Operations Manager 2007 R2 Resource Kit

OK, it’s only 2 years too late and OpsMgr 2012 is around the corner, but it’s out and let’s just enjoy that.  Microsoft has just released a resource kit including tools for OpsMgr 2007 R2.  Best of all, it includes the ability to schedule maintenance mode for a group!  Yay!  No more hack-scripting to get this done during automated patching windows.

Monitor CentOS with Operations Manager 2007 R2

Now we have support for CentOS guests on Hyper-V, how about monitoring them?  I noticed some retweets by Carsten Rachfahl of some posts by @OpsMgr on Twitter:

With a bit of searching I also found an old post on the subject of installing the RedHat agent and importing a modified version of the RedHat management pack.

The above two posts use a management pack that is shared on the community cross platform extensions site.

None of this is supported in any way, but you’re probably not too worried about support if you’re using CentOS anyway (I guess).  This will extend the power of OpsMgr to your free Linux distro.

Want System Center Operations Manager in the Cloud?

Formerly known as “Project Atlanta”, System Center Advisor (SCA) was talked about today at MMS 2011.  It basically is a cloud version of OpsMgr, capable of monitoring your machines.  Right now, it supports monitoring of x86 or x64 versions of:

  • Microsoft SQL Server 2008 or later
  • Windows Server 2008 or later

Those experienced with OpsMgr will know that an OpsMgr agent (which is what SCA uses BTW) uses Kerberos (AD) for authentication.  That won’t be possible here!  But OpsMgr does have a gateway.  SCA uses that Gateway functionality.  So, if you want to use SCA you have to install the SCA Gateway and that requires a machine running Windows Server 2008 (x86 or x64) or later.  Your agents authenticate with the gateway and the gateway authenticates with SCA in the cloud.

The architecture isn’t all that different to what has been possible with OpsMgr 2007 up to now.  And the firewall side of things is easy too!

You can access a web portal to monitor all of your resources on those supported platforms.  I guess more platforms will be added over time.

The setup is easy.  Log into the site with a Windows Live ID.  You download your unique gateway cert.  Install the gateway with the cert.  Deploy your agents!  You’re practically walked through the process:


This will be attractive to smaller companies who want some of the power of OpsMgr.  They might get that functionality without the outlay on hardware and consulting.  Some VPS hosted companies may like this.  It’s not enterprise ready; the limited platform support is an issue.  And we don’t really know how “live” it will be.  But it definitely is something worth keeping an eye on.

As a MS partner, it’s a bit worrying because it redirects business from the partner directly to MS.  It also doesn’t appear to have that partner model that is evident in Intune.  Speaking of which – I see no integration with Intune.  Maybe with time …

Cumulative Update 3 for Microsoft System Center Operations Manager 2007 R2

Microsoft released cumulative update 3 for OpsMgr 2007 R2.  There’s lots of fixes/changes.  The one big one is the ability to monitor Azure applications.  So now you can use your on-premises OpsMgr installation to monitor the SLA of your Azure application (using Distributed Applications).  You can also monitor cross-premises applications because OpsMgr doesn’t really care where stuff is located.

Oracle On Their Internal Systems Management

I just read a story about how Oracle consolidated their internal systems management   They decided to invest in a legacy-style solution based on SNMP and ping.  One of the things I noticed was that Oracle wanted to do lots of customization, be able to get access to the underneath data so they could manipulate it, integrate it, etc.

This is how not to do monitoring in a modern IT infrastructure.

In 1st year of college, we were taught about different ways you could buy software:

  1. Write it yourself: Takes lots of time/skills and has hidden longterm costs.
  2. Buy or download something cheap off the shelf that does 80% of what you need.  You spend a very long time trying to get the other 20%.  It ends up not working quite right and it costs you a fortune, especially when it fails and you have to replace it – of course, the more common approach is to live with the failure and pitch a story that it is fantastic.  I call this the “I’m in government” approach.
  3. Spend a little bit more money up front, buy a solution that does what you need, is easily customizable, and will work.

In Ireland, approach number 2 is the most commonly taken road.  Ping/SNMP cheapware is what most organizations waste their money and time on.  A server responding to ping does not make it healthy.  A green icon for a server that is monitored by a few SNMP rules that took you an age to assemble does not make it healthy.

Instead what is needed is a monitoring solution that has indepth expertise in the network … all of it … from the hardware, up through to the applications, has ana additional client perspective, and can assemble all of that into the (ITIL) service point of view.  Such a solution may cost a little buit more but:

  • It works out of the box, requiring just minor (non-engineering) changes along the way.
  • The monitoring expertise is usually provided by the orginal vendor or an expert third party.
  • The solution will be cheaper in the long term.

No guesses required to tell which solution I recommend, based on experience.  I’ve tried the rest: I was certified in CA’s Unicenter (patch-tastic!), I got a brief intro to BMC Patrol, I’ve seen teams of Tivoli consultants fail to accomplish anything after 6 months of efforts, and I’ve seen plenty of non-functional cheapware along the way.  One solution always worked, out of the box, and gave me results within a few hours of effort.  System Center Operations Manager just works.  There’s lots of sceptics and haters but, in my experience,  they usually have an agenda, e.g. they were responsible for buying the incumbant solution that isn’t quite working.  There is also the cousin of OpsMgr, SCE 2010, for the SME’s.

OpsMgr 2007 R2 Guide For Monitoring Windows Servers

Microsoft published a guide for implementing System Center Operations Manager 2007 R2:

“This guidance provides information on the implementation of System Center Operations Manager (SCOM) 2007 for the monitoring and management of Windows servers. It provides the information necessary to create an Operations Manager 2007 design, the procedures for installing and configuring the Operations Manager 2007 server roles and agents, and guidance for managing an Operations Manager 2007 solution”.

Microsoft Operations Manager 2007 R2 Sizing

Microsoft has published guidance on how to size your OpsMgr 2007 R2 installations:

“The Operations Manager 2007 R2 Sizing Helper is an interactive document designed to assist you with planning & sizing deployments of Operations Manager 2007 R2. It helps you plan the correct amount of infrastructure needed for a new OpsMgr R2 deployment, removing the uncertainties in making IT hardware purchases and optimizes cost. A typical recommendation will include the recommended hardware specification for each server role, topology diagram and storage requirement. The Operations Manager Sizing Helper is most useful when used with the Operations Manager 2007 R2 Design Guide”.

OpsMgr Empirical Performance Data For Server Sizing

We have a customer who has a number of physical machines hosted with us.  They were deployed before we had a virtualised environment.  The specs were defined by the customer based on what they thought they’d need for a new service.

They asked us to look at replacing (not converting) their Windows Server 2003 web servers with Windows Server 2008/2008 R2 virtual web servers.  They also asked if the back end servers could be looked at as virtualisation candidates. Operations Manager to the rescue!

OpsMgr is constantly gathering performance data.  It keeps over a year of it in a reporting database.  I ran some reports.  CPU and memory were the two important ones.

The web servers were simple enough.  Their CPU average utilisation proved to be low with the occasional spike.  The standard deviation was very small and the spikes were very infrequent.  As Hyper-V VM’s on a cluster, this is no problem.  If a spike is detected by OpsMgr, the VMM Pro Tips integration will move the VM using zero-downtime Live Migration to an idle host and allow the VM the CPU resources it needs.  As it turns out, they use exactly 50% of their RAM.  The nice thing here is that we have empirical data to justify a reduction of the ram by 25%.  If it needs to go up then it’s just a couple of minutes of mouse clicks to do that.

The back end servers were another story.  The average CPU was low, but not quite as low.  I also could see much more frequent CPU spikes.  The standard deviation was much greater.  To be honest, this was what the customer and I both expected.  These machines are not virtualisation candidates.

So instead of doing a blind P2V, or sticking a wet finger in the wind, we went through a scientific decision making process, courtesy of the reporting database in Operations Manager 2007 R2.  There will be no worrying about any future deployment, we should know what the end result will be.

Download OpsMgr 2007 R2 Documentation

You can now download Microsoft’s TechNet documentation for System Center Operations Manager 2007 R2.

The Operations Manager 2007 R2 technical documentation helps you plan, deploy, operate, and maintain Operations Manager 2007 R2. For information about the specific guides available in the library.