Consolidated List of Useful Tools and Resources: System Center Operations Manager 2012

This post is going to be for my personal reference, as well as a place for the greenhorn Ops Mgr 2012 admin to find a compiled list of useful utilities and resource sites in your endeavor to 0wN Operations Manager…

NOTE TO READERS WHO RECENTLY UPGRADED FROM 2007 R2 to 2012:
I ran into an issue during the “discoveries” mentioned in my post that ended up being the issue described in Microsoft’s KB Article #2711375. This particular KB has to do with two tables in the databases that were not properly updated during the upgrade, and you must follow the instructions in the article to remediate it. I did it with no problem in less than 5 minutes. Otherwise you will be scratching your head for an hour wondering why your “objects performance” widgets aren’t letting you choose any metrics to view!

I’ve had some time to start actually diving into the nuts and bolts, and started look at how I can efficiently MANAGE the system. So far, I’ve got monitoring setup for Active Directory, Exchange 2010, 1 SQL Server, and 4 File Servers ((2) 2008 R2, (2) 2003). I’m also managing VMWare through Quest’s QMX Extensions and an IBM XIV Storage array with IBM’s Management Pack. What follows is the process of my discovery, and links are provided to the resources when they are referenced below:

For the new SCOM Administrator: Prepare thyself…

From the perspective of someone who has just – for the first time – has been introduced to Systems Center Operations Manager Administration (including MOM), yet is now the proud owner of the newly installed system, I tell you right now that you best be prepared to READ YOUR LITTLE HEART OUT. I have prior experience administering Systems Center Configuration Manager 2007 R2 – which was ALSO one of those “learn-as-you-go-but-you-are-also-the-expert” situations that we all find ourselves in at various points throughout our careers – so I had already prepared myself for the initial moment of shock opening the console and thinking “great, five billion icons that I do not understand yet”. I was mentally ready for the slow process of my tried-and-true christining ritual of understanding a new system with a full-bore “blogs-technet-blogs-KB-technet” google-fest for a week or so. I found that once I got hung up on a process or component that I was OCD’ing over (because I just HAD to understand), the overall DEPTH of those layers goes far much deeper than the SCCM UI and Components…and once again left me, more than once, wipe the drool from my chin after blacking out from an information overload.

Granted, when I am given responsibility for a system I always try to learn it inside and out – including all communication-related processes happening on layers 1 through 7 – so don’t worry, you can learn enough off the bat to keep the system up, just remember that anytime you feel the need to learn about how “process or component x” work with SCOM, be prepared for a good hour in order to properly become familiars.

I take this approach whenever possible because sooner or later any one of those tiny little pieces of information will pay me back dividends in the future, when having to troubleshoot Unique-Issue-Of-The-Month-X, and it’s Friday evening at 4:55 PM, you will want to have at least a clue of where to focus your troubleshooting. Even if it is recalled in the form of “Oh ya, that was mentioned in that KB Article”…

Importing a Dashboard into multiple Management Packs

Of course once I had a reasonable amount of data in my system (during which time I was doing the research as described above), I started playing around with dashboards. Dashboards are a feature of Operations Manager 2012 that allow you to see graphical charts of performance counters in a tiled layout. You can have dashboards for things such as CPU Utilization, Server Health Status, Disk Drive Space Left, etc. An example of a dashboard in Operations Manager 2012 is below:

OpsMgr 2012 Dashboards

In any case, once I started messing with the dashboards I started researching if there were easy ways to create dashboards you could create and re-use in different management packs. Just seemed like it would be a time saver if the issue ever came up. This is when I discovered the Free Windows Server 2008 Dashboards for OpsMgr 2012 and TOOL to help create your own Customized Dashboards from the System Center: Operations Manager Engineering Team Blog.

(Special Note: The SCOM Engineering Team Blog and the Exchange Teams Blog are now de-facto standard destinitations when I sit down first thing in the morning. A wealth of useful information and I know right away that if there’s a new strange and not-yet-fully documented issue that I will usually find it here first!!!)

To use this little gem you follow a process like so (high-level):

– Take an exported dashboard you have created
– Run it through the tool and specify the approprate parameters, like which management pack you want to import it to, etc..
– Re-Import the “new” dashboard and it will drop itself in the place you specified during step 2!
– BONUS 1: Comes with a pre-built Windows Server Summary Dashboard ready to go!
– BONUS 2: Comes with a pre-built Windows Server Summary Task Dashboard as well!!

Download it HERE

Maintenance Windows: Do I Really Have To Kick It Off MySelf?

The last thing that was kind of frustrating me was the fact that unless I had Orchestrator integrated into the environment, apparently it wasn’t too simple to create a maintenance window “schedule” so you could disable monitoring during “maintenance windows” and not have one MORE thing to do before you could get to the actual maintenance.

Lo and behold, I stumbled upon Tim McFadden’s awesome SCOM Remote Maintenance Mode Scheduler 2.0 It was originally released for SCOM 2007, but I have successfully tested server maintenance scheduling with 2012 and using the R2 (NOT the SP1) version of the tool. It comes with straightforward instructions, and although behind it is just a couple of powershell scripts…I HIGHLY recommend you install the tool first to become familiar with the parameters before trying to do anything with the scripts themselves. Better safe then sorry!

Once again, a link to download this useful tool is HERE

SCOM Developer Resources

For developers interested in using the Operations Manager SDK to create your own applications and utilities, I suggest you visit Micrososft’s Operations Manager 2012 SDK Website.

I’ve just started searching…and so far these are the best of the bunch…I will post as more discoveries are made…

’til next time …

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