jmbrinkman

Posts Tagged ‘System Center Operations Manager’

SCOM Netscaler pack false positive: No HA hearbeats SNMP trap

In Citrix, Netscaler, Operations Manager, System Center, Uncategorized on December 9, 2011 at 21:55

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As I mentioned some time ago we use SCOM to monitor our Netscaler Load Balancers. We ran into an issue where an alert would be raised based on a SNMP trap sent by the Netscaler. Some background info:

– We have an etherchannel (Nortel Avaya SMLT if people are interested) like setup where we use 2 ethernet interfaces on the Netscalers connected to our core switches and we have all our VLAN’s trunked on those ports (including the VLAN where the NSIP’s reside).

– The other ports are not connected – but we had two interfaces enabled so  we could use those to connect to the appliances if the etherchannel config got screwded up

– HA monitoring is only enabled on the channel not on any of the individual ethernet interfaces.

What happened was that traps were sent out saying that both nodes missed HA heartbeats – but when we logged into the Netscaler GUI the HA status was fine. When taking a closer look at the snmp trap data it appeared that no HA heartbeats were seen on the two ethernet ports that were enabled but not connected – even though HA monitoring was disabled on these ports.

We couldn’t really override this because the SNMP trap could only be enabled or disabled for all interfaces, so we disabled the interfaces. The only drawback is that we’ll need to use the console port if we can’t reach the Netscalers through the “etherchanneled” interfaces.

Battle for Cloud City: Microsoft strikes back? Part I.

In Opalis, Operations Manager, Service Manager, System Center, Virtualization, Vmware on November 7, 2011 at 10:57

If you like my content please do check out my new blog at thirdpartytools.net ! 

A long, long time ago in a galaxy far away business thrived on the planet of Bespin. An almost unlimited source of revenue – clouds – secured the quiet life of Cloud City’s inhabitants 🙂

But those days are gone and The Empire is attempting to take control of the clouds with its hosts of Hyper-V fighters and the SCVDMM (System Central Virtual Destruction and Mayhem Manager) aka “Death Star”.

A day after the announcement of the GA of Vmware’s vCenter Configuration manager, Vmware’s vOperations Suite and Microsoft System Center Suite are facing off in their battle for the private cloud. Of course there are other vendors that provide similar management suites – but because both suites are directly linked with each vendor’s own hypervisor layer I think both will be an obvious choice for customers. Almost a year ago I already voiced my views on why I think that Microsoft might have an advantage here – but in this post I want take a brief look at both suites ( and related products from both vendors) to see what areas of private cloud management they cover.

The term suite implies a set of tools built upon a central framework and using a single data set – however each suite consists of several essentially different products that have been brought together with varying levels of integration. This is because of the different roots of each product but also because each product is built to be used separately as well as in combination with the rest of the suites. This and the fact that both suites are able to connect to other system management software as well means that if a feature is missing from the suite that you might be able to integrate another products with either suite just as well. Both suites have links with EMC Ionix family for instance.

I’m going to do that by comparing each offering in 3 different categories:

  • Configuration and Monitoring: the five infrastructure layers
  • Trivia 😉
  • Management and additional features

I’ve compiled a small table for each category highlighting 4 or 5 components that I believe make up that category – each category will get its own post.

This is in no way a complete or even refined comparison but its also a comparison based on documented features and aspects of both products – however I do intend to test and blogs about the two suites extensively in the near future.

When I mention a product I am talking about its most recent version – unless stated otherwise. Most of the System Center 2012 stuff is still beta or RC, some might say that that makes this comparison unfair – on both sides. But I think the fact that Microsoft might lack some features because the product isn’t finished is nullified by the fact they don’t have  to provide the quality and stability needed for a released product. And you could make the same argument the other way around.

C&M: The five infrastructure layers

First Star Wars and now this category that sounds like a Kung Fu movie..

In this part I want to look at which part of your “private cloud” infrastructure each suite can manage, configure and monitor. The layers that I have defined here are:

  • Storage
  • Network
  • Hypervisor
  • Guests
  • Applications

This leads to the following table (click to enlarage):


My conclusion: Microsoft is able to cover every layer with regard to monitoring and most with configuration/provisioning etc. Vmware is not. But if you can’t configure network devices from System Center and you need another application to do that chances are that application will also be able to monitor those devices.

Nota Bene:

  • Service Manager and Orchestrator really add value because they are the applications that really tie all the data from SCOM and SCCM together and makes it possible to use that data to build an intelligent management infrastructure.
  • As mentioned in other blogs and sources – dynamic discovery, self learning performance and capacity analysis are key features in managing a highly abstracted/virtualized infrastructure. Vmware sees this and seems to have given such features priority offer more “classical” features.

Sources:

vCenter Operations Docs

vCenter Configuration Manager Docs

Nice blog post comparing Vmware with other systems management applications

Monitoring Citrix Netscaler Load Balancers with SCOM 2007 R2 Part III.

In Citrix, Netscaler, Operations Manager on October 21, 2011 at 20:28

This is part three of my series on monitoring Citrix Netscalers with SCOM 2007 R2 ( Part I and Part II).

Now, does it work? And how? As said in my previous post the way the information is presented is a little bit different then with other MP’s. For each SNMP trap sent the pack will raise an alert – and the alert will tell nothing more then the fact that the SNMP trap has been sent 😉 If you make a config change you’ll get an alert that it has been changed..but not what has been changed. That information is shown elsewhere.

To give an example, in the picture below you can see two alerts:

I changed the configuration and saved the running config. This is the information as shown in the config change alert:

To see what has been changed we need to head over to the Events node, here two events are shown:

If you look at the details of the event we can see that a SNMP community reference was added to the Netscalers with “public” as a community string:

Then there is the Health Roll-up of the entity. The health monitored health categories are Availability and Performance. Performance is  based on some SNMP GET based performance metrics of both the appliance and the vservers. Availability is based on the state of the appliance alone and so if a vserver is down the Netscaler Device entity will still be healthy.

And last but not least – the Netscalers themselves also allow you to tune what SCOM will report because you can enable/disable and configure its SNMP traps. You can do this from the GUI by opening System\SNMP\Alarms.

Depending on the type of alarm you can define the alarm and normal thresholds, the time interval and the alarm’s severity. Whatever you configure here will direct influence the way SCOM will report about these events. Of course its also possible to override the rules and or alerts in SCOM but personally I prefer to do this at the source.

I hope this guide will help others to get this MP running in their environment and possibly even convince others to choose this method of monitoring Netscalers.

Persistence is Futile

In Opalis, System Center on November 11, 2010 at 17:43

 

Opalis

In my earlier post I mentioned Opalis. Now what is Opalis? Opalis is an IT process automation tool. It gives you the possibility to visually design workflows that orchestrate, manage and monitor your whole process. By using integration packs Opalis is able to communicate with a host of different systems, vendors and platforms. You can get data out of systems, into systems and base your workflow’s logica on the repsonses you get from those systems.

In the breakout session I attended Opalis was compared to a mainframe run book: a formalization of all the steps involved in a process from start to end. And because of the great interoperability you can start by taking your “informal” processes and putting them into Opalis – no chance in functionality but know you let Opalis handle the execution (for instance calling Powershell), the monitoring/logging (by raising an alert in SCOM if something goes wrong or even creating an incident in Service Manager) and the decision making logic. So instead of incorperating all of that in every script you find in your environment you create a template which you can then reuse for every task.

Opalis itself was a so called third party tool vendor but is now a fully owned subsidiary of Microsoft and has been included in the System Center suite. In later posts I will try to get into the technical details of Opalis and how it relates to Microsoft Cloud management solution.

Computer says Yes

In Service Manager, System Center, Tech Ed on November 10, 2010 at 21:16

In this post I’ll give an overview of SC Service Manager:

Service Manager is an IT service management tool which can provide problem,incident and change management while fully integrating with the other System Center products. You need a CMDB? Connect Service Manager to SCCM and SCOM and you have your CMDB. You want to create an incident if an alert is generated in SCOM? Connect Service Manager to SCOM and there you go. Want to see the same distributed applications in your IT service management tool as you’ve defined in SCOM? Import your existing MP in Service Manager and you’re good to go.

Besides being able to tap into the information provided by SCOM and SCCM Service manager enables you to create work-flows to formalize and/or automate your existing processes. Since existing scripts for common tasks can be included in the workflow you can pick up those pesky scripts and put them into Service Manager so that they are visible, documented and manageable. Combined with Opalis you could take all tasks and scripts (defrags, legacy nt backups, third party config exports) and use Opalis to orchestrate these processes and use Service Manager/SCOM to manage and monitor them. But more on Opalis later.

Eventhough the interface might seem a bit quirky for users accustomed to other IT service management or ticket handling systems the fact that you have all this information about your environment, are able to create logical workflows to for instance create a template for standard changes and are able to automate the change and monitor the change will it is being made in your environment makes this a very powerful tool.

Service Manager uses an extension of the SCOM schema and uses Management Packs just like SCOM does. Out of the box Microsoft provides with MP’s for a knowledge base,change and incident management and they are working with partners to provide things such as asset management.

Microsoft positions Service Manager as the focal point for customer\IT interaction and as a presentational layer to expose and act on information from your data-center.

Service Manager is available for free if you have a System Center Enterprise or Datacenter edition license.