We recently started using Microsoft System Center Operations Manager (SCOM 2007) to monitor all of our computer systems. Our previous monitoring system was setup with an old U.S. Robotics modem which used to dial Verizon's TAP modem to send pages to our cell phones whenever there was a problem with the system. A lot of companies seem to rely on SCOM's email alerts for their notifications, but I wanted to make sure that I would receive notifications even if (or especially if) our email servers or internet connection were offline.
Unfortunately I discovered that SCOM 2007 did not include built-in TAP support. I searched around for third party dialers, but found them overpriced and poorly designed. Fortunately, I discovered that Microsoft had built SMS (Short Message Service) functionality into SCOM 2007. What this means is that when properly configured, my managment server can directly send SMS alert notifications to any pager using a special wireless modem.
The first thing that you have to do to get this working is to purchase a GSM compatible wireless modem. Not knowing a lot about wireless networks, I spent a lot of time trying to get this to work with my Verizon Blackberry 8830. As I discovered, in the United States only certain wireless carriers are GSM compatible (AT&T and Cingular).
I did some research and found this great modem from MultiTech Systems: MultiModem GPRS (MTCBA-G-F4). This is a wireless serial modem that is GSM compatible (AT&T approved). It also supports SMS messaging with PDU mode (which is required for SCOM 2007 to work).
Once I received the modem, I brought it down to the AT&T wireless store near my office and signed up for service to get a SIM card. All we really wanted was unlimited text messaging, but we also ended up having to purchase a minimum data plan. Note that you do not need Data/Internet service for this to work, you only need Text Messaging. The end cost for service was around $56.00/month.
When selecting the modem, I specifically chose the serial version instead of the USB version. Since many people run SCOM on a 64-bit platform, you may run into driver related issues with the USB version. My SCOM server runs on VMWare Server, so I knew that the Serial version would be much less trouble than the USB version.
After installing the SIM card in the modem, I set it up next to my SCOM server and plugged in the included serial cable into COM1. I then downloaded the latest modem definition file (INF) from the MultiModem GPRS drivers page and went through the wizard to add the modem to my server.
Once Windows had recognized the modem, I was able to begin testing. Before testing in SCOM 2007, you will want to test using the Microsoft SMS Sender. This is a quick little utility to send SMS (Short Message Services) messages. Upon launching the program, it immediately selected my GSM modem. I typed in the number of my cell phone, a test message and clicked "Send." The program took about 5 seconds and then came back with a notice that the message was sent successfully. I received the SMS message on my phone a few seconds later.
Now that I'd confirmed that the modem worked, all that was left was to configure the Operations Manager computer to use SMS messages. To do this, launch the Operations Console. Click on the Administration tab and click on the Settings icon on the left side. Double-click on the Notifications icon on the right side, then click on the "Short Message Service" tab. Click on the "Enable short message service notifications" checkbox and click OK.
In order to receive alerts, two additional steps are required: Create a recipient and create a subscription.
To create a recipient, right-click on the Recipients icon on the left side and choose "New Notification Recipient." Enter a display name, and click on the "Notification Devices" tab. Click the Add button, then choose "Short Message Service" as the notification channel. Enter the cell phone number in the Delivery address for the selected channel section and click Next. IMPORTANT: you must enter the phone number in the format + [country] [area code] [phone number]. For example, although I used 7045551212 in my SMS sender test to specify my North Carolina based cell phone, that number will not work in Operations Manager. In OpsMgr, I had to specify: +17045551212. To continue, modify the schedule as necessary, then click Next. In the Notification device name, provide a name for the cell phone and click Finish. Click OK to close the Notification Recipient Properties window.
To create the subscription, right click on the Subscriptions icon on the left side and choose "New Notification Subscription." This is where you will decide what type of alerts will be sent to the cell phone via SMS. In the Subscription Name box, type something like "Urgent Alerts To Cell Phones." Click on the Add button to add the recipient that you selected in the previous step. Click on the Next button. Complete the rest of the wizard, identifying which alerts you want to receive on your mobile phone as a text message.
That's it! It is surprisingly easy. I was especially surprised to find that I didn't have to tell Operations Manager which modem to use to send the SMS message.