SCOM Review

The flexibility which Operations Manager (SCOM) gives to monitor anything in any way is the main valuable feature to me.


Valuable Features

The flexibility which Operations Manager (SCOM) gives to monitor anything in any way is the main valuable feature to me. A big second would be the amount of management packs for Microsoft and other products which can be plugged in and give you a fast start to your monitoring.

Improvements to My Organization

In every case so far we managed to move from a slow reactive type of non-monitoring toward a proactive monitoring for different layers within the organization and real insights into their IT environment from different angles. Including helpdesk, system admins, IT management, company management, departmental staff and managers. Creating good dashboards makes the monitoring come more alive as well and move it over and above a long list of mixed alerts.

Room for Improvement

Areas for improvement in my opinion are the resource footprint of the SCOM infrastructure side, the web console (drop Silverlight please!) and a few of the management packs.

Use of Solution

I have been using MOM and SCOM since the year 2002.

Deployment Issues

During the years we did see deployment issues. Often related to people not reading the documentation and not installing the prerequisites correctly (for instance SQL). In some cases it was related to in-place upgrades between major versions, which we have been warning against for years in the community. And one of the previous versions had some bugs in the command-based setup version in not accepting one of the setup parameters correctly (which the setup wizard did do correctly).

Stability Issues

The stability of the product is fine as long as the scaling is done right according to the types and amounts of monitored objects. There are calculation models for it, but experience in designing SCOM implementations helps a lot with that.

Scalability Issues

We did encounter scalability issues when monitoring a large amount of network devices which turned out to have more monitored objects than expected (for instance a switch stack which is seen as one switch but turns out to have a few more ports and interfaces than a simple switch). In such cases a scale out or a second management group might provide what is needed.

Customer Service and Technical Support

Customer Service:

SCOM is part of the System Center Suite and part of the datacenter management solutions provided by Microsoft. The amount of customer service depends on the amount of licenses and software assurance for instance you aquire.

Technical Support:

Technical suport is given by Microsoft for their products through the usual channels. Next to that there are the Technet Forums where also a lot of community members answer questions. There are a lot of blogs run by community members and community leaders and MVP's which provide a lot of information.

Previous Solutions

Yes we used several products and also customers we are new to have existing solutions. Often a whole lot of them. The reason for switching is always to try to get as much as possible monitoring and dashboarding and reporting and alerting and therefore insights into as few products as possible. This is one of the reasons we standardize to SCOM.

Initial Setup

The initial setup is very simple if you follow the documentation, best practices setup guides and use the sizing calculation models. Install the prerequisites right the first time and the rest flows from there.

Implementation Team

We are a consultancy for the System Center products and I specialize in SCOM. I usually work with one or more people at a customer to get the basics done and installed and next work with the rest of the organization to make it friendly and accessible for all.

ROI

I think this depends on the organization and their wishes. In general a lot of organizations of a certain size already have the System Center licenses. The ROI comes from reacting more proactively to upcoming disruptions, current disruptions (and being able to inform users calling helpdesk) and being in control.

Pricing, Setup Cost and Licensing

SCOM comes as part of the System Center stack. So if you buy one product you will have them all. Some organizations already have the licenses needed. Some have special pricing (education organizations for instance).

Other Solutions Considered

Yes other products are in evaluation. There are several big monitoring products which have been around for years and years. And there are niche players for monitoring specific parts of the infrastructure. With those last you may get deeper insights into one aspect, but lose the ability to add it all together.

Other Advice

I do like this product a lot and have followed its advances since the MOM2000 version and continue to do so toward the 2016 version and beyond. One thing to notice lately is there are more possibilities when combined with Microsofts OMS solution in a hybrid scenario to get even more value out of both products.

Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: We are a consultancy working with Microsoft products for years. I myself was awarded Microsoft MVP status 5 years ago for my contributions to the community through answering questions in forums, blog posts, writing books, working on courses and exams, presenting and public speaking and running a user group to name a few.
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