Operations Manager, a component of Microsoft System Center 2012, is software that helps you monitor services, devices, and operations for many computers from a single console. I'll try to explain basic concepts about Operations Manager for the administrator who manages the Operations Manager infrastructure and the operator who monitors and supports the computers in your business.

 

Note - For those who have had no prior experience, please read full blog, for those who have had worked on earlier version, feel free to jump to section of "What's new with SCOM 2012"

What Operations Manager Does

Businesses, small and large, are typically dependent on the services and applications provided by their computing environment. IT departments are responsible for ensuring the performance and availability of those critical services and applications. That means that IT departments need to know when there is a problem, identify where the problem is, and figure out what is causing the problem, ideally before the users of the applications encounter the problems. The more computers and devices in the business, the more challenging this task becomes.

Using Operations Manager in the environment makes it easier to monitor multiple computers, devices, services, and applications. The Operations console, shown in the following image, enables you to check the health, performance, and availability for all monitored objects in the environment and helps you identify and resolve problems.

 

Operations Manager will tell you which monitored objects are not healthy, send alerts when problems are identified, and provide information to help you identify the cause of a problem and possible solutions. As the administrator, you configure what will be monitored by selecting computers and devices to be monitored and importing management packs that provide monitoring for specific features and applications. To decide which objects to monitor and what to monitor for, you need to understand the features that comprise the Operations Manager infrastructure and how Operations Manager works.

The Operations Manager Infrastructure

Installing Operations Manager creates a management group. The management group is the basic unit of functionality. At a minimum, a management group consists of a management server, the operational database, and the reporting data warehouse database.

  • The management server is the focal point for administering the management group and communicating with the database. When you open the Operations console and connect to a management group, you connect to a management server for that management group. Depending on the size of your computing environment, a management group can contain a single management server or multiple management servers.
  • The operational database is a SQL Server database that contains all configuration data for the management group and stores all monitoring data that is collected and processed for the management group. The operational database retains short-term data, by default 7 days.
  • The data warehouse database is a SQL Server database that stores monitoring and alerting data for historical purposes. Data that is written to the Operations Manager database is also written to the data warehouse database, so reports always contain current data. The data warehouse database retains long-term data.

 

Management Servers

The role of the management server is to administer the management group configuration, administer and communicate with agents, and communicate with the databases in the management group.

The management group can contain multiple management servers to provide additional capacity and continuous availability. When two or more management servers are added to a management group, the management servers become part of a resource pool and work is spread across the members of the pool. When a member of the resource pool fails, other members in the resource pool will pick up that member’s workload. When a new management server is added, the new management server automatically picks up some of the work from existing members in the resource pool. All members in the resource pool will manage a distinct set of remote objects; at any given time, two members in the same pool will not manage the same object at the same time.

A specialized type of management server is the gateway server. A gateway server enables the monitoring of computers in untrusted domains. For more information, see Monitoring Across Untrusted Boundaries.

Agents

An Operations Manager agent is a service that is installed on a computer. The agent collects data, compares sampled data to predefined values, creates alerts, and runs responses. A management server receives and distributes configurations to agents on monitored computers.

Every agent reports to a management server in the management group. This management server is referred to as the agent's primary management server.

Agents watch data sources on the monitored computer and collect information according to the configuration that is sent to it from its management server. The agent also calculates the health state of the monitored computer and objects on the monitored computer and reports back to the management server. When the health state of a monitored object changes or other criteria are met, an alert can be generated from the agent. This lets operators know that something requires attention. By providing health data about the monitored object to the management server, the agent provides an up-to-date picture of the health of the device and all the applications that it hosts.

Services

On a monitored computer, the Operations Manager agent is listed as the System Center Management Health service. The System Center Management Health service collects performance data, executes tasks, and so on. Even when the service is unable to communicate with the management server it reports to, the service continues to run and queues the collected data and events on the disk of the monitored computer. When the connection is restored, the System Center Management Health service sends collected data and events to the management server. 

Management Packs

The workflows that the System Center Management service runs are defined by management packs. Management packs define the information that the agent collects and returns to the management server for a specific application or technology. For example, the BizTalk Server Management Pack contains rules and monitors that collect and evaluate events and operations that are important to ensuring the health and efficiency of the BizTalk Server application.

After Operations Manager installs an agent on a computer, it sends an initial configuration to the agent. The initial configuration includes object discoveries from management packs. The management pack defines the types of objects, such as applications and features, that will be monitored on computers that have been discovered by Operations Manager. Agents send data to the management server that identifies the instances of objects discovered on the computer. The management server then sends the agents the elements of management packs that apply to the discovered objects for each computer, such as rules and monitors.

A rule defines the events and performance data to collect from computers and what to do with the information after it is collected. A simple way to think about rules is as an If/Then statement. For example, a management pack for an application might contain rules such as the following: 

  • If a message indicating that the application is shutting down appears in the event log, create an alert.
  • If upload of a source file fails, collect the event that indicates this failure.

As these examples show, rules can create alerts and collect events or performance data, which the agent sends to the management server. Rules can also run scripts, such as allowing a rule to attempt to restart a failed application.

Discovered objects have a health state, which is reflected in the Operations console as green (successful or healthy), yellow (warning), or red (critical or unhealthy). Monitors define the health states for particular aspects of the monitored object. For example, a monitor for disk drive capacity might define green as less than 85 percent full, yellow as over 85 percent full, and red as over 90 percent full. A monitor can be configured to generate an alert when a state change occurs.

More Resources -

 

 

What's new with SCOM 2012

 

Setup

Operations Manager has a new Setup wizard. For important instructions about how to install Operations Manager, see the Deployment Guide for System Center 2012 – Operations Manager.

Upgrading to System Center 2012 – Operations Manager

Operations Manager provides an upgrade wizard to help you upgrade your System Center Operations Manager 2007 R2 environment to System Center 2012 – Operations Manager Release Candidate. For more information, see Upgrading to System Center 2012 – Operations Manager.

New process flow diagrams help you determine your upgrade path from System Center Operations Manager 2007 R2 to System Center 2012 – Operations Manager Release Candidate and map your upgrade process. To open and view content for any step in the process, just click a process box.

Upgrade process flow diagram

Upgrade Process Flow Diagram

The following table lists the process flow diagrams and descriptions of when each upgrade path should be used.

 

ConditionProcess flow diagram

When you have a single-server or distributed management group that already meets the minimum supported configuration requirements for System Center 2012 – Operations Manager.

Single-Server and Distributed Upgrade (Simple) Process Flow Diagram

When your single-server management group does not yet meet the minimum supported configuration requirements for System Center 2012 – Operations Manager, and requires new hardware.

Single-Server Upgrade (Complex) Process Flow Diagram

When your distributed management group has one or more servers that do not meet the minimum supported configuration requirements for System Center 2012 – Operations Manager, and might require new hardware.

Distributed Upgrade (Complex) Process Flow Diagram

 

New Monitoring Capabilities

 

Network Monitoring

Operations Manager provides the ability to discover and monitor network routers and switches, including the network interfaces and ports on those devices and the virtual LAN (VLAN) that they participate in. You can also delete discovered network devices and prevent the deleted network devices from being rediscovered the next time discovery runs. For more information, see Monitor Network Devices.

Application Monitoring

In Operations Manager, you can monitor Internet Information Services (IIS)-hosted .NET applications from server- and client-side perspectives to get details about application performance and reliability that can help you pinpoint root causes of incidents. When you specify settings, the types of events to collect, the performance goals to measure, and servers to monitor, .NET Application Performance Monitoring reveals how web-based applications are running. You can see how frequently a problem is occurring, how a server was performing when a problem occurred, and the chain of events related to the slow request or method that is raising exceptions. This information is required to partner with software developers and database administrators to help ensure that applications perform correctly and reliably for your customers. For more information, see Authoring the .NET Application Performance Monitoring Template and Monitoring .NET Applications.

Location of .NET Application Performance Monitoring

.NET Application Performance Monitoring

 

Performance and Scale

 

Resource Pools

A resource pool contains only management servers and provides the ability to distribute workloads across multiple management servers, such as availability, network device monitoring, distributed monitor health rollup, and group calculation. For more information, see How to Create a Resource Pool.

Removal of Root Management Server

In Operations Manager, all management servers are peers; there is no root management server. The workload is split among all management servers in a management group, which provides high availability without requiring a cluster.

 

Improved Experience

 

Web Console

Operations Manager introduces a new web console that is optimized for faster load times and provides you with access to the new IT pro dashboards.

Dashboard Views

Operations Manager includes new comprehensive dashboard views that combine multiple panels of information into a single view. In Operations Manager, you can add the new dashboard views to My Workspace and the Monitoring workspace.

Creating Dashboard Views

Dashboard views have been significantly upgraded in Operations Manager from their capabilities in System Center Operations Manager 2007 R2, including custom layouts and nested dashboard views.

Display Dashboard Views in SharePoint

The Operations Manager web part displays specified dashboard views and can be added to Microsoft SharePoint 2010 sites. For more information, see Add a Dashboard to a SharePoint Site.

System Center 2012 - Orchestrator Replaces Connector Functionality

Connectors have been discontinued for System Center 2012 – Operations Manager and their functionality is replaced by System Center 2012 - Orchestrator. Orchestrator provides the ability to create and run automated workflows, called runbooks, made of multiple activities that each performs a distinct function. The connector functionality of enabling System Center Operations Manager 2007 R2 to synchronize alerts with remote systems is achieved by creating runbooks, using activities that interact with  and one or more other products. Because runbooks can include sophisticated logic and activities from any number of Integration Packs, you can implement scenarios that cannot be easily achieved with connectors. Integration Packs will be delivered for each System Center component and provide additional activities specific to a particular component.

Operations Manager Module for Windows PowerShell

Operations Manager provides a Windows PowerShell 2.0 module containing a full set of new cmdlets. The cmdlets in this module are only compatible with Operations Manager. You can recognize the Operations Manager cmdlets by the "SC" preceding the noun. For additional information about the Operations Manager cmdlets, open the Operations Manager command shell and type Get-Help about_OpsMgr_WhatsNew. For information about how the Operations Manager 2007 cmdlets map to the Operations Manager cmdlets, type Get-Help about_OpsMgr_Cmdlet_Names.

To use the Operations Manager cmdlets, you must establish a connection to an Operations Manager management group. You can establish either a persistent connection in which you can run multiple cmdlets, or a temporary connection when running a single cmdlet. For more information about connections, open the Operations Manager Shell and type Get-Help about_OpsMgr_Connections.

UNIX- and Linux-Based Computers

In Operations Manager, you can perform privileged operations on UNIX-based and Linux-based computers using unprivileged Run As accounts by combining with “sudo” elevation on the target UNIX-based and Linux-based computers. This capability avoids the need for UNIX or Linux root passwords to be known on the management server, and keeps the privilege control entirely within the domain of the UNIX or Linux administrator. Operations Manager also includes new Windows PowerShell cmdlets for performing agent maintenance functions on UNIX-based and Linux-based computers, allowing for scripting and background operations.  In addition, the resource pool feature supports computers running UNIX and Linux.  If a management server fails, another management server in the resource pool can take over the monitoring, providing high availability. For more information, see Monitoring UNIX- and Linux-Based Computers

Operations Console

You will notice some subtle changes to the Operations console. The Actions pane is now the Tasks pane, and includes a new section called Navigation Tasks that makes it easy for you to open views for a selected object. The Tasks pane offers two tabs: one for actions and one for resources and Help links. The Navigation and Tasks panes can be minimized or expanded instantly by clicking the arrow in the title bar of the pane.

 

There are few updates with SP1 release, of course the biggest one is Windows Server 2012 support.

To use APM with Windows Server 2012, you must import the following management packs:

  • Microsoft.Windows.Server.Library version 6.0.6985.0 or newer
  • Microsoft.Windows.Server.2012.Discovery version 6.0.6985.0 or newer
  • Microsoft.Windows.InternetInformationServices.CommonLibrary version 7.0.8862.0 or newer
  • Microsoft.Windows.InternetInformationServices.2012 version 7.0.8862.0 or newer

 

For more details - http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/jj656650.aspx

I hope this blog would have given a perspective about what to expect from System Center Operations Manager & reasons to embrace for best Datacenter management !!