One-Touch Smart Reporting
Quickly access your SMS database via Aelita’s SnapReports.
Anyone working with Microsoft’s Systems Management
Server knows that one of its greatest strengths
is its vast information database concerning a
network’s systems. But getting useful information
from that database isn’t always an easy task.
Many organizations find they need a third-party
solution to extract that data. This usually means
learning to operate a new external program and,
sometimes, even dedicated hardware.
SnapReports, however, is unique — it’s not an
external application. Rather, SnapReports “gently”
attaches itself to the SMS Administrator Console,
allowing administrators to easily and quickly
create customizable HTML reports drawn from the
With SnapReports operating as part of the SMS
Administrator Console, the learning curve is reduced.
In no time, administrators — who already know
the SMS Console — can be using SnapReports. What’s
more, installing SnapReports doesn’t modify any
SMS-generated reports. SnapReports simply appears
as a Report extension under the Queries and Status
Messages Queries sections of the Administrator
A really cool SnapReports feature is its one-touch
operation. Almost everything that needs to be
done can be performed with a single mouse click.
There’s no need for extra dialog boxes or searching
for the correct field in the hierarchy.
Creating reports with SnapReports is easy. Simply
select the SMS Query or SMS Collection you want
to build a report around, choose the attached
Report, select the attributes to display and any
necessary parameters, click the Run button, and
the report is generated. SnapReports also remembers
your input so the next time you choose this report,
the previous information will be automatically
selected for you. Once a report is created, you
can search it by clicking the Find button and
entering the search criteria.
Customizing reports is just as easy. Because
all reports are generated as HTML, all you have
to do is modify the template. With basic knowledge
of HTML, your reports can quickly display your
company’s logo or colors.
|SnapReports provides a variety
of flexible HTML-based reports that allow
you to make sense of the huge amount of information
collected by SMS.(Click image to view larger
I did run into one drawback while using SnapReports:
It requires Internet Explorer 5.0 for report display.
The program’s setup process didn’t check to see
if I had IE5 installed. What’s more, not only
did I need to reboot my server after installing
SnapReports, but after installing IE5. This procedure
could impact any organization running the SMS
Administrator Console on an SMS server — many
organizations wouldn’t agree to reboot a production
server twice. I should also note that the SnapReports
version I tested failed to display when IE5.5
Other than these minor drawbacks, SnapReports
is a solid tool — extremely powerful and easy
to use. If your organization requires advanced
and customized reports drawn from your SMS database,
this is definitely a solution that you should
Barry Shilmover, MCSE+I, MCT, owns Shilmover Consulting Services, a Microsoft
Solution Provider specializing in Windows NT/2000 and Exchange 5.5/2000 solutions.
He has co-authored books that include Windows 2000 System Administrator’s
Black Book and Exchange 5.5 Exam Cram, both from Coriolis Press.