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SCOM 2012 beta: Improved, but not revolutionary

Microsoft last week officially released the latest beta version of System Center Operations Manager, its health and performance monitoring product. System Center Operations Manager 2012 beta is now available for download. According to the accompanying Microsoft FAQ, SCOM 2012 offers

· A single, consistent view across datacenters and clouds with an option for customizable dashboard templates;

· AVIcode technology for monitoring .NET applications;

· Support for monitoring heterogeneous environments including Windows, Linux, and UNIX servers;

· Integrated network device monitoring and alerts;

· A simplified management structure with support for automatic failover.

Eager system administrators and bloggers are wasting little time testing these new features looking for the soft spots. One such tester expressed some disappointment that the latest release doesn’t feel significantly different from SCOM 2007. “I had expected an updated console and vastly improved notifications management, but as far as I can see, a lot of the code is the same,” said Trond Hindenes, a senior consultant at AVAN in Norway.This upgrade might not as be as ‘no-brainer’ as I had hoped.”

Still, Hindenes notes some positive updates to SCOM 2012, including the addition of deep monitoring of .NET-based Web applications thanks to Microsoft’s acquisition of AVIcode. In a recent post for GotchaHunter, Alex Shlega writes that while deployment of.NET monitoring is now easier, the limited server-side configuration options make “application deep-dive troubleshooting” a difficult proposal. In response, Daniele Muscetta of Microsoft tweeted that more options will be visible in the RC version.

Another significant change in SCOM 2012 is there is no longer a root management server like there was in Operations Manager 2007. Instead, all servers are peers. Hindenes suggests this will mean better scalability, enabling “easier high-availability configuration without configuring Windows clustering for the SCOM infrastructure.” Microsoft MVP Graham Davies offers more background on the change on the blog.

The management server change is one of several “little things that make [SCOM 2012] more scalable and reliable,” Davies noted in a recent phone interview. Still, while features like new dashboards, network device monitoring and the ability to monitor non-Windows environments are welcome, “they don’t make for a revolutionary release like the jump from MOM 2005 to SCOM 2007,” Davies said, warning that companies with legacy systems must be careful when planning for such a transition, as it is important to ensure that their existing environments meet the new supported configurations. For example, “there are over 80 new PowerShell cmdlets, so while existing scripts will work on SCOM 2012, enterprises might want to upgrade them to gain the new functionality. Additionally, there is no support for Windows 2000 agents and the integrated AVIcode (now APM) monitoring only supports web applications on IIS7.”

SCOM 2012 may look significantly different in its final form (RTM is estimated for the latter half of 2012), and we’ll plan to post updates as that release becomes more clear.

Let us know what you think about this story; email Ben Rubenstein at

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