Systems Center Operations Manager (SCOM) is Microsoft’s tool for monitoring the health and performance of components in a Windows environment, from servers to applications. Many organizations use SCOM as a BizTalk monitoring solution.
Here are three pros and cons of using SCOM to monitor your BizTalk environment.
1) SCOM is readily available, but labor intensive: On the plus side, SCOM is already part of the BizTalk Server Management Pack and it’s usable for monitoring essentially everything in the BizTalk environment. Like most monitoring tools, SCOM features a dashboard that centralizes management of BizTalk server performance and events, letting IT see what’s going, at a glance, at any given point in time.
While SCOM is configurable to perform a full complement of tasks in the Windows environment, it is complex to configure and ideally suited primarily to server monitoring. For example, for complete coverage of your systems, you need to start by installing the BizTalk Server RFID, the Windows Base OS and several other management packs. SCOM must be installed on each server that you want to monitor, and then manually customized to your organization’s minimal requirements before being tweaked to monitor other applications or components.
Since SCOM’s central focus is servers, using it to monitor complex environments such as SharePoint or BizTalk is an unwieldy task. In short, you’re going to need a dedicated expert or team to manage SCOM. Piling SCOM onto an already overloaded system administrator’s shoulders or adding it to the responsibilities of the SharePoint or Exchange team isn’t an effective solution.
AIMS on the other hand is an integration focused performance monitoring SaaS solution. It will only take 5 minutes to deploy and monitoring is setup automatically down to every host, port and orchestration and every messaging pattern is automatically visualized and named for reporting and alerting purposes.
2) SCOM covers the entire ecosystem, and therein is the challenge: SCOM is a powerful tool designed to manage many components of a business enterprise. It works because it’s comprehensive — it’s designed to monitor everything.
But its ability to be all-inclusive is SCOM’s Achilles’ heel: It alerts on everything it monitors, and the result is an overwhelming number of alerts. For example, a single failed message transmission may generate two alerts because BizTalk and SCOM both raise alerts for this type of data error. Multiply this type of failure by the thousands of emails your organization receives in a single hour, much less in a day’s time, and just imagine the volume of alerts generated by all the other exceptions or disruptions in your systems throughout a day.
Reducing the number of alerts generated involves fine-tuning SCOM for BizTalk by manually selecting parameters to monitor, and then setting thresholds of behaviors. Here again, you’re going to need SCOM experts dedicated to this sizable task. And after all the hours of planning and decision-making, thresholds set by the SCOM team are ultimately static and potentially out-of-date as soon as a change is introduced into the BizTalk environment.
This sets up a largely reactive environment, putting IT in a perpetual firefighting mode with no opportunities to prevent flare-ups.
One of AIMS core differences to SCOM is its ability to automatically setup dynamic thresholds for every single performance parameter, thus avoiding the noise generated from manual static thresholds monitoring . There will be fewer and more relevant alerts, including AIMS unique ability to send out early warnings about potential threats to BizTalk performance.
3) SCOM is fully supportable, but only as an on-premises solution: SCOM is fully supported by its maker when used as an on-premises solution.
SCOM, however, is not recommended for virtual environments, except Windows Azure. In fact, SCOM is only recommended for use in a virtualized environment when it’s running on Azure or when it’s on-premises and monitoring an Azure machine.
A more efficient solution is to use intelligent and integration focused monitoring software like AIMS. Intelligent monitoring installs easily and begins learning your BizTalk environment right away. As self-learning technology, the software automatically adjusts to your organization’s behavior, setting thresholds and generating alerts on only the most relevant anomalies. These alerts pinpoint the causes of problems and allow you to resolve issues faster.
SCOM is a comprehensive monitoring tool, but it is not specifically developed for BizTalk and, as such, is not a best-of-breed solution for monitoring the complex BizTalk systems integration platform. Intelligent monitoring software offers a better solution, helping to ensure your BizTalk environment performs optimally and remains a viable platform for your business processes.
We have made it easier than ever to combine the powers of SCOM and AIMS by offering you the option of accessing the information gathered from AIMS into the SCOM interface. This enables you to combine full control over all your servers and systems with complete, proactive BizTalk monitoring.