Most of us think of management pack tuning as a reactive process in response to alerts raised in our production environment. Management pack tuning is certainly an iterative process that we as Operations Manager and Essentials administrators must engage in every day. But the fact is, there are several proactive steps you can take to ensure a minimum of alert noise and unnecessary impact to your infrastructure and applications.
1. Create a Management Pack Report
A management pack report provides instant visibility into the contents of a management pack, rules, monitors, discoveries, tasks, object classes…everything you see in the Monitoring and Authoring workspaces. This is a great way to quickly check out the types of monitoring present, default performance thresholds, etc. This can bring to light monitoring thresholds you know will need tuning immediately. There are two tools available for creating a Management Pack Report:
- MP Viewer - by Boris Yanuspolsky, which provides export to HTML and Excel options. I prefer the Excel option as it provides the ability to sort report contents. This tool also exposes rule type and performance threshold data, so it’s a great way to get a look at MP internals quickly.
You can download MP Viewer HERE.
- Silect MP Studio Lite – which provides a “document this management pack” feature, providing sortable columns without the need to export to XML, along with some additional key info for Essentials admins as you’ll see in a second.
You can obtain a copy of MP Studio Lite HERE.
- The Manual Method – In the Authoring space of the Operations or Essentials Consoles, you can look at the properties of rules, monitors or object discoveries, but it is a much slower process to learn the details in this way.
TIP: You’ll find the columns exposed in MP Studio Lite vary a bit from those of MP Viewer. I keep both loaded on my workstation for ad-hoc MP analysis.
2. Look at what is Enabled and DISABLED by default
As important as understanding what will be monitored by a given management pack is understanding what will NOT be monitored by default. What you will find varies with every management pack, so be sure to check each time you prepare to deploy a new MP. For example, in the Windows Base OS management packs, you will find that the rules that provide global monitoring of all Windows Services are disabled by default. If you deploy to production and do not have 3rd party management packs for all your applications, you may not be notified of unexpected service stoppages for your important 3rd party applications. For more information on where to find and how to enable these rules, see the “Global Windows Service Monitoring” of this blog post. The methodology described within is applicable to both Operations Manager and Essentials 2007.
So Is it REALLY Enabled? (Category Overrides)
For Essentials 2007 users, this can be a difficult question to answer outside the Console UI. The MP Viewer utility provides accurate reporting of the enabled / disabled status of rules for Operations Manager 2007 only. For Essentials users, you will need to use Silect MP Studio Lite for accurate reporting. This is because Essentials handles category overrides differently than Operations Manager 2007. Here’s a quick explanation. In the management pack XML, you will see there are 5 category overrides that apply to all categories of rules and monitors. The Enabled= attribute will contain one of these values”
In Operations Manager 2007- Everything except those marked as Enabled=FALSE will be ENABLED. In Essentials 2007 - Everything marked as TRUE or OnEssentialMonitoring will be ENABLED. Everything marked as OnStandardMonitoring, OnAdvancedMonitoring and False will have an effective Enabled value of FALSE. NOTE: You can find this data in the Operations and Essentials Consoles by looking at the “Enabled by Default” column for rules, monitors and discoveries in the Authoring space.
3. Read the Management Pack Guide BEFORE You Import!
Included in very management pack Microsoft releases is an MP guide that describes any required configuration steps in detail, as well as release notes with any known issues. You can find an online copy of the many Microsoft Management Pack Guides HERE.
4. Check for Bug Reports
Check the Microsoft newsgroups, Operations Manager and Essentials blogs and the MS Connect Site for any user reports of MP bugs that may affect your environment and/or success in monitoring for specific conditions. The Microsoft Newsgroups in particular are full of this type of information.
Hopefully I’ve helped illustrate the value of a little up front effort to ensure good results for all your management pack deployments. A few minutes of your time can save a few hours of effort down the road!