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This chapter is from the book

Presentation Layer

The last layer of the Microsoft Operations Manager 2005 system is the presentation layer (shown in Figure 3.18), which allows the information gathered by MOM to be viewed and the system to be controlled.

Figure 3.18

Figure 3.18 Presentation layer and components.

Four console components and a reporting subsystem component present the data and provide administrative and operational control of the MOM 2005 system. The consoles are as follows:

  • Operator console
  • Web console
  • Administrator console
  • Reporting console

The first two consoles (Operator and Web consoles) support the operations functions for MOM users. These consoles target the operators or IT administrators who actually manage systems and applications. The Administrator console contains the tools used to configure MOM 2005 and is targeted at the MOM administrator. The Reporting console provides access to operational information, both at a detailed operational level and at the broader managerial level. This console is targeted at a range of users from operators to managers and even to executives.

The presentation layer is arguably the most important layer because it is the layer that users of the system interface with. Without a solid presentation layer, the system cannot be used to its maximum potential.

Operator Console

The Operator console presents the operational view of the infrastructure and applications. This is the console in which the most time will be spent by the operators (that is, most users) of MOM 2005, hence the name of the console. This console is roughly modeled on the same lines as the Microsoft Outlook user interface, utilizing the research that Microsoft has invested in developing user interfaces to allow users to view information and complete tasks. It is designed to allow an operator to quickly and successfully handle operational events by doing the following:

  • Identifying—Knowing that an event has occurred is half the battle in IT. The Operator console rapidly identifies and presents the relevant events and information. It also prioritizes them automatically.
  • Understanding—Just knowing that an event has occurred is not enough for the operator to be successful. Understanding what an event means, both in the context of other events and with detailed knowledge, is the critical next step in the process. The Operator console delivers in-depth understanding to the operator of the context around the event, detailed knowledge about the event itself, and the event and computer history.
  • Resolving—Finally, the problem that the event represents needs to be resolved. The Operator console puts both the detailed knowledge of possible solutions and the tasks to execute those solutions at the fingertips of the operator. It can even launch those solutions automatically, while informing the operator of actions taken.

The Operator console is organized to support role-based operators, such as SQL Server administrators, Exchange administrators, or enterprise administrators. The roles can be defined by technology, location, or any other logical grouping. The Operator console allows administrators to monitor and troubleshoot the servers and applications under their responsibility.

The MOM 2005 agents gather a wide variety of information about the managed computers, ranging from configuration to events to performance data. The Operator console displays that variety of information through a number of view types, presented in the following list and discussed more fully in Chapter 8:

  • Alerts
  • State
  • Events
  • Performance
  • Computers and groups
  • Diagram
  • Views (Public Views and My Views)

These views can be manipulated in a multitude of ways within the Operator console. The console allows the information to easily perform the following functions:

  • Navigation—Moving through the various views and the individual items such as alerts and events is a key function of the Operator console. The console is organized to allow operators to easily navigate between views and levels of detail, as well as be able to move back in the same way a web browser would.
  • Scoping—A big problem with any console is managing the large number of computers, events, and alerts. The Operator console simplifies this by allowing you to set the scope to any computer group, which then narrows the scope of everything that is displayed. For example, if an Exchange administrator selects the Microsoft Exchange Installed Computers group in the console, all the administrator will see as he navigates is the information specific to that group. The groups can be defined geographically or functionally, so a group can be created to follow your IT functional groups and thus narrow the scope as well.

    Even though the scope is adjusted, all the information for all the managed computers is still available in the console should the administrator need to broaden the scope. On the flip side, users can be restricted to their functional scope using Console Scope so that they can see only the information relevant to the group of computers they are responsible for.

  • Drill down—The Operator console provides summarized views of information but allows you to drill down into the details and back out again. For example, you can click on a state icon in the State view to see the state component view, double-click on the state component to drill into the alerts related to that component, and then drill into the events that generated the alert. You can easily jump all the way back out or go back one level by clicking the Back button.

    Given all the information, complex interrelations, and level of detail inherent in the operational data, the drill-down Operator console makes it easy to navigate through the sea of information.

  • Execute tasks—The Operator console allows you to easily execute context-sensitive tasks no matter where you are in the console. You can launch a task by selecting a node in a Diagram view, an alert in the Alert view, or a computer in the Computer view. The tasks will launch based on the identity of the computer represented in the information. The tasks are self-policing, meaning that an Exchange task will not allow you to execute it against a non-Exchange computer. This helps prevent unexpected consequences.

The Operator console is an application built on the .NET Framework and is not an MMC console, a departure from the normal Microsoft standard. This is in great part due to the complexity of the UI and the need to present the information in a flexible and fast manner.

The console is organized into four panes composed of the Results Pane and three additional panes, which are the Navigation Pane, the Details Pane, and the Task Pane. The panes are shown in Figure 3.19 and discussed in the following list:

Figure 3.19

Figure 3.19 Operator console organization.

  • Results Pane—The Results Pane displays the results of a view selection (such as alert or diagram), filtered by the computer group selected. This pane displays the lists of alerts, events, computers, diagrams, and so on—that is, the information that the view is presenting.
  • Navigation Pane—The Navigation Pane shows a console tree for the currently selected view and the view selection buttons in the bottom of the pane. When a view button is clicked, the console tree adjusts to the appropriate tree, and the active Results Pane changes to reflect the view.
  • Details Pane—The Details Pane shows the details for the item selected in the Results Pane. There is no Details Pane shown for the Diagram view. The Details Pane is organized by tabs to provide easy access to a wealth of information. For example, the Alert view Details Pane has tabs for Properties, Custom Properties, Events, Product Knowledge, Company Knowledge, and History.
  • Task Pane—The Task Pane shows a tree view of the tasks and task folders. These tasks are not filtered by context, though they are grayed out if they do not apply to the selected computer.

You can choose not to display the Navigation, Details, and Task panes simply by selecting View within the Operator console and then deselecting the appropriate panes. You can also display up to three different results panes at a time in the Operator console, each with a different view selected. This is useful if you need to be viewing the state, alerts, and events all at the same time. It is particularly useful if you have a large screen with high resolution!

Web Console

The Web console is a scaled down console that is accessible via HTTP and provides stripped-down versions of the Alerts, Computers, and Events views of the Operator console. It gives computer operators and application owners an easy-to-use and simplified console from which they can check the operational status of their assigned computers or applications. The Web console provides a basic MOM console to a larger group of administrators that manage a narrow set of servers or applications, requiring less training and without installation on their desktops.

As shown in Figure 3.20, you can view alerts, events, and computers, and even change the resolution state of the alert from within the Web console. The console provides full access to any knowledge associated with an alert, which supports the full range of identifying, understanding, and resolving alerts.

Figure 3.20

Figure 3.20 Web console.

When email notifications are triggered by alerts, the link in the email is a link to the Web console. The default address of the console is http://<management server name>:1272. Both the address and the port can be changed within the Administrator console. The Web console can also be launched from within the Administrator console. The default port for the HTTP access is 1272. The port can be changed, and SSL can be used for security.

The Web console is a good example of a custom application that leverages the Management Server Class Libraries (MCL).

Administrator Console

The Administrator console is used to configure and administer MOM 2005 itself. This is the console where the MOM administrators will spend most of their time. In contrast with the Operator console and in keeping with Microsoft standards, the Administrator console is an MMC snap-in.

The console has two panes—the Navigation Pane and the Detail Pane. The Navigation Pane presents a folder type view of the available options. The Detail Pane presents a variety of different types of information and options depending on the particular section being viewed.

The Administrative console is organized into four major segments:

  • Information Center—The information center provides links to jump to information about MOM 2005, including the MOM 2005 website, downloads, documentation, technical support, licensing, and security. These links allow you to quickly get to the most recent literature and management packs.
  • Operations—The operations segment presents links to launch the other consoles, including the Operator console, the Reporting console, and the Web console.
  • Management Packs—This is the segment of the Administrator console where the business logic is maintained. The computer groups, rule groups (or management packs), tasks, notification and operators, scripts, computer attributes, and providers are all accessible from this segment.

    When you click on the Management Packs node in the Navigation Pane, you will see a summary of the business logic in the Detail Pane, as well as links to the other nodes. The business logic summary gives you a count of the rule groups, management pack rules, custom rules, computer groups, and number of scripts.

  • Administration—The administration segment of the console is the area from which agents are deployed, the mode for managed computers is set, console administration is defined, global settings such as database grooming are defined, and MOM connects to other systems. The sections of the administration segment are Computers, Console Scopes, Global Settings, and Product Connectors.

    When you click on the Administration node in the Navigation Pane, the Detail Pane displays a summary of the MOM 2005 management group architecture and managed computers, as well as links to the other nodes. The management group summary includes the number of management servers, agent-managed computers, agentless managed computers, unmanaged computers, cluster computers, and total number of computers.

What you see in the Navigation Pane of the Administrator console, and the actions that you can take, are determined by your security access. The Administrator console will only display the nodes for the segments in which you have rights. If you have not been granted access to the business logic, the management pack node will not be displayed. If you have not been granted administrative access to the management group, the administration node will not display. MOM security is discussed further in Chapter 11, "Securing MOM."

Reporting Console

The Reporting console is not really a MOM 2005-specific console but rather is the Microsoft SQL Server Reporting Services console. SQL Server Reporting Services is a central and feature-rich solution that enables creating, managing, and delivering both paper-oriented reports and interactive web-based reports from almost any data source, including the SQL Server database. SSRS combines the data management capabilities of SQL Server and Microsoft Windows Server with Microsoft Office components to deliver useful reports.

SSRS supports the full reporting life cycle, including

  • Report authoring—Report developers can create reports to be published to the Report Server using Microsoft or third-party design tools that use Report Definition Language (RDL), an XML-based industry standard used to define reports.
  • Report management—Report definitions, folders, and resources are published and managed as a web service. Managed reports can be executed either on demand or on a specified schedule and are cached for consistency and performance.
  • Report delivery—SSRS supports both on-demand (pull) and event-based (push) delivery of reports. Users can view reports in a web-based format or in email.

The Reporting console allows you to view published MOM 2005 reports, manage security for access to the reports, and manage subscriptions to the reports. Reporting and particularly report creation is a complex topic and will be addressed in detail in Chapter 21, "Using and Developing Reports."

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