SCOM Review

Feature rich, scalable and user-friendly, but open-source products are free and do the same thing

What is our primary use case?

We are using SCOM for service monitoring integrated with some third-party dashboard. It is our end-to-end service monitoring solution.  

What is most valuable?

The feature I like most about SCOM is that it is easy-to-use. I find it very user-friendly. I also like the knowledge base which it has. You can find the resolution to questions or issues directly within the SCOM itself. It will alert you with a recommendation of what you need to do at the same time. This sort of self-diagnosis or prompting is one of the great values you get from SCOM compared to other solutions.  

What needs improvement?

The dashboard is one place where the product can be improved. We finally needed to get a customized dashboard from the NOC (Network Operation Center) team. The dashboard that was included with the product just did not do what we wanted it to do.  

I am not sure, exactly, what should be included with future releases. There are already a lot of features there in the product. The main thing I can suggest is that Microsoft also provides management packs for monitoring third-party products with the product. If that were included with SCOM, that would make the product even greater. For example, to monitor an Oracle database, you need to look around to get a management pack separately. It could just be included instead.  

You can monitor any non-Microsoft product with Microsoft SCOM if you have the management pack for that product. You need to purchase that management pack. You can get them sometimes from Microsoft and other times from the third-party vendor.  

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been using System Center Operations Manager (SCOM) from Microsoft for almost five years.  

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

From the time we did the configuration, the product has been stable. It may be different in other cases. It really depends on the design you implement. If you want to add functionality, you can add it. It depends on the business. If you want Apache or you want a singular-server implementation you configure it as you need to. If it is configured correctly it should remain stable.  

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

SCOM is scalable. We do not have an issue with the number of users or with the number of machines and the devices we are monitoring. It does not have any issues in that respect.  

We support the product with a system admin team which is the only group that deals with SCOM directly for maintenance issues. Right now, the team is only five people. Even there, these five people do not use the product on a daily basis. The configuration is something that you do one time if you do it correctly. There is monitoring, which is done by the NOC team and that is ongoing. 

In case some maintenance is required like a change in business requirements or addition of services, then the SCOM team will do it. This does not happen all the time. But monitoring is done by another team separate from the maintenance.  

How are customer service and technical support?

We have not had to use the Microsoft support since maybe four or five years ago. It was during the time we were doing the implementation. We had a few calls with them — maybe two or three calls — for some configuration-related questions. That was all. It was handled efficiently and we got the answers we needed. But we have not had to use the support team since.  

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

I have had the opportunity to use other products in this category. Not at the current organization, but in other organizations before this. One was WhatsUp Gold. If I were to compare these two solutions, SCOM has more advantages and is really the better product.  

How was the initial setup?

It is actually pretty simple to do the setup. I think it really can be implemented on the same day that you get it. You can do the complete installation and configuration in one day.  

But adding services, that takes time. It depends on the business and your scope, what you need to add, what you need to configure when it is added. I consider that as a separate part because it is not the fault of the product that you have additional requirements. The additions made for service monitoring depends on the customer, the requirements that they have, and what they need to add.  

What about the implementation team?

The installation was done by our company with an in-house team. We did not need help from the vendor or an integrator except for some basic questions.  

We do maintenance as required also in-house and we handle the upgrades from one version to another version. All those maintenance details are managed by the system admin team.  

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

If you compare the pricing of SCOM to some solutions now available — like ManageEngine — I think it is a bit more expensive. But at that price, you get more in Microsoft System Center. SCOM is a bundled product, it is not only SCOM. You get a complete suite of Microsoft System Center products. There are five products in the bundle. There are no additional costs for SCOM itself and everything is included in the license. The only additional costs that you may have is in getting management packs.  

On the other hand, open-source solutions are available that are mature or maturing and they are very good. They may pose a better solution because they are free.  

What other advice do I have?

My advice to people who are looking for a solution like SCOM would actually be to advise them to move from licensed software to open-source. You can go to Nagios or most other open-source products and they do the same thing as SCOM. There is no need to pay additional money to get the same services.  

On a scale from one to ten where one is the worst and ten is the best, I would rate SCOM as a seven-out-of-ten. It is a good product, but so are the free open-source products it competes with.  

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

**Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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