System Center is a great platform to perform application monitoring and management, but it contains a few gaps where native functionality isn’t provided. Fortunately, System Center is an extensible platform and SysAdmins can leverage 3rd party tools that quickly fill technology gaps and often plug into the System Center infrastructure to provide seamless visibility.  SolarWinds®, a partner in the System Center Alliance program, offers multiple capabilities to help SysAdmins fill functional gaps in System Center, including:

  • Non-Microsoft® application monitoring & custom application monitoring
  • Capacity planning for Hyper-V® & VMware® virtual environments
  • Third party patch management
  • Multi-vendor database performance
  • Storage & network management

            

Application performance management tools, such as Server & Application Monitor (SAM) offers additional visibility beyond the System Center. Moreover, it’s a tool that can be easily deployed with your System Center environment so you can seamlessly manage other aspects of your IT environment.

       

  • Monitor the Monitor: SolarWinds has worked with Cameron Fuller, Operations Manager MVP, to build application monitoring templates to monitor the health of System Center Operations Manager (services, Agent & Management Server) and System Center Configuration Manager 2012.  To get a detailed list of the services, apps, and TCP ports monitored, please see details in the Template Reference Document
  • Deep Microsoft application monitoring: Go deeper than just looking at availability and performance of critical Microsoft applications using System Center. Microsoft application monitoring tools like Server & Application Monitor (SAM) from SolarWinds provide a level of depth to manage issues in applications like Exchange and SQL Server® that System Center doesn’t provide. For Exchange environments, Server & Application Monitor provides details on individual mailbox performance (attachments, synced mailboxes, etc.). In addition, you can monitor Exchange Server performance metrics like RPC slow requests, replication status checks, and mailbox database capacity.   SAM also provides detailed dashboards for finding SQL server issues like most expensive queries, active sessions, and database & transaction log size. 
  • Non-Microsoft application monitoring: An IT infrastructure isn’t only limited to Microsoft and because System Center has limited capabilities to manage non-Microsoft applications, IT pros require management packs for non-Microsoft application monitoring.  SolarWinds provides the ability to quickly add application monitoring for non-Microsoft apps. Additionally, SolarWinds supports over 150 apps out-of-the-box.  With SolarWinds’ Management Pack, you can integrate application performance metrics right into System Center Operations Manager. 
  • Capacity planning for Hybrid Virtual Environments: In addition to having visibility into application performance, SolarWinds provides capacity planning for organizations with larger virtual server farms or a private cloud infrastructure. Whether it’s Microsoft Hyper-V or VMware, you get instant insights into capacity planning, performance, configuration, and usage of your environment with the built-in virtualization dashboard.
  • Contextual visibility from the app to the LUN: For applications that leverage shared compute and storage resources, Admins are able to contextually navigate from the application to the datastore and related LUN performance across multiple vendors in each layer of the infrastructure. SolarWinds supports over 150 apps, Hyper-V & VMware, and all the major storage vendors.  Integrated visibility is provided natively with SolarWinds Server & Application Monitor, Virtualization Manager, and Storage Manager.
  • Third-party patch management: Expand the scope of WSUS by leveraging pre-packaged third party updates for common apps, such as Java®, Abobe®, etc. A patch management tool, such as Patch Manager, which natively integrates with System Center, manages patch updates for Microsoft, as well as third party applications. In addition, deploy, manage, and report on patches for 3rd party applications. Further, get notified when new patches are available for deployment, and synchronize patches automatically based on a fixed schedule with this integration.
  • Database performance management: System Center offers limited visibility into performance of non-Microsoft databases from Oracle®, IBM®, Sybase®, etc.  Database Performance Analyzer is an agentless, multi-vendor database performance monitoring tool that goes deeper into monitoring the performance of databases. For example, it allows Admins to look at the performance problems most impacting end-user response time and provides historical trends over days, months, and years.
  • Network management: In the previous launch of System Center, Microsoft added limited network management capabilities. SolarWinds provides advanced network management capabilities to include network top talkers, multi-vendor device details, network traffic summaries, NetFlow analysis, and more. This information can be integrated to System Center Operations Manager with the free Management Pack

            

In conclusion, Admins should utilize a single comprehensive view of servers, applications, and the virtual & network infrastructure. Especially when all are integrated into System Center. In turn, you can look at the exact performance issue, easily detect hardware & application failure, and proactively alert for slow applications.

        

Learn how SolarWinds can help you by allowing you to gain additional visibility beyond System Center for comprehensive application, virtualization, and systems management by checking out this interactive online demo.