Managing Microsoft & The Death of SCOM?

Microsoft SCOM

Back in March, Microsoft announced that it was time to say goodbye to their internal instance of System Center Operations Manager (SCOM) in favor of Azure Monitor. While SCOM is still available for clients, Microsoft has identified that using a native Azure service like Azure Monitor will be considerably more agile and future-proof for their primarily Cloud landscape.

Dana Baster, a Senior Service Engineer at Microsoft, got the nod to lead the transition from SCOM to Azure Monitor. “We had to simplify to move forward,” Baxter says. “We needed to clearly define that we are moving alerts from here to there, don’t get too creative, let’s get off the SCOM infrastructure and then figure out what we want to do next.”

“In the end, we went from over 100 alerts in SCOM to 15 in Azure Monitoring,” Baxter says.

 

What is SCOM?

Microsoft System Operations Manager (SCOM) is an IT reporting and monitoring solution that provides a single management console to analyze application performance and track on-premises landscapes. SCOM is a cross-platform solution that specializes in gathering organization data to display in a health model with a top-level status of all assets on-premises.

SCOM’s health model analyzes the health and performance of applications hosted on-premises using monitors with configurable thresholds to identify the overall state. The three types of monitors are:

     • Unit Monitors

     • Aggregate Monitors

     • Dependency Monitors

SCOM also leverages rules for each health model to collect data on application health and performance. Typically, rules provide three functions for an application:

     • Information Collection

     • Alerts

     • Commands

Agents must be installed in the environment in order for the SCOM console to collect and process health and performance data.

 

What is Azure Monitor?

Azure Monitor is an end-to-end, cloud-based monitoring tool that collects utilization and performance data from both cloud and on-premise resources. Azure Monitor then analyzes the data in order to attempt to proactively prevent potential future issues.

Azure Monitor offers a complete view of all environments and pushes regular alerts and status updates to provide a nearly real-time view of the health and performance of all resources. Automated actions can also be configured based on processes like alerts and rules.

Azure Monitor collect data from a variety of sources, including:

     • Application Monitoring Data

     • Guest Operating System Monitoring Data

     • Azure Resource Monitoring Data

     • Azure Subscription Monitoring Data

     • Azure Tenant Monitoring Data

Azure Monitor then organizes all of this collected data for monitoring into two types:

     • Metrics

     • Logs

Azure Monitor attempts to go beyond just handling data collection for a passive review. Offering a number of capabilities that provide the ability to proactively handle issues before they result in bigger, more cost-effective failures.

     • Alerts

     • Autoscale

     • Dashboard

     • Power BI

     • Service Health

     • Third-party Integration

 

Recap

In short, SCOM is more of an ideal solution for environments that are primarily on-premises. While Azure Monitor is a better solution for monitoring and reporting on Cloud environments. Microsoft currently offers SCOM management packs to monitor Azure Cloud resources and Azure Log Analytics, which provides a very baseline Cloud monitoring solution for hybrid environments.

Azure Monitor excels in the Cloud due to its automation capabilities that provide more efficiency with alerts, notifications, and tracking.

The bottom line, Azure Monitor is positioned as the natural successor to SCOM for all organizations moving resources over to the Azure Cloud.

Monitoring Alternatives

So, the real question is, are there any alternatives to these two Microsoft offers for either on-premises, cloud or hybrid environments?

The answer isn’t as straight-forward as the question. It really depends on all of the components that make up your environment. If you have an environment that heavily relies and runs on Azure components, Azure Monitor would likely be the ideal solution for your organization. Whereas, if your environment is completely on-premises and you seeking an inexpensive and baseline monitoring solution, SCOM would be the most economical solution. However, most organizations are leveraging hybrid environments and/or are anticipating a full or partial migration to the cloud in the next five years. In situations like this, it’s critical to find a monitoring solution with the flexibility to cater to your specific needs, now and as they change, while your organization evolves.

Azure Monitor and SCOM offer specific solutions for specific problems. While they are each very good at what they were designed to do. However additional solutions can be required to effectively manage the entire IT landscape. It can quickly become over-whelming having to constantly navigate between a plethora of software tools. Many organizations are instead, deploying solutions that escape the silo but still are comprehensive enough to not require additional tools. All-in-one IT management tools typically offer solutions for three critical facets of your business: Monitoring, Administration and Reporting.

VitalSigns: Monitoring, Administration & Reporting

PowerScripts and PowerShellMonitoring:

VitalSigns is one of the most comprehensive resource and performance monitoring solutions for hybrid IT landscapes. VitalSigns monitors all Microsoft and HCL collaborative technologies for both On-Premise and Cloud environments. Alerts and notifications based on monitoring data can be configured at any time in the VitalSigns Configurator.

  • On-Premise: VitalSigns monitors specific counters, events, scripts, and services, then sums up the findings in a color-coded, easy to analyze dashboard. Using VitalSigns, administrators can quickly identify performance baselines, allowing them to proactively mitigate potential issues before failures occur. Beyond baselines, an administrator can easily configure thresholds, that when breached, will perform an action, whether it be to send an alert or automatically execute a PowerShell command. Various types of thresholds may be configured including; simple, average, consecutive samples, or delta.
  • Cloud: VitalSigns provides various metrics and activity logs for both Azure and Office 365. Within Azure, VitalSigns provides end-to-end monitoring of Applications, Operating Systems, Resources, and Tenants. This information is then processed and displayed in graphical dashboards and reports. VitalSigns also monitors the performance, health, and availability of Office 365, including Teams, SharePoint, Exchange, Skype for Business and OneDrive. VitalSigns also identifies Office 365 licenses that are eligible for reassignment due to under-utilization, allowing you to realize cost savings that could potentially pay for your monitoring!

Administration:

VitalSigns features an administrative force multiplier known as PowerScripts. PowerScripts. PowerScripts is a secure software container that allows for the controlled execution of Microsoft PowerShell commands. This allows administrators to securely delegate the ability to execute PowerShell commands to service desk personnel or end-users. PowerScripts empower front-line employees to be more efficient and independent while accomplishing tasks. PowerScripts also enables administrators to offload a considerable amount of tedious, but important, tasks, allowing them to focus on the critical issues. Access to PowerScripts can be easily controlled and managed using encrypted credentials and roles with descending rights. The audit log records each time a user attempts to or successfully runs a script to keep administrators aware of all activities within PowerScripts.

Reporting:

VitalSigns generates eye-pleasing visualizations to summarize all monitoring data in a way that allows various audiences to easily comprehend. VitalSigns provides an Executive Dashboard for quick, high-level analysis, as well as dedicated health pages that drill down on individual components of the environment. Custom reports can also be configured to meet individual organization needs that are beyond what reports VitalSigns automatically generates.

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