Although a pricey compliment to SMS, Microsoft Operations Manager does help you stay on top of enterprise performance.

Does MOM Have All the Answers?

Although a pricey compliment to SMS, Microsoft Operations Manager does help you stay on top of enterprise performance.

The prospect of my Fabio and me hitting the road with our newly purchased Airstream Limited hitched to the LandRover makes me giddy, even if it’s just for a weekend. Likewise, as an industry, we sometimes focus more on the journey than on what to do when we get there. We spend far more time and brain cycles on planning and design than we do on thinking through how someone (often someone else) will manage our brand-spanking-new implementations. For years, enterprise management was what Microsoft called a “third-party opportunity.” There was SMS, of course; but it’s a software-deployment tool and inventory mechanism with remote control thrown in. It can canvass an enterprise and examine an individual system, but it’s too slow to be effective at the enterprise level. Finally, deploying SMS isn’t risk-free, Auntie says judiciously.

“Third-party opportunity.” To the folks at Redmond, this is a euphemism for, “When we can score some big bucks from it, we’ll move in.” Third-party management vendors should be very afraid. Coming soon is Microsoft Operations Manager. MOM is positioned as a complement to SMS, but Auntie thinks that’s a bit fatuous on Redmond’s part. As a change and configuration management tool, SMS just doesn’t operate in real time. How many businesses do you know that just refuse to implement SMS? Partially, that’s a by-product of “anyone-but-Microsoft-ism,” but it’s also a reflection of the hesitancy with which SMS is embraced in the marketplace.

Oh, yeah, MOM integrates with SMS and NetIQ AppManager, using the .NET-based MMC Portal, XML and SOAP—all the acronyms you might expect. And it’s not cheap: $849 per CPU on each server for the base management agent for NT 4.0 or Win2K, Active Directory and IIS; $949 per CPU per server for an applications pack for other Microsoft servers (SQL, Exchange, etc.). NetIQ, from whom Microsoft licensed MOM’s core management technology, offers additional management packs and—at least in theory—other ISVs will be able to do so.

Plans for world domination aside, what Auntie likes about MOM is its capabilities in enterprise-wide event and performance monitoring. When you’re managing a production environment, you need more real-time responsiveness to problems than can be found in any base Microsoft OS.

You can do all the pilots and integration testing you like, but when you move an app or OS build into production, you’re going to run into new sets of problems. Ongoing performance management lets you keep an eye on specific applications so that they can be optimized before they suck up cycles and bring down a system.

Auntie’s not interested in hyping MOM, but I do hope it’s easier to implement and more reliable than the competition. If you’re operationally responsible for an organization of any significant size, your customers’ best interests are served by the implementation of operations and change management tools, set in the context of some sort of overall plan—whether or not you can afford software. For a primarily Windows-based environment, check out the Microsoft Operations Framework as a good starting point.

So how do you feel about MOM moving in? Will she help you keep your house in order? Tell me all about it at Auntie@mcpmag.com.

About the Author

Em C. Pea, MCP, is a technology consultant, writer and now budding nanotechnologist who you can expect to turn up somewhere writing about technology once again.

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