The broad-reaching Microsoft System Center series of products includes a wide array of offerings from monitoring, updates, deployment, virtual infrastructure management, and others. System Center Operations Manager (SCOM) 2007 is the standard for Microsoft event monitoring and aggregated performance reporting. SCOM now offers a version 2 release of the Service Level Dashboard to ensure that applications and systems are performing at an acceptable level.

Service Level Dashboard 2.0 plugs into an existing SCOM installation to add new features. The premier feature is the service level objective (SLO). An SLO loosely aligns to the industry-standard term service level agreement (SLA). The critical difference is that an SLO within this tool does not enforce the SLA that you may have; it is used to configure service goals for the applications monitored.

Also, Service Level Dashboard 2.0 introduces a relatively quick turnaround, with reporting and visibility displayed at three minutes or less latency. SCOM reporting is generally very slow because there is a lot of data to aggregate and report when configured for large installations. Another new feature that the Service Level Dashboard introduces is the dashboard metrics to track measurable performance elements.

Where does this fit into most monitoring environments?

Where SCOM is already installed, Service Level Dashboard 2.0 can be a nice addition to help monitor any SLAs that may be in place. The big shortcoming is that Service Level Dashboard by itself will not enforce SLAs with actions such as guaranteed migrations where System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2008 R2 is in place or execute a Microsoft Clustering Services-based failover of a clustered service on an otherwise operational system where SQL Server or Exchange need more resources. Service Level Dashboard by itself does not incur any additional costs for SCOM installations, though a SharePoint installation may be needed for certain authentication functions.

Do you use SCOM? Does Service Level Dashboard 2.0 appeal to you? Let us know in the forums.

Stay on top of the latest Windows Server 2003 and Windows Server 2008 tips and tricks with our free Windows Server newsletter, delivered each Wednesday.

Automatically sign up today!