I work as a Microsoft System Administrator in a company that produces video games and one of my main tasks is to monitor and troubleshoot Windows Servers. I’ve used a lot of monitoring software from Spiceworks, Centreon, Cacti, Nagios or Zabbix so I have a general idea of what to expect from monitoring software and what are the main things to consider when choosing such tool. I’ve received a license of Power Admin, a monitoring tool that I haven’t used yet, so I’ll talk about the things I like/don’t like about it. This will be just an introduction article so I will not cover all aspects about Power Admin. We will start with the software installation and then we will take a look of its interface. For this demonstration I will use a Windows server 2008 Virtual Machine.
The installation process is pretty simple and straightforward, you need to download the .exe file and run it. Select the installation path and then choose the components that will be installed:
I’ve chosen to install the Central Monitoring Service and Console User Interface (configured all Services). You can also select an installation type from the above section, there are four options available:
- Typical Installation
- Console only
- Satellite Monitoring Service only
- Custom installation
In the last section select additional tasks that you would like setup to perform. You can let the setup create a desktop icon and/or install the SQL server native client library (is used for MSSQL server):
Note that I’ve received the PA Server Monitor Ultra edition which comes with all the features included so some of the things described here may not be available with your edition.
After the installation is completed is time to run the software. For now I like that the installation is intuitive and NO restart is required! You’ll need to select the machine that the monitoring service will connect to (either local host or a remote host). From what I see, the software can be embedded in the browser so, select the one that you desire. On the right side there are three configurable sections: Local connection settings, Local hostname and Database settings:
I will not talk about these settings in this article since this is my first interaction with this monitoring software so I don’t know all available options. After choosing the settings that suits you best, press OK. Because I’m using an older version of Internet Explorer, the software prompts that I can have problems viewing reports or mailing reports so, the best thing to do in this situation is to upgrade the browser:
Upon opening the tool, a welcome screen is showed with a tutorial about how to configure notifications, how to add computers in the monitoring software and how to create default monitors:
I’m not the type of guy to follow such tutorials so I will skip this step because I want to discover these things by myself. On the next window you’ll have to specify what user will be used by the monitoring service so, this user must have permissions to run services. If you wish to skip this section you can press cancel and the software will run under the Local System permissions. If you are using monitoring software you are probably installing it within a domain so you can specify a domain user:
Note that the user specified in this section will receive Profile system performance, manage auditing and security log, act as part of the operating system and Log on as a service rights:
From the beginning I like how the main interface looks like. The buttons are user friendly and the sections on the left side are well organized. I see there is an upper menu containing a classic menu theme which somehow reminds me of Windows XP menus.
In Servers/Devices you will see all network devices configured to be monitored by the software. For each machine you have different configuration sections and monitoring menus. There is also a status and group overview, current errors, group summary and network map pages:
In the All Actions section you can view all the main functions that the tool can support. I’ve already seen some of the things that I am familiar with like execute script, e-mail message, start/stop or restart a service, etc. There are things here that I need to discover because I’ve never heard of them so probably the software contains features that other monitoring tools do not support:
In Advanced servicesyou can configure things like failover or alert reminders:
The last section contains the Reports options. You can configure custom reports from different service or applications and you can manage them centrally:
I’ve clicked around in PA Server Monitor to see what features it supports but, there are still a lot of things to discover. Note that I haven’t received any training at all so all these things I talk about are based on past experience and first impression. I like the fact that the interface is so intuitive and I think that it will be easy to work and manage an infrastructure using this monitoring software. In a future article I want to test PA Server Monitor in an actual infrastructure and I will configure everything from Hosts/Host Groups, Alerts and Configurations. Still, I need to learn how hosts are presented on the central monitoring platform and what protocols are used. Hope that you will enjoy this tool and we will see how it behaves in a production environment.