SIM354: Systems Center Operations Manager 2012 Network Monitoring

This session focused on the new (and pretty robust IMHO) networking monitoring enhancements in OpsMgr 2012. Previously network monitoring in OpsMgr was very, very basic. So basic, that I suspect not many people really used OpsMgr to monitor network devices. That all changes in OpsMgr 2012, where the OpsMgr team developed their own SNMP (v1, v2, v3) discovery engine, and are working with network vendors to have an extensive list of certified devices. The most in-depth monitoring is for Cisco devices.

Highlights of this session include:

  1. OpsMgr 2012 supports network discovery, network monitoring,  visualization, and reporting.
  2. Key takeaway is that IT operations can now gain visibility into the network to reduce mean time to resolution.
  3. Out of the box it will include multi-vendor support (Cisco, Foundry, etc.), supports IPv4 and IPv6, and partners can also build on the platform to further extend the feature set.
  4. Network discovery finds things such as connectivity, VLAN membership, HSRP groups, server NIC discovery, port/interface details, processor details, memory.
  5. Network discovery can be explicit, or recursive (using ARP, IP topology, MIB).
  6. Discovery can run on demand, or on a scheduled basis. Some discoveries can be initiated by device traps.
  7. Network monitoring stats include up/down, volume of inbound/outbound traffic, % utilization, drop and broadcast rates, processor % utilization, in-depth memory counters for Cisco (including fragmentation), and free memory.
  8. You can monitor connection health (looks at both ends of the connection), VLAN health (based on switch status), and HSRP groups.
  9. Built-in are a number of dashboards including network summary, network node details, network interface details, and vicinity views.
  10. Built-in reports include memory utilization, processor utilization, port traffic volume, port error analysis, and port packet analysis.
  11. OpsMgr network monitoring is not meant to replace network engineer monitoring tools. Although, I think it is idealy suited for service desk level 1/2 to monitor the network. Combined with SharePoint  or Visio dashboards, you could do some really nifty real-time dashboards for a variety of groups in your organization.
  12. No MIB import support. Microsoft will certify devices and release device updates in cumulative updates and service packs. CUs are typically on a quarterly basis. They are working on a process for customers to request specific devices to get certified.
  13. No current support for NetFlow stats. It relies on snmp gets for performance counters. Netflow may be added in the future.
  14. One OpsMgr network management server can probably support approximately 500 devices. More testing will be performed and MS will come out with performance details closer to RTM.
  15. For 2,500 devices you can expect 15GB of additional storage required in your OpsMgr operational database, and about 100GB in your data warehouse for 1yr of data.
  16. No Fibre Channel or SAN switch support. May be added in future releases.
  17. OpsMgr only needs read-only SNMP access, NOT read/write.
  18. Currently there is no event correlation between a switch going down and the servers connected to it. All objects will alert in OpsMgr. Future releases may have a correlation engine to suppress alerts.

In short, even though Microsoft claims to do just basic network monitoring and this is a v1.0 module, I think it’s pretty darn full featured. Given their committment to support additional devices in their quartlerly CUs, that should help keep the module relevant and supporting the latest and greatest hardware.

For service desks, the out of the box functionality with a few custom dashaboards has the potential to eliminate the need for tools such as What’s up Gold or SolarWinds. Of course network engineers still need their heavy duty tools, but seriously consider the cool Visio/SharePoint/Dashboard features of OpsMgr combined with network monitoring.

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