System Center Operation Manager in a Medium Sized Company, a review Center Operations ManagerUnspecified7.372101
Fabrizio Volpe profile photo
August 18, 2017

System Center Operation Manager in a Medium Sized Company, a review

Score 8 out of 101
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Overall Satisfaction with System Center Operations Manager

This is a System Center Operations Manager (SCOM) 2012 deployment used to monitor and support a four nodes Hyper-V cluster (Windows Server 2012 R2). The company uses it in conjunction with other System Center products, like Data Protection Manager and Virtual Machine Manager. All the production servers are virtual and running on the above solution (last count was over 100 virtual machines). SCOM is not in use for the management of workstations or clients.
  • SCOM does excellent work in monitoring Microsoft Operating Systems and back-end solutions like Exchange and SQL Server. The information gathered is useful and the (free) management packs add in-depth counters and monitoring data.
  • Agent deployment and updating, that with other solutions can be a complex task, is usually easy to perform. Also for endpoints that are in an external network or DMZ, a certificate based approach allows to get the result without requiring too high of a configuration effort.
  • The product is also able to manage non-Microsoft platform and devices. The list of Management Packs is really long and covers many of the main players in the IT industry.
  • SCOM requires a lot of fine tuning to be really usable, especially from an alerting point of view. The default thresholds are meant to be good for a generic scenario, but each IT department has to spend time in calibrating them on their specific needs.
  • The most recent rollup updates have improved SCOM from all the points of view. Using it some time ago was not easy, due to a series of limitations and flaws (often I have seen agents going in "unknown state" with no motivation, just for example). I think that some companies have now a negative perception of Operations Manager due to this not so brilliant past.
  • From a security point of view, SCOM requires some specific configurations. The required rules and permissions on firewalls, specifically, are something that usually requires some conversation and clarification with the network and security managers.
  • First point: it depends if you have to pay for the System Center suite or it is already part of your licensing (for example, some versions of Windows Server 2012 R2 Datacenter had a System Center license included). If you have it already, the overall cost is lower.
  • Second point: number of people in the IT department and IT budget. The "Proof of Concept" and roll-out phases of an SCOM deployment require some effort, especially for customization. A small IT department with no budget for consultancy could achieve a limited benefit from this solution having no time to tailor it to the specific needs.
  • Third point: number of Microsoft products deployed in comparison to other vendors. A company that is using a huge number of different platforms, with Microsoft just being one of them, could prefer other monitoring solution.
The monitoring market is a really crowded one. While I think SCOM is the best solution for Microsoft-centric scenarios, competitors like Nagios or Tivoli may fit better for different expectations. Some companies with specific objectives (like ITIL management) could be pushed to use a product more focused on a specific approach.
The effort and infrastructure required for SCOM make it a product that is a good fit for medium or large companies. There is also a cost to be considered, especially if the System Center Suite is not part of the licensing that the company has already. However, any company with a good number of Microsoft servers and services (I would say at least 50 servers, just to give an idea) will see the benefits of a product that is able to easily gather information and monitoring data. My considerations are based on an on-premises data center, so the above could not apply to people using SCOM also for Cloud deployments monitoring.

SCOM Feature Ratings

Application monitoring
Database monitoring
Threshold alerts
Predictive capabilities
Application performance management console
Collaboration tools
Out-of-the box templates to monitor applications
Application dependency mapping and thresholding
Virtualization monitoring
Server availability and performance monitoring
Server usage monitoring and capacity forecasting
IT Asset Discovery