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Monitoring Microsoft Lync Server 2010 : OpsMgr Component Requirements, Advanced OpsMgr Concepts

6/10/2013 4:17:03 AM
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1. OpsMgr Component Requirements

Each OpsMgr component has specific design requirements, and a firm knowledge of these factors is required before beginning the design of OpsMgr. Hardware and software requirements must be taken into account, as well as factors involving specific OpsMgr components, such as the Root Management Server, gateway servers, service accounts, mutual authentication, and backup requirements.

Exploring Hardware Requirements

Having the proper hardware for OpsMgr to operate is a critical component of OpsMgr functionality, reliability, and overall performance. Nothing is worse than overloading a brand-new server only a few short months after its implementation.

The industry standard generally holds that any production servers deployed should remain relevant for three to four years following deployment. Stretching beyond this timeframe might be possible, but the ugly truth is that hardware investments are typically short term and need to be replaced often to ensure relevance. Buying a less-expensive server might save money in the short term, but could potentially increase costs associated with downtime, troubleshooting, and administration.

That said, the following are the Microsoft-recommended minimums for any server running an OpsMgr 2007 server component:

  • 2.8 GHz processor or faster

  • 20 GB of free disk space

  • 2 GB of random access memory (RAM)

These recommendations apply only to the smallest OpsMgr deployments and should be seen as minimum levels for OpsMgr hardware. More realistic deployments have the following minimum levels:

  • 2–4 2.8 GHz Cores

  • 64-bit Windows operating system

  • 64-bit SQL Server

  • 60 GB free disk space on RAID 1+0 for performance

  • 4–8 GB RAM

Caution

Operations Manager 2007 R2 is one of Microsoft’s most resource-intensive applications, so generous processor, disk, and memory are important for optimal performance. Future expansion and relevance of hardware should be taken into account when sizing servers for OpsMgr deployment to ensure that the system has room to grow as agents are added and the databases grow.


Determining Software Requirements

OpsMgr components can be installed on either 32-bit or 64-bit versions of Windows Server 2008. The database for OpsMgr must be run on a Microsoft SQL Server 2005 or Microsoft SQL Server 2008 server. The database can be installed on the same server as OpsMgr or on a separate server, which is discussed in more detail in following sections.

Tip

OpsMgr itself must be installed on a member server in a Windows Active Directory domain. It is commonly recommended to keep the installation of OpsMgr on a separate server or set of dedicated member servers that do not run any other applications that can interfere in the monitoring and alerting process.


A few other factors critical to the success of an OpsMgr implementation are as follows:

  • Microsoft .NET Framework 2.0 and 3.0 must be installed on the management server and the reporting server.

  • Windows PowerShell.

  • Microsoft Core XML Services (MSXML) 6.0.

  • WS-MAN v1.1 (for UNIX/Linux clients).

  • Client certificates must be installed in environments to facilitate mutual authentication between non-domain members and management servers.

  • SQL Reporting Services must be installed for an organization to be able to view and produce custom reports using OpsMgr’s reporting feature.

OpsMgr Backup Considerations

The most critical piece of OpsMgr, the SQL databases, should be regularly backed up using standard backup software that can effectively perform online backups of SQL databases. If integrating these specialized backup utilities into an OpsMgr deployment is not possible, it is necessary to leverage built-in backup functionality found in SQL Server.

2. Advanced OpsMgr Concepts

OpsMgr’s simple installation and relative ease of use often disguises the potential complexity of its underlying components. This complexity can be managed with the right amount of knowledge of some of the advanced concepts of OpsMgr design and implementation.

Understanding OpsMgr Deployment Scenarios

As previously mentioned, OpsMgr components can be divided across multiple servers to distribute load and ensure balanced functionality. This separation enables OpsMgr servers to come in four potential flavors, depending on the OpsMgr components held by these servers. The four OpsMgr server types are as follows:

  • Operations Database Server— An Operations Database Server is simply a member server with SQL Server 2005 installed for the OpsMgr operations database. No other OpsMgr components are installed on this server. The SQL Server 2005 component can be installed with default options and with the system account used for authentication. Data in this database is kept for four days by default.

  • Reporting Database Server— A Reporting Database Server is simply a member server with SQL Server 2005 and SQL Server Reporting Services installed. This database stores data collected through the monitoring rules for a much longer period than the operations database and is used for reporting and trend analysis. This database requires significantly more drive space than the operations database server. Data in this database is kept for 13 months by default.

  • Management Server— A Management Server is the communication point for both management consoles and agents. Effectively, a management server does not have a database and is often used in large OpsMgr implementations that have a dedicated database server. Often, in these configurations, multiple management servers are used in a single management group to provide for scalability and to address multiple managed nodes.

  • All-in-one server— An all-in-one server is effectively an OpsMgr server that holds all OpsMgr roles, including the databases. Subsequently, single-server OpsMgr configurations use one server for all OpsMgr operations.

Multiple Configuration Groups

As previously defined, an OpsMgr management group is a logical grouping of monitored servers that are managed by a single OpsMgr SQL database, one or more management servers, and a unique management group name. Each management group established operates separately from other management groups, although they can be configured in a hierarchical structure with a top-level management group able to see connected lower-level management groups.

The concept of connected management groups enables OpsMgr to scale beyond artificial boundaries and gives a great deal of flexibility when combining OpsMgr environments. However, certain caveats must be taken into account. Because each management group is an island, each must subsequently be manually configured with individual settings. In environments with a large number of customized rules, for example, a manual configuration creates a great deal of redundant work in the creation, administration, and troubleshooting of multiple management groups.

Deploying Geographic-Based Configuration Groups

Based on the factors outlined in the preceding section, it is preferable to deploy OpsMgr in a single management group. However, in some situations an organization needs to divide its OpsMgr environment into multiple management groups. The most common reason for division of OpsMgr management groups is division along geographic lines. In situations in which wide area network (WAN) links are saturated or unreliable, it might be wise to separate large islands of WAN connectivity into separate management groups.

Simply being separated across slow WAN links is not a good reason to warrant a separate management group, however. For example, small sites with few servers do not warrant the creation of a separate OpsMgr management group, with the associated hardware, software, and administrative costs. However, if many servers exist in a distributed, generally well-connected geographical area, that might be a case for the creation of a management group. For example, an organization can be divided into several sites across the United States, but decide to divide the OpsMgr environment into separate management groups for East Coast and West Coast to roughly approximate their WAN infrastructure.

Smaller sites that are not well connected but are not large enough to warrant their own management group should have their event monitoring throttled to avoid being sent across the WAN during peak usage times. The downside to this approach, however, is that the reaction time to critical event response is increased.

Deploying Political or Security-Based Configuration Groups

The less common method of dividing OpsMgr management groups is by political or security lines. For example, it might become necessary to separate financial servers into a separate management group to maintain the security of the finance environment and allow for a separate set of administrators.

Politically, if administration is not centralized within an organization, management groups can be established to separate OpsMgr management into separate spheres of control. This keeps each OpsMgr management zone under separate security models.

As previously mentioned, a single management group is the most efficient OpsMgr environment and provides for the least amount of redundant setup, administration, and troubleshooting work. Consequently, avoid artificial OpsMgr division along political or security lines, if possible.

Sizing the OpsMgr Database

Depending on several factors, such as the type of data collected, the length of time that collected data will be kept, or the amount of database grooming that is scheduled, the size of the OpsMgr database grows or shrinks accordingly.

Tip

It is important to monitor the size of the database to ensure that it does not increase beyond the bounds of acceptable size. OpsMgr can be configured to monitor itself, supplying advance notice of database problems and capacity thresholds. This type of strategy is highly recommended because OpsMgr can easily collect event information faster than it can get rid of it.


The size of the operations database can be estimated through the following formula:

(Number of agents × 5 MB × retention days) + 1,024 overhead = estimated database size


					  

For example, an OpsMgr environment monitoring 1,000 servers with the default seven-day retention period has an estimated 35 GB operations database:

(1,000 * 5 * 7) + 1,024 = 36,024 MB

The size of the reporting database can be estimated through the following formula:

(Number of agents × 3 MB × retention days) + 1,024 overhead = estimated database size


					  

The same environment monitoring 1,000 servers with the default 400-day retention period has an estimated 1.1 TB reporting database:

(1,000 * 3 * 400) + 1,024 = 1,201,024 MB

Caution

It is important to understand that these estimates are rough guidelines only and can vary widely depending on the types of servers monitored, the monitoring configuration, the degree of customization, and other factors.


Defining Capacity Limits

As with any system, OpsMgr includes limits that should be taken into account before deployment begins. Surpassing these limits might be cause for the creation of new management groups and should subsequently be included in a design plan. These limits are as follows:

  • Operations Database— OpsMgr operates through a principle of centralized, rather than distributed, collection of data. All event logs, performance counters, and alerts are sent to a single centralized database, and there can subsequently be only a single operations database per management group. Considering the use of a backup and high-availability strategy for the OpsMgr database is, therefore, highly recommended to protect it from outage. It is recommended to keep this database with a 50 GB limit to improve efficiency and reduce alert latency.

  • Management servers— OpsMgr does not have a hard-coded limit of management servers per management group. However, it is recommended to keep the environment between three to five management servers. Each management server can support approximately 2,000 managed agents.

  • Gateway servers— OpsMgr does not have a hard-coded limit of gateway servers per management group. However, it is recommended to deploy a gateway server for every 200 nontrusted domain members.

  • Agents— Each management server can theoretically support up to 2,000 monitored agents. In most configurations, however, it is wise to limit the number of agents per management server, although the levels can be scaled upward with more robust hardware, if necessary.

  • Administrative Consoles— OpsMgr does not limit the number of instances of the Web and Operations Console; however, going beyond the suggested limit might introduce performance and scalability problems.

Defining System Redundancy

In addition to the scalability built in to OpsMgr, redundancy is built in to the components of the environment. Proper knowledge of how to deploy OpsMgr redundancy and place OpsMgr components correctly is important to the understanding of OpsMgr redundancy.

The main components of OpsMgr can be made redundant through the following methods:

  • Management Servers— Management servers are automatically redundant and agents failover and failback automatically between them. Simply install additional management servers for redundancy. In addition, the Root Management Server (RMS) acts as a management server and participates in the fault tolerance.

  • SQL databases— The SQL database servers hosting the databases can be made redundant using SQL clustering, which is based on Windows clustering. This supports failover and failback.

  • Root Management Server— The RMS can be made redundant using Windows clustering. This supports failover and failback.

Having multiple management servers deployed across a management group enables an environment to achieve a certain level of redundancy. If a single management server experiences downtime, another management server within the management group takes over the responsibilities for the monitored servers in the environment. For this reason, it might be wise to include multiple management servers in an environment to achieve a certain level of redundancy if high uptime is a priority.

The first management server in the management group is called the Root Management Server. Only one RMS can exist in a management group, and it hosts the SDK and Configuration service. All OpsMgr consoles communicate with the management server, so its availability is critical. In large-scale environments, the RMS should leverage Microsoft Cluster technology to provide high availability for this component.

Caution

Because there can be only a single OpsMgr database per management group, the database is subsequently a single point of failure and should be protected from downtime. Using Windows Server 2008 clustering or third-party fault-tolerance solutions for SQL databases helps to mitigate the risk involved with the OpsMgr database.


Monitoring Nondomain Member Considerations

DMZ, workgroup, and nontrusted domain agents require special configuration, such as certificates to establish mutual authentication. Operations Manager 2007 requires mutual authentication; that is, the server authenticates to the client and the client authenticates to the server to ensure that the monitoring communications are not hacked. Without mutual authentication, a hacker can execute a man-in-the-middle attack and impersonate either the client or the server. Thus, mutual authentication is a security measure designed to protect clients, servers, and sensitive Active Directory domain information, which is exposed to potential hacking attempts by the all-powerful management infrastructure. However, OpsMgr relies on Active Directory Kerberos for mutual authentication, which is not available to nondomain members.

Note

Lync Edge servers are commonly placed in the DMZ and are not domain members, so every Lync Server 2010 environment needs to deploy certificate-based authentication for proper monitoring.

 
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