It's no secret that the many tools in System Center 2012, and the new features in Service Pack 1 (SP1) to System Center 2012, present a vast array of architecture and configuration decisions. While all the components work together to deliver data center management and cloud services, each formerly-separate product like Operations Manager (SCOM) or Configuration Manager (SCCM), does requires its own configuration. Missteps, oversights, or just typos in setting up System Center 2012 SP1 can vex admins when components don't work or interoperate as needed-and each component needs to be set up "just so" to achieve their collective potential.
Microsoft has released a way to discover how to optimally configure System Center 2012 SP1 components: The System Center 2012 SP1 Configuration Analyzer is your new first-line troubleshooting tool for issues with System Center 2012 SP1 server-side components. Keeping true to the theme that System Center 2012 SP1 is one product with various components, Microsoft released this single analyzer for the entire System Center 2012 SP1 suite, rather than individual tools for each component. The business benefit is that you can make sure you are getting the most value from your management software with little additional effort and at no cost.
A best practice analyzer for your management tools
The System Center 2012 SP1 Configuration Analyzer is like a best practice analyzer (BPA) that you can use to evaluate important configuration settings for computers that are running any of the following System Center 2012 SP1 components: Operations Manager (SCOM), Virtual Machine Manager (VMM), Service Manager (SCSM), Orchestrator (plus Service Provider Foundation, SPF), Configuration Manager (SCCM), and Data Protection Manager (DPM).You can install and run the tool on each server running a System Center 2012 SP1 component, or you can remotely scan some or all System Center servers in your organizations at once from a central computer. There are additional steps to perform to enable remote scanning, so if you just have a few System Center servers, consider installing the tool on each computer. Figure A shows the result of the tool run remotely against all the System Center 2012 SP1 components.
Configuration Analyzer reports on issues found on all System Center 2012 SP1 components.
Prerequisites to install and use the Configuration Analyzer
The System Center 2012 SP1 Configuration Analyzer requires Microsoft Baseline Configuration Analyzer 2.1. You may run across references to version 2.1 of Microsoft Baseline Configuration Analyzer within System Center 2012 SP1 Configuration Analyzer. This is incorrect. The correct version of Microsoft Baseline Configuration Analyzer is 2.0. The MBSA does require .NET 2.0 which is included in .NET 3.5, so you may need to install .NET 3.5 on the Windows Server computer(s) that will run the configuration analyzer tool.
Also, you need to make sure you have a security credential with administrator rights to the SQL databases of each System Center component to be examined.
If you are running the tool remotely or against multiple remote computers, you need to set up CredSSP Authentication Configuration for WS-Management. CredSSP authentication allows a server to accept user credentials from a remote computer. On each computer to be scanned, run PowerShell as an administrator (that is, with elevated permissions) and use the PowerShell cmdlet:
Enable-WsManCredssp -Role Server
On the central computer running the configuration analyzer tool, use the cmdlet in an elevated PowerShell prompt:
Enable-WSManCredSSP -Role Client -DelegateComputer [remote computer name]
Run the second cmdlet multiple times on the central computer, once for each remote computer to be scanned.
The System Center 2012 SP1 Configuration Analyzer, step-by-step
After completing prerequisites discussed in the previous section of this article, follow these steps to run the configuration analyzer tool:
- Download and install Microsoft Baseline Configuration Analyzer (MBCA). This is a very light app and it just takes a few seconds to install. Download MBCA_Setup64_Win8.msi from http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkID=236857.
- Download and run the configuration model file SC2012SP1CA.msi. The tool download location is http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=36796 and it is also a very quick install.
- After installing MBCA and the SC2012SP1CA model, open the MBCA from its desktop icon. At Select a product, in the drop-down list select "System Center 2012 SP1 - Configuration Analyzer" and press Start Scan.
- At the Enter Parameters screen, in the Server(s) box, type the names of your System Center 2012 SP1 computers, separated by comma.
- In the credentials area, optionally push Set User. Specify a name and password and press OK. You will then see the credential to the right of the Set User button. This is required when running against remote computers. Alternatively, to run the scan with the credentials of the currently logged on user and against the local computer, you do not have to set a user. In either case, click the Start Scan link to run the scan.
Getting value from the Configuration Analyzer Report
After running the tool, the question arises: Is the output of the product useful? In this real-world demonstration shown in Figure A, the tool examined 93 items across seven (7) System Center 2012 SP1 servers and found two (2) Error and five (5) Warning results. (There was one false result about SQL Management Studio not being installed on the DPM computer, which I was able to "hide" from the final report.) On the whole, the tool was quick to run and produced useful information.
The seven (7) non-compliant results were found on four (4) different System Center components, and it's nice to see all your to-do items in a single list. Even if you have few or no issues, the Complaint section of the report shows a green checkmark next to each setting found to be OK, 85 in this case. Fixing or at least being aware of each of the Error and Warning results contributes to the confidence that your System Center 2012 SP1 is tuned, secure, and in a Microsoft-supported configuration.
Full details on the "Configuration Analyzer for System Center 2012 SP1" are at http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/jj992580.aspx.
John Joyner, MCSE, CMSP, MVP Cloud and Datacenter Management, is senior architect at ClearPointe, a cloud provider of systems management services. He is co-author of the "System Center Operations Manager: Unleashed" book series from Sams Publishing, and is developing cloud-based management solutions based on the Microsoft System Center 2012 suite. John is a retired U.S. Navy Lt. Commander 'Surface Warfare Officer', with the subspeciality 'Computer Scientist, Proven'. His tours of duty included Chief of Network Operations for NATO's southern region and network administrator aboard the aircraft carrier USS CARL VINSON (CVN-70).