Introducing System Center Operations Manager Workflows
System Center Operations Manager (SCOM) is a monitoring solution from Microsoft that helps manage and monitor IT infrastructure including networks, servers, applications, services, and more across on-premises, hybrid and cloud environments. SCOM uses workflows to automate and standardize monitoring, alerting and responses to issues.
Workflows in SCOM provide flexibility to monitor diverse environments and automate processes. A workflow consists of a series of tasks executed in a defined sequence according to specified logic and conditions. Workflows help collect data, analyze health states, raise alerts, trigger responses and create reports.
Workflows in SCOM enable IT teams to:
- Standardize monitoring for consistent alerting and responses
- Automate repetitive tasks to save time and effort
- Customize monitoring for specific needs
- Orchestrate multi-step processes and integrations
- Centralize monitoring with a single pane of glass
- Respond faster to incidents through automation
With workflows in SCOM, organizations can customize monitoring, ensure consistent practices across hybrid environments, enable quicker responses and increase productivity.
Effective alert management is critical for maintaining a healthy System Center Operations Manager environment. Too many meaningless alerts flooding your inbox leads to alert fatigue, causing critical issues to be missed. Here are some best practices for configuring alert rules and notifications to reduce noise:
Consolidate alerts: Enable alert suppression and alert chaining to correlate related alerts into a single notification. This avoids duplicate alerts.
Tune threshold breaches: Tweak monitor thresholds so they don't alert on normal activity. For example, increase the CPU utilization percentage that triggers an alert.
Filter alerts: Use criteria like priority, monitor source, and time of day to send certain alerts to different operator groups.
Customize notifications: Configure notifications to match support team capabilities. Send low priority alerts to email and high priority alerts via text message.
Create event collection rules: Collect certain events to the Operations Manager database without alerting. This preserves the events for reporting.
Baseline your environment: Determine normal thresholds like disk space, memory usage, etc. Set alert thresholds higher than the baselines.
Review alerts frequently: Check that existing rules are triggering meaningful alerts. Disable or tune outdated rules triggering useless alerts.
Educate users: Describe the purpose of non-critical alerts so users don't overreact to expected notifications.
Properly configuring alerts and notifications takes time but reduces meaningless noise. With less clutter, operators can focus on critical system issues.
System Center Operations Manager comes with a wide range of management packs to monitor key applications and services within your environment. The management packs contain workflows that enable you to detect, alert, and diagnose issues across your applications.
Some of the key application areas that can be monitored using built-in management packs include:
The SQL Server management packs allow OpsMgr to monitor the health and performance of SQL Server instances and databases. Key workflows include:
- Monitoring the state of SQL Server services
- Tracking database availability, growth and performance
- Monitoring backup status and job failures
- Alerting on blocking and deadlocks
By leveraging the intelligence built into the SQL management packs, DBAs can quickly identify and troubleshoot issues impacting the performance of critical SQL databases.
Operations Manager has deep monitoring capabilities for Internet Information Services (IIS). This includes:
- Monitoring the status of IIS services, application pools and websites
- Tracking performance metrics like request rates, errors, response times
- Identifying excessive resource usage and throttling
- Detecting failed requests and application pool recycles
- Monitoring SSL certificate expirations
These workflows enable faster troubleshooting of performance issues and outages for IIS-based web applications.
The Exchange Server management packs provide monitoring across various Exchange components:
- Tracking the health of Exchange services like SMTP, IMAP, POP3
- Monitoring mailbox databases, transaction logs and storage groups
- Identifying mailbox delivery issues
- Alerting on excessive queue lengths
- Monitoring client connectivity and availability of key Exchange roles
Exchange admins can leverage these workflows to optimize mail flow, ensure high availability and quickly resolve issues impeding productivity.
Beyond the applications above, management packs exist to monitor other critical workloads like SharePoint, Skype for Business, Dynamics, Active Directory and more. These provide tailored intelligence to enable monitoring the key health, performance and usage metrics for those applications.
By leveraging the application-specific workflows in OpsMgr, organizations can gain greater visibility into the end-to-end health and performance of business-critical services across their environment. This enables faster remediation when issues arise.
Monitoring Operating Systems
Operating systems are a critical component of any IT infrastructure. System Center Operations Manager provides comprehensive monitoring for both Windows and Linux operating systems through out-of-the-box management packs and workflows.
Windows Operating System Monitoring
The Windows Operating System management pack includes several key workflows for monitoring Windows servers:
Performance Monitoring – Tracks key OS performance metrics like CPU, memory, disk usage, and more. Alerts can be generated based on thresholds.
Service Monitoring – Monitors the status of critical Windows services and can restart them automatically if they fail.
Event Log Monitoring – Collects and analyzes Windows event logs for critical errors and warnings.
Configuration Monitoring – Validates key OS configurations like virtual memory, page file, DNS settings, and more.
Security Monitoring – Checks for Windows security misconfigurations and vulnerabilities like missing patches.
Availability Monitoring – Performs regular pings and service checks to ensure OS availability and uptime.
Linux Operating System Monitoring
For Linux servers, the Linux Operating System management pack provides similar capabilities:
Performance Monitoring – Monitors Linux server performance metrics through native OS tools like sar and vmstat.
Log File Monitoring – Collects and parses critical Linux log files like syslog and auth.log.
Configuration Monitoring – Validates Linux configuration settings like network parameters, cron jobs, filesystem mounts.
Security Monitoring – Checks for security best practices like SSH keystrength, iptables rules, SELinux status.
Availability Monitoring – Does uptime monitoring via ICMP and SSH connectivity checks.
These out-of-the-box workflows provide comprehensive monitoring for Windows and Linux operating systems, enabling fast issue detection and resolution. Customized workflows can also be created using Operations Manager to extend monitoring for specific requirements.
Monitoring Network Devices
Network devices like routers, switches, and firewalls are critical components of any IT infrastructure. System Center Operations Manager provides advanced monitoring capabilities for these devices through workflows.
Workflows allow you to monitor the health and performance of network devices and take automated actions based on configurable rules. Some key workflows for network device monitoring include:
Router monitoring – Track router availability, interface status, CPU/memory utilization. Get alerts for high CPU, errors, configuration changes.
Switch monitoring – Monitor switch port status, errors, utilization. Detect spanning tree topology changes, new MAC addresses.
Firewall monitoring – Check firewall health, resource usage. Log security policy changes, new connections established.
Bandwidth monitoring – Measure interface throughput, errors, discards. Graph bandwidth usage over time. Identify congestion and bottlenecks.
Configuration monitoring – Discover network device inventory. Compare running vs startup config for changes. Backup device configurations periodically.
Traffic analysis – Analyze traffic patterns over time. Identify top talkers, applications, connections. Get notified of traffic threshold breaches.
Alert suppression – Suppress transient alerts during maintenance windows. Prevent alert storms by aggregating related alerts.
Automated responses – Restart devices automatically if unreachable. Adjust QoS policies based on bandwidth usage. Update firewall rules in response to attacks.
These workflows provide comprehensive visibility into network infrastructure health, performance, security and configurations. Automated responses can help resolve issues rapidly and maintain optimal network operations. Integrating network monitoring with broader IT infrastructure monitoring delivers powerful management capabilities.
Monitoring Virtual Infrastructure
Monitoring virtual infrastructure requires specialized workflows in System Center Operations Manager. The two most common hypervisors are VMware vSphere and Microsoft Hyper-V.
For VMware, there are several key workflows to implement:
Host Monitoring – Monitor ESXi host hardware, performance, configurations and more.
VM Monitoring – Monitor guest VMs for availability, performance, resource usage.
vCenter Monitoring – Monitor the vCenter server for availability and performance.
Datastore Monitoring – Monitor datastore capacity, latency, IOPS.
Alarm Creation – Create alerts for issues found in the virtual environment.
For Hyper-V, workflows should focus on:
Host Monitoring – Monitor Hyper-V host servers using native integration.
VM Monitoring – Monitor guest VMs, resource usage, availability.
Cluster Monitoring – Monitor Hyper-V clusters for health, balancing.
Alarm Creation – Generate alerts for Hyper-V issues.
The SCOM management packs for VMware and Hyper-V provide comprehensive monitoring capabilities for these platforms. Properly implementing these workflows allows full visibility into the performance, health and operations of the virtual infrastructure. Tuning thresholds and alert triggers is key to providing useful monitoring data.
Monitoring Cloud Infrastructure
With more organizations moving workloads and infrastructure to the cloud, monitoring cloud environments is crucial. System Center Operations Manager (SCOM) provides several useful workflows for monitoring key cloud platforms like Azure, AWS, and Google Cloud.
SCOM has native integration with Azure that allows for discovery, monitoring, and automated responses for a wide range of Azure resources and services. Some key Azure workflows in SCOM include:
Azure VM Monitoring – Track the health and performance of Azure Virtual Machines. Get alerted for issues like high CPU, network errors, etc.
Azure Storage Monitoring – Monitor Azure Storage accounts. Detect problems with storage availability, latency, capacity, and more.
Azure Web Apps Monitoring – Monitor the uptime and responsiveness of Azure hosted web apps. Alert if a site goes down or is loading slowly.
Azure SQL Database Monitoring – Keep tabs on Azure SQL Databases. Get alerts for database connectivity problems, high resource utilization, and more.
For monitoring AWS environments, SCOM leverages Amazon CloudWatch. Important AWS workflows include:
EC2 Instance Monitoring – Monitor health, performance, network connectivity of EC2 instances.
ELB Monitoring – Track metrics and availability for Elastic Load Balancers. Get notified if an ELB goes offline.
RDS Monitoring – Monitor database connectivity, performance, and utilization for Relational Database Service.
S3 Monitoring – Get alerts for application errors accessing S3, latency problems, and capacity usage.
Google Cloud Monitoring
SCOM can connect with Google Cloud's monitoring APIs for visibility into GCP resources:
GCE Monitoring – Review health metrics, uptime, and performance stats for Google Compute Engine virtual machines.
GKE Monitoring – Track status and resource usage of Google Kubernetes Engine clusters and nodes.
Cloud SQL Monitoring – Monitor Cloud SQL database instances for performance, errors, and availability.
Cloud Storage Monitoring – Get notifications for Cloud Storage capacity, bandwidth utilization, and uptime issues.
With its breadth of cloud workflows, SCOM provides a centralized way to monitor critical cloud infrastructure across Azure, AWS, GCP and more from one management platform.
System Center Operations Manager (SCOM) provides powerful capabilities for automating responses and remediation actions through its workflow engine. Workflows allow admins to configure a sequence of automated steps that can detect issues, diagnose root causes, and trigger remediation tasks.
Using workflows for auto-remediation and self-healing
One of the key benefits of SCOM is enabling self-healing and auto-remediation through workflows. Some examples include:
Automatically restarting a failed service. The workflow can detect when a critical service goes down through a monitor, then trigger a script or task to restart the service and restore functionality.
Installing missing patches. A workflow can check for missing OS or application patches on servers. When missing patches are detected, the workflow can call a task sequence to download and install the required patches.
Clearing full disks. The workflow can leverage monitors to check for high disk utilization and automatically initiate cleanup scripts to clear space when thresholds are exceeded.
Provisioning new VMs. SCOM workflows can integrate with virtualization platforms like VMware and Azure. When capacity thresholds are hit, workflows can automatically deploy additional pre-configured VMs to scale out resources.
Redirecting traffic away from unhealthy servers. SCOM can integrate with load balancers and update routing rules to stop sending traffic to an unhealthy server during issues.
The key steps for implementing automated remediation are:
Configure monitoring rules and alerts for the conditions you want to detect.
Design a workflow with a cause and effect map, using tasks, scripts, and connectors to define the actions.
Set the criteria for when the workflow should trigger based on alerts and monitors.
Test and refine the workflow in lower environments first before rolling out in production.
Monitor and report on automated workflow executions and impact. Tune over time.
Overall, leveraging SCOM's workflow automation capabilities is a powerful way to save ops teams time, quickly detect and remediate issues, and enable a self-healing IT environment. The workflows can take immediate action without the delays and risks of manual processes.
Operations Manager includes powerful built-in reporting capabilities that allow you to monitor the health and performance of your IT infrastructure. Some key built-in reports include:
Alert Summary – Provides a summary of alert activity such as new, active, closed alerts. This helps identify problematic areas.
State Summary – Summarizes the overall health state of monitored objects. You can drill down to see details on unhealthy objects.
Performance Report – Shows performance counter data for monitored components. You can track utilization, response times, and other metrics.
Configuration Assessment – Compares actual configurations to desired configurations and identifies discrepancies.
Business Process Monitor – Tracks KPIs and end-to-end service health for multi-tier business applications.
Capacity Forecasting – Predicts future capacity needs based on historical usage patterns.
In addition to built-in reports, Operations Manager enables creating custom reports through SQL Server Reporting Services. You can build reports with specific data views, visualizations, and layouts tailored to your environment.
Common custom reports include:
Custom alert summary reports filtered by priority, monitor type, or other criteria.
Role-based reports tailored to the information needs of different support teams.
Executive dashboards with high-level health KPIs.
Reports correlating events, performance, and configuration data.
Reports for change tracking, problem analysis, and compliance audits.
By combining built-in and custom reports, you can build comprehensive dashboards and reporting to match the unique needs of your organization. The workflows and automation around reporting allow you to efficiently monitor service health, track issues, assess configurations, analyze capacity, and make data-driven decisions.
Summary of best SCOM workflows for 2024
In 2024, the most important SCOM workflows are alert and incident management, application monitoring, operating system monitoring, network device monitoring, virtual infrastructure monitoring, and cloud monitoring. Automating responses and centralized reporting also remain essential SCOM workflows.
As business needs change, IT teams must continually assess and adapt their SCOM workflows. The workflows highlighted in this report represent best practices for most organizations in 2024. However, each business has unique requirements that may demand customization of these workflows. The key is to align monitoring and automation closely to business goals.
Importance of adapting workflows to business needs
No two businesses are identical. The optimal SCOM workflows for one organization may not suit another. Factors like business size, industry, infrastructure, budgets, and strategic objectives all impact SCOM workflow design.
For example, a small business may need only basic server monitoring. But a large enterprise may require advanced application monitoring with thousands of custom rules and monitors. The workflows must fit the environment.
It's critical to regularly evaluate workflows against business needs. As priorities shift, workflows must adapt. A workflow that provides value today may become obsolete tomorrow. System Center administrators should continually assess and tune SCOM workflows based on business requirements. This ensures maximum value from the monitoring investment.
With thoughtful design tailored to business needs, SCOM workflows in 2024 can deliver significant operational improvements. But they must evolve as needs change. Only adaptable workflows that align to business goals will remain best practices over time.