SCOM is the Bomb!
January 18, 2018
SCOM is the Bomb!
Score 8 out of 10
Overall Satisfaction with System Center Operations Manager
Our company just finished up a proof of concept of Systems Center Operations Manager. We are going to adopt SCOM for monitoring the health of our Team Foundation Servers and SQL Servers. We decided to take a look at SCOM due to some issues we had with our TFS Servers which resulted in severe latency throughout the system. We realized that we needed to get a better handle on monitoring the system health. Our goal is to have a holistic view of the system, to be able to predict and correct issues before they happen, or at the early warning signs of degradation. We need to be able to capture various performance metrics and retain a history to establish the baselines of what healthy looks like and understand when and why the system trends away from that healthy baseline. Keeping our development shops running at their top pace is vital to our business. TFS and SQL are the lifeblood of our SDLC, therefore the development teams efficiency rely on these systems. Long term goal is to roll out SCOM to other areas of the organization.
- The Health Explorer within SCOM is one of the more impressive features. How a system framework is monitored and when something goes wrong, it rolls up to the top level object and alerts the user. If there is a critical issue or warning, it rolls up to the system as a whole and the system will appear critical. You can use the Health Explorer to drill down and find the particular monitor that is in the critical state. From there you can see the details and where the problem lies. Whether it's from the event logs on the server or a performance threshold that has been triggered, you get all the information you need to troubleshoot quickly. When the issue is fixed, the overall system shows as healthy, again.
- When troubleshooting issues found through SCOM, you can add details to your company knowledge base within SCOM and tie that knowledge article to a particular monitor, which in turn adds the knowledge article to the alert that monitor eventually triggers. So, not only do you get some great, built-in troubleshooting information from the product you're monitoring, you also can build an additional company KB and that information will be right in the alert the next time that particular issue occurs. This makes troubleshooting infinitely quicker.
- The Management Packs that are applied to SCOM are what got us interested in using SCOM in the first place. We have a TFS Management Pack and a SQL Server management pack that we use. You can build custom Management Packs from scratch with SCOM, but having the framework in place for the systems we want to monitor out of the box, is a huge plus! Any customizations we want to do can be done on top of the Management Pack designed for the target system.
- One of the biggest drawbacks to SCOM is the sheer scope and complexity of the system. This can be a pro and a con. The system is very customizable, what you put into it is what you'll get out of it. That said, the learning curve is fairly steep. An organization needs to be committed to putting time and resources into SCOM to get the most out of it. I've heard stories from colleagues of several different companies that invested in SCOM and then abandoned it due to the excessive time and care required.
- SCOM is expensive. Not only is the enterprise licensing costly, SCOM requires it's own servers, operational and warehouse databases to be maintained.
- The OOB SCOM reports are a bit clunky and feel outdated.
Our organization currently uses Nagios and while it is a much cheaper alternative, you just don't get the features and capabilities that SCOM offers. Nagios seems to be limited to basic monitoring and alerts. SCOM is tailored to our TFS environment out of the box with the TFS management pack. The level of detail we have into our TFS system is unmatched with SCOM.
SCOM is best suited for mid-sized to large organizations to monitor and report on server health for many systems. SCOM is probably not suited for smaller organizations as the cost will outweigh the benefit. Companies that adopt SCOM will want to assure that a systems administrator has time budgeted to plan, roll-out and maintain SCOM for the organization. If the admin doesn't have experience with SCOM, invest in training.