NightWatchman 5.5 New Features
Right before Christmas 1E released not only the free tool Service Window that I mentioned in my last post but also new versions of NightWatchman now version 5.5, 1E WakeUp version 5.5, Nomad Enterprise 3.2 and our first version of the NightWatchman console. Over the last 18 months I had been working with AT&T® to prove out the 1E Power and Patch Management Pack, which is a combination of 1E WakeUp and NightWatchman. July 31st the deal with AT&T closed and in late October we did a joint press release with AT&T about the savings. In the end they are going to save about $1 million a month or $60 million dollars over 5 years, and those are pretty modest figures, and I know they are because I actually wrote the report for them based on the pilot data from their AFR server. They are also going to save 135 million kWh’s of electricity each year while eliminating 124,000 tons of CO2 emissions. It was a great project and now one of our consultants Richard Fellows has been working with them on the implementation across their 310,000 PC’s. As is usually the case our customers dictate the new features included in our products and I all of the Solution Engineers at 1E are also now aligned with a single product so we are involved in the entire development cycle, at least as much as we can since we travel a fair amount of time. But NightWatchman 5.5 is the product I typically spend the most time with also the reporting server as well AFR.
Here is a short list of the new features in version 5.5 of NightWatchman and I will explain most them in more depth below as well as how to configure and use them.
- Sleepless Client Detection - NightWatchman can now achieve even greater power savings by detecting PCs which do not go to sleep when they should. The Administrator is made aware of what is keeping the machine awake and given the opportunity to allow or disallow this from happening in future.
- NightWatchman Console - You can now manage your NightWatchman clients from a centralized secure administration console, providing the simplest mechanism and most control over your NightWatchman installation. Existing methods to manage NightWatchman clients (such as Microsoft Configuration Manager or Group Policy) still work and can be used with or without this new console.
- Maintenance Windows and Alarm Clock - You can now configure PCs to power up according to a schedule which suits both your users and administration needs. With Maintenance Windows your PCs will wake up and remain powered for a length of time before returning to a low power state when scheduled maintenance tasks are complete.
- Keep Active - Extend PC Power Management to PC users, allowing them to ensure their PC remains available to execute tasks while they’re away.
- Active Directory Import Tool - Simplifies and speeds up the task of mapping an existing directory of PCs to the NightWatchman configuration and reporting structure. This wizard based tool deals with conflict detection and resolution and the included import scripts can be modified to best suit your environment.
I will start with the Keep Active feature, it is probably the easiest of the new features to explain. This is an option that allows the user to decide if they want to keep their PC from being put into a low power state. This includes a scheduled shutdown as well as the power scheme settings so the computer will not go into any low power states during the Keep Active period. This is not something you would like your employees to use every day because they could defeat the energy savings program for their computer. There is going to be some changes in the next version of NightWatchman about how much control you turn back over to the employee.
One example of how someone might use this feature is let’s say Paul Thomsen and I are working late in his office in Redmond and we want to run some automated tests on some of his lab computers but we also don’t want the machines to go into a low power state or shutdown at the scheduled time of 7 PM because we need these tests to complete while we are eating at Azteca we are not sure how long we are going to be over there so we set Keep Active on the lab computers to 2 hours. That gives us a little time to walk over there eat and get back without our tests being interrupted by the computers going into a low power state from the power scheme settings or the scheduled shutdown time.
How to configure Keep Active
They do this simply by right clicking on the NightWatchman icon in the system tray and selecting “Keep Active”.
Then after they click Keep Active from the context menu it will open a dialog box with a drop down box allowing them to select the amount of time they want to set their computer to keep active. During the Keep Active period the NightWatchman tray icon also changes so the user can turn it back off if they want to.
Maintenance Windows and Alarm Clocks
Maintenance windows and alarm clocks have some similarity to them. They are both a scheduled wakeup for the NightWatchman client but the alarm clock function is for end users and maintenance windows are for administrators. The end result is the same for both however, to schedule the computer to come out of a low power state at a certain time on a specific day.
For the Alarm Clock feature this can be used by the employee to schedule when their computer is going to be turned on in the morning so that all (startup) group policies have run or if there are things that happen to the computer that make the boot time in double digits. Since you can configure the time and for each day if the employee only works 4 – 10’s, then they could schedule their computer to only come on 10 minutes before their start time on those four days of the week so it doesn’t come on the other three days of the week.
The Maintenance Window feature is for the IT staff to be able to schedule a computer or group of computer, to come out a low power state at a scheduled time and then after a your maintenance is completed return the computer back to the low power state it was in for the remainder of the night or weekend. This is useful for things that you need to do outside of ConfigMgr, say anti-virus scans or updates.
How to Configure Alarm Clocks and Maintenance Windows
The Alarm Clock settings are configured in the NightWatchman console (which I cover below), the Maintenance Window settings are also configured in the NightWatchman console.
You can see this tab is displaying the Maintenance Window, one option is to turn the monitor on when the computer is brought out a low power state for the Maintenance Window. Usually you would want the monitor to stay off assuming that you schedule your Maintenance Windows for off hours. As you can see you can schedule or not schedule the Maintenance Window start time for each day separately, how long the computer will remain on, essentially setting the duration of the Maintenance Window. And then at the end of the Maintenance Window what low power state do you want the computer to go into. In this first version the low power options are standby and hibernate, off will be coming soon.
Now you can see that I have scheduled a window for Monday, Wednesday and Friday, they are for different durations and Friday I want the system to go back to hibernate.
The NightWatchman console is a server side console to configure the NightWatchman clients. You can group clients based on business unit and based on physical locations. For example, what state they are in and what department they are in. This helps with the reporting portion. Also as I covered above the Alarm Clock and Maintenance Window settings are configured in the console. But also the scheduled shutdown times and power scheme policies for the clients, which goes back to the grouping again.
As you can see from these two images which are the power scheme settings (top) and power policies (bottom) there are a number of settings that you can configure along with each of these. Traditionally this would have been done with ConfigMgr or group policy but with the NightWatchman console we add another option for administrators to configure the client settings.
The NightWatchman console is targeted at customers who either do not have ConfigMgr or SMS but still need the Wake-on-LAN functionality of 1E WakeUp and for customers that have different groups that will manage NightWatchman and ConfigMgr.
How To Configure The NightWatchman Console
Configuring the NightWatchman console is more about configuring the clients although there is a Security tab that will allow you to control which users and groups get to see or configure all the settings in the console.
Lets start with an overall of the console.
On the left of the console are the tabs NightWatchman Clients, Power Schemes, Power Policies, Power Consumption and Security.
- NightWatchman Clients – This is where you can group clients, assign power schemes and power policies to your clients. You can also see the tabs to display Location Groups and Organization Groups, these are the two types of groups I described above where you can assign clients based on their location and business unit. Client default into the Unassigned Building for the location groups and into Unassigned Department for organization groups.
- Power Schemes – In this tab you can create, edit and delete power schemes. Power scheme settings are the settings the control when the monitor goes into standby, the hard drive goes into standby, the computer goes into standby or hibernate and so on. After you create the power schemes you then assign them to a group. In this example I have a typical power scheme policy that I have named Accounting Department as it will be assigned to the Accounting departments computers but I could assign it to any other group as well that I wanted to use the same settings on.
- Power Policies – On the Power Policies tab you edit, create and delete policies that control when the group of clients will shutdown, what type of shutdown it is, when and how long the maintenance window is, if there is an alarm clock to wake the computers for the user, process exceptions and sleepless client detection settings amongst other settings.
The last two tabs are Power Consumption and Security. The Power Consumption tab is used to configure what power figures are used by the different clients in the various states to ensure accurate power, carbon and costs are used in the reports. This is a very important feature as the various hardware vendors and models use dramatically different amounts of power in all the different power states. Not having this feature would be like assuming an 8 year old 21” CRT used the same amount of power as my daughters LCD on her Dell Mini. And trying to figure power costs, consumption and CO2 emissions without these numbers is just a guess – at best. On the Security tab you configure the security settings for the console, allowing users and groups different levels of rights on all the tabs and their settings.
I will save the last two new features for a future post, this one turned out to be much longer that I anticipated.
As always if you have any questions or comments let me know!
Anthony Clendenen | Solutions Engineer | 1E
Microsoft MVP System Center Configuration Manager
© Anthony Clendenen
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