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Enhance SCOM Capability with Savision LiveMaps

By Noel Fairclough, Systems Management Consultant, Data#3

[Reading Time – 5 minutes]

I’m going to preface this blog post by assuming you already know what Microsoft’s System Center Operations Manager (SCOM) is, and what it does. If you don’t know what it does or its capability – we need to talk!

I have been designing, building and tuning SCOM for eight years now. Throughout my time at Data#3 and onsite with customers, I see a very common misconception; that SCOM is seen as a tool just for the “techies”. A product that runs in the background, throwing an alert (or many alerts) that the technical people deal with. Or in some cases (mostly related to tuning), the technical people ignore the alerts, and SCOM becomes the noisy child in the corner that gets ignored. If the previous sentence rings a bell with you, maybe we should talk!

Did you know that SCOM is so much more than just a monitoring tool for the technical and operational staff? SCOM can become the foundational tool used by all levels of the business; from the technical hands-on staff, the application and service owners, right through to the executive and business stakeholder level.

If you’ve ever seen the SCOM console you will note, it looks pretty complicated. I admit, the console itself is aimed at technical staff. It is not overly friendly to other parts of the business that don’t necessarily have an interest in a specific issue on a specific server, however, they are interested if their application service or business process is being affected. This is where a product called LiveMaps by a company called Savision fills the gap.

Business Service Delivery

Within many organisations there is a gap between what the technical people want to see and know about the health of the infrastructure they maintain; and what the business wants to know about the health of the services that are being delivered. It is important to make this distinction and I can illustrate it with the following diagram.

business-service-delivery-model

We can think of services delivered by a business in ways that are similar to the framework of the OSI Model.

  • Physical Infrastructure – At the core of service delivery for a business is the physical infrastructure. Physical infrastructure can be defined as on-premises hardware and networking components, your endpoint connection or your cloud IaaS provider. It can be your kiosks, your point of sale terminals, your CCTV cameras, uninterruptable power supply or even your air conditioners.
  • Virtual Infrastructure – These are the virtual machines that run on your on-premises hardware or Cloud IaaS. This also includes your software defined networks, your CPU, memory and compute resources.
  • Applications – As the name suggests, these are the individual pieces of software that run in the environment and includes operating systems, identity services, email, web services, databases and in-house applications.
  • Distributed Applications – A distributed application is a sum of applications that work together. For example, Active Directory, a finance application, a web platform or a highly available database that work together to provide a distributed application for the payroll system.
  • Services – Services are delivered internally by the business. Such a service might be a group of distributed applications that interact with each other. Think of a service such as onboarding a new employee (Active Directory, Email, Payroll etc.), or an internal stock movement from the warehouse to a retail outlet. Reordering of new stock involving multiple systems and external vendors. Typically, services are built to satisfy business processes.
  • Business Process – Business processes are designed to service products or activities that are either internal or external to the business. These business processes have been defined as a set of activities with decision points, and rely on underlying services to complete the workflow.
  • Business Service Offering – These are the services delivered that enable your customers to interact with you. Your customers may be external to the company or may be employees who consume your services within your organisation. This layer may be an online ordering and payment system, a call centre/service desk, a business-to-business system or a document management and record keeping system.

Savision LiveMaps for SCOM

As you can see, Microsoft System Center Operations Manager (SCOM) can monitor your core infrastructure, and even your distributed applications. But how do you represent the logical “business” layers of the model? This is where Savision LiveMaps leverages the capability of SCOM and enables your organisation to do that business level service monitoring.

By using LiveMaps you can define what applications create your services.  Those services can then be presented as part of a business process, which can then be presented as part of a business service offering.

This clarity allows non-technical stakeholders to easily view if a service or customer interaction point has a fault, without getting alerted to the daily noise of operational tasks. Dashboards can be created and customised to whatever your business requirements are. If what you need can be drawn on a piece of paper, it can be represented in LiveMaps as a dynamic dashboard.  There is even integration with Bing maps for location awareness and geographical representation of your organisation.

Below are just some examples of dashboards that can be created easily.

 

services-dashboard

Figure 1: Services Dashboard

cio-dashboard

Figure 2: CIO Dashboard

geographical-dashboard

Figure 3: Geographical Dashboard

How do you get there?

Assess where you are in terms of IT Monitoring Maturity, and then start laying the ground work to get to the next stage. Break down your business processes into the services that make it up. Identify the applications that make up those services, and then group together the infrastructure components that support those applications.

it-monitoring-maturity 

Regardless of where you see yourself in the IT Monitoring Maturity diagram above, Data#3 can help your organisation get to the next level. If you would like to know more about Microsoft System Center Operations Manager, or if you would like to see how Savision LiveMaps can bring value to monitoring your business, please reach out via LinkedIn or contact your Data#3 representative.

 

Tags: Microsoft, Microsoft System Center Operations Manager (SCOM)

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