The Service Level Dashboard (SLD) Solution Accelerator from Microsoft works with System Center Operations Manager (SCOM) 2007 R2 to assist both technical and non-technical members of your organization in monitoring application and service availability and network and system performance. The primary benefit of the SLD is the ability to answer the frequent question "How are we doing?" at a glance.

The dashboard is presented via a Microsoft Office SharePoint site that can be exhibited on a large display unit in your environment or sent as a link to stakeholders in your organization. It also provides a rich set of data that allows for advanced reporting of issues and trends, helping implementers and architects to prove the effectiveness of initiatives or acting as a source of data to prove the need for new initiatives.

 

Design Concepts and Prerequisites

The design for my scenario (as Figure 1 shows) includes three servers and any number of monitored applications, clients, or servers. All monitored clients report directly to the SCOM server, which in turn works with SQL Server to manage and store the data. Once the SharePoint Server instance is configured with the SLD components, it will pull any relevant data (depending on the metrics you've selected to monitor) and display it in the dashboard site.

Figure 1: Example Scenario Layout

Figure 1: Example Scenario Layout

 

The SLD accelerator requires:

  1. SCOM 2007 R2 with Data Warehouse and Reporting components installed
  2. SharePoint Server 2007 SP1 or Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 SP1
  3. Microsoft SQL Server 2005 SP2 or SQL Server 2008 (SCOM and WSS can be installed on the same server, but it's recommended that you at least have a separate SQL instance—if not an entire server, depending on the network size—for the SCOM databases.)
  4. Microsoft .NET Framework 3.5 (All Servers)

 

SLD Installation

Once you've verified you meet all the prerequisites, you can begin the SLD installation process by installing the SLD management pack. SCOM uses management packs to extend its ability to monitor applications, products, and services that weren't initially built into the application. This approach allows for a higher level of flexibility and customization of your environment. The SLD package contains one of these management packs, which contains the appropriate data to allow the SLD site to pull the necessary data from the  SCOM server.

You need to download the file Service Level Dashboard 2.0.zip from bit.ly/bxrKMD and extract it to a location that the SCOM server can access. Once you've extracted the files from the zip, log on to the server running SCOM with an account that has SCOM administrator privileges and launch the SCOM Console. Click Administration in the left pane of the console then Import Management Packs in the right pane of the Administration area. In the Import Management Packs window in the Select Management Packs screen, click Add then Add From Disk in the drop-down menu. From the Select Management Packs to Import window, navigate to the location where you extracted the zip file, select Microsoft.EnterpriseServiceMonitoring.ServiceLevelDashboard.R2.mp, and click Import. This will take you to the Import Management Packs window; once you're there, click Install.

After you've imported the SLD management pack into your SCOM installation, you can install the SharePoint components. Again, log on to the server running SCOM with an account that has SCOM administrator privileges and navigate to the folder where you extracted the zip file. Execute the SLD installation file that matches your processor architecture—ServiceLevelDashboard_x64.msi if your system has a 64-bit OS or ServiceLevelDashboard_x86.msi if your system has a 32-bit OS. 

On the Welcome to the Service Level Dashboard 2.0 Setup Wizard and End-User License Agreement screens, click Next. In the Operations Manager 2007 R2 Information window, which Figure 6 shows, enter the Application Pool Identity (the user under whose authority you want the SLD to run), the Operations Manager Data Warehouse Server Name (the name of the SQL Server where you installed the Operations Manager Data Warehouse components), and the name of the Operations Manager Data Warehouse Database (OperationsManagerDW by default).

Figure 2: The Setup Screen for Operations Manager

Figure 2: The Setup Screen for Operations Manager

In the Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 Information window, which Figure 7 shows, enter the Site Owner Login (the account of the individual that you want to assign the site owner role to), the Site Owner Email Address, the SharePoint Database Server Name (the fully qualified domain name of the server that hosts the databases for the SharePoint instance), and the Service Level Dashboard URL (the URL and port that you want to be associated with the initial SLD site—this can be modified later). Note that if you specify a URL other than the name of the server that's hosting the site, you have to create the appropriate records in your DNS infrastructure. When you're done with that, just click Next on the next three screens of the wizard.

Figure 3: The Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 Information Window

Figure 3: The Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 Information Window

 

SLD Configuration

The Service Level Tracking feature allows organizations to define Service Level Objectives that are used to monitor the availability and health of applications, services, and systems. For this example, I'll create a Service Level Objective that will monitor the availability of a server, with a target of 99.99 percent uptime.

First, log on to the server running SCOM with an account that has local administrator privileges and launch the  SCOM Console. Click Authoring, then Management Pack Objects, Service Level Tracking, then Create in the right pane, as Figure 8 shows. In the left pane of the Authoring area, expand Management Pack Objects, click Service Level Tracking, then click Create in the right pane. Input a name for the new Service Level Objective (i.e. Server Availability) and a description in the Service Level Tracking window and click Next.

Figure 4: Finding Service Level Tracking

Figure 4: Finding Service Level Tracking

Click the Select button in the Targeted Class section of the Objects to Track window. In the Select a Target Class window, which Figure 11 shows, select the application, class, or group of objects you want to monitor. I'll select Windows Server. In the Service Level Objectives window, click Add then Monitor State SLO. In the Service Level Objective Monitor State window, enter a name for the Service Level Objective (i.e. Server Availability), enter a Service Level Objective Goal (%) of 99.99, and click OK, then next. Review your selections for accuracy In the Summary window and click Finish then Close.

 Figure 5: The Select a Target Class Window

Figure 5: The Select a Target Class Window

Now that your Service Level Objective has been defined, you can configure your SLD site. Log on to any domain member with the user account that was specified in the SLD Installation section (i.e. DOMAIN\Administrator). Launch Internet Explorer and navigate to the URL that was specified in the SLD Installation section (i.e. http://ServiceLevelDashboard:80). Then, from the main page, click on the Site Actions drop-down and choose Edit Page. 

Now that you're in edit mode, you can see the hidden Dashboard Configuration web part. This web part lets you choose which service level objectives are displayed on your SLD site. In the web part, check Server Availability and click Apply Filter. Also on this page, note the Dashboard Refresh, Dashboard Default View, and Aggregation Type options. These control how the service level objective data is displayed and updated on the site. Click the Exit Edit Mode link to confirm that the service level objective has been added to the dashboard site.

You now have a complete dashboard site with a monitor that will tell you if you're meeting your uptime target of 99.99 percent. Using this at-a-glance view of the health of your infrastructure can let you instantly address your stakeholders' fears and worries. It'll free up your IT department's time to ensure that service levels remain high, reducing the need for firefighting. The SLD Solution Accelerator provides this information by seamlessly integrating into your existing infrastructure, taking advantage of SCOM, SharePoint, and SQL server. Deployment is easy, and it's a solid investment in your monitoring infrastructure.