Tuesday, August 24, 2010

SCOM Tasks – Part I – The Introduction

Postings in the same series:
Part II  – How It Works
Part III – To Serve And To Protect
Part IVLets Create a Simple Task

Tasks are a feature in SCOM which are a bit underestimated. Many times organizations do not utilize it to the fullest extend. Sometimes they forget to look into the Actions Pane under the header “… Tasks”. Or they are a bit frightened because some Tasks are not to be taken lightly and can cause some serious issues when these are run by persons who do not understand fully what they are doing.

This series of postings will be about Tasks, where they are to be found, why they are present in SCOM, where they come from, what differences there are in Tasks and how to use them. Some Tips and Tricks will be shared as well. Also an approach will be described where people only get to see the Tasks which are directly related to their field of work and responsibilities. And, on top of it all, a simple but handy Task will be authored which enables you run any Alert shown in the Console against Google as a query. So lets start!

Q01: Where are the Tasks to be found?
Hmm, anywhere. Or almost anywhere. Always to be found in the Actions Pane, which resides on the left side of the SCOM Console.

A nice feature about the Task View is that it adepts itself. That is why I wrote “… Tasks” in the introduction of this posting. These three dots are there for a purpose. Depending on where you are in the Monitoring Pane of SCOM, the Tasks header adjust itself accordingly. So the Tasks are always relevant. No Task to stop a SQL Server service while you are viewing a server in a DNS folder of the Monitoring Pane will be shown. This enables one to scope the Tasks to the people who know what they are doing. (More about that in a later posting.) Some existing Task Views are: Windows Computer Tasks, Alert Tasks and SQL DB Engine Tasks.

As the header name suggests, all these Tasks are directly related to that topic:

Q02: Nice! But why are they present in SCOM?
Good question! Never take anything for granted. Always keep asking questions. This way you will learn something. SCOM is not just a product which tells you something is broken and ends there. It will also help you finding out why it broke and refer to KB articles which might be the answer to the issue(s) you are experiencing. And the help doesn’t end there. No!

It offers you also some functionality right from the Console which will help you to start troubleshooting. Like pinging a server, starting a RDP session, opening SQL Management Studio for instance. All these actions are Tasks. So Tasks are here to help you and to use the SCOM Console as a jumping board, enabling you to work faster and keep you targeted as well.

Of course, I know that some Tasks require a bit of attention from Microsoft and that some Alerts do not display all the required information. But… Microsoft listens and takes feedback seriously. You only have to tell them. How? Go to Connect as a described in another blog posting of mine and follow the instructions.

Q03: OK, I see. But where do these Tasks come from?
From the MPs you have imported into your SCOM environment. Many MPs do contain Tasks which are directly related to the product/service/application the MP is targeted against. So the DNS MP contains DNS related Tasks where as the SQL MP contains SQL related Tasks and so on. The guide of the related MP will tell you what Tasks are to be found in that MP. So RTFM is the credo here :).

Q04: Are there differences between Tasks?
Yes, there are. The main differences are Console Tasks and Agent Tasks. Console Tasks run locally on the computer where the Console runs from AND (VERY IMPORTANT TO KNOW!!!) these tasks do run under the credentials which are used to run the Console…

Agent Tasks run remotely on the Agent or Management Server AND (VERY IMPORTANT TO KNOW!!!) these Tasks use the credentials which the SCOM Agent uses or one can enter other credentials in the Run Task screen:

Huh? How you can see whether a Task is Agent or Console based? The icon will tell you more about it:

This icon tells you it is an Agent Task:
and this icon tells you it is a Console Task:

The next posting in this series will be about how Tasks work. So stay tuned!

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