SCOM Trick 41 – the Default MP

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One of the questions often asked is what the default management pack is for. Especially when you tell somebody they should not save overrides and stuff in there, while it is always right there as the first selected management pack to save something to! Quite logical that this confuses people and that is likely that there will be overrides/groups and other items in there after some time. One of the problems is that with every override you create more and more dependencies on the default mp, so in order to delete any mp you will probably run into SCOM complaining about the dependencies. Also it creates a lot of clutter and you will not have an overview anymore of what is where.

The first tip would be to rename the default management pack. In the SCOM console go to Administration pane and find the Management Packs entry in the left of the screen. Next find the Default Management Pack. Double click it to get the properties. In the Name field you can change the name there. Usually I add something like (DO NOT SAVE HERE!!) either before or after the name. At least it is a visual reminder you/they should not save stuff there.

For sure it will happen that stuff gets saved there so here is an article from Kevin Holman explaining more about this MP and how to clean it again:
http://blogs.technet.com/b/kevinholman/archive/2008/11/11/cleaning-up-the-default-mp.aspx

Also a very nice one is a custom mp from Jonathan Almquist that monitors the default mp for changes:
http://blogs.technet.com/b/jonathanalmquist/archive/2008/11/12/monitor-default-management-pack.aspx

Keep your default mp clean.



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SCOM Trick 40 – SNMP

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As this is a short article I cannot touch upon everything there is to say about SNMP as it is a broad subject. However it is something you almost certainly will touch upon. I prefer agent based monitoring whenever possible, but there are devices which do not run a SCOM agent of course, so you would need another way of monitoring them. In most cases network attached devices are able to talk SNMP. In many cases you can connect to them with an SNMP read string and check if they are up. I have touched upon this already in trick 30 for network devices and trick 31 server hardware. However there is a lot more. For instance storage, tape libraries, UPS, operating systems, server hardware and many more.

So if you want to get cracking with this I would suggest first taking a look at a few posts in the community about the subject to get up to speed.

Pete Zerger SNMP Series:
http://systemcentercentral.com/BlogDetails/tabid/143/indexid/13020/Default.aspx

Francois Dufour on SNMP trap monitoring:
http://blogcastrepository.com/blogs/francoisd/archive/2009/11/19/scom-2007-snmp-trap-based-detection-monitor.aspx

SNMP probe based monitors David Allen
http://www.aquilaweb.com/blog/index.php?itemid=54

SNMP monitors and numeric data workaround by Raphael Burri
http://rburri.wordpress.com/2008/06/10/snmp-based-monitors-and-numeric-expressions-workaround/

Watch Kristopher Bash as he builds the xSNMP mp for Cisco:
http://operatingquadrant.com/2009/09/10/scom-advanced-snmp-monitoring-part-i-discovering-cisco-devices-and-hosted-classes/

I am sure these will bring you up to speed. Happy monitoring!



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SCOM Trick 39 – RMS reconnect to SQL feature (post CU4)

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In the past when the SQL server for SCOM had been down for whatever reason (installing updates, downtime and so on) the RMS would have trouble re-connecting to the database and thus having trouble to start running again. Actually I have only seen this happen in the larger SCOM setups and with a bit more downtime than just a cluster failover on the SQL side. But when it does happen you might want to use an optional feature that was introduced in SCOM 2007 R2 CU4.

Kevin Holman explains the feature and how to enable it, but the procedure is pasted below for your convenience:

To enable this feature - On the RMS – create two new registry entries:
Under the “HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Microsoft Operations Manager\3.0\DAL” key, create two new DWORD values, as below:
DALInitiateClearPool
DALInitiateClearPoolSeconds
DALInitiateClearPool should be set to Decimal value “1” to enable it.
DALInitiateClearPoolSeconds should be set to Decimal value “60” to represent 60 second retry interval.

You can refer to Kevin’s post for the whole story:
http://blogs.technet.com/b/kevinholman/archive/2011/02/07/a-new-feature-in-r2-cu4-reconnecting-to-sql-server-after-a-sql-outage.aspx



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SCOM Trick 38 – Gateway

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Using a SCOM gateway server (SCOM GW) can be very helpful. Mostly a reason to use a gateway is because you want to monitor a domain which has no Kerberos trust with the domain where your management servers are located. In this case you can just setup a certificate trust between the SCOM MS and the SCOM GW and have the gateway talk to the other agents in his domain. Of course there are some other advantages as well, such as compression of data between the gateway and the management server, you only need to open 1 firewall port for one server if you find the need to cross firewalls, you can have the gateway add a site name which you can use to separate agents and alerts coming from that location. I think Satya Vel had a very good post about the ten reasons to use a gateway at http://blogs.technet.com/b/momteam/archive/2008/02/19/10-reasons-to-use-a-gateway-server.aspx.

All information on how to setup a gateway is in the documentation as mentioned in trick 1.

Marnix Wolf has a very nice article on when to use a dedicated gateway server
http://thoughtsonopsmgr.blogspot.com/2010/04/scom-gateway-server-deployment.html

There is a nice article on how to use multiple gateways by Anders Bengtsson:
http://contoso.se/blog/?p=831

And yet another good article from Marnix about some of the advantages of a gateway:
http://thoughtsonopsmgr.blogspot.com/2009/10/opsmgr-gateway-servers-and-their.html




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SCOM Trick 37 – Backup RMS encryption key

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In SCOM 2007 the root management server (RMS) uses an encryption key to be able to decrypt secure data in the SCOM database. When you first install SCOM at the end of the step to install the first management server (RMS) you will get the option to backup the encryption key. This is a good start to make a backup of it and you will provide a password. But there is also a way to create a backup of the encryption key after the installation. In most cases I would use the same password as the SDK/config/dataaccess account is using. Just something that works for me as I can remember that I use this most of the times and most of the times I know the SDK account. You will need to have this backup of the encryption key when you need to restore your RMS or when you need to promote another management server to RMS. One more reason why it is a good idea to also store the key backup on another location (for instance on the second management server), as you will use it when your RMS is dead most of the times.

So how to backup the key:
http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc540390.aspx

Of course it is also nice to list how to restore it:
http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc540389.aspx



In a few cases we have seen somebody get an error like this:
could not load file or assembly 'Microsoft.mom.Common, Version=6.0.4900.0, Culture=neutral, PublicKeyToken=31bf3856ad364e35' or one of its dependencies.
In that case copy securestoragebackup.exe to the program files directory for scom where Microsoft.mom.common.dll lives and run backup from there from an elevated command prompt.




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SCOM Trick 36 – Capacity planning

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When starting out with a new SCOM deployment or sometimes after running some time you might find yourself asking for an estimation of what resources are needed to run SCOM.

To start with I would suggest using the SCOM design guide:
http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/dd789005.aspx

Next check out the Operations Manager 2007 R2 sizing helper:
http://www.microsoft.com/download/en/details.aspx?displaylang=en&id=23016

These will help in giving an idea of what you will be up against for SCOM deployments of different sizes. I would suggest always using some margin with this. Reason is because you might find yourself adding more and more to the monitoring. For instance cross platform monitoring, network monitoring, hardware and storage and so on can give a performance hit on the SCOM servers and increase the size of the databases.



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SCOM Trick 35 – SCOM Licensing

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One of the things that is most often unclear with Microsoft software is licensing. There are people who have studied it for years. So, what options are there for SCOM and System Center? I hope these will point you in the right direction.

Here is one page from Microsoft with some resources:
http://www.microsoft.com/systemcenter/en/us/how-to-buy.aspx

Malcolm Bullock on System Center licensing:
http://www.microsoft.com/systemcenter/en/us/how-to-buy.aspx

Graham Davies using the back of a napkin for the SCOM licenses:
http://systemcentersolutions.wordpress.com/category/licensing/

Posts from Ian Blyth:
http://ianblythmanagement.wordpress.com/2007/04/04/scom-2007-licensing-and-prices/
http://ianblythmanagement.wordpress.com/2008/05/08/standard-v-enterprise-oml-and-virtual-machines/




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SCOM Trick 34 – Move SCOM databases

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At some point you might run into the need to move one of the databases related to SCOM to another server. In case you do you can start your migration plan with reading some of these posts.

Let’s start with the TechNet pages related to the subject:
How to move the operations manager database:
http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc540384.aspx

How to move the operationsmanagerdw database:
http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc540368.aspx

How to move the operationsmanagerac database:
http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc540397.aspx

How to move the report server:
http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc540369.aspx

Now for some posts from our favorite Microsoft PFE’s (although Kevin is now a TSP):
http://blogs.technet.com/b/kevinholman/archive/2010/08/26/moving-the-operations-database-my-experience.aspx
http://blogs.technet.com/b/kevinholman/archive/2010/08/25/moving-the-data-warehouse-database-and-reporting-server-to-new-hardware-my-experience.aspx
http://blogs.technet.com/b/jonathanalmquist/archive/2011/01/21/my-plan-to-move-the-report-server-to-a-new-computer.aspx




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SCOM Trick 33 – Service Level Dashboard

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One of the solution accelerators Microsoft released is the Service Level Dashboard. What it does is create a dashboard on top of Windows SharePoint Services which shows service level objectives you have set.

There are a few very good resources out there and I will link them here.

The TechNet page:
http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/dd630553.aspx

Posts by Jonathan Almquist:
http://blogs.technet.com/b/jonathanalmquist/archive/2010/04/10/service-level-dashboard-2-0-installation-considerations-and-guidance-part-1.aspx

A post by Marnix Wolf:
http://thoughtsonopsmgr.blogspot.com/2009/05/scom-r2-service-level-dashboard-mp.html




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SCOM Trick 32 – Monitor Oracle

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After monitoring operating systems there might also be a wish to monitor Oracle. Of course Oracle has a bit more to offer than a database server. I will list a few links and products here that monitor the database and some that monitor other components.

First of all I want to mention the first Oracle that I was asked to monitor. It turned out to be Oracle Linux operating system. We found that this OS actually made itself known as RedHat Linux and that the SCOM discovery wizard also saw it that way. So we can pick it up as a Linux server with cross plat monitoring.

Next here are a few links to monitoring solutions for Oracle:

NiCE has a great management pack for monitoring Oracle NiCE website. They have been building on this pack continually. Feel free to request information or a trial.

Bridgeways has a management pack for Oracle Database:
http://www.bridgeways.ca/products.php
There is also a beta version for Weblogic there. However it has been in beta for some time now, not sure when they are going to release it.

ComTrade has an Oracle Siebel management pack:
http://www.managementproducts.comtrade.com/management_pack/siebel/Pages/default.aspx

Quest has a management pack for Oracle Database:
http://www.management-extensions.org/entry.jspa?externalID=100044&categoryID=237
And a connector to link Oracle Enterprise Manager to SCOM
http://www.quest.com/quest-management-connector/

Monitor an Oracle database with a SCOM OleDB watcher
http://www.maartendamen.com/2010/09/monitor-an-oracle-database-with-a-scom-oledb-watcher/

Kristopher Bash has also been working on a management pack:
http://operatingquadrant.com/2010/05/09/finishing-the-oracle-scx-management-pack-for-opsmgr-cross-platform-agents/




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