Wednesday, February 20, 2008

How to configure SCOM 2007 to send SMS messages

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.


Jeff said...

Thanks for the great post. I too am looking for a way to add text messaging to our upcoming OpsMgr installation. Looking on MultiTech’s website, I see that they also provide CDMA modems. We use Sprint (CDMA) as our cell phone carrier, so it would make sense to use them if we can for our modem usage. I was wondering if you decided to go with GSM because it is the only way to go with OpsMgr? Did you look into the CDMA option? I don’t know much about cellular networks, so they may be completely incompatible.

Scott said...

It is my understanding that SCOM 2007 only supports GSM modems.

I was in the same situation as you, since my company uses Verizon for our Blackberry service. Unfortunately this meant that I had to setup a contract with AT&T specifically for this device.

Frankie said...

You should also be able to ouse T-Mobile (who is another GSM provider, you might also get better rates as well).

Jonathan said...

Just to let anyone who wants to do this in the UK.

We bought a MultiModem GPRS MTCBA-G-F4 with an RS232 connection. Put in a Vodaphone unlimited text SIM into it and it works.

It cost £149 from a compnay called Lexicom Ask to speak to David.

Omar said...

Thanks for the great post. I got this solution to work perfectly witha motorola cell phone. But i recently ordered a multimodem MTCBA-G-U-F4 and im having difficulty setting it to PDU mode for SMS Messaging. Microsoft SMS Sender keeps giving me this message "The selected device is not supported by this application". Any insight?

r0nwilliams said...

good post! I wish I hadn ordered the USB version.

Øystein said...

Do you know of anyone who have tried the ethernet version of the MultiModem ? We are running SCOM on a vmware farm.

Scott said...

I don't, but I wish I had gone with the ethernet version from the beginning. We also are now on VMware and we purchased a DigiPort to add the ethernet capability to this modem.

I blogged about it here.

Bret said...

Did you need to do any additional config on the Modem, or was it pretty much plug and play? was there any other OS tweaking necessary?

Scott said...

There was no config necessary, which is a good thing since I didn't really see anyplace in SCOM to configure the modem. Basically once you've connected the modem and installed the drivers, everything just works.

Bret said...

I bought the USB version of this modem and i'm running server 2008 (32bit). After several days of banging my head, I found that both the modem AND the modem driver needs to be set to 9600 BPS. So in windows set it to 9600 then on the modem do; AT+IPR=9600 and now it works like a charm.

Bret said...

Oh right... don't forget to save settings in modem. I found after a server memory upgrade, the baud setting was lost.
According to the AT guide;
AT&W (Writes current configuration to EEPROM) you may be able to use AT+CSAS, but I'm not 100% if this writes the IPR command.

PEEK_74 said...

I'm using Huawaei E220 usb modem "" in my enviroment (using Windows 2008 x64 and SCOM 2007 Sp1 on IBM x-series 3650). USB modem came with MobileConnect software preloaded on the device. Just install device driver and not the software! MobileConnect occupies the device so that it's not possible to send sms with any other software like SCOM. Tested sms send function and SCOM RunAS account with ActiveXperts SMS and MMS Toolkit (trialversion) "". This was helpful to me, MS SMSsender.exe is'nt possible to use in 2008 x64 env.

andy said...

Thank for this post. I used some of your information to successfully setup my own configuration of a multitech modem on my SCOM R2 environment.

I documented the complete procedure and everything purchased on my blog,

The only issue that I had was that I was trying to attach to HP Blades and the Chassis only had pass-thru NIC's that were gigabit only. The details can be found on my site for the work around.

Pakhta said...

Hey, this was a good post!

we use a wavecom gsm modem, and an sms gateway as well - it works! :-)

here's where i've found information about it (hope that it's not advertising if i write the url!):


cdooer said...

Not sure if anyone still looks at this, but when I try and send the SMS using the Send SMS utility, I get 'There is a problem communicating with your device'. The TR light comes on on the Multitech modem, so something is happening. I haven't gotten the real SIM card yet, I just popped the one out of my Blackberry in order to test it. Could this be the problem?