Postings in the same series:
Part I – Some Questions
Part II – The SCOM Console
Part IV – Savision LiveMaps
Part V – SharePoint 2010 Integration
In the third posting of this series I will describe how to use the Visio Add-in for SCOM R2 and how to create some nice Dashboards with it. But before I start I want you to know that this posting won’t be about how to install to Visio Add-in. Why? Microsoft has done a great job in explaining how to use it.
The download page contains besides the two downloads (client and server) also a pdf-document explaining how to use the Add-in in great detail. So RTFM is the message here. Webpage to be found here. Since the page can loop a ‘bit’ while trying to download the required files, I have put them on my SkyDrive.
The strength of the Visio Add-in is that you aren’t limited any more by the Views the SCOM R2 Console has to offer. Now your imagination becomes the only real limit here. And the requirements of the business of course. Even though it looks nice to have a Visio drawing depicting Terminator III and its post-nuclear landscape, which is linked to your IT environment, I am not sure whether the management of your company can appreciate it…
Time to get serious again! So lets start.
In order to create Visio based Dashboards, there are multiple scenario’s possible here:
- Exporting a Diagram View of any Object, like a Distributed Application or a Computer to Visio and use that as as Dashboard;
- Create a Visio Drawing and connect the Shapes with Objects present in SCOM R2;
- Create a Visio Drawing based on the Objects present in SCOM R2.
Even though scenarios 2 and 3 might seem to be same there is a significant difference. With scenario 2 one can use any Shape available in Visio and link it to an Object in SCOM R2, with scenario 3 the Objects (and their related Shapes) present in SCOM R2 will be used. Of course, one can mix scenarios 1,2 and 3 as required. And one can use Visio Drawings which were already present as well of course and use scenario 2 in order to connect the Shapes to SCOM R2 Objects.
In this posting I will demonstrate some nice Dashboards. In a later posting I will demonstrate how to integrate it into SharePoint 2010.
- Export of a Diagram View from SCOM R2
Here I have Exported a Diagram View of a Computer Object from SCOM R2 to a Visio drawing. There are some things to reckon with though but first I tell you how to export any Diagram from SCOM R2 to a Visio Drawing.
Right click on the Object you want to export to Visio > Open > Diagram View.
Normally when a Diagram View is shown of an Object, like a Computer, only the first two layers are shown. When this View is exported to Visio, the drawing itself will also contain only two layers:
Advice #1: It is important to open just as many layers as required in the Diagram View before you export it to Visio. So WYSIWYG is the credo here.
Advice # 2: Beware however not to open too many layers because before you know it, the Visio drawing becomes a collection of all kind of Objects where one easily overlooks the consistency of it all, like this:
(Mind you, this is still the same Computer Object as the previous picture…)
Advice #3: As a rule of thumb do not display not more than 4 layers. This way you will keep a clear View with enough detail:
How the export to Visio is done? Easy! Whenever a Diagram View is opened, a button is displayed which enables you to export it to Visio (To Visio):
Click it and follow the instructions (nothing more but a location and a file name).
The strength of such an Export is that the connection between the Shapes present in that Visio Drawing and the SCOM R2 Objects they represent, will be automatically made. So no hassle there! Nice!
Advice #4: Another thing to reckon with are the Health State icons. These are shown by default in the Visio Drawing based on an exported Diagram View. However, these are looked upon by Visio as additional Shapes for which cpu and ram are required as well when the Health State is recalculated. When one has large Visio Drawing it is better to change those icons into colors (green: all is OK, yellow: warning, red: critical error) which will have a much lower performance hit on the system displaying that Visio Drawing. Besides that, a color code is much more easier to be noted, compared to a small icon turning from green to yellow or red.
How this is done? Easy again! Select all Shapes present in the Visio drawing (CTRL – A works here as well, I love these shortcuts) go to Data > Data Graphics and select the second option from the left. When the Visio Drawing contains a lot of Shapes it might take some seconds before the change has taken place.
Now the Visio Drawing looks like this:
Advice #5: Keep the Visio Drawing sharp by removing unmonitored Objects like the folder ‘Not monitored’ on the left (second layer) shown in the picture above. A Dashboard will only function correctly when it shows just enough and not too much. So now the Visio Drawing looks like this:
Save the changes to the file or export it as a webpage. This way it can be used on any server with IE and SilverLight installed. So no need to have a full blown installation of Visio in place in order to display the Visio Drawing:
These steps can used for any Diagram View in SCOM R2. So you can create your own Distributed Application, adjust it as required, open it in Diagram View and export it to Visio.
- Creating a Visio Drawing (or using an existing one) and connecting it to SCOM R2 Objects
This scenario offers many opportunities since one is able to use Visio based Shapes, thus not being limited to the Objects and their shapes present in SCOM R2. When the names are set correctly the Shapes are easily connected to the correct Objects in SCOM R2 by using the Reconcile Shapes button:
Another approach here is to use the button Add Data Links. This option is to be preferred when an existing Visio Drawing is being used which contains many different Shapes which need to be connected to many different types of SCOM R2 Objects. Here one opens the Visio Drawing, hit the button Add Data Links and start to add all the required SCOM Objects:
Repeat this for all the required SCOM R2 Objects. All these Objects will be displayed in the bottom of the screen:
Notice the yellow highlighted area. As you can see, these Managed Objects aren’t associated with any Visio Shape yet:
Now it is time to drag the Managed Object to the correct Shape. Repeat this for every Shape present in the Visio drawing. Now the Drawing will look like this:
Of course, the Health State icons can be used as well here. The file can be saved or exported to a HTML file and opened in IE with SilverLight installed:
Above example looks a bit dull. And to be frankly it is. So what about creating a traffic light as a Dashboard, depicting the State of a business critical application? When something goes wrong, the ‘light’ will turn yellow or red! Take a look at this example which depicts the SCOM R2 WebConsole (the server hosting the website, the OpsMgr DB and the website itself) :
All is well here.
I have stopped the website and now the traffic light reflects that change within a minute:
Oops! Something wrong here. Time for some action!
So try to think outside the box. The possibilities are ‘endless’! However, KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid) is key here.
- Creating a new Visio Drawing based on SCOM R2 Objects
The latter is a Drawing based on the Objects present in SCOM R2. Again, try to think outside the box and remember KISS. Many times I hear customers about the Distributed Applications which are present by default in SCOM R2 (when some MPs are loaded that is) not to be very complete or – the opposite – to be too complex.
So now one can build a Visio Drawing of a DA. However, remember that a DA and a Visio Drawing are two totally different things. A DA is a chain of monitors which reflects an application with monitoring logic applied to it. Not only the components are covered for but the whole DA and its relationships are monitored as well. With a Visio Drawing only the Objects/Shapes are being monitored. Thus the monitoring logic is not applied to the Visio drawing as a whole.
The best way to go about it is to recreate the DA yourself, configure and test it. And when all is well, export it to Visio. This way you have covered both ends.
With this scenario you could create something like this:
When using this approach one might bump into this issue about which I recently blogged.
The Visio 2010 Add-In for SCOM R2 offers much asked for extensibility in order to bring monitoring outside the SCOM R2 Console. With Visio 2010 the possibilities were already endless. Combined with SCOM R2, the world is yours. But remember KISS and know that every separate Visio Drawing – in conjunction with SCOM R2 – creates an additional SDK connection. So use it wisely and do not use it because you simply can.
In the next posting of this series I will show some examples for Dashboards created with Savision LiveMaps. This tool starts where the Visio 2010 Add-In for SCOM R2 ends. When you are impressed by this posting: hold your breath and wait and see. Savision LiveMaps ROCKS!!!