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Monitor and Update multiple SBS servers / clients centrally

Hi Guys

I work in a IT company where we manage about 20 networks all with SBS servers, mostly 2003, 1 2008.

At the moment theres no consistency in terms of Windows updates, we're trying to change that now and I was looking at the options available. At the moment I know we can setup WSUS on each server and handle client updates that way however we would still need to login to each client server to approve updates (we would want control and not auto approve)

The server updates will have the same issue, every time we feel a update is important theres 20 different servers to log on to, I was wondering if anyone had a good solution for this to manage centrally?

Thanks
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Corp_Jones
Asked:
Corp_Jones
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1 Solution
 
Rob WilliamsCommented:
There are 3rd party services that include patch management in situations such as yours. These are great services that allow remote monitoring, remote management, alerts, reporting, patch management, and much more. As a rule you would charge the client a monthly fee for these services thus having them effectively pay for the costs:
http://www.gfi.com/it-managed-services-software
http://www.kaseya.com/
http://www.autotask.com/
GFI's solution is excellent in that it allows you to subscribe to parts of the service as needed to a maximum of about $13/month/server. Workstations can be monitored as well if you like for <$1/month/PC
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Corp_JonesAuthor Commented:
Hmm, we've already got autotask for billing
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Rob WilliamsCommented:
You could add the additional Autotask service/s and "keep it under one roof". My understanding AutoTask is better  but a little more expensive.
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ConchCrawlCommented:
One word we use Zenith InfoTech, does it for you. Ok that was two words, but check 'em out.
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Corp_JonesAuthor Commented:
Just looking at wsus, it looks like you can point all wsus Servers to one upstream server and approve/control updates from there, has anyone done this before?
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Rob WilliamsCommented:
I did it in a lab with WSUS 1.x years ago. Works well, but only tried it with all servers in the same forest. I can't see why that would be necessary so long as the correct credentials were used, which you can do, and you allow the traffic on the appropriate ports. You can have an autonomous or replica WSUS server at the client site. The first allows for customized groups and approvals locally, the second which would work for you replicates the same updates and approvals to the child site. The catch would be you have to have the same client groups configured at each site as the approvals are by croup.I also believe the reporting would only be available on each replica server not the top/upstream server, but that I am not sure of.

I think most folks that want to do so withing the confines of Microsoft software use System Center.
On that note if you do not need an immediate solution Microsoft will soon release System Center On-Line which might be exactly what you are looking for. It is only in beta version so far:
http://www.microsoft.com/online/system-center.mspx
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Corp_JonesAuthor Commented:
System Centre essentials looks interesting but its got a client limit of 30, I wonder if I can get it working with port forwarding
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Rob WilliamsCommented:
>>"I wonder if I can get it working with port forwarding"
Not sure what you are referring to?
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Corp_JonesAuthor Commented:
Sorry I mean when the businesses are totally separate with no links in between, just thinking about the connectivity, it would have to work over the internet with correct ports and not SNMP which I think would need VPN.
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Rob WilliamsCommented:
If you are referring to System Center On-Line , it requires no open ports, or VPN. A small agent is installed on each client machine which connects to your System Center console as an outgoing connection from the client site.
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Corp_JonesAuthor Commented:
No I meant the actual Application
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Rob WilliamsCommented:
Ah, yes. I haven't worked with it, but the demos I have seen are amazing. It is excellent if you also manage virtual machines, but I believe it is intended more for managing within a forest and a WAN as you suggested. I also believe the licensing if you are not taking full advantage of its all of its capabilities is a little pricey.

You may want to try the free demo of GFI Max I suggested earlier, though you mention you already use some autotask features. I like the GFI system as you can glance at a single console and instantly see the problematic sites and servers. They also do frequent on-line demos. The recording of one of the recent ones can be found:
http://www.gfi.com/pages/BuildingBlockstoManagedServices-webinar.asp
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Corp_JonesAuthor Commented:
Ah Thanks for that, I'll look into Max, I was trying to avoid hosted services if I can but if there is no software equivalent then I may have to reconsider.
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Corp_JonesAuthor Commented:
GFI Max actually looks quite good, we mostly use Dell servers, any chance you know whether it natively supports hardware events such as RAID degradation or a disk going down reliably?, at the moment one of the other issues is Dell openmanage has no e-mail alerting so it only displays a alert on the consol which is useless, so I was trying to find ways around that.

We've got 2 issues, update management which I'm pretty sure WSUS can solve, and then proactive server monitoring so we know if a disk dies or disk is becoming full etc, GFI Max may be able to help in both hopefully!
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Rob WilliamsCommented:
I used GFI for a short wile as a test, and I am currently considering moving all client server to their service. I don't recall if there is specific RAID monitoring. It will report anything the Event logs do such as degraded RAID or disk errors, and you can create customized alerts for those and dozens of others but I can't say with certainty. Good point that that would be a critical alert to have.

Give them a call. I have found their sales people extremely helpful and not pushy at all, although they frequently drop you an e-mail to see if you need further information.
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Corp_JonesAuthor Commented:
Trying GFI right now, it looks quite good, cost would be £10 per server every month vs Kaseya which was £2, I wonder if Kaseya has changed since I last used it 6 months ago, it was too complicated when I last looked at it.
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ConchCrawlCommented:
Thats why I commented earlier I've tried most these products and they all are fine products with +/-. This is why when you weigh all that, we go with Zenith Infotech, at least check 'em out.
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Corp_JonesAuthor Commented:
I have looked at it, there doesnt seem no easy way to setup RAID, temp etc monitoring etc like I can with GFI max, I'll try and contact them and clarify.
If not I do like GFI Max and may just go with that as I dont think theres anything better
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Corp_JonesAuthor Commented:
We've now configured it so it creates tickets under Autotask, so far so good!

I've been told Acronis support is coming soon so that should be great.
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Rob WilliamsCommented:
Good to hear. Thanks Corp_Jones.
Cheers!
--Rob
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