For those of you using System Center Operations Manager to monitor your environment, you’ll understand the concept of management packs, and the value they bring.  Fundamentally, OpsMgr wouldn’t be the product it is today, without the management pack framework.  These management packs contain the knowledge to monitor, to a granular level, workloads like Exchange, SQL, and SharePoint, but also non-Microsoft applications, from Partners like Citrix, F5, Brocade, Dell, HP, NetApp and more.  Without the packs, who would we rely on to configure the monitoring elements?  We couldn’t rely on the OpsMgr team, as they don’t have knowledge of every technology in the world that’s monitor-able!  We couldn’t rely on individual IT Admin’s within organisations, as this would be complex and time-consuming for the individual involved, and without a very deep knowledge of product-X, say, Exchange, how would you know where to start from a monitoring perspective!  Thankfully, the management pack framework, for the most part, takes the pain away when it comes to monitoring key applications and workloads.  Sure, some MP’s are better than others, but they’re all improving, and the ecosystem is growing.  You only have to look at the number of Partners who are producing PRO-enabled management packs to see the ever-growing ecosystem:

PRO Partners

These are just the Partners who are building PRO-MP’s, never mind the huge ecosystem creating regular MP’s too!  For me, that just shows that Partners get it.  They get the fact that management is a key focus in the future, so providing value-add to their customers, through integration with Microsoft technologies, helps to unify a customer’s infrastructure, and ease the management process for them.

One of our key MP Partners within the ecosystem is Bridgeways.  The reason I’m aware of Bridgeways, is because, among other things, they allow OpsMgr to monitor VMware environments.  This is a very useful add-on for an environment where VMware technologies have been deployed as the virtualisation layer of choice, but more knowledge about what’s inside the virtual workloads is now required.  That’s where OpsMgr comes in, but not being able to see everything in OpsMgr would be disappointing, hence Bridgeways provide the MP to hook OpsMgr in with VMware technologies.  You can see a demo of this, here.

Aside from the VMware MP, Bridgeways also provide a free MP for Hyper-V.  Now, you can download the Microsoft MP for Hyper-V here, however, this is very much a base MP, and effectively gives you the following:

Hyper-V Base Pack

Not very much there!  Fairly useful, but to be honest, the information is more about listing info, than monitoring performance.  That’s where Bridgeways have come in and extended the MP in multiple different directions, to give you:


That’s a lot more information, and you’ll note that a number of these sub-choices are Performance Views, and Dashboards, providing a much richer time-based view of certain metrics that are important to you.  This is very valuable indeed, and it’s also free!  You can get hold of the MP here!

You know what the crazy thing is?  Bridgeways have even linked to a blog, which walks you through taking the standard Hyper-V Base MP, and extending it to produce the MP that you can download!  For those of you who’ve never edited or modified an MP, and want to understand how it’s done, and the results it can produce, this is a very useful series of tutorials:

Part 1: Getting Started with writing a more robust Hyper-V MP
Part 2: Adding your own Monitors
Part 3: Adding Rules and Performance Views
Part 4: Adding Dashboards

Hat-tip to the chaps at the xplatxperts blog for all the information – very useful indeed!