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Integrating Altiris Deployment Server and MOM 2005 to Remediate your Dell Servers

Created: 12 Jul 2006 • Updated: 07 Jul 2009
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This white paper overviews the tools available to allow administrators to integrate Altiris Deployment Server features with Microsoft MOM or other 3rd party tools via a scriptable command-line interface.

Contents

Executive Summary
Overview & Pre-requisites
Overview
Requirements
Setup & Configuration
Setup MOM & Deployment Server Communication
Verify MOM 2005 & Deployment Server Communication
Example Use Case: Server Blade Recovery
Prepare Recovery Jobs in Deployment Server
Configure MOM 2005 to Launch the Recovery Job
Altiris Deployment Server Integration Benefits
Conclusion

Executive Summary

Altiris Monitor Solution is a powerful tool for monitoring server environments that offers many advanced features beyond those provided by Microsoft MOM including advanced custom data sources, extensive data compression and storage, easy custom pack creation, etc.

Altiris Monitor Solution is often leveraged with Altiris Deployment Server to create a robust, automated management environment for blade, rack and tower servers.

Users of Microsoft's MOM solution often ask if Altiris Deployment Server offers any integration points so that this 3rd party monitor solution can be similarly customized to trigger Altiris jobs.

This white paper overviews the tools available to allow administrators to integrate Altiris Deployment Server features with Microsoft MOM or other 3rd party tools via a scriptable command-line interface.

Altiris provides a utility which allows administrators to schedule Deployment Server jobs and computers from the command line. The utility, named axsched.exe, is located in Altiris Deployment Server's eXpress share (%program files%\Altiris\eXpress\Deployment Server\). For this tool's syntax usage, consult the Altiris Deployment Solution Reference Guide.

The aexsched.exe utility works well when executed from the Altiris Deployment Server, however it cannot be called from a remote machine. This paper provides another example of a utility, dssched.exe (http://www.symantec.com/connect/files/dsSched.zip), that allows you to remotely schedule jobs from anywhere on your network.

The dssched.exe utility documented in this whitepaper provides the benefit of remotely scheduling any Deployment Server job on any Altiris managed machine to run immediately. It requires http (port 8080) access to the deployment server, and the .NET framework (v1.1). By using this utility you can schedule and run jobs from scripts located on other machines, from separate management consoles such as Dell OpenManage ITA, the Altiris Helpdesk (via automation rules) and even Microsoft Operations Manager.

Note: While the functionality of dssched.exe is currently planned to be included in future releases of Altiris Deployment Server, it is important to note that it is not currently an officially recognized feature of the product. Therefore the files provided with this white paper are provided "as is" to allow for early adoption where it is needed and to collect customer feedback regarding the feature's implementation.

Overview & Pre-requisites

Overview

The basis of the Deployment Server MOM 2005 integration centers around a utility (dssched.exe) which allows IT administrators to remotely schedule Altiris Deployment Server jobs for execution (either immediately or scheduled) from anywhere on the network.

The basic process to setup this functionality is:

  • Download dssched.exe from http://www.symantec.com/connect/files/dsSched.zip
  • Copy utility (dssched.exe) and required axdsdm.dll, from the Deployment server eXpress share to the MOM 2005 Management Server
  • Open the Altiris Deployment Server console and create Altiris jobs to be executed upon MOM 2005 alert/invocation
  • Configure the MOM 2005 Rules to execute Altiris Deployment Server jobs upon qualification
  • Ensure that the Altiris Deployment Server agent is installed on any machines to be managed via Altiris Deployment Server

A detailed review of these steps will be covered in a later section.

Requirements

To achieve this functionality, you must have a thorough understanding of Altiris Deployment Server and MOM 2005. In addition, the requirements for integrating Altiris Deployment Server and MOM 2005 are:

  1. A working installation of Altiris Deployment Server 6.5 (or later)
  2. A working installation of Microsoft Operations Manager 2005
  3. HTTP communication between the MOM 2005 and Altiris Deployment Server, on port 8080

Setup & Configuration

Setup MOM & Deployment Server Communication

In this step we will copy the required files to give MOM 2005 the ability to run Deployment Server jobs.

Step 1: Copy the necessary files

  1. Download and extract the dssched.exe utility from: http://www.symantec.com/connect/files/dsSched.zip
  2. From the MOM 2005 server, create the directory C:\ALTIRIS
  3. Extract the dssched.exe utility to C:\ALTIRIS on the MOM 2005 server
  4. From the Altiris Deployment Server machine, copy the file AxDsDm.dll from %Program Files%\Altiris\eXpress\Deployment Server\ to C:\ALTIRIS on the MOM 2005 server

Figure 1: Copy axdsdm.dll & dssched.exe to the MOM server

Click to view.

Verify MOM 2005 & Deployment Server Communication

In this step, we will schedule a Deployment Server job from the MOM server to verify that the two servers are communicating correctly.

Step 1: Rename the sample job DIR Command (Windows) to SimpleTest (see Figure 2)

  1. From the Altiris Deployment Server machine, Open the Deployment Server console
  2. In the Jobs pane drill to Samples .. Simple Tests .. DIR Command (Windows)
  3. Right-click the DIR Command (Windows) and select "Rename"
  4. Rename the DIR Command (Windows) job to "SimpleTest"

Figure 2: Rename DIR Command (Windows) to SimpleTest

Click to view.

Step 2: Schedule SimpleTest to run using dssched.exe

  1. On the MOM 2005 Server, open a command prompt (Start .. Run .. cmd)
  2. Change to the C:\ALTIRIS directory (cd C:\ALTIRIS\)
  3. Schedule the SimpleTest Altiris Deployment Server job to execute on a managed machine by typing the command:

    dssched.exe <TargetComputer> SimpleTest
    Where <TargetComputer> is a valid computer name in the Deployment Server console.

    NOTE: The SimpleTest job executes DIR command on the Target Computer. Therefore, for the job to execute successfully, <TargetComputer> must be a Windows machine, running the Altiris agent.

  4. Open the Deployment Server console to verify the SimpleTest execution status.

Figure 3: Successful execution of SimpleTest on Dell_PE2950

Click to view.

Example Use Case: Server Blade Recovery

Using Altiris Deployment Server in conjunction with the Altiris Monitor Solution or Microsoft MOM 2005 can give you the powerful ability to proactively automate key management functions within your environment. For example, upon detection of a hardware or software alert, you can automatically respond by executing a set of customizable tasks called a "job" within the Altiris Deployment Server software.

Although this example uses the Microsoft Operations Manager 2005, any other Altiris solution or 3rd party management tool (i.e. Dell ITA) can be similarly used to schedule Altiris jobs. This section will focus on how to configure MOM 2005 to call a Deployment Server job to proactively manage an environment.

Prepare Recovery Jobs in Deployment Server

Administrators can use Altiris Deployment Server to create a recovery job to be executed when any monitor alert or event triggers. This job can be as simple as powering down a failing server or as elaborate as re-executing the job history of the failing server on a spare server, installing a recovery agent and taking a snapshot, then sending an email.

In this example, MOM 2005 with the OpenManage MOM Pack is used to monitor Dell PowerEdge 1855 blade servers. If MOM 2005 detects a failure on any of the production blades, it will automatically provision a spare blade with a stored, backup image of the failing blade.

Step 1: Create Recovery Image for each Blade

In our example, we will automatically provision a spare blade with the image of the failing blade. Therefore, we must first capture a "recovery" image of each of our production blades. Details on how to create system images can be found in the Creating a Disk Image section of the Deployment Solution Reference Guide.

Step 2: Create a Unique Recovery Job for each Image

Once a recovery image has been made, create a uniquely named Deployment Server job that corresponds to the image. For example, the Recovery_BLADE_1_Image job would deploy BLADE1's image, the Recovery_BLADE2_Image job would deploy BLADE2's image, and so on.

Figure 4: Each Blade should have a corresponding unique Recovery Job. If BLADE3 fails then Recovery_BLADE3_Image will automatically scheduled to run on the HOT_SPARE.

Click to view.

Step 3: Create a computer record for the HOT_SPARE blade

Complete the following steps if a computer record does not already exist for the HOT_SPARE blade.

  1. From the Deployment Server Console, Right-Click .. New Computer in the Computers pane.
  2. Click Add from the New Computers dialog
  3. In the New Computer Properties, supply the MAC address and a valid computer name of the spare blade (e.g. HOT_SPARE).

Figure 5: Creating a computer record for in Deployment Server

Click to view.

  1. Click OK to close the New Computer Properties Dialog. (A New Computer record is created).

Figure 6: Computer record displayed in console as inactive computer

Click to view.

Configure MOM 2005 to Launch the Recovery Job

In this section, we configure MOM 2005 to automatically trigger our recovery job on the HOT_SPARE blade, when a critical failure is detected via the Open Manage Monitor Pack.

Step 1: Configure a recovery response to MOM Event or Alert

Complete the following steps to configure MOM 2005 to schedule a deployment job to run when a MOM 2005 rule is triggered.

  1. Identify and open the Rule details that, when triggered, should schedule the Deployment Server job.

    In our example, we will use the Dell_OM_SM Temperature exceeded the maximum failure threshold rule.

Figure 7: Dell_OM_SM Temperature exceeded the maximum failure threshold rule

Click to view.

  1. Click on the Responses Tab

Figure 8: Monitor Rule's responses tab allows you to actions

Click to view.

  1. Click Add, and select Execute a command or batch file…

Figure 9: Adding a command or batch file action to the Rule's response

Click to view.

  1. In the Response Command Properties dialog, check "Use Windows command interpreter" checkbox
  2. In the Command Line textbox, enter:
    C:\ALTIRIS\dssched.exe DSSERVER HOT_SPARE Recovery_$Source Computer$_Image
NOTE: $Source Computer$ is a token that will be substituted with the name of the machine that triggers the rule, this allows for the appropriate image job to be scheduled.
  1. In the Run Location box, select Management Server

Figure 10: Configuring the command to execute in response to a triggered rule

Click to view.

  1. Click OK

Now, when MOM detects a high temperature alert, it will automatically call the dssched.exe utility to execute the corresponding job created in Altiris Deployment Server.

Altiris Deployment Server Integration Benefits

Altiris Deployment Server jobs can execute tasks that are much more elaborate than simple image captures or restores.

Altiris Deployment Solution for Dell Servers provides a wealth of Dell-specific management functions that can be useful in rapidly reconfiguring or repurposing servers. These Dell-specific functions include pre-built jobs that allow administrators to quickly and easily perform a variety of Dell related tasks on one to many servers including:

  • BIOS configuration
  • RAID configuration
  • DRAC configuration
  • BMC configuration
  • DRAC or Altiris agent remote control
  • IPMI or DRAC Power Control
  • Dell-specific driver support for scripted OS installations
  • Download and deployment of Dell Update Packages
  • Deploying/creating custom Dell Utility Partitions
  • Automated installation of Dell OpenManage Server Administrator (OMSA)
  • Pre-assign server builds to specific Dell service tags for initial hands free deployment
  • Rip and Replace technology for Dell Blade Servers

Altiris Deployment Solution also provides features beyond Dell-specific hardware configuration including:

  • Operating System installation or re-installation (via imaging or scripted installation)
  • Support for PXE and non-PXE environments
  • Software deployment
  • Custom script execution in production or pre-boot environments (including system token replacement with support for Linux, WinPE or DOS)
  • Remote Control
  • Console status of remote activity
  • Role/scope security
  • Management of non-Dell servers
  • Administration via Win32 or Web Management Console
  • Packaging tools for creating and deploying .msi's
  • Multicast functionality for image distribution
  • Out of the box sample jobs and tasks
  • Job Synchronization across multiple Deployment Servers
  • Conditional logic for workflow and task execution
  • Support for physical and virtual machines with VM sample Jobs
  • VMware Virtual Center Integration

NOTE: As previously mentioned, this example uses the Microsoft Operations Manager 2005; however any other Altiris solution or 3rd party management tool (e.g. Dell ITA) can be similarly used to schedule Altiris jobs. In addition, any NON-Blade server may also be monitored and used – provided there is a failover machine or virtual machine to take its place when the monitor rule is triggered.

Conclusion

Altiris Deployment Server and MOM 2005 are two powerful tools that dramatically reduce the cost of managing Dell hardware. This whitepaper has outlined steps for integrating these two platforms to automate monitoring and remediation tasks for Dell Servers.

By using the dssched.exe utility, administrators gain the flexibility of integrating Altiris Deployment Server with MOM 2005 installations, other Altiris Solutions or third party tools. This paper suggested one possible scenario that could leverage the functionality of Altiris Deployment Solution and MOM 2005 to automatically trigger a recovery job on a PE1855 hot spare blade.

Consult the following resources for more information regarding the benefits and capabilities of Altiris Deployment Server.