Center family of products, Service Manager is a critical component in Microsoft’s approach to system management that can increase your organization’s agility in delivering on its service commitments to the business.

The next chapter looks at the technology and terminology used by the product, and looks at product features, including changes in Service Pack 1.

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Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

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