Using System Center Operations Manager to Simplify Management of SharePoint 2010

2/23/2011 9:10:57 AM
System Center Operations Manager (SCOM) is an enterprise-class monitoring and management solution for Windows environments. It is designed to simplify SharePoint server management by consolidating events, performance data, alerts, and more into a centralized repository. Reports on this information can then be tailored depending on the environment and the level of detail needed and extrapolated. This information can assist administrators and decision makers in proactively addressing SharePoint server operation and any problems that exist or may occur.

The latest version of SCOM, System Center Operations Manager 2007 R2, can be further extended through the addition of Management Packs for SharePoint Foundation and SharePoint Server, which contain built-in event and performance analysis tools specifically written to ensure smooth functionality of a SharePoint environment. Deployment of a SCOM solution in a SharePoint environment would not be complete without installation of this tool.

Many other intrinsic benefits are gained by using SCOM, including, but not limited to, the following:

  • Event log monitoring and consolidation

  • Monitoring of various applications, including those provided by third parties

  • Enhanced alerting capabilities

  • Assistance with capacity-planning efforts

  • A customizable knowledge base of Microsoft product knowledge and best practices

  • Web-based interface for reporting and monitoring

Taking a Closer Look at System Center Operations Manager

System Center Operations Manager (SCOM) 2007 R2 is the latest version of Microsoft’s enterprise monitoring product. Previously owned by NetIQ and then sold to Microsoft, the product has evolved from the a product known as Microsoft Operations Manager (MOM) to the latest generation.

SCOM provides for several major pieces of functionality, as follows:

  • Event log consolidation— SCOM Agents, deployed on managed systems, forward all event log information to a central SCOM SQL Server database, which is managed and groomed by SCOM. This data is used for reporting, auditing, and monitoring of the specific events.

  • Advanced alerting capabilities— SCOM provides advanced alerting functionality by enabling email alerts, paging, and functional alerting roles to be defined.

  • Performance monitoring— SCOM collects performance statistics that can let an administrator know whether a server is being overloaded or is close to running out of disk space, among other things.

  • Built-in application-specific intelligence— SCOM Management Packs are packages of information about a particular application or service, such as DNS, DHCP, Exchange Server, or SharePoint Server. The Microsoft management packs are written by the design teams for each individual product and are loaded with the intelligence and information necessary to properly troubleshoot and identify problems. For example, the SharePoint Management pack will automatically know which event IDs indicate configuration errors in the software and will specifically direct an administrator to the proper location on the web where Microsoft Knowledge Base articles can be used for troubleshooting.

SCOM architecture can be complex but often is as simple as a SQL database running on a server, with another server providing the management server functions of SCOM. This type of server is also known as an SCOM management server.

Installing SCOM Management Packs for SharePoint 2010

As previously mentioned, Management Packs contain intelligence about specific applications and services and include troubleshooting information specific to those services. Microsoft has released three management packs for SharePoint 2010. The first is the management pack for SharePoint Foundation 2010, the second is for the full SharePoint 2010 suite, and the third is specific to FAST Search Server, which may or may not be used, depending on whether FAST Search server is deployed. It is recommended to deploy those management packs that are used within your environment. A full SharePoint Server 2010 environment that isn’t using FAST Search Server would deploy the two core Management Packs, for example.

To download these management packs, go to http://pinpoint.microsoft.com and search for SharePoint 2010 Management Pack. Within the Search results, you should see the following available for download:

  • Microsoft SharePoint 2010 Products Management Pack for System Center Operations Manager 2007

  • Microsoft SharePoint Foundation 2010 Management Pack for System Center Operations Manager 2007

  • Microsoft FAST Search Server 2010 for SharePoint Management Pack for Operations Manager 2007

Install and import each management pack individually into SCOM 2007 R2 via the import/export management packs link to enable them in the environment. When installed, they will intelligently sense which servers are SharePoint servers and will deploy scripts and event viewer monitors to those systems.

Installing Additional Management Packs for SharePoint Farms

In addition to the SharePoint 2010 specific management packs, a SharePoint environment should leverage additional management packs installed on SCOM to monitor the other non-SharePoint components:

  • Microsoft SQL Server Management Pack for Operations Manager 2007

  • Windows Server Internet Information Services (IIS) for System Center Operations Manager 2007

  • Windows Server Operating System Management Pack for Operations Manager 2007

  • Active Directory Management Pack for System Center Operations Manager 2007 (for the domain controllers)

  • Microsoft Forefront Server Security for SharePoint 10.x Management Pack for Operations Manager 2007 (if Forefront is utilized)

Review the list of components used within the SharePoint environment and compare that list with the list of Management Packs provided. This may mean that additional Management Packs are needed. For example, if Forefront Threat Management Gateway or ForeFront Unified Access Gateway are used to secure inbound HTTPS access to SharePoint, those Management Packs may be required.

Monitoring SharePoint Functionality and Performance with SCOM

After the Management Pack is installed for SharePoint and the agent has been installed and is communicating, SCOM consolidates and reacts to every event and performance counter sent to it from the SharePoint Server. This information is reflected in the SCOM Operations Console.

Performance data for SharePoint can also be displayed in SCOM. This enables reports and performance metrics to be obtained from the farm. For more information on SCOM 2007 R2, see the Microsoft website at the following URL: http://www.microsoft.com/SCOM.

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