Category Archives: Microsoft SCOM Management Pack

How Can I Use Microsoft SCOM for End-to-End Performance Monitoring

Microsoft System Center Operations Manager (SCOM) deployments have been on the rise in recent years mainly due to its tight integration with other Microsoft servers and applications in the enterprise. While SCOM has native support to monitor Microsoft infrastructures, there is no out-of-the-box support for non-Microsoft technologies, such as VMware, Oracle, Citrix, SAP, and so on. Therefore, IT administrators are forced to take up a multi-tool approach and rely on third-party tools, which leads to monitoring tool sprawl incurring increased costs and maintenance efforts.

In this blog, we will look at the challenges involved in using multiple management packs with SCOM and explain how to make SCOM an end-to-end performance monitoring solution spanning Microsoft and non-Microsoft technologies.

The Multi-Management Pack Monitoring Challenge with Microsoft SCOM

Organizations using SCOM typically rely on management packs developed by third-party vendors and integrate them into SCOM to extend SCOM’s monitoring capability beyond Microsoft workloads. While this is a widely practiced approach and there are many management packs out there in the market, the biggest challenge comes in when there is a heterogeneous environment to monitor – say, for example, you have an environment with Java web-based applications, VMware vSphere hypervisor, EMC SAN arrays, F5 load balancer, Oracle backend databases, and Citrix VDI.

  • For each of these infrastructure tiers, Microsoft SCOM administrators would need to buy individual management packs from third-party vendors, deploy and manage them separately.
  • These management packs would be used to monitor the non-Microsoft components, gather performance metrics, and send them over to SCOM.

Ideally, SCOM administrators want to make SCOM a one-stop shop solution delivering centralized visibility of their entire environment. But despite the many management packs used, SCOM architecture does not allow for unified end-to-end monitoring. Every management pack would be managed as a separate folder in the SCOM console with little or no correlated visibility with one another or with the Microsoft tiers monitored by SCOM.

In a recent webinar, we asked our attendees about their biggest challenges when using SCOM for performance monitoring of their IT infrastructure, and the answers point to the need to use SCOM and SCOM management packs more effectively:

Biggest Challenges with Microsoft SCOM for End-to-End Performance Monitoring Source: Poll results from eG Innovations webinar
59% cite lack of visibility into non-Microsoft systems as their toughest challenge. Although Microsoft SCOM has built-in management packs for Microsoft applications (Active Directory, SQL server, Microsoft Exchange, IIS, etc.) and Windows servers, it has limited support for non-Microsoft servers and applications (e.g., Citrix XenApp and XenDesktop, VMware vSphere, SAP, Nutanix, etc.).
52% feel it is cumbersome to use SCOM with multiple management packs. The need for multiple management packs stems from the lack of support for non-Microsoft applications and platforms in SCOM. To monitor every tier of the IT infrastructure, users often need to purchase multiple management packs from different vendors – one for each non-Microsoft tier – and there is no integration between them.

Addressing the Multi-Management Pack Challenge with Microsoft SCOM

eG Enterprise is an end-to-end IT performance monitoring solution which offers a Universal Management Pack for SCOM augmenting Microsoft SCOM’s capabilities. Packed with performance insight from over 180+ applications, 10+ operating systems, 10+ virtualization platforms, and 20+ storage devices, the Universal Management Pack enables SCOM administrators to use SCOM as a one-stop shop monitoring solution for all their end-to-end monitoring needs. View supported technologies »

Instead of a multiple management pack approach, SCOM administrators should consider a universal management pack strategy, wherein they just use one management pack that has the capability to monitor all non-Microsoft tiers in their infrastructure. Combining the power of many management packs into one unified solution, SCOM administrators get access to health, availability and performance data from heterogeneous infrastructures and multi-vendor devices inside the SCOM console.

How a Universal Management Pack Strategy Can Make Microsoft SCOM an End-to-End Performance Monitoring Solution

One monitor to know it all: Universal management pack is a single, unified monitoring technology. So, there is no need to purchase, deploy and manage additional management packs from third-party vendors. eG Enterprise’s native API integrations transforms SCOM from a Microsoft system data collection console into an integrated end-to-end performance diagnosis engine.

One monitor to visualize the entire IT topology: It incorporates a unique infrastructure-wide unified management topology map that presents a correlated visualization of your heterogeneous environment on a single screen. With individual management packs, this is not possible. Problems can easily be identified from the topology and the SCOM administrator can zoom into the SCOM Health Explorer for further analysis.

One monitor for centralized alerting and correlated visibility: It adds performance alerts to SCOM that not only indicate where problems exist but also automatically prioritizes alerts in the SCOM console, so you can see exactly how a bottleneck in one tier is impacting other tiers or the end-user experience.

One monitor to optimize and right-size the infrastructure: It provides SCOM administrators many preset and custom reports from every part of their infrastructure, across all silos. Understanding all factors that impact performance leads to smart growth and maximum IT value.

One monitor for deep-dive diagnostics: Easily drill down from SCOM into the eG Enterprise web console for deep-dive diagnostics about performance of a problematic application, server, or device. SCOM administrators can also publish customized monitoring dashboards in eG Enterprise as part of the SCOM console.

Learn how to make #Microsoft #SCOM a truly end-to-end performance monitoring solution for both Microsoft and non-Microsoft infrastructures.
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With a multi-management pack strategy, gaining these capabilities would require a new siloed management pack for each new service/component and extensive manual intervention to perform event correlation and issue diagnosis. The eG Universal Management Pack transforms SCOM into a unified, end-to-end solution for understanding and managing all performance-impacting factors across your entire infrastructure, saving you time and allowing you to proactively solve issues before they affect your end users.

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Using Microsoft SCOM to Monitor Citrix XenApp and XenDesktop: What Are Your Choices?

Not surprisingly, many organizations that use Citrix technologies for remote desktop and application access are Microsoft Windows shops. Many of these organizations already have a deployment of Microsoft System Center Operations Manager (SCOM) for infrastructure monitoring.

While SCOM is a great tool for monitoring Microsoft applications, there is no native support for monitoring Citrix XenApp and XenDesktop. For organizations that need to monitor their Citrix XenApp and XenDesktop using Microsoft SCOM, there are only two management pack options available in the market. In this blog, we will compare the capabilities of both of these options.

Option 1: The Citrix SCOM Management Pack for XenApp and XenDesktop

This is a native management pack available to Citrix Platinum customers. Formerly owned by Comtrade, Citrix acquired this management pack in January 2016.

Key Capabilities:
  • Monitors all Citrix tiers such as XenApp, XenDesktop, XenServer, StoreFront, NetScaler, Provisioning Servers, License servers, etc.
  • Auto-discovers all Citrix components in your Citrix farm and adds them to SCOM
  • Organizes Citrix components in SCOM’s native folder-based topology structure
  • Displays performance alerts for Citrix components within the SCOM console
  • Offers performance reports for historical trends and analytics
Limitations:
  • The Citrix SCOM Management Pack is available at no cost to Citrix Platinum customers with active Subscription Advantage or Software Maintenance. However, if you are run Enterprise, Advanced, Fundamentals, or other forms of Citrix licensing, you must upgrade to Citrix Platinum in order to integrate with SCOM.
  • Frequently, Citrix administrators are blamed for Citrix slowdowns and are forced to prove that it is caused by one of the tiers supporting Citrix (e.g., virtualization, storage, network, desktop, etc.). And, because the Citrix SCOM Management Pack provides monitoring of the Citrix tiers only, in order to monitor the other infrastructure tiers that support Citrix – e.g., VMware, Nutanix, storage, etc. – you will need to find additional third-party management packs for SCOM from other vendors.
  • Without the advantage of end-to-end monitoring across the entire Citrix infrastructure, administrators using the Citrix Management Pack for SCOM lack correlated visibility. Therefore, manual effort and expertise are required to pinpoint the root cause of Citrix issues, adding time and complexity to troubleshooting performance issues.
  • For monitoring just the Citrix tiers, the Citrix SCOM Management Pack is still not a complete solution. As one example, it lacks the ability to simulate user logons for synthetically monitoring and alerting on the Citrix infrastructure.
  • The topology views available in SCOM represent groupings of the different tiers, but not the inter-dependencies between tiers, so they cannot be used to pinpoint the root cause of problems by linking the cause and effects of problems.

Option 2: The eG Universal Management Pack for SCOM

With the eG Universal Management Pack for SCOM, SCOM administrators can monitor all the Citrix tiers and the supporting infrastructure from the same console. They can see any issues detected in the infrastructure, drill down to see from which layer/server the problem originates and even diagnose further to see how the problem can be corrected quickly. Customized dashboards can also be exported from eG Enterprise into SCOM, so different stakeholders can see the KPIs of interest from inside the SCOM console itself.

This Management Pack is just one component eG Enterprise: a comprehensive performance monitoring solution for Citrix environments, with out-of-the-box support for heterogeneous infrastructures and multi-vendor platforms. Unlike the Citrix SCOM Management Pack, there are no Citrix license restrictions on the eG Universal Management Pack for SCOM. It is available for all Citrix customers.

The eG Universal Management Pack for SCOM gathers performance insights from all Citrix tiers and non-Microsoft tiers (such as VMware, Oracle, Nutanix, SAP, etc.) and presents them inside the SCOM console, delivering single-pane-of-glass visibility for SCOM administrators. Without requiring multiple management packs from different vendors, SCOM administrators can get centralized and unified visibility of the entire Citrix and non-Citrix infrastructures, all from inside Microsoft SCOM.

Key Capabilities:

With the eG Universal Management Pack for SCOM, you can:

  • Monitor of all aspects of the Citrix infrastructure (XenApp, XenDesktop, XenServer, NetScaler, StoreFront, PVS, etc.) and the non-Citrix tiers supporting Citrix access (e.g., network, virtualization, storage, database, cloud, etc.)
  • Auto-discover all Citrix and non-Citrix components, and get performance insights within the SCOM console
  • See a consolidated listing of alerts for all IT components, all available within the SCOM console. Leverage the automatic root cause diagnosis functionality of eG Enterprise to trigger intelligent alerts, thus reducing alert volume and false positives in SCOM.
  • Incorporate logon simulation and full session simulation in your arsenal of tools for Citrix monitoring, thereby enabling proactive problem detection even when no users are connected to your Citrix farm
  • Access purpose-built dashboards in the SCOM console for quick and easy problem diagnosis
  • Conveniently drill down into eG Enterprise for further analysis and diagnosis of performance problems. Also access historical performance reports for trending, forecasting, capacity planning, infrastructure optimization, right-sizing, and compliance.

Helpful Resources: