16 de dez de 2010

Monitoring Performance and Availability of Active Directory

Monitoring Performance and Availability of Active Directory: "

You have an important document on your home directory you need to print to make the final review, after that you must email it to a customer.

These things seems pretty easy and people do it every day. All these things rely on one critical component, Microsoft Active Directory (AD).

AD is a Directory Service which contains different resources such as users, groups, computers, printers, group policys (settings / restrictions), DNS and more.

Failure in AD might prevent users from logging in to their computers, accessing files and use critical applications.

If AD is so important, what can you do to protect your environment from critical unplanned outages?

  • Make it redundant

    • Add multiple Domain Controllers (DC) with Global Catalog and DNS enabled.

    • This will allow computers/servers to be able to login and access resources if a DC is down.

    • There are many other areas that needs to be addressed in order to have a redundant AD environment but that is out of this scope.

  • Monitor performance and availability

    • Without monitoring you have no idea how your environment is performing and if it´s available. You rely only on your users to respond when something isn´t working.

    • I am going to introduce a much better way that is proactive and will detect, diagnose and resolve AD performance and availability issues for you. Interested?

  • Use Data Protection

    • In case of disaster or if some parts of AD is accidently deleted you need to be able to revert to a previous good state.

    • This can be done by using Native Tools such as NT Backup or by using third-party tools such as Quest vRanger Pro and/or Quest Recovery Manager for AD.

    • Third party tools comes with a higher price but offer more functionality, restores quicker and have more granular restore capabilities.

As mentioned above, monitoring is very important if you want to be proactive and spot problems before they become to critical, that could result in an outage of AD.

What do native tools offer?

Perfmon is a general Windows Performance Monitor tool. It is very basic and is used as realtime monitoring only. It lacks in presentation, no historic data and no alarm capabilities.

Dcdiag is an command-line AD troubleshooting tool that you can run to diagnose your AD. Output is raw text and can be hard to understand if you don´t have deep AD skills.

Both tools are useful when troubleshooting but not very helpful in your daily monitoring process.

Is there an easier option for me?

Yes there is! Quest vFoglight for AD was built with this in mind. To help you detect, diagnose and resolve AD performance and availability problems without requiring any deep AD expertise from you.

It works across physical and virtual environments and has an agentless architecture (VM only, physical requires OS agent) for easier deployment and management.

Once installed and configured (covered later in this blogpost) it will start to collect key performance data from OS (CPU, Mem, Disk, Network), AD (response time, making sure key roles are accessible etc) and map topology (Forests, Domains, Sites, DCs).

Data that are collected are presented in easy understandable dashboards which are color coded Green (Normal), Yellow (Warning) and Red (Critical).

If some value is above a certain threshold or if it deviate from "normal" quickly, it will trigger an alarm. The Rules and thresholds are written by AD proffesionals that know what needs to be monitored and what thresholds to use.

So when an alarm is fired we have detected that something isn´t "normal" anymore, we provide a diagnose to what have happened and also a resolution to the problem. Everything to minimize the time needed to find and troubleshoot problems avoiding AD outage and in the end save your day!

Installing and Configuring vFoglight for AD

Before you start:

  • Requires vFoglight 6.1 or later

  • AD Cartridge (add-on to vFoglight) can be downloaded from http://portal.vizioncore.com

  • Read Release Notes and Installation Guide before you start, there are important prereqs that need to be in place!

  1. Install AD cartridge (enable new functionality on FMS)

  2. Deploy AD package to FGLAM (enable new functionality on FGLAM)

  3. Create Agents for all DCs (configure FGLAM to communicate to DCs)

I have recorded a video on how to install and configure vFoglight for AD cartridge (more in detail) as well show a demo of it.

(Please visit the site to view this media)


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