Machine Groups Come to Microsoft Operations Management Suite

Making sense of distributed applications and business services is easier with the new Machine Groups feature in Microsoft Operations Management Suite.

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This spring, Microsoft's Operations Management Suite (OMS) gained a new feature called Service Map. As the name implies, it generates a real-time dependency map that encompasses servers, processes and third-party processes. It enables users of the cloud-based management platform to quickly visualize complex business IT service environments, even if they span multiple data centers and clouds.

Now, a new feature called Machine Groups, allows administrators to further fine-tune their Service Maps by creating a single, configurable map off all the servers involved in delivering a business service. And as business requirements change, users can quickly add or remove servers to reflect any alterations.

In addition to getting a more user-friendly view of their critical servers, administrators can use the tool to explore the interdependencies between each.

"When you view your multi-tier business service, you can show all processes and connections on your servers," David Irwin, a Microsoft product manager, wrote in a blog post. "You can also filter the view to show only those processes and connections that make up the interconnected components of your service. This way, you can quickly and easily understand exactly how your servers work together to create your business service."

Machine Groups can also be used as a diagnostics tool, of sorts. It helps administrators unearth issues affecting their distributed applications by pinpointing the service tier that's causing problems. Combined with other OMS capabilities, Machine Groups enables IT organizations to better manage their distributed application environments.

For example, using the ITSM (IT Service Management) Connector in OMS, users can match service desk times to the related service tier for quicker issue resolution, Irwin said. OMS can also help with maintenance chores, said Irwin. Using the insights gleaned from Service Map's Update Management feature, administrators can better schedule server updates, enabling them to fall within a single, downtime-reducing maintenance window.

Machine Groups follows last month's preview release of the Solution Targeting feature in OMS.

"When you add a solution to OMS, it's automatically deployed by default to all Windows and Linux agents connected to your Log Analytics workspace," explains a Microsoft support document. "You may want to manage your costs and limit the amount of data collected for a solution by limiting it to a particular set of agents," which can be accomplished by creating a computer group in the Log Analytics monitoring tool and using Solution Targeting to narrow the scope of the information collected.

Also last month, Microsoft added Azure Application Insights Enterprise to its OMS E1 and E2 plans at no additional cost.

Launched in November 2016, Application Insights enables developers to view usage statistics and identify application issues. Used with Power BI dashboards, the service can help reveal how user interactions affect business outcomes. OMS E1 and E2 customers are now entitled to one Application Insights Enterprise node, which supports up to 200MB of data ingestion and 90 days of data retention.

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez is a contributor to eWEEK and the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Previously, he served as a managing editor for the Internet.com network of...