Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Monitoring made Real, Dynamic & Easy

As we all know SCOM/OM12 can monitor anything as long there is a MP for it. However, monitoring is just one step in the whole process of getting in control of your IT environment. Another important step is presenting the collected information, statuses and Alerts.

Do You SEE it?
Even more important, visualizing the relationships of the monitored components in order to reflect the overall status of an important business application or process is key here. Now no one has to cycle through a whole bunch of statuses or Alerts in order to create a mental picture of the status where the knowledge about that important business application or process of that individual is crucial as well. A senior will take a whole different approach and form a far different mental picture as such compared to a junior who just started and doesn’t know it all.

Instead, a dashboard displaying the whole chain of components, flow of processes, services and information which makes up the critical business application/process is far more better. Now all the knowledge of it is brought into a single location and presented in an uniform manner to anyone. This leaves not much room for mistakes or misinterpreting the current status of the monitored application/process and in pinpointing the components which are having issues.

In the days SCOM went RTM this visualization wasn’t high on the wish list of too many organizations. They just started with monitoring components which was already a huge step forward. Today however, the visualization of the monitored ICT assets has moved from the wish list to the list of monitoring requirements. And not just that. Organizations want more insight as well, like mapping it to their organization as a whole. Like, what locations are having issues?

Suppose you have a whole chain of shops and every shop has multiple servers, clients and cashpoints in place. Wouldn’t it be nice to show them on a map? This way you know exactly what shop in what location is experiencing issues.

Past & Present – So 1980’s! 
Already in SCOM one could put monitored ICT assets on a map. This could be done by using Visio or Savision Live Maps™.  I myself prefer Savision Live Maps since it’s very user friendly, low maintenance and flexible. With OM12 Microsoft has introduced some map backgrounds as well. But still, all these solutions aren’t dynamic at all. These are just static maps which aren’t really useful besides being an informational background, like this:

Maps’ like these are so 1980! Smile

The Future of Monitoring
Wouldn’t it be awesome to use Bing Maps as a dynamic background for your monitored assets and being able to use the full functionality of Bing Maps as well? Like zooming in, showing traffic or other overlays provided by the government or other third parties showing weather, earthquakes to name a few? Which means Bing Maps isn’t a background anymore but additional information for your monitoring solution.

Some Usage Examples… 
Suppose you can zoom into to Las Vegas on Bing Maps. With a single glance you’ll see all the shops you’re responsible for depicted by pins showing the status (healthy, warning, critical). At a high level, the pins are clustered per health status. When zooming in, the pins will be shown separately. This will enable one to pinpoint exactly the locations experiencing issues. Or suppose you are monitoring cash vending machines. This way with a single glance you can see the overall status of all the cash vending machines and with a few mouse clicks, isolate and locate exactly those machines experiencing issues and send out repair teams with detailed information where to locate the machines and the problems those machines are experiencing.

Not only stationary objects…
Or think about this scenario: You have moving monitored objects, like busses or vans. They have onboard computers as well which require monitoring. Wouldn’t it be awesome to monitor the location of those objects as well and having them depicted on Bing Maps? This scenario can be used for ships as well. In conjunction with a layer showing the current weather status, you’ll get a far more better insight of the external conditions as well.

Yeah right! It’s a dream but not real!
Hold your breath please, since this isn’t a dream at all:

Savision will add this functionality, integrating Bing Maps with SCOM R2/OM12 and Savision Live Maps within a few weeks from now!

Just take a look at this awesome YouTube video recorded by Savision, based on a beta version of the newest version of Savision Live Maps with this cool feature:

Savision’s Bing Maps Integration Demo

Sweet ain’t it? Already saw an impressive demo while attending MMS but then I was under NDA. Now I am allowed to share this news.

Personally I think this new feature of Savision Live Maps brings any SCOM R2/OM12 environment to a new level of presentation by combining new ways of visualizing status information and external sources of information like traffic, weather and the lot. This way a whole new enrichment of monitoring comes into the reach of everyone.

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