Using Configuration Manager with Windows Server 2008
At a Glance:
- Deploying the ConfigMgr agent
- Queries and collections
- Hardware and software inventories
- Viewing reports
System Center Configuration Manager 2007 SP1 includes Asset Intelligence updates and support for Intel vPro technology and Windows Vista SP1. But most important, at least in regard to this article, is that SP1 gives Configuration Manager full support for Windows Server 2008.
A critical point in providing an effective solution for managing and monitoring Windows Server 2008 was to provide the same functionality that is currently available for Windows 2000 Server and Windows Server 2003. Configuration Manager (ConfigMgr) 2007 has achieved this goal.
With SP1 installed, ConfigMgr works with Windows Server 2008 just as it does with other versions of Windows. (System Center Operations Manager 2007 has also made strides in this area with the release of new management packs. For more information, read Pete Zerger's article in this issue, "Monitoring Windows Server 2008 with OpsMgr 2007," technet.microsoft.com/magazine/cc974507.) In this article, I'll provide a quick briefing on how ConfigMgr 2007 SP1 lets you monitor your Windows Server 2008 assets.
Deploying the ConfigMgr Agent
ConfigMgr relies on an agent, referred to as a client, that is deployed to the servers or workstations being managed. ConfigMgr clients can be deployed using existing methods such as client push installation, logon installation, software distribution (for agent updates), and manual installation. But ConfigMgr also offers new methods of client deployment, including deployment from a Software Update Point using Windows Server Update Services (WSUS) mandatory updates and installation through Group Policy.
In Windows Server 2008, the firewall is enabled by default, but it should not interfere with deployment of ConfigMgr clients if roles are installed. Roles provide exceptions for File and Printer Sharing and Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI).
If the firewall is interfering with the ability to push out a ConfigMgr client, you can use a group policy to disable the firewall for a specific organizational unit (OU) by deploying the ConfigMgr clients while the systems are in the OU and returning them to their original OU after deployment. Another approach is to disable the firewall from the command line using Netsh firewall set opmode disable. After the ConfigMgr client has been deployed, you can re-enable the firewall using Netsh firewall set opmode enable.
Figure 1 shows an agent being deployed to Windows Server 2008 servers using the Client Push Installation Wizard. Note that in this image, Windows Server 2008 Enterprise Server appears in the inventory as Microsoft Windows NT Advanced Server 6.0, and Windows Server 2008 Standard Server (server core, in this case) appears in the inventory as Microsoft Windows NT Server 6.0.
Figure 1 ConfigMgr client being deployed to Windows Server 2008 (Click the image for a larger view)
Working with Server Core and Hyper-V
The ConfigMgr client can be deployed to Windows Server 2008 server core systems. You can then use the net start command, which shows the services installed on a server, to confirm that the agent is running. Figure 2 shows the results of the net start command on a system running server core. It lists the Systems Management Server (SMS) Agent Host Service, indicating that the ConfigMgr client has been deployed to the system.
Figure 2 Confirming the ConfigMgr client is installed on a server core machine
The ConfigMgr client is not currently supported when running in Hyper-V (at the time of writing this article). However, support should be added soon now that Hyper-V has been officially released. Initial tests of the ConfigMgr client when running in Hyper-V functioned without an issue, but it is not yet an officially supported configuration.
Queries and Collections
ConfigMgr offers no pre-built queries or collections specific to Windows Server 2008. To create a new query, start with an All Windows Server 2003 Systems query. In the new query, change the name of the OS to %Server 6.0%. The results are shown in Figure 3.
Figure 3 All Windows Server 2008 systems (Click the image for a larger view)
The query language to create a collection for only Windows Server 2008 is shown in Figure 4. A collection can be based upon this query to target the software distribution to only Windows Server 2008 servers.
select SMS_R_System.Name, SMS_R_System.SMSAssignedSites, SMS_R_System.IPAddresses, SMS_R_System.IPSubnets, SMS_R_System.OperatingSystemNameandVersion, SMS_R_System.ResourceDomainOrWorkgroup, SMS_R_System.LastLogonUserDomain, SMS_R_System.LastLogonUserName, SMS_R_System.SMSUniqueIdentifier, SMS_R_System.ResourceId, SMS_R_System.NetbiosName from SMS_R_System where SMS_R_System.OperatingSystemNameandVersion like "%Server 6.0%"
Hardware and Software Inventory
One of the key functions of ConfigMgr is inventorying. The hardware and software inventories let you identify resources throughout your organization. This information can be used in the reporting functions as well as in collections. For instance, you can distribute software to a collection that contains only systems running Windows Server 2008. In Figure 5, Resource Explorer shows a Windows Server 2008 server core system that has been inventoried.
Figure 5 Windows Server 2008 server core system shown in the Resource Explorer (Click the image for a larger view)
ConfigMgr 2007 offers robust reporting capabilities, including pre-built reports and the ability to generate dashboard views of ConfigMgr data. Canned reports offer detailed information about the hardware and software inventories, software metering, software distribution, updates, and the status of ConfigMgr itself.
Within the reporting interface, reports directly related to Windows Server 2008 systems appear under the top-level Operating System folder. Multiple reports are available, including the Count operating systems and service packs report (shown in Figure 6). Windows Server 2008 and Windows Vista share the same code base, and they will now share the same service pack cycles. As a result, inventory reports show the CSD Version for Windows Server 2008 systems as SP1.
Figure 6 ConfigMgr operating system reports (Click the image for a larger view)
ConfigMgr 2007 integrates with Windows Server 2008, offering the same features you're accustomed to on other versions of Windows Server, and it supports new, key features such as server core. All of this will simplify the move to Windows Server 2008, as you can continue to use existing and familiar tools to manage your updated systems.
Cameron Fuller is an Operations Manager MVP and a Managing consultant for Catapult Systems, an IT consulting company and Microsoft Gold Certified Partner. Cameron is the coauthor of Microsoft Operations Manager 2005 Unleashed and System Center Operations Manager 2007 Unleashed.