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System Center Advisor Now Available as No-Cost Service

Microsoft announced on Wednesday that System Center Advisor is now a free service and that organizations don't have to have Software Assurance coverage on their servers to use it.

System Center Advisor, which provides a best-practices check on Microsoft servers, was launched in January 2012. However, at that time, using it required having Software Assurance coverage on each server checked. The Advisor service now doesn't require Software Assurance coverage and is offered at no additional cost to users of Microsoft server products.

Microsoft also has broadened the servers that Advisor can check beyond just Windows 2008 and SQL Server. The service can now check the following server workloads, according to Microsoft's announcement:

  • "Windows Server 2008 and 2008 R2 -- including Active Directory, Hyper-V host and general operating system
  • "SQL Server 2008 and later -- including the SQL engine
  • Microsoft SharePoint 2010 and later
  • "Microsoft Exchange Server 2010 and later
  • "Microsoft Lync Server 2010"

"Update Rollup 3 for System Center Advisor" will be released sometime this month. Microsoft is promising that additional news about Advisor will be released in April at the Microsoft Management Summit. Microsoft's announcement offered no clue about the news to come. A quick search at the MMS event site listed just one session specifically about System Center Advisor.

The Advisor service runs from Microsoft's Windows Azure datacenters. It works through the use of software agents, which are installed on the customer's premises to collect data about Microsoft servers in a computing environment. Results gathered by the agents get compared with Microsoft's best practices. Users get the benefits of getting alerts about server misconfigurations, plus updates specific to their setups, as well as reports about historical changes. The service provides a dashboard view via a Web browser. Microsoft claims in its literature that it doesn't share the information collected with any third party.

The Advisor service is currently available in 26 countries, but only in English. It can be accessed here.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is online news editor for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.

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