Goodbye SiteScope, Hello System Center Essentials

Up until very recently I’ve used HP SiteScope to monitor uptime of systems and to send email alerts when services fail.  HP acquired SiteScope from Mercury Interactive in 2006 (who acquired SiteScope from Freshwater Software) and has since released several upgrades.  But I’ll admit that upgrading to version 9.0 two years ago eventually led to uninstalling it this past week.  I’ve used SiteScope for years, starting with what was version 6 in the late 90’s.  It had a black and green dashboard with green, yellow and red animated alerts – very reminiscent of some classic video games.

It was easy to create new monitors, group them and generate automated uptime reports with basic graphs.  It was simple and did exactly what I needed for the small infrastructure I worked with.  It even had features where failed services could trigger automated attempts at restarts or run other scripts.

And then it evolved.  Once acquired by HP and integrated into its BTO (business technology optimization) line of products, it evolved beyond my needs and my desire to learn a more complex version of a tool I had been comfortable with for years. Getting monitors to work the way I wanted seemed more difficult and it wasn’t as easy to change things around once they were created.  Still, we upgraded fairly regularly and paid our annual maintenance fees.  But I never loved the HP version like I did with the Freshwater/Mercury Interactive product.  I admit, I missed the old days.

Thus I’ve switched to System Center Essentials 2010.  As as Microsoft SA customer, it seems like a no-brainer to just add this product into our active inventory.  It’s not a simple product to work with either, but it  appears to do what I need without too much special configuration right out of the box.   Since installation three weeks ago, I’ve deployed the agent to over 25 servers and 75 clients.   I’ve tweaked some of the rules to reduce some alerts I’m not interested in and there are some statistics that appear to be available if I had a moment to figure out how to activate them. 

I like the improvements it adds to WSUS, like the ability to set a deadline to install updates and automatic groupings based on OS or hardware types.  Plus I was easily able to add “ping monitors” to networking equipment and other gear that isn’t running a Microsoft operating system.  The out of the box monitoring of hard disk space usage is handy too.  (Watch for more posts about my adventures with System Center Essentials as I find time to work with it more.)

I’ve ran into other products in the past decade that try to be everything and end up more complicated than many smaller customers might need.  It took me a while, but I’m glad I let go of some nostalgia and moved forward with SCE.  It’s growing on me.

Installation "Bug" with System Center Essentials 2010

Finally found a little time to install System Center Essentials at work. We are pushing the limit of supported servers for monitoring (50 servers, 500 clients), but I think it’ll meet our needs and allow us to replace a few other applications and manual processes once I figure it all out. The first challenge was getting it installed, as my first go-round failed.

A little searching turned up a pretty common issue. I was going with the default settings for this single server installation, including opting to send collection information to Microsoft. At the bottom of the screen titled “Help improve System Center Essentials” was an “opt-in” check box to “Use Microsoft Update to receive updates to this and other Microsoft products”. It sounded good to me.

Turns out, by checking that box I had doomed my installation to failure. Don’t check it. (Now that I think about it, I’m not sure what that option does that’s different than the included WSUS service which seems to monitor and update the server just fine.) Anyway, there’s some kind of bug in there and by “opting in” you are also opting out of a successful installation.