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Report TRUE availability of a server

Posted on 2007-04-02
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Last Modified: 2010-04-20
I am a consultant for a large company with over 1000 servers.  Recently, a server hung on a reboot from a patch exercise.  The problem is, we didn't know about it.  Nothing reported it as not being available for client access.  We could ping it.  Our patching software and our Tivoli (of which I know NOTHING about) didn't report it either.

Our boss asked if there was a simple way to access the servers after a reboot to make sure that they were available.  I thought about other programs and utilities, but I could not come up with any way to GUARANTEE that the server was available outside of mapping a drive on each one which is unrealistic and too time consuming.  

I got to thinking that the PERFECT tool would also be able to report if the server has frozen, and we could tell the users before they found out (good P.R. right??)  

So, Experts, what is the best way to report TRUE avialability of a server?
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Question by:svillardi
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KCTS earned 168 total points
ID: 18840192
What you are suggesting sounds good in theory but is going to be tricky as different servers may run different applications and services. I can't think of any way to reliably inform the administrator when any one of potentially tens (if not hundereds) of services fails.
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by:Jay_Jay70
Jay_Jay70 earned 166 total points
ID: 18840245
svillardi,

get an Remote access card and dial in to the sucker

Regards,

James
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by:Lee W, MVP
Lee W, MVP earned 166 total points
ID: 18840280
Microsoft MOM might do the trick.

In addition, you could write a script that maps a drive, tests the drive mapping, then disconnects it.  If it fails, you have it shoot you an e-mail.

I'd probably do this in a batch program, though you could probably use WMI and vbscript to do the same thing if you were more comfortable with those technologies.

Also, checking services.  I once wrote a vb6 program to monitor services on a given server using help from this site - it was simple but reasonably effective.  If the service is down, it won't respond.  Ultimately, I think that's what you need - a monitoring tool that will monitor windows services and there are really are many out there - problem is, most I've seen charge a fairly hefty per server fee.  (Keep in mind, the thinking is that if the server is unavailable, you're loosing money - so $1000 now on a server to keep it running when if it's down for 4 hours it could cost you $2000 is well worth it... (Don't think of the price of software as an expense so much as insurance that if something goes wrong, you'll get it back up and the company back up ASAP, minimizing lost revenue).
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by:svillardi
ID: 18840972
Thanks for the ideas however I haven't seen anything that really solves the problem.

Now, I am not necessarily talking about services.  I'm more concerned with a freeze / hang.
I do like the map a drive batch file idea, but I don't know anything about WMI or VB (as much as I wish I did).  Maybe you could give me an idea of what it would look like.  I know about the net use command, but after that, I am pretty lost.  Yeah, like I said, not much of a programmer (LOL!).

As I said, we do monitor with Tivoli, but that doesn't seem to tell us when the OS is hung.  I don't know much about Tivoli, as I don't support it, but it USUALLY will report when a server is down, but not when it's up and HUNG.

Any more thoughts??

Thanks,

Scott.....
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Expert Comment

by:Lee W, MVP
ID: 18840998
Really, it's the services you want to monitor - monitoring IP is not the best solution as you've found out.  I'm not familiar with Tivoli, but check out and see if it has a client that can monitor services.  If the service is stopped or hung, you need to be notified about that.  Especially the server service.  Some products claim to monitor services but they are just monitoring TCP Ports - and not usually the ones for Windows file sharing.  Do some tests... I'll try to post more later, but next couple days are tough (time wise) for me.
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