Squared Up – the bandage to make SCOM workable
I had a nice chat today with Richard South from Squared Up, they build a solution so that people love Microsoft SCOM. Interested in how that is possible? Perhaps you should read on and check them out later on. Let me first talk yo through a little history on SCOM.
In a previous article I wrote about how thrilled I was by Citrix acquiring Comtrade Citrix management packs for SCOM. I think my article was clear on my point of view monitoring your environment with Microsoft SCOM is not something you look out for getting out of bed. Customers say, and I quote, “it’s a piece of shit”.
Well like every piece of shit you have to look at it from two angles at least. One angle being data collection and one angle being management.
I don’t think there is anything wrong with data collection when it comes to Microsoft SCOM, it’s a very powerful tool that will collect thousands of metrics and throw them at you. Data collection wise the tool is fine.
The issue with Microsoft SCOM is management, you need to get any info from all of those metrics, thousands of metrics a day or more and you feel like you are looking at a box of lego without the instructions whee to go from there. Microsoft has done a pretty bad job here for a long long time. Of course you can buy management packs and so on but that just adds up to the complexity, they cost a lot and take ages to implement.
So Squared Up heard all this also at customers and decided it was time someone took up the job Microsoft was lacking. Microsoft SCOM is implemented at customers and no one is using it for they don’t know how. what did they build?
They build software that sits on top of Microsoft SCOM and that creates a dashboard that aggregates all data collected into a workable overview. It sounds like, there are more of those around but frankly I haven’t see any of them, not at this price I haven’t and not with the flexibility they offer.
Am I turning into a Microsoft SCOM fan suddenly? Hell no but what these guys built is something that makes working with SCOM a lot better.
How does it work?
It’s pretty simple, they haven’t build a monitoring solution, so you need to make sure Microsoft SCOM is running with all the management packs you like. If you want to monitor the Citrix environment add the packs to do so. They can only show what is there.
They install and live on top of Microsoft SCOM and work with the data given to them, with smart filters you built the dashboard you want or import it once some other customer already did the work for you.
It’s built on HTML5 and as all data is coming from SCOM you don’t need anything in your infrastructure except a IIS server to run on. it can be co-hosted on either the management server or the web console server whatever your architecture decision is.
What does it look like?
Enough talking, let’s show you what it looks like. Below is a screenshot of a live dashboard in which a couple of servers are monitored. It’s pretty hard to show how flexible this dashboard is created and much options you have in creating it. I was pretty impressed way the way you can setup a dashboard, all Microsoft SCOM data is available to you and partial searches show all groups, computers, metrics that you can add in the list.
Monitoring a Microsoft SQL servers of course shows a nice dashboard of all the databases and of all the metrics you as an admin find interesting. during my talk with them they showed a that they would import a dashboard from a customer. They got the metrics to show in the dashboard from a VMware administrator and that was what he wanted to see. They build the logics but can’t determine what you as an admin would like to see. Every metric Microsoft SCOM is collecting is available for the dashboards and it goes pretty far I’ve seen.
You could do a compare of multiple servers with the same metric to see whether one servers is being the jackass in the farm. As you can see in the screenshot you can select anything that Microsoft SCOM is offering to compare against. searching is easily as it will look for parts of the result so you don’t have to worry about typing it right.
What I found interesting is that they got there pricing online, try to find pricing for any SCOM management pack online for any vendor these days. Prices are going from $700 for 1 named user to $5000 for 10 named users and further up the more users you want to access the tool. So for small companies with a few admins $5000 is probably not to bad, I would even advice giving it a try…from what I’ve seen it’s certainly worth that investment. (and i don’t have stocks 😉 )
Well to finish of, look at their website and check them out, they got a very interesting tool that make you forget about Microsoft SCOM even though you are working with it. You don’t go broke on investment with the prices they ask so I don’t see why you would not try it.