Microsoft System Center Operations Manager (Microsoft SCOM)

Contributor(s): Stephen J. Bigelow

Microsoft System Center Operations Manager (SCOM) is a component of Microsoft's greater System Center suite of enterprise management software. SCOM software allows system and application administrators to monitor the operations, services, devices and applications of many computers within the enterprise through a single management console.

Every enterprise relies on its underlying services and applications for everyday business and user productivity. SCOM basically provides a monitoring and reporting tool that can watch various objects defined within the environment such as server hardware, system services, operating systems, hypervisors or applications. Objects are setup and configured as desired for the particular environment. SCOM then checks the relative health (performance and availability) of each object, alerts administrators to potential problems and offers possible root causes or corrective action that can speed troubleshooting.

Objects use basic "traffic light" color coding to indicate health states, where green is healthy, yellow is a warning, and red suggests a critical issue. Health states can be configured for each object. For example, a disk drive can be configured to report "healthy" with over 70% capacity remaining, "warning" with 70 to 80% capacity filled and "critical" with over 80% of storage capacity filled; reporting levels can be set as-desired or changed when needed.

Basic SCOM installation includes three components. A management server handles the essential administration and connects to databases. The operational database provides an SQL database for current reporting. And a data warehouse database holds SQL data collected over long-term reporting. A reporting server is also added which queries the databases and produces detailed reports which are delivered to administrators. Components can be installed on the same physical server, though larger IT infrastructures will deploy the components on separate systems for better scalability.

SCOM also relies on agents installed on each system (shown as a "System Center Management Health service") to watch system performance and collect data which is reported back to the management server. Agents are augmented by application-specific management packs which provide pre-fabricated rules for data collection and reporting specific to particular applications. For example, Veeam Management Pack for System Center provides monitoring, planning and reporting for businesses using Veeam Backup and Replication. As another example, a System Center 2012 Management Pack is also available for Java Application Performance Monitoring.

SCOM 2012 R2 includes support for fabric monitoring allowing better monitoring of virtual layers for private cloud environments, along with better integration for DevOps environments – two vital enhancements for cloud deployments. Additional changes include an improved monitoring agent and support for IPv6, integration with Microsoft's online System Center Advisor service, and improved UNIX and Linux monitoring. As with most enterprise management and monitoring tools, it is best to test and refine the deployment in a lab setting before rolling updates into production. This allows for administrators to acquaint themselves with new features and make any changes to object configurations before going live with new SCOM versions.

This was last updated in January 2015

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