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Presentation Layer

This chapter has dived into progressively more detailed descriptions of how OpsMgr works at the management group, management pack, and workflow levels. Now we will come up for some air and finish with a discussion of the presentation layer in OpsMgr. This is the part of OpsMgr that you see with your eyes and will work with on a continuous and routine basis.

As with any user-level application (as opposed to an application designed only to be run in the background by machines as a Windows service) the presentation layer in OpsMgr is responsible for delivering and formatting relevant and interesting information to the user or operator. The main interface for Operations Manager 2007 is the Operations console. For doing monitoring work away from the office, Microsoft provides a web-based console with a subset of the full console's functionally, optimized for monitoring functions. Finally, there is the command-line PowerShell for text-based interaction with OpsMgr.

OpsMgr can deliver management information to users with a variety of external notification techniques, such as email and instant messaging. Examples of those notifications and how they are configured are discussed in detail in Chapter 8, "Configuring and Using Operations Manager 2007." However, OpsMgr cannot be administered and run only through notifications.

Operations Console

Unless you are using the Web console from a remote location, or running PowerShell for specialized work, all interaction between operations personnel and the Operations Manager 2007 application will occur using the Operations console. The console is not a Microsoft Management Console (MMC) snap-in, but a standalone application installed on management servers and optionally installed on any supported Windows computer.

The Operations console is composed of several panes, as shown in Figure 3.17, each of which serves a particular purpose. We will be covering the OpsMgr features accessed in the various console panes in detail in Chapter 8.

Figure 3.17

Figure 3.17 Layout of the Operations console.

As you can see in Figure 3.17, the OpsMgr console shares some features with the popular Microsoft Office Outlook application, such as the Navigation pane and navigation buttons. The Actions pane shares the look of another contemporary Microsoft application, Exchange 2007 (which also features PowerShell as an integrated component). The navigation buttons in the lower-left corner are a key feature of the console. They provide a rapid, intuitive way to shift between management tasks without firing up other consoles or applications. Here is a quick rundown on those navigation buttons:

  • Monitoring Pane—Displays several different types of views that enable operators to analyze monitoring results within the managed environment(s). This is where most users of OpsMgr will spend their time because the Monitoring pane is where the action is!

    Views of alerts, events, object states, performance, diagrams, tasks, and dashboards exist here. When reporting is installed, the lower portion of the Actions pane provides context-aware reports for the objects in the Results pane.

  • Authoring Pane—Enables creation of additional monitoring objects to customize or supplement the default monitoring settings provided in management packs. New customized management packs can be created using several templates provided with OpsMgr. Custom groups used to target rules are created here. Only administrators and advanced operators have access to this pane.
  • Reporting Pane—If OpsMgr reporting is installed in the management group, this pane displays a report library with the reports included in management packs, and it enables editing of customized reports. Only administrators and report operators have access to this pane. This navigation button is not present if reporting is not installed.

    The report library contains generic reports, such as Alert Logging Latency and Most Common Events reports. Reports launched from the Reporting pane have no prespecified context, and operators must manually specify the context for the report in the parameter header before running the report. Reporting is discussed in more detail in Chapter 8.

  • Administration Pane—Enables editing of high-level Operations Manager settings that affect the entire management group. It also enables viewing and configuring individual management servers and managed objects. The critical Security roles, Run As Accounts, and Run As Profiles are managed here. All work related to adding and deleting agent-managed computers, agentless managed computers, and network devices is performed in this pane. Only administrators have access to this pane.
  • My Workspace Pane—Enables creation and storage of console customizations for later reuse. Although OpsMgr administrators can modify the main views and add new views using the Administration pane, there are many occasions where the operator has her own ideas or requirements for monitoring. The My Workspace pane is a personal area where console users can make new customized views to their heart's content and not impact other system users. Users can also store possibly complex search criteria here, saving lots of time on each future occasion when those searches are used.

The center portion of the console, where the Results and Details panes are located, is particularly reconfigurable and divides into as many as nine separate panes in some console views. The Operations console also uses multiple windows, which open like popups, and can be closed without affecting the main console. For example, when Operations Manager features such as override, search, Health Explorer, and Security are being used, new windows open to support the selected operation.

The Find, Search, and Scope buttons in the Operations console make it easier for users to manage data. The Scope and Search controls are located at the top of the console in the toolbar area, and the Find filter is found at the top of the Results pane. Because OpsMgr can manage many thousands of objects, these filtering functions are a critical usability feature in large environments.

Web Console

Borrowing again from the success of the Outlook interface, which is a very well received, almost identical web interface to Outlook Web Access, Microsoft delivered a Web console for OpsMgr. The Operations Manager 2007 Web console is really a triumph of web interface design and execution. It mimics many features of the Monitoring and My Workspace portions of the full Operations console.

An ActiveX control is downloaded to the user's web browser on his first visit to the Web console from any given computer. If the Web console is installed on a management server, additional notification and access features become available to the management group. Specifically, there is a mobile access feature for smart phones and Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs) with network or Internet access, along with a Really Simple Syndication (RSS) version 2.0 feature that allows operators to set up RSS subscriptions to OpsMgr alerts.

PowerShell

PowerShell provides a means to interact with the OpsMgr application without any graphical interface. Much of the work that can be done in the Operations and Web consoles can also be done using PowerShell. PowerShell is particularly useful in a variety of specialized situations. Compared to the immensely usable OpsMgr console, it is an adjustment to work with the command line of PowerShell, particularly at first. However, just having the opportunity to view and set data in the Operations database programmatically using the command line is a fantastic addition to the administrator's toolkit.

We will close this section with an example of the functionality and presentation of PowerShell compared to the OpsMgr console. We created a custom user role in the Security -> User Roles node of the OpsMgr Administration pane, named Partner Staff Acme. In Figure 3.18, you can see the properties of that user role, in a window launched from the console.

Figure 3.18

Figure 3.18 Properties of a custom user role, viewed with the OpsMgr console.

To access the Properties window in Figure 3.18, you simply right-click the user role in the OpsMgr console and select Properties. Notice that there is one user, RLorenzo, who is a member of that role in the ODYSSEY domain. Now we will use PowerShell to access the same information.

In Figure 3.19, notice the command window with the output of the PowerShell cmdlet get-UserRole. You can see the same information, such as the description of the role and the membership for RLorenzo. However, to achieve that output, you have to know the GUID (Globally Unique Identifier), a code name that is a long set of alphanumeric characters associated with the Partner Staff Acme user role. To learn the GUID of that role, you first have to use PowerShell to list the GUIDs for all the created and installed user roles. Of course, you also have to learn the syntax of the cmdlet. So there is a learning curve, and a rather brutal interface involved. For the true scripter, however, PowerShell could become the presentation layer of choice in some situations, and it adds the ability to perform OpsMgr actions in batch mode.

Figure 3.19

Figure 3.19 Properties of the custom user role shown in Figure 3.18, now viewed with PowerShell.

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