System Center Operations Manager (SCOM) has been proven to be a great product to monitor your environment from end to end. It has grown version after version and has in my believe outgrown its status of monitoring only Microsoft Windows already for quite a while now. A lot of management packs are out there, some good some less good (let’s keep it diplomatic). When you are a SCOM admin you mostly come across the same management packs from the same vendors. From time to time it’s nice to see a new contender step into the arena with a management pack for a technology which can already be monitored by other management packs.
Recently Opslogix the Dutch company founded in 2009 released one of those management packs which I took for a test drive: VMware® Intelligent Management Pack.
I requested a trial to find out how well it weighs up to the competition. Opslogix is stating that this management pack is a far better choice based on cost vs monitoring. So I took it for a spin through my environment. I’m a SCOM expert but not a VMware expert so for me also the aspect of easy to install and comprehend the management pack and the overview of the environment was also a very valid point.
When you install a management pack from the online catalog it is normally a straightforward process. The management pack is downloaded in the background and automatically added to your environment. That’s it. But with non Microsoft management packs this can be another story. Luckily the Opslogix management pack comes with a very detailed install manual and the installation was a breeze. The clear manual stated exactly what steps needed to be taken to install the management pack.
The management pack consists out of 4 different management pack files (Base, licensing ui, VMware and VMware reports). The import is straight forward like you would import any other management pack. Once imported there are still some extra steps that need to be taken to make sure you can connect and monitor your environment. One of the things you also need to keep in mind is the fact that you need to register your license in the SCOM console as well otherwise the discoveries will not kick off. Well documented in the management pack guide but I can fully understand your enthusiasm to get this going that you forgot to do it.
Next up is to define which management server is used to monitor your VMware environment. As all people who are using SCOM 2012 probably already know the resource pools let you divide monitoring between different management servers. In this case this is very handy and well thought of Opslogix because it could well be possible you only have 1 management server facing the internet or your VMware environment. In this case you can populate your resource pool with that server and you are good to go:
Next thing you need to do is add VMware environment to your SCOM environment. Again no hassle with certificates or whatsoever. The Opslogix management pack comes with a straight forward GUI to connect your environment. Just check out monitoring and open up the VMware IMP Configuration Dashboard. Fill in your data, check connect and when the connection was successful you now have a connection to your environment. BUT no monitoring yet.
Last thing to configure is adding the license you have received from OpsLogix to your environment. The license GUI lets you connect your environment we just added to your license. This is needed to calculate the cores which were included in your license.
So that’s it… All ready to go.
What’s in it?
One of the things I always do when a management pack is installed is browse through the views to see what can be visually shown to me but more important to the potential users of the console / environment.
Nothing surprising here actually. Nice views to check out the alerts, status of my devices and some performance views. Nothing more nothing less. Just the things I like to see to get a quick overview. Maybe a full dashboard to get a quick overview would have been nice but hey we can build that ourselves right!
Next I always browse through the rules and monitors. I’m not going over them 1 by 1 but in fact there are enough rules and monitors in the management pack to get you notified when things are wrong. Again I’m not a VMware expert but after the connection to the demo environment I instantly got alerts (probably generated on purpose) that were even for me clear to understand. The discovery process was definitely kicking in because all the different servers were discovered.
If you look through the included monitors and rules you’ll notice that all the different aspects of you VMware environment will be covered. All the rules and monitors are there to generate that desired view of your environment and warn you when things are about to go wrong. Nothing more, nothing less: Just the way I like it. Not drilling through a lot of rules and monitors to disable or enable them. Less config time is more monitoring time…
One thing I really like about a management pack and especially a third party management pack is that it comes with reports. As a SCOM admin I have a pretty good knowledge of what’s going on in my management group and with the servers but to a user / manager it is very hard to explain that there are issues or all is going well. Especially managers and application owners love reports they get in their mailbox on a regular base to keep track of things. Although it is not that hard to create your own reports it’s always nice to have some out of the box to get you going and save you some time in the process.
I looked around in the reports and noticed that indeed there were many reports targeted to an overall view of your environment. Most of the time that is exactly what you are looking for because normally the servers which are running on your virtual environment are also monitored by your rules for monitoring your OS. This is basically in a nutshell what this management pack is intended to do: monitor your infrastructure and give you a helicopter view of everything living in your virtual VMware environment.
The Opslogix management pack proved to be a sound experience on the field of install, config and connection. The installation was easy and not a lot of extra steps had to be taken to get it up and running. After the install it just started the discoveries and just started to… work. I have witnessed other management pack which have to be overridden en fine-tuned before they even produced any events or discover any new servers.
An added bonus that a lot of people are overlooking is the fact that a management pack discovers a lot of classes. This Opslogix management pack is no exception. You can use the discovered classes in your distributed applications and dashboards to even further extend your view on your environment. If you do not load a management pack this process can be tedious because you need to discover all the different types you want to add to your dashboard yourself.
If you are looking for a VMware management pack that’s easy to install, has more than enough monitors and rules on board to give you an essential clear view on your environment AND has the necessary reports: make sure to drop Opslogix a line for a demo license.
It’s all up to you on what exactly you want to monitor on your VMware environment. If you just want to monitor the health of your environment and like the ability to proactively react to issue this could be a great consideration!
For more info check out the Opslogix website: http://www.opslogix.com/products/vmware-intelligent-management-pack