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Microsoft SCOM is a behemoth of a product from Microsoft that provides cross-platform data center monitoring for operating systems, hypervisors, and applications. While SCOM is known for its broad, powerful capabilities, it has a notoriously clunky and cumbersome interface to retrieve information and data. SquaredUp SCOM Edition provides actionable dashboards and insights for Microsoft SCOM, making the SCOM experience more manageable and insightful.
SquaredUp SCOM Edition
You can think of SquaredUp as the "end all be all" dashboard solution. If you want to create rich, intuitive, and useful dashboard visualizations, SquaredUp provides an extremely robust solution. You can read my overview of SquaredUp Community Edition here.
SquaredUp SCOM edition is a paid edition with the underlying structure and understanding of SCOM included in the platform by default. The SCOM framework allows quickly pulling SCOM metrics using SquaredUp and presenting them as rich dashboards and tiles for much quicker visualization than can be achieved using SCOM alone. This visualization layer on top of SCOM is a use case that SquaredUp offers.
All the object models from SCOM are pulled directly into SquaredUp so that you can scope objects such as servers, disks, databases, IIS objects, and many others quickly and easily.
Microsoft SCOM provides a wealth of performance and other data, providing rich insights for troubleshooting, performance, availability, and other vital metrics. Below is an example of how SquaredUp can pull object data directly from the SCOM database. As you can see, when building new dashboards, you have access to servers and other objects pulled directly from SCOM.
When you have an object filtered and scoped, you can use the choose metric filter, which automatically pulls the object's metrics from the SCOM database. The tight integration with SCOM is made possible because SquaredUp sits on top of the SCOM management groups. Compared to SCOM, it makes retrieving data and building dashboard visualizations exponentially easier and quicker.
SquaredUp provides an easy way to drill down to specific performance metrics for an object and share those objects and performance data with others much more simply. It eliminates the need to show someone how to use SCOM and find the one KPI they are after. Instead, SquaredUp performs the heavy lifting, pulling the data directly from SCOM and presenting this in an easily shared dashboard.
You can also build your own views on any objects or alerts pulled from your SCOM environment. Then, you can choose which metrics to display alongside the alerting, making it much faster and easier to troubleshoot issues in the environment.
How SquaredUp accesses SCOM data
SquaredUp SCOM Edition sits on top of the SCOM management group. The Microsoft SCOM backend contains two databases—the operations manager DB and the data warehouse DB. The data warehouse database stores the long-term data, while the operations manager DB is for short-term seven-day retention.
SquaredUp SCOM Edition accesses the data through the SCOM SDK, which goes into the SCOM Ops DB. SquaredUp pulls health states, alerting, and object information from the Ops DB using the SDK. This capability allows SquaredUp to present the object information to the SquaredUp interface, searching for objects, alerts, and other information.
Building Proactive SCOM Agent Tasks in SquaredUp
When necessary, it can be helpful to run scripts and other tools for troubleshooting and investigation purposes. You can build these into SquaredUp and SCOM as agent tasks that run on the servers hosting the particular object you are viewing. You can then trigger the tasks directly in SquaredUp.
You can choose the SCOM task to create proactive agent tasks.
For example, an Ipconfig SCOM task displays the output directly in SquaredUp for a SCOM server object.
The agent tasks help shorten troubleshooting sessions to identify root causes. Instead of jumping between different server consoles, the agent tasks can query and display data directly in SquaredUp.
SCOM monitoring workspace in SquaredUp
Anything you can do in SCOM from the monitoring workspace is available in SquaredUp. For example, you can work with the alerts from SCOM in SquaredUp. Alerts come into SquaredUp with a status of "new". You can update the resolution state with custom values. In addition, you can trigger workflows to send out email notifications or raise tickets in an ITSM tool. All of these can be managed from the SquaredUp console.
Quickly view historical data from SCOM
A nice feature of SquaredUp is its performance when viewing historical SCOM data. The data points return much more quickly when viewed in the SquaredUp console compared to SCOM directly. Also, SCOM only provides seven days' worth of data in the console without creating a specific report. With SquaredUp, no specialized reporting is needed. Instead, it queries the data warehouse directly, using efficient queries and returning data very quickly, even with thousands of data points.
Visually map enterprise applications with SquaredUp SCOM
Distributed applications in SCOM allow you to create different tiers for different objects and tie them together in the form of an application. The DA designer in SCOM is not intuitive and is extremely slow. It also requires a depth of SCOM knowledge to create minute relationships to display health information for various objects related to the overall enterprise application. You also have to develop overrides to make it work the way it should in SCOM.
SquaredUp has what they call an Enterprise Application designer. It provides a much easier way to map aspects of your application. Part of the EA designer is the Visual Application Discovery and Analysis (VADA) tool. It uses SCOM agents to communicate with each other and tell SquaredUp what services are used in the application, and enables mapping other dependencies.
What SCOM cannot do is tell you connectivity between nodes. However, SquaredUp VADA triggers an agent task that runs netstat between the nodes, providing inbound and outbound traffic associated with services and processes running on the box. It gives you the associated IPs and ports, DNS lookups, and searches SCOM objects to understand whether it connects to related SCOM objects. This then helps build out the topology of the application.
There is an additional benefit to the visibility provided by SquaredUp on services, ports, IPs, connections, and other information. Without detailed discussions with application developers, it takes a tremendous burden off IT and reduces the legwork required to understand the architecture and topology of the applications themselves. SquaredUp automatically discovers the components.
Once the application dependencies are mapped, the result is a detailed visual representation of the enterprise application, showing health states, connections, services, performance data, and other information affecting application performance and availability.
Impressions of SquaredUp SCOM Edition
It can be challenging and cumbersome to use Microsoft SCOM to retrieve visual representations of rich datasets containing performance and operations data gathered in SCOM. SquaredUp provides a great way to add the ease of consuming SCOM data and creating visual dashboards and tiles to use SCOM data for troubleshooting, performance analysis, availability reporting, and visualizing application requirements and dependencies.
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