Understanding How System Center Operations Manager Works

Key Components of OpsMgr 2007 R2

System Center Operations Manager 2007 R2 is a sophisticated monitoring system that effectively allows for large-scale management of mission-critical servers. Organizations with a medium to large investment in Microsoft technologies will find that OpsMgr allows for an unprecedented ability to keep on top of the tens of thousands of event log messages that occur on a daily basis. In its simplest form, OpsMgr performs two functions: processing monitored data and issuing alerts and automatic responses based on that data.

The monitoring is accomplished using standard operating system components such as Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI) and WS-Management, Windows and UNIX event logs, and Win-dows and UNIX performance counters, along with API calls and scripts. OpsMgr-specific components are also designed to perform synthetic transactions and track the health and availability of network services. In addition, OpsMgr provides a reporting feature that allows administrators to track problems and trends occurring on the network. Reports can be generated automatically, providing network administrators, managers, and decision makers with a current and long-term historical view of environmental trends. These reports can be delivered via email or stored on file shares for archiving or to power web pages.

The model-based architecture of OpsMgr presents a fundamental shift in the way a network is monitored. The entire environment can be monitored as groups of hierarchical services with interdependent components. Microsoft, in addition to third-party vendors and a large development community, can leverage the functionality of OpsMgr components through customizable monitoring rules.

OpsMgr provides for several major pieces of functionality, as follows:

► Management packs—Application-specific monitoring rules are provided within individual files called management packs. For example, Microsoft provides management packs for Windows Server systems, Exchange Server, SQL Server, SharePoint, DNS, and DHCP, along with many other Microsoft technologies. Management packs are loaded with the intelligence and information necessary to properly troubleshoot and identify problems. The rules are dynamically applied to agents based on a custom discovery process provided within the management pack. Only applicable rules are applied to each managed server.

► Monitors—Management packs contain monitors, which allow for advanced state-based monitoring and aggregated health rollup of services. There are monitors for events, performance, logs, services, and even processes. Monitors also provide self-tuning performance threshold monitoring based on a two- or three-state configuration.

► Rules—Management pack rules can monitor for specific event log data, collect performance data, or even run scripts on a timed basis. This is one of the key methods of responding to conditions within the environment. Management pack rules can monitor for specific performance counters. This data is used for alerting based on thresholds or archived for trending and capacity planning. A common performance graph can show DC Response Time data for the DC1 domain controller, show spikes in latency, and how long the latency lasted.

► Alerting and notification—OpsMgr provides advanced alerting functionality such as alert notifications via email, paging, short message service (SMS), and instant messaging (IM). Alerts are highly customizable, with the ability to define alert rules for all monitored compo-nents.

► End-to-end service monitoring—OpsMgr provides service-oriented monitoring based on System Definition Model (SDM) technologies. This includes advanced object discovery and hierarchical monitoring of systems, as well as synthetic transactions that confirm the health of the system from a client perspective. This includes URLs, ports, Active Directory, LDAP, database access, and Exchange services.

Operations Manager 2007 R2 can present the collected information in a variety of ways. The OpsMgr monitoring environment can be accessed through three sets of consoles: an Operations Console, a Web console, and a command shell. The Operations Console provides full monitoring of agent systems and administration of the OpsMgr environment, whereas the Web console provides access only to the monitoring functionality. The command shell provides command-line access to administer the OpsMgr environment.

Major OpsMgr components are as follows:

► Consoles—The main method for presenting information is the Operations Console and the Web console. The Operations Console is the full console and presents alert, event, and performance data in a highly scalable fashion. This allows an operator to drill into the information needed very quickly and effectively.

► Notifications—Notifications are generated from alerts and can be sent as email, SMS, or IM messages. There is also a generic command notification, which allows any command line or script to execute.

► Reports—Monitoring rules can be configured to send monitored data to both the operations database for alerting and the reporting database for archiving.

► Dashboards—The Service Level Dashboards Solution Accelerator leverages the new Service Level Tracking feature of OpsMgr 2007 R2 and the ubiquitous SharePoint to present a flexible view of how objects and applications are meeting defined service-level objectives such as 99.9% uptime or other metrics.


Service Level Dashboards are a Solution Accelerator and require Microsoft SharePoint. This is an add-on developed by Microsoft to leverage the functionality of Operations Manager, but is not really a part of the product.

Interestingly, the Service Level Tracking (SLT) feature of Operations Manager was developed expressly to enable Service Level Dashboards, though SLTs can be used completely independently using the Operations Manager reporting feature.

This posting is 1 of a monthlong series of postings on the Microsoft System Center family of products. This is an excerpt from my book "System Center Enterprise Unleashed" with more postings on the System Center family of products up at http://www.networkworld.com/community/morimoto

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