MOM 2005 Corrals Microsoft Systems

 
 
By Cameron Sturdevant  |  Posted 2004-09-20
 
 
 

MOM 2005 Corrals Microsoft Systems


Microsoft Corp.s Microsoft Operations Manager 2005 effectively rode herd over numerous Windows 2000 and 2003 servers and a host of other Microsoft operating systems in eWEEK Labs tests. IT shops with a significant percentage of Windows systems should consider using MOM 2005 for day-to-day operations, including performance monitoring and automatic system tuning.



Click here to read the full review of Microsoft Operations Manager 2005.

2


Microsoft Corp.s Microsoft Operations Manager 2005 effectively rode herd over numerous Windows 2000 and 2003 servers and a host of other Microsoft operating systems in eWEEK Labs tests. IT shops with a significant percentage of Windows systems should consider using MOM 2005 for day-to-day operations, including performance monitoring and automatic system tuning.

We tested early release-to-manufacturing code for MOM 2005 that became available last month. MOM 2005 made it easy to manage all our Microsoft server systems, including IIS (Internet Information Services), SQL Server, Windows DNS (Domain Name System) and Exchange Server. The management packs and specialized reports included in the base product quickly alerted us when simple but potentially catastrophic events occurred, such as when our Windows 2000 Domain Controller became unavailable.

In addition to using the simple server up/down status (which any number of management tools can provide), we harnessed MOM 2005 to monitor memory and disk usage as well as the state of several processes, such as Active Directory replication. MOM 2005s availability monitoring of Windows systems is far superior to that found in MOM 2000; we believe this alone makes an upgrade almost mandatory at most sites using the older version.

Current users with a support contract can upgrade to MOM 2005 at no cost. For new customers, Microsoft has made a small pricing change that should make it much easier for IT departments to acquire MOM 2005, which will become available next month. The new edition will cost $795 per server. Previously, MOM was licensed per processor, which was a much more cumbersome and often more expensive proposition for IT departments.

MOM 2005 includes a new Operator Console and a reworked Administrator and Reporting Console. The Operator Console should significantly reduce the costs and security concerns associated with running MOM 2005.

MOM 2005 is part of Microsofts Dynamic Systems Initiative, the companys utility computing plan. Click here to read more about DSI.

During tests, we could see problems in our test network in a matter of seconds, whereas in MOM 2005s predecessor, MOM 2000 Service Pack 1, it wasnt always clear when a new problem needed to be addressed.

Although new in MOM 2005, operator consoles are not a novel concept for competitors. Computer Associates International Inc.s Unicenter Network and Systems Management and IBMs Tivoli Intelligent Orchestrator, among others, have had operator consoles for a while.

And even when MOM 2005 is equipped with third-party plug-ins to monitor Unix and Linux systems along with non-Microsoft applications, it isnt a replacement for Computer Associates and IBMs historically heterogeneous platform management tools.

Thus, even with the significant changes we found for the better in our tests, MOM 2005 still should be seen as an additional tool that IT managers use to manage Windows systems and integrate MOM 2005 with an existing data center management platform.

The new SQL Server instance monitor is a compelling feature, especially for IT managers with multiple Windows server installations. MOM 2000 could monitor SQL Server only if SQL Server was up and running. In tests of MOM 2005, we were able to detect whether specific databases were on our SQL Server systems. We could also track our test databases individually and set up tasks that automatically restarted any database that went down.

Next page: Smooth operator.

Page Three


Although significant improvements have been made in the setup and operation of MOM 2005, IT managers will still need to devote significant resources to training MOM 2005 operators, as the new Maintenance mode shows. After we installed WMI (Windows Management Instrumentation) add-ons, special code that makes performance information available to management tools, we chose to restart several servers to ensure the add-ons would start.

MOM 2005 alerted us when the servers with WMI add-ons went down, but it did not clear the alert when the systems came back online. Only later, after spending a significant amount of time with the product, did we learn that we could have flagged these servers as being in Maintenance mode. When we used Maintenance mode in subsequent testing, MOM 2005 did not display the system-down alert after the system was restarted.

Because there are many other hard-to-decipher features, such as the new Maintenance mode, in MOM 2005, we recommend that IT managers reserve at least as much training time for upgrading to MOM 2005 as they would for installing an entirely new product.

For the first time ever, Microsoft is following Computer Associates lead in employing diagrams as well as text logs to indicate problems with monitored systems. We used the diagrams, which are based on Microsofts Visio diagramming tool, to get a somewhat-useful graphical representation of which systems needed attention during our tests.

However, were glad Microsoft didnt spend a lot of time working the diagrams into the product, because we believe log files that use simple, color-coded icons are far more effective at helping IT staff quickly identify problem systems.

Once in the alerts section of the Operator Console, we could manage the state of each problem noted in our systems. For example, when the Active Directory management pack reported a replication problem, we simply right-clicked on the notice and assigned a high priority to the problem. We were able to track the resolution process in the console as MOM 2005 worked on the problem.

Most of the time, we used the Operator Console to look at alerts and events as they occurred in the test network, but there is also a new State view, which consolidates events. The State view made it easy for us to get a quick snapshot of the overall state of our systems.

IT managers could use the State option to provide senior executives with a concise overview of system health. Even MOM 2005 operators may find it handy to start off looking at the State view before digging into alerts.

Labs Technical Director Cameron Sturdevant is at cameron_sturdevant@ziffdavis.com.

Check out eWEEK.coms Windows Center at http://windows.eweek.com for Microsoft and Windows news, views and analysis.

Be sure to add our eWEEK.com Windows news feed to your RSS newsreader or My Yahoo page

Rocket Fuel