For a clearer picture

Category: Squared Up

Part 3 – Application Monitoring – setting the scene

Sometimes working with SCOM seems to be Mission Impossible so today (should you accept the challenge) we’ll look at how to create application-based monitoring for your support and service management teams.

Previous articles

Part 1 – Background

Part 2 – Visualisations with Squared Up

Later articles

Part 4 – Monitoring Overview

Part 5 – Create the Management Pack Solution and Project

Part 6 – Create the Management Pack components

Part 7 – Create the Squared Up Dashboard

Our application is called Batura and to summarise it runs on Windows and the following needs monitoring:

  • There is an application server that runs a windows service.
  • It has a couple of databases hosted on Microsoft SQL Server 2012.
  • There is an application pool and an Internet Information Services website hosted on Windows Server 2016.

We are going to create a sealed management pack using Visual Studio to create the monitoring and then use Squared Up to create an interactive \ drill down dashboard that will provide:

  • Availability Status of the application
  • Performance metrics of the components

The first consideration is how do we model the application? Let’s take a look at the application \ component classes that we require:

  • The Microsoft Management Packs already provide us with classes for SQL databases and IIS websites and application pools so we don’t necessarily have to create classes for these components.
  • There is no “out of the box” class for Batura Application Server though so we definitely need to create a class for this component

And then we will need to create the groups that we will use for scoping views, permissions and also for our Squared Up dashboard:

  • Group that contains all the application Component groups. This will show the health of our application.
  • A group of each of the application components (especially for more complex applications which might have more than one database \ website \ application pool):
    • Group of databases
    • Group of websites
    • Group of application pools
  • Computer Group – One of the gotchas with SCOM is that if the server is down then the computer object doesn’t go into an error or warning health state. If it was healthy when the server went down then all we see in SCOM is that server grey out in the console. So while it can be useful to have a computer group for scoping views and permissions, it isn’t that useful for the dashboard.
  • Health Service Watcher Group – The way around the above is to create a Health Service Watcher group for the computers that host the application components. That way, if the computer goes down then health service watcher will go to critical and we tell we have a problem.
  • Operating System Group – I also find it useful to have a group of operating system objects that host application components and a group of logical disks objects that underpin the application. But we’ll discuss that more when we create them.

The above is just an outline of one way to go about monitoring. There are other routes which we will look at in future articles. For example; you might want to create a specific class for your applications websites (and databases and application pools). This would then allow you to:

  • Use it as a target for specific website monitoring that you want for this application.
  • Have health state based on the health of a specific monitor rather than the IIS website class.

You would also likely want to monitor the URLs and databases remotely from “watcher nodes”; as I say; more on this later.

If you don’t already have Visual Studio to hand, then take a look here for how to download and create a key to seal our management pack. Let’s get started.

Part 2 – Squared Up – get a better picture of your SCOM monitoring

Part 2 – Squared Up – get a better picture of your SCOM monitoring

Previous articles

Part 1 – Background

Later articles

Part 3 – Application Monitoring – Setting the scene

Part 4 – Monitoring Overview

Part 5 – Create the Management Pack Solution and Project

Part 6 – Create the Management Pack components

Part 7 – Create the Squared Up Dashboard

Even after all these years; System Center Operations Manager (SCOM) is still going strong as an on-premises performance and application monitoring solution. It has its quirks and anyone who believed the marketing hype of “quick to deploy” and “best of breed management packs” soon realises that the reality is somewhat more complex. However, that could be said of any monitoring solution. One thing that is definitely true though is that to get real value from SCOM you need to take time deploying and tuning SCOM, building processes that help you sort out the noise from the real issues.

Even with solid foundations in place, another challenge is that despite collecting huge amounts of what could be useful data; SCOM makes it as difficult as possible to display that data in user friendly and meaningful ways. Reporting is dreadful. The widgets are a little better but performance can be painful.

So take a step forward with Squared Up. Simple, easy to use and with an equally straight forward licensing model. Whether you want high level dashboards for your service managers or drill down dashboards that your application support teams can use to triage issues, Squared Up make your job as a SCOM Administrator so much easier. And not only does Squared Up deliver super-fast HTML5 dashboards, they can also provide automatic application discovery and even dynamically integrate external data – all delivered via a single, lightweight, easy-to-install product.