3 Pros And Cons Of Using SCOM for BizTalk Performance Monitoring

Posted by Ivar Sagemo

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Systems Center Operations Manager (SCOM) is Microsoft’s tool for monitoring the health and performance of components in a Windows environment – from server hardware to applications lots in between. Many IT teams use SCOM for BizTalk performance monitoring.

Here are 3 pros and cons of using SCOM for BizTalk performance monitoring:

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 possible to use it 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 on at any given point in time.

While SCOM is configurable to perform a full range of tasks in the Windows environment, it’s complex to configure and is best suited primarily for server monitoring. To get complete monitoring coverage for your systems, for example, 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 is primarily focused on 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. And 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.

Most IT teams would benefit from choosing a SaaS integration-focused performance monitoring solution like AIMS. AIMS takes only minutes to deploy, and monitoring is set up automatically down to every host, port and orchestration. Every messaging pattern is automatically visualized and named for use in reports and alerting.

2. SCOM covers the entire ecosystem (but that’s 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 per hour, 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 for normal behavior. 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 supported, but only as an on-premise solution

SCOM is fully supported by Microsoft when used as an on-premise 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, integration-focused performance 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.

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