Imagine Thor or Ironman. Or even Arrow or the Black Widow. Alone, they may be powerful, but together, they’re much more: The Avengers! That’s what I think when I look at the System Center family, which has combined different technologies to create a holistic management solution.
System Center 2012 was a milestone in Microsoft’s system management strategy. Although most of the products already existed, it was only then that all the pieces came together. The product family grew, including configuration management, automation and orchestration, backup, monitoring and host management. The slide below shows the products in the System Center family:
For the purpose of this post, I will focus on System Center Operations Manager (SCOM), specially, the 2012 R2 version.
SCOM has grown to be a broad management platform, with a large ecosystem around it. Most of the time, the answer for the question “Can we use SCOM to monitor this?” is “There is a management pack for that!”. And if there isn’t, you can create it.
SCOM provides a fantastic and extensive set of internal components and modules to create your own solutions:
|Monitors and rules||There are a number of out-of-the-box templates and an infinity of low level modules to create monitoring solutions for your applications|
|Discoveries||The discovery modules allow you to automatically discover and create objects in your infrastructure|
|Tasks||Conveniently execute tasks from a central console against your agents|
|Dashboards||Display information about trends, state, SLAs and performance for different audiences in the enterprise|
|Reports||Top quality reports using SQL Server Reporting Services|
Specifically, in the monitors and rules space, the list of options you have is long:
|Event Log and log file monitoring|
|URL Monitoring (with Synthetic transactions)|
As you can see, SCOM can reach far, including not only Microsoft Servers and workstations, but Linux servers and network devices.
Once you decide to use SCOM, managing these environments (servers and network devices) will require some effort. For example:
Importing management packs, including 3rd party ones
It may seem like a very technical and straightforward list of items. However, depending on the size of the organization, it will require interaction with different groups, like SQL administrator, the Exchange team, etc. These groups will need to help in defining acceptable thresholds and the information they desire. This combined with the actual effort to maintain and keep SCOM updated, can be a challenging task. Add the common scenario of multiple environments and multiple SCOM systems, where you have to replicate configuration, maintain the infrastructure and configure notifications. In case an issue arises at 2:30 AM, ‘who you gonna call?’ It is a hard process to put in place and if not done correctly, it may doom your SCOM initiative for good.
Operations Manager is also capable of connecting to many platforms through connectors. The most common uses are related to the other members of the product family. There are native connectors for Service Manager, Virtual machine manager, for example.
Last but not least, SCOM now extends to the cloud, by being able to send data to an OMS Log Analytics workspace. You may then analyze and get insight on the data by using the power of log analytics.
In 2016, SCOM (and all the other products in the suite) will get a new version, which promises very nice features. Among them:
|Network Monitoring Management Pack Generator|
|Management Pack Tuning|
|Scheduled Maintenance Mode|
|Management Pack Updates and Recommendations|
|Nano Server monitoring|
|Better Scale for Linux/UX monitoring|
|Extended Network Device Monitoring|
Operations Manager can bring a lot of value to your company. It has tremendous capabilities to reach deep into your workloads to monitor and uncover issues. However, it requires configuration and maintenance, which has historically created problems inside many organizations. Stay tuned for the next article in this series, where I delve deeper into that subject.