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What's New in System Center 2012 Operations Manager

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The newest version of Operations Manager (OpsMgr), System Center 2012 Operations Manager, builds on the capabilities introduced in OpsMgr 2007. In its fourth major release by Microsoft, the product team takes the best of OpsMgr 2007 and adds a number of enhancements, including resource pools for redundancy and high availability, significant changes in network and application monitoring, and new dashboard capabilities. This chapter takes a brief look at the history of Operations Manager and then highlights the changes in this release.
This chapter is from the book

The History of Operations Manager

Let’s spend a moment reviewing the history of Microsoft’s presence in the server monitoring space. Microsoft first included server health and monitoring functionality with applications such as Application Center 2000, Systems Management Server (SMS) 2.0, and BackOffice Server 2000. The monitoring capability in these products enabled a system administrator to have a centralized view of information pertaining to functional health, performance, and the event log data of servers within that specific application environment; monitoring was limited to the servers used by the application.

The Early Years: MOM 2000 and MOM 2005

Beginning with its very first version, Operations Manager went beyond examining the health of servers in a single application to examine one’s entire environment. The product was originally based on technology developed by Mission Critical Software for its OnePoint Operations Manager product, which Microsoft licensed in 2000 from NetIQ shortly after that company acquired Mission Critical. Microsoft’s first release, Microsoft Operations Manager (MOM) 2000, addressed scalability and performance issues in the OnePoint product, and added significant improvements to management packs for monitoring Microsoft applications software. Microsoft positioned MOM 2000 as an enterprise monitoring solution with comprehensive event management, monitoring and alerting, reporting, a built-in knowledge base, and trend analysis capabilities. However, the architecture remained largely unchanged from the Mission Critical product.

Microsoft released one service pack (SP) for MOM 2000. SP 1 included globalization, failover cluster support for the MOM database, performance improvements to the event management infrastructure, enhancements to most of its management packs with particular emphasis on those for Microsoft Exchange Server and Active Directory, and several new management packs.

In 2003, Microsoft began work on the next version of MOM. Microsoft Operations Manager 2005 was released in August 2004. It sported an improved user interface, additional management packs, enhanced reporting, and improved performance and scalability. SP 1 released in July 2005 with support for Windows 2003 SP 1 and SQL Server 2000 SP 4. SP 1 was also required to support SQL Server 2005 for the operational and reporting database components after that product’s release later that year.

Operations Manager 2007

Development for the next version, code named “MOM V3,” began in 2005. In 2006, Microsoft officially announced the product’s rebranding as System Center Operations Manager 2007. Microsoft completed work on Operations Manager 2007, which was a total rewrite of the product, in March 2007—a list of what was new would be longer than listing what was unchanged! OpsMgr 2007 provided best-of-breed end-to-end service management for the Microsoft Windows platform, helping you to increase efficiency and achieve greater control over your Information Technology (IT) environment. The focus moved from monitoring events and generating alerts to monitoring a server’s health and holistically monitoring server and client environments.

OpsMgr 2007 uses model-based management, where an IT environment is defined as a model. Using models allows granular discovery of service components and presents the ability to monitor not only the server but also the entire end-to-end service as a unique object. These models, represented in eXtensible Markup Language (XML), are stored in management packs; beginning with OpsMgr 2007, Microsoft moved away from the proprietary management pack format used by MOM 2000 and MOM 2005.

OpsMgr 2007 also includes Agentless Exception Monitoring (AEM), which provides information on application crashes; it introduces client monitoring, PowerShell support, role-based security, an Authoring console, the Health Explorer, Active Directory Integration, Audit Collection Services (ACS), changes in capturing and collecting data for the OpsMgr data warehouse, and more. A list of features introduced is available at www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=2353. Most importantly, the architecture introduced with Operations Manager 2007 forms the base of the technology and architecture found today in System Center 2012 Operations Manager.

Operations Manager 2007 SP 1 released in February 2008. SP 1 addressed bugs from the original release including a rollup of all hot-fixes, and added enhancements in performance and reliability, setup and recovery, user interface and experience, reporting, the Web console, and more. (A complete list of what was new in the service pack is available at http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/bb821996.aspx, and a list of bug fixes is at http://support.microsoft.com/kb/944443/.)

Operations Manager 2007 R2 and Beyond

Operations Manager 2007 had an “R2” release in May 2009. Release 2’s most publicized enhancement was cross platform support for UNIX and Linux servers. Here are some of the more notable improvements in this release:

  • Cross platform monitoring
  • Integration with System Center Virtual Machine Manager (VMM) 2008, which enabled maximizing availability of virtual workloads
  • Large scale monitoring of URLs
  • Service level monitoring
  • Performance enhancements
  • Updated Authoring console, which shipped with the installation bits

A full list of features is available at http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/dd362653.aspx.

OpsMgr 2007 R2 built upon the base release of the 2007 product, enabling it to be firmly placed in Gartner Group’s challenger’s quadrant for IT Event Correlation and Analysis in July 2009 and then the highly sought “magic” or leader’s quadrant in December 2010, as shown in Figure 2.1. Gartner’s magic quadrant indicates superiority in completeness of vision and ability to execute. (In 2011, Gartner retired the IT Event Correlation and Analysis magic quadrant. For information, see http://www.gartner.com/id=1749715.)

Rather than releasing service packs, bug fixes to the product after OpsMgr 2007 R2 were released in the form of cumulative updates (CUs). The most recent CU, released just before this book was printed, is CU7 (January 8, 2013). Meanwhile, Microsoft was working on what was variously code-named MOM V4, OM 10, and most widely known as the “vNext” release of the product, publicly released in April 2012 as System Center 2012 Operations Manager. Figure 2.2 illustrates Operations Manager’s life cycle.

Figure 2.2

Figure 2.2. Operations Manager development timeline.

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