You might have heard of Microsoft System Center Operations Manager (SCOM). It's the latest version of what used to be called Microsoft Operations Manager (MOM). MOM was an enterprise ready network monitoring system with an enterprise grade price. That's great for enterprises, but what about the mid-sized business who wants to get a leg up on monitoring and securing their network?
Let me introduce you to Microsoft System Center Essentials. System Center Essentials has a subset of capabilities that you get with the SCOM, but it's an important subset. Using System Center Essentials, you can get a unified view of your network infrastructure and it's integration with the free Windows Server Update Services (WSUS) helps insure that all the computers on your network are updated with the latest security updates.
With System Center Essentials you get:
- A single console to manage your servers, clients, hardware and software configuration. From this console, you also have access to comprehensive reports regarding the security configuration of the systems on your network. There are over 30 reports that you can run to get a closer look at the current security and configuration status of your network. Reports include information on hardware and software inventory, issues in capacity planning, and update status
- System Center Essentials will alert you when important events take place on your network. You don't have to go out and look for the information on each computer. Instead, that information comes to you. System Center Essentials will email you with an alert if something out of spec is taking place, so you can act on the issue before it becomes a bigger problem. The agents installed on the network devices will give you information on performance and also provide you insight into any issues with your network topology, including devices such as routers and wireless access points.
- Network management is traditionally difficult to setup and maintain. Not so with System Center Essentials. The setup wizards walks you through the process of configuring the system and deploying the agents on your networked computers. After that, you can choose to use the out of the box settings, or drill down and configure the alerts that you're especially interested in. You also configure how you want Windows Update to work and define schedules that work best for your business. After setup is complete, you can then sit back and wait for things to happen. You can also run reports to see what machines are updated or have security issues, right out of the box.
I've been using System Center Essentials for quite awhile now with my small and medium sized networks and I can tell you that it works a treat! It's almost a "set it and forget it" operation. I know when problems are happening or about to happen and I can take again before a small issue turns into a disaster recovery problem.
For more information on System Center Essentials, check out: http://www.microsoft.com/systemcenter/essentials/default.mspx
Thomas W Shinder, M.D.
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MVP - Microsoft Firewalls (ISA)