Cloud-Based Server Management and Troubleshooting with System Center Advisor
Microsoft System Center Advisor (SCA) is a new cloud-based service that analyzes installations of Windows Server 2008 and SQL Server 2008 (and later versions). It tracks configuration changes and upgrades, and reports on potential issues due to missing security patches, incompatibilities, or deviations from best practices.
To use SCA, an agent is installed on the server to be monitored. This agent transmits configuration data to Windows Azure. Users can then log onto SCA to view critical alerts and notifications, so that potential issues can be handled proactively, before they become a problem in production. SCA also maintains a history of configuration changes to make troubleshooting more efficient.
The SCA Release Candidate is currently free to everyone for evaluation. As for cost and licensing once it’s released, Microsoft states:
At commercial availability, System Center Advisor will only be available as a benefit of Software Assurance for entitled server products.
Currently, in Windows Server 2008, SCA can monitor Active Directory, Hyper-V Host, and the general operating system. SCA also tracks the SQL Engine in SQL Server. Microsoft plans to add support for other software and services, though there are no further details about when those might be included.