Introduction to Configuration Manager 2012 (Part 7)

If you would like to read the other parts in this article series please go to:


Welcome back! So far in this series, you’ve learned how to get System Center 2012 Operations Manager installed and begin some basic monitoring activities.

Part 2. You performed a complete installation of the product and, by the end of the article, had a working system.

Part 3. You gained an understanding of the OpsMgr framework.

Part 4. You discovered how to manage agents, which are key to making OpsMgr operate.

Part 5. You learned how to further manager OpsMgr 2012 by investigating rules and monitoring.

Part 6. You entered the world of monitors.

In this, Part 7, you will learn how to add a management pack that monitors a Windows Server 2008 R2 domain controller.

Adding the management pack

One great feature of Operations Manager is its extensibility. Through the addition of management packs, which are often free, you can massively extend the breadth and depth of the product and add to it the ability to monitor just about everything in your environment.

To get started, we need to add management packs that enable the discovery of Active Directory domain controllers. Navigate to the Administration workspace. Expand Administration > Device Management and choose Management Packs. Right-click Management Packs and from the shortcut menu, choose Import Management Packs.

Figure 1: Choose Import Management Packs

When the Import Management Packs window appears, click the Add button and choose Add from catalog. The catalog is a central repository of management packs that Microsoft keeps updated and that contains, literally, hundreds of management packs that you can use.

Figure 2: Add a management pack from the catalog

Because there are so many management packs from which to choose, you can narrow down your parameters by searching for management packs that match your needs. In Figure 3, I’ve searched for “Active Directory” since I’m interested in monitoring domain controllers. Note that there are four management packs returned that I need.

Figure 3: Select the management packs you wish to install

You will note in Figure 4 that there are some issues with the selections previously made. Another great thing about Operations Manager presents itself here. If there are additional management packs upon which your selected management packs depend, you’re notified of this fact and given an opportunity to resolve the issue. To add dependency management packs, click the Resolve button next to each listed item.

Figure 4: Satisfy management pack dependencies

When you click the Resolve button, you’re told which management pack is necessary to satisfy the dependency, as shown in Figure 5. Again, click the Resolve button to validate the selection.

Figure 5: The management pack that needs to be added

You will continue this process until there is nothing in the Status column. In Figure 6, note that three management packs have been added to satisfy dependencies.

Figure 6: Everything checks out now

Once you click the Install button, the selected management packs are downloaded and imported into Operations Manager.

Figure 7: The selected management packs are being installed

Monitor Active Directory

This is the point at which patience is a virtue as it can take Operations Manager a little while to discover the domain controller role that might exist on managed systems. However, you will immediately notice that some new items are added to the Monitoring workspace.

Figure 8: An Active Directory entry now appears in the Monitoring workspace

We’ll go through each of these items below.

DC Active Alerts

Bearing in mind that the alerts that you’re seeing are from a test lab, the DC Active Alerts section displays any Operations Manager alerts that are raised by monitoring rules in the newly installed management pack. In Figure 9, you can see these alerts shown on the screen. One of the critical alerts is selected and you can see some additional details about the alert.

Figure 9: DC Active Alerts

You can get additional information about the alert by opening its properties page, which is shown in Figure 10. I’ve shown an additional screen of information in Figure 11, which shows you quite a bit more detail about a different alert.

Figure 10: Additional information about the alert

Figure 11:
Information about a separate alert

DC Events

The alerts that were shown in the previous section are the ones raised by virtue of rules in the management pack that was installed. However, they’re only a part of the bigger picture when it comes to troubleshooting Active Directory domain controllers. The old standby—the Windows Event Log—still contains a lot of information. The management pack that we just installed pulls AD-related events for your perusal and, when combined with the other data sources, provides you with a bigger picture view of the environment.

Figure 12: Events from the event log

DC Performance Data

The newly installed management pack adds to the monitored system a number of performance gathering features that you will see in action. In Figure 13 below, you can see a graph that shows a single statistic on display for a particular time period. This information is constantly gathered so you can gain some insight into how a particular aspect of the monitored item is performing. If you want to see information about something else, simply select the checkbox in the Show column for the statistic you’d like to see.

Figure 13: A performance graph

DC State

Perhaps the most important piece of information you need to know is whether or not your domain controllers are operational or if they’re experiencing serious issues. The DC State area gives you a look at the domain controllers in your environment and identifies their state. This is shown in Figure 14.

Figure 14: The domain controller state

If you do have a domain controller in a critical state, you need to understand exactly what’s going on. You can use the Health Explorer to accomplish this task. Simply right-click the state area and choose to open the Health Explorer. In Figure 15, you can see exactly which rule is not working and when it went bad.

Figure 15: The Health Explorer

DC Server 2008 entries

These are pretty much repeats of what we just saw, but will show just Windows Server 2008 domain controller information.

AD DIT/Log Free Space

Active Directory servers need to have enough disk space to store log files. This graph displays how much space is available on the file on the drive on which the log files are stored, which is generally the system drive. The value shown on the Y axis is in bytes.

Figure 16: The amount of free space on the log file drive

All Performance Data

If you’re looking for something a bit more granular, you can choose whatever performance statistics you’d like to see graphed by selecting that graph from the All Performance Data section.

Figure 17: Choose a graph… any graph

Database and Log Overview

Not every option here displays a single graph. The Database and Log Overview section displays information pertinent to the database and log files themselves. There is less clutter here, making it easier for the administrator to get necessary details for corrective purposes.

Figure 18: AD database and log information

Database Size

This graph displays the current size of the AD database. Note that only one domain controller is available for selection because only one DC in my lab domain currently has the SCOM client installed on it. If I add the second DC, it will become available as a selection.

Figure 19: Database size details

DC OS Metrics Overview

As was the case with the database and log file section before, this section allows you to see information about the status of some key metrics important in managing Active Directory. In Figure 20, you can see how much RAM is available and how much is committed and you also get information about the Local Security Authority Subsystem Service (LSASS).

Figure 20: More pertinent rollup information

DC Response Time

A domain controller that isn’t responsive will result in users calling the help desk complaining about poor performance. You can see how quickly your domain controllers are responding to user requests using the graph below.

Figure 21: Domain controller response time

DC/GC Response

That single graph showing DC response time may not be enough. You may also want to see how quickly your global catalog servers are responding. You can see both stats on this page.

Figure 22: DC/GC response time

GC Response Time

And, if you want to see just global catalog information, you can do so on the GC Response Time page, shown in Figure 23.

Figure 23: Global catalog response time

Log File Size

You saw log file size information earlier, but this is a page with just that information displayed.

Figure 24: Current log file size

LSASS Processor Time

The Local Security Authority Subsystem Service is responsible for enforcing the security policy on the system and it can eat up a lot of processor capacity. If it does, it can result in poor performance. In Figure 25, you can see granular information for how much processor time is being used by this service.

Figure 25: LSASS statistics

Memory Metrics

You saw memory information displayed earlier on one of the aggregate graphs. Here, you can see just memory statistics related to your domain controller.

Figure 26: Memory stats

OpMaster Performance

Finally, you can get some information about the performance of your domain’s operations master, shown below in Figure 27.

Figure 27: OpMaster performance graph


And that, folks, is the Active Directory management pack for SCOM 2012. As you can see, it adds a ton of information to the SCOM framework and allows administrators to delve deeply into systems to see what is happening under the hood.

If you would like to read the other parts in this article series please go to:

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