In this six part series we’ll look at System Center 2012 Service Manager (SCSM), where its functionality fits in and what it can do, how to install and customize it, and how it fits into the overall System Center 2012 suite. The first part will cover why SCSM is necessary and the installation experience.
Implementing SCSM 2012
If you’re a sysop in a small to medium business the need for a product such as Service Manager might seem like overkill. In smaller shops a simple system for tracking help desk tickets and assigning them to different technicians, along with an Excel spread sheet to track assets and information is usually deemed sufficient.
System Center Service Manager 2012
In larger business however the need for a more integrated IT service management system, built on the foundations of IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL) or Microsoft Operations Framework (MOF), is necessary. These two frameworks provide best practices for how IT should design, test, deliver and operate IT services for the business. SCSM has built in processes for problem and incident management, change management, service request fulfillment, release management, configuration management and service level management.
The key to understanding SCSM is in the configuration management database (CMDB), the single central location for ALL IT asset information of the whole business. But the CMDB is much more than just an asset register, it contains a lot more information about each object or configuration items (CI) and more importantly it also keeps tracks of the relationship between each CI. This last piece is crucial; in a smaller environment the way switches, routers, IP subnets, VLANs, databases, applications servers, client applications etc. are connected is usually stored in IT administrators heads or hopefully in documentation. This doesn’t scale very well in larger businesses, hence the need for one, central location to store all this data.
Service Manager 2012 installation
You’ll need at least two VMs to try this out in a lab (one for the Service Manager server, one for the Data Warehouse Management server), both need to be running Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1 Standard or Enterprise, Microsoft .NET Framework 3.5 with SP1, ADO.NET Data Services Update for .NET Framework 3.5 SP1 (only on the Service Manager server), PowerShell 2.0 and the SQL Server 2008 R2 Native Client. Both servers need to run a 64 bit version of either Standard or Enterprise SQL Server 2008 SP1 or SP2, or 2008 R2 / R2 SP1 along with SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS). The databases need to have the same collation settings and if you’re supporting languages other than English you need to take special care in selecting the right collation. It’s OK to leave the default SQL collation as long as you don’t need to support other languages than English.
Service Manager has discovered the use of an unsupported SQL collation.
In a real world implementation the hardware requirements are quite serious, the Service Manager Database server and the Data Warehouse Database server each needs 8 GB of memory for 20,000 users, 32 GB for 50,000 users; the Service Manager server and the Data Warehouse Management server each needs a quad core with 8 GB of memory. Even for the Service Manager console the recommendation is a machine with 4 GB of memory. Note that if you run the two servers in Hyper-V and have set up default dynamic memory (512 MB to 64 GB) these VMs can eat up a LOT of memory even with only a small amount of data, in my case up to 10 GB per server in certain periods of processing.
The installation experience is fairly smooth on both servers as long as you have all needed bits in place, the prerequisites checker will warn you otherwise. If you want to try out the self-service portal you also need SharePoint 2010 Foundation running, followed by the installation from the SCSM media of the web content server and the SP Web parts.
The second part of this six part overview of System Center 2012 Service Manager will dive into the different components and terms along with some scaling hints for larger environments.