Re-blog: System Center Operations Manager 2012 : Hurry up already!

[Now that TechEd Europe 2010 has drawn to a close, it's ok to talk about this one! Check out Justin and Vlad's session over at the TechEd site here.] 

Was a little exciting to get a first look at Operations Manager vNext 2012 while at the Inframon War On Cost event last Friday. And.... it looks remarkably similar to SCOM 2007 R2!

Well I guess that it's still a way to go in the development timeline. They were looking at getting a Beta released around February time, a Release Candidate out the door July-ish and the final product ready to go around this time next year. So there's still plenty of time for the UI to be tweaked a bit before it releases. One change I'd expect to happen is what they've got in the SCCM vNext beta 2, and that is they've ditched the Action Pane down the right hand side of the screen and instead have gone for an Office 2007 style Ribbon Toolbar across the top with context sensitivity menu options. I'm guessing this'll go in to all the System Center 2012 products.

Feature-wise, they've finally got the EMC Smarts technology wedged in there. They licensed this technology off of EMC waaaay back in March 2007 and it never made it in to the R2 product. Grrr!  But better late then never. This lovely feature finally makes the Operations Manager product network topology aware. If your router at a remote office dies or your WAN link fails, you don't get hammered with multiple alerts telling you that every device and server sitting behind that router has just gone offline. It knows that those devices are dependent on that router being up and will supress their notifications meaning it's much easier to see what the root cause is.

The Discovery Wizard now has an Automatic Discovery mode. It'll go find devices and servers on your network and consult their ARP cache's in order to work out what else is out there on the network and what the device is attached to. This then allows it to formulate a map of how all the bits and pieces in your network fit together. Expect dynamic network maps to make an appearance. There's also a schedule option, so you can have it do a re-scan of your network every 24 hours in order to find new equipment that's been connected up. Nice!

I noticed the Network Devices discovery wizard had been improved as well. You can input multiple SNMP community strings in to the wizard so it'll for instance first try with SNMP v2 using a community string of 'OurPrivateCompanyCommString' followed by 'public', and if still no joy talking to the device, it'll drop down to SNMP v1 and repeat. That should be a time saver.

And couple that with some Inclusion and Exclusion filters in the Network Discovery Wizard too, so you can choose to only pick up devices of a certain type (Eg. only discover switches, don't worry about routers), having a certain OID (Eg. Only discover Cisco kit), or of a certain name. Should help us to exclude all those HP Printers on the network that we don't care about! Woo!

Architecture-wise, they're ditching the RMS server. Yup, these are going the same way as PDC's and BDC's went back in 1999, and have instead been replaced by Management Servers that are all considered equal peers. This makes sense as you'd no longer have a single point of failure there.

The Management Servers can be grouped together in to what are called Server Pools, and allow any MS in that pool to take over the tasks of another MS in the pool should it go offline. Likewise, clients will auto-switch over to reporting to that new MS should they no longer be able to talk to their regular assigned MS. Continuing with the pool theme, they've got Agent Pools for monitoring now as well, which means you can assign your Watcher Nodes to this pool and SCOM will automatically assign the watching tasks to whichever server in that pool is still available. Again reducing the single point of failure and helping keep your SLA figures look respectable!

They also had native support for the monitoring of Java, J2EE, Websphere, Weblogic, JBoss and Tomcat in there as well so the Linux boys should be a little happier. And there was talk of having Outside In Monitoring, whereby you can get watcher nodes sitting on servers at Microsoft to keep an eye on your public presence from their view. Keeping public facing websites and remote access systems up and accessible from the general internet should be a little easier with that.

Hopefully more details will be announced this week at TechEd Europe by Justin Incarnto and Daniel Savage (Senior SC Program Manager's at Microsoft) but this was a good start. In the mean time, it's trudging on with SCOM 2007 R2, which will be getting a Cumulative Update 4 at the end of January.

Update:   Gordon McKenna, King of Inframon and SCOM MVP so privvy to far more information then us mere admins are, has stated that Operations Manager won't be getting the trick Ribbon toolbar like SCCM is. Huh. So much for standardised look and feel across the suite!