After you deploy your first Windows Server 2012 computers, you may start using them in high-value, mission-critical roles. If you care about uptime and maintaining good performance of any server or application, you need monitoring too. Being responsible for more than a few servers requires some kind of central management software-to collect alerts and probe for application health status. Otherwise, administrators won’t be alerted to system problems until users call the Help Desk-and that’s the last thing you want!

Windows Server 2012 includes quite a lot of built-in performance monitoring and even a stand-alone alerting feature. However, individual server-based monitoring features have little value for most companies because a broader, network-wide monitoring view is needed. Your organization may have a server and application monitoring tool in place, and you should check out the support status of your monitoring tool for Windows Server 2012. You don’ t want to be held back from enjoying the cost and time-saving features of Windows Server 2012 just because you can’t properly instrument and monitor that operating system yet.

Introducing the Windows Server 2012 Monitoring Pack

Microsoft released a new version of the System Center Monitoring Pack for Windows Server Operating System that allows you to monitor the Windows Server 2012 operating system (OS). The “Windows Core OS” monitoring pack now covers Windows Server 2012, in addition to Windows Server 2000, 2003, 2003 R2, 2008, and 2008 R2. This is the set of management packs that discover and monitor the common availability, configuration, performance, and security aspects of the basic Windows Server OS. Figure A shows the health explorer view of a Windows Server 2012 computer in the System Center Operations Manager (SCOM) console.

Figure A

Monitoring Windows Server 2012 with System Center Operations Manager 2007 R2. (Click to enlarge.)

A design decision Microsoft made with the Windows Server management packs was to standardize the console views and reports for Windows server across versions. In other words, SCOM presents almost identical monitoring views for Windows Server 2000, 2003, 2003 R2, 2008, 2008 R2, and 2012. Features unique to the various Windows Server OS versions (such as Hyper-V) are monitored by separate management packs; maintaining monitoring parity in the Core OS monitoring pack across all Windows server versions.

In the SCOM reporting space, individual but otherwise identical lists of reports are available for each Windows OS (except for Windows Server 2000 which has no unique report view folder). Figure B shows the 7-day memory pages per second report for a Windows Server 2012 Datacenter computer.

Figure B

Reporting on a week of Windows Server 2012 memory pages-per-second performance.

You can use SCOM 2007 R2 to monitor Window Server 2012

Microsoft would like customers to upgrade to the current release of System Center Operations Manager (SCOM) which is SCOM 2012 Service Pack 1 (SP1), to get the most out of monitoring Windows Server 2012. However, it is not mandatory to deploy a SCOM 2012 management group in order to monitor Windows Server 2012. Windows Server 2012 can only be monitored by a SCOM 2012 agent-but key knowledge is that SCOM 2012 agents can report to SCOM 2007 R2 management groups running Cumulative Update (CU) 4 or later; CU7 is the current SCOM 2007 R2 update level.
Figure C shows a view that is unique to a SCOM 2012 management group, which is a Network Vicinity Dashboard. Being able to use new 2012-unique features of SCOM like the dashboards and network location awareness are additional reasons to upgrade to SCOM 2012, because these views won’t appear in the SCOM 2007 R2 console.

Figure C

Network (Virtual) Vicinity Dashboard in Windows Server 2012.

The System Center 2012 agent and the Windows Core OS management packs that include Windows Server 2012 are tested and licensed for SCOM 2007 R2 as well as SCOM 2012 and SCOM 2012 SP1. The Windows Server Base OS MP is supported in the configurations shown in this Microsoft document:

Essentially, here are the steps you need to follow:

(1)    Upgrade your SCOM 2007 R2 management group to at least CU4 (CU7 is current and recommended).

(2)    Next download and import the new core OS management packs that include support for Windows Server 2012.

(3)    Finally, manually install a SCOM 2012 (or SCOM 2012 SP1) agent on the Windows Server 2012 computer, pointing it to a SCOM 2007 R2 management server or gateway server.

A management license for System Center 2012 is required to deploy a SCOM 2012 agent to a computer. SCOM 2007 R2 customers with Software Assurance (SA) are entitled to deploy SCOM 2012 agents as needed to monitor Windows Server 2012 computers.