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Planning Considerations for System Center Advisor

System Center Advisor relies on a distribution of agents and gateways in your environment to collect and send data to the service for analysis. Consider the following issues when planning your deployment of the gateway and agents.

On-premise software functions and requirements

As described in What is System Center Advisor?, Advisor consists of a web service in the cloud and on-premise software that is installed locally in your environment.

Before you begin deploying the on-premise software, ensure that you understand the following:

  • The agent is installed on any server from which you want to collect and analyze data.

  • The gateway transfers data from your agents to the web service. It does not analyze any of the data. If you want to analyze data for the server where the gateway is installed, you must also install an agent on that server.

  • The gateway must have access to the internet in order to upload data to the web service.

  • For the best results, do not install the Advisor gateway on a computer that is also a domain controller.

  • The agent must have network connectivity to the gateway so it can automatically transfer data to and from the gateway.

  • A non-domain joined server must have both agent and gateway installed. A non-domain joined agent is unable to send data to another non-domain joined gateway.

Co-existence with Operations Manager

Advisor uses the System Center Health Service to collect and analyze data. The version that is used by the 1.0 release of Advisor is the same as the System Center Operations Manager 2007 R2 agent; the 1.1 release of Advisor uses the System Center 2012 – Operations Manager version. Because of this, when you view the programs installed on your server, you will see System Center Operations Manager agent software, particularly in Add/Remove Programs. Do not remove these as Advisor is dependent on them. If you remove the Operations Manager agent software, Advisor will no longer function.

When you install an Advisor agent on a computer that has a System Center Operations Manager agent installed, the Health Service will be configured to run in multi-homing mode so that existing Operations Manager management groups are not impacted. For more information on multi-homing configurations, see Configure an Agent to Report to Multiple Management Groups, available in the System Center Operations Manager 2007 R2 library, at http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkID=204945, or Configuring Agents, available in the System Center 2012 – Operations Manager library, at http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=247918..

When you uninstall Advisor, Add/Remove Programs will uninstall Advisor and update the System Center Operations Manager agent to remove Advisor-specific configurations while ensuring that the Operations Manager agent continues to work. On computers with only Advisor installed (and no Operations Manager), the agent is completely uninstalled.

Advisor is only supported with the System Center Operations Manager 2007 R2 or System Center 2012 – Operations Manager agent and not with previous versions of System Center Operations Manager.

Advisor and System Center 2012 – Operations Manager

The release of the 1.1 version of Advisor uses the System Center 2012 – Operations Manager agent. This enables the Advisor agent to use specific credentials (action accounts or Run As accounts) in support of some of the analyzed workloads, such as SharePoint 2012.

However, the 1.1 release of Advisor is backwards-compatible with the Operations Manager 2007 R2 agent, meaning that you do not need to upgrade existing 1.0 version Advisor agents, unless you want to take advantage of the additional capabilities provided with the 1.1 version.

Advisor and SQL Server 2012

The Advisor health service runs under the Local System account. In SQL Server versions up to 2008 R2, the Local System account was enabled as a login by default and was a member of the sysadmin server role. Starting with SQL 2012, the Local System login is not part of the sysadmin server role anymore. As a result when you install Advisor, it will not be able to monitor the SQL 2012 instance completely and not all rules can generate alerts.

In order for Advisor to discover and generate alerts for the SQL 2012 instance, you need to run the following script in the SQL Server. You need to be logged in as a sysadmin in order for this script to work.


USE [master]
GO
/****** Add a login in SQL Server for the service SID of System Center Advisor HealthService ******/
CREATE LOGIN [NT SERVICE\HealthService] FROM WINDOWS WITH DEFAULT_DATABASE=[master], DEFAULT_LANGUAGE=[us_english]
GO
/****** Add the HealthService Service SID login to the sysadmin server role ******/
ALTER SERVER ROLE [sysadmin] ADD MEMBER [NT SERVICE\HealthService]
GO


Internet and internal network connectivity

The gateway needs to be able to access the Internet in order to send data to the web service and to receive updated configuration information from the web service. However, your agents do not need to be able to access the Internet. If you have agents on non-internet connected servers, as long as they can communicate with an internet-connected gateway, you can use the web service.

Clustering support

The Advisor agent is supported on computers running Windows Server 2008 and Windows Server 2008 R2 and configured to be part of a Windows failover cluster. You can view the clusters in the Advisor portal, the same as physical computers. The only difference is seen on the Servers page, where clusters are identified as TYPE=CLUSTER (as opposed to TYPE=AGENT, the way that physical computers are identified).

The discovery and configuration rules will run on the active and passive nodes of the cluster, but any alerts generated on the passive nodes will be ignored. If a node shifts from passive to active, alerts for that node are displayed automatically, with no intervention required from you.

Some alerts might be generated twice, depending on the rule that generates the alert. For example, a rule that detects a bad driver by examining the operating system entity will generate alerts for both the physical server and the cluster.

Configuration analysis of passive nodes is not supported.

In addition, the Advisor portal does not support grouping or linking of Windows Server computers that are part of the same Windows failover cluster.

Scaling your Advisor environment

When you plan your Advisor deployment, particularly the number of agents you want to transfer data through a single gateway, consider the capacity of that server in terms of file space.

Consider the following variables:

  • Number of agents per gateway

  • The average size of the data transferred from the agent to gateway per day.  By default each agent uploads CAB files to the gateway twice per day. The size of the CAB files depends on the configuration of the machine (such as number of SQL engines and number databases) and the health of the machine (e.g. the number of alerts generated). In most cases, the daily upload size is typically less than 100 KB.

  • Archival period for keeping data on the gateway (default is 5 days)

So, as an example, assuming a daily upload size of 100KB per agent and the default archival period, you would need the following storage on the gateway:

 

Number of agents Estimated space required on the gateway

5

~ 2.5 MB (5 agents X 100 KB data/day X 5 days = 2,500 KB)

50

~25 MB (50 agents X 100 KB data/day X 5 days = 25,000 KB)

Geographic location

If you want to analyze data from servers in diverse geographic locations, consider having one gateway per location. This can improve the performance of data transfer from the agent to the gateway.

See Also