Friday, October 1, 2010

SCOM and Dashboards – Part IV – Savision LiveMaps for SCOM R2

Postings in the same series:
Part   ISome Questions
Part  IIThe SCOM Console
Part IIIVisio 2010 Add-In for SCOM R2
Part V  – SharePoint 2010 Integration

In the fourth posting of this series I will describe how to use Savision LiveMaps with SCOM R2 in order to create some very nice dashboards. But before I start I want you to know that this posting won’t be about how to install this software.

Why? Savision has done a great job in explaining how to do just that.

Neither will I talk you through all the steps required to build a Dashboard. Same reason applies here as well. With some good training videos, available on the website of Savision, one is quickly taught how to use Savision LiveMaps® in order to create some very nice LiveMaps. Within an hour(!) one is fully capable to create LiveMaps® on his/her own. So no need for me to reinvent the wheel here.

Many times I do get the question from customers why to use Savision LiveMaps instead or besides Visio 2010?

There are multiple viable reasons for it.

One of them is the option to add layers (aka Nested Maps) in Savision LiveMaps. So one can create multiple layers and connect them to each other. For a dashboard for instance, one can create a main dashboard which is connected to multiple sub-dashboards. On or more of those sub-dashboards can be connected to other LiveMaps, like Dynamic Lists, as well.

When such a nested dashboard is in place one can quickly drill down to a detailed view of the Alert.image

Another good reason is SOUND!

Many times I hear customers asking whether SCOM R2 is capable of creating a sound when something happens. The answer is simply No. OK, with Opalis one can easily do this. But not every customer has the required licenses for it so many times that is not an option. Besides that, installing Opalis in order to get SCOM beeping is a bit of an overkill. Normally do Opalis implementations need more business requirements in order to justify it.

But with Savision LiveMaps one can easily add sound to SCOM Alerts:

Having said that, it is time to get started.

First some (but not all!) Savision LiveMaps terminology which will be used throughout this posting:

  • View
    The basic element of LiveMaps. The free license enables the creation of five Views. When more are required, a license needs to be purchased.

  • Dashboard
    A View containing a logical collection/grouping of multiple other Views.

  • Dynamic List
    A View containing a list of servers, services or applications present in SCOM. With the usage of a formula this View is dynamically populated and updated as well. So it is Set & Forget.

  • Drawing
    A View containing objects available in SCOM, images from a basic image library present in Savision or any image which can be imported. The only real boundaries are set by your imagination…

  • Map
    A View depicting a map of a country or a region. Savision LiveMaps contains a library with good maps and regions. However, one can import maps of his/her own as well. A map is a good starting point to other Views.

Secondly some advice:

  1. Watch the videos
    As stated before, the website of Savision LiveMaps contains some very good and spot on trainings videos. Watch them in order to learn. Not only how to use the simply to operate and navigate interface but more in order to get some ideas about how to unlock its potential.

  2. Cover everything with SCOM
    Before implementing LiveMaps be sure that everything is monitored by SCOM. This way you can use LiveMaps to its fullest extend and create LiveMaps which are a good representation of your monitored IT environment.

  3. Unleash its power
    The strength of Savision LiveMaps is its nesting capabilities. So use it! It works great and fast.

  4. Start with a design
    I found myself creating Dashboards, Maps, DLs on the fly. But it lacked a design so nothing really good came out of it. It was back to the drawing board for me and asking myself: ‘What do I want to show and to whom?’ When I had those questions answered it was time to draw some dashboards on a piece of paper and adjust them as needed. Those drawings I used for the design. And now some good dashboards came out of it.

  5. Naming convention
    Use a naming convention in order to differentiate easily between the Views. For instance, a View based on a Dynamic List has a prefix of ’DL – and a View based on a Map has a prefix of ‘MAP –’ and so on:

  6. Hide most Views
    When a View is created, it is shown by default in the SCOM R2 Console. But ‘More is Less’. So hide the Views which are part of the Dashboards. In my case I even hided the Sub-dashboards so only the Main Dashboard remained. This way the end-users are forced to use it as intended.

Lets rock and roll!

As stated before I will not show how I build it but more what I build.

  1. Sub-dashboard I: IT Components
    This sub-dashboard contains 8 Dynamic Lists:
    - DNS Servers;
    - Domain Controllers;
    - Hyper-V Servers;
    - IIS Servers;
    - OpsMgr Agents;
    - OpsMgr Servers;
    - SQL Servers;
    - Network Devices.

    All these DLs and the Sub-dashboard are hidden from the SCOM R2 Console. First all DLs were build and later on the Dashboard Wizard was used in order to create the sub-dashboard. It looks like this (grid is only shown in the Authoring tool):

  2. Sub-Dashboard II: Network Locations
    This sub-dashboard contains two Drawings and one Map. The two drawings depict the LANs located at Rotterdam and Amsterdam:


    The drawing depicts The Netherlands with both LANs on it:

    Important to know is that the lines between the LANs and the network devices per LAN location are monitored as well:
    I LOVE this tool!!! Not just a stupid line but a REAL connection! Wow!

    The Map, Drawings and the sub-dashboard are hidden from the SCOM R2 Console. First the Map and Drawings were build and later on the Dashboard Wizard was used in order to create the sub-dashboard. It looks like this (grid is only shown in the Authoring tool):

  3. Main Dashboard
    Finally the View which brings it all together. The one and only View which is shown in the SCOM R2 Console. This View contains the two Sub-Dashboards, two Distributed Applications (Active Directory and OperationsManager) and a new DL containing all Windows based Servers. This DL is also hidden from the SCOM R2 Console.

    In order to differentiate between the two Sub-Dashboards and the other three objects present in the Main Dashboard, I have given them another color and prefix. It looks like this (grid is only shown in the Authoring tool):

In total I have created 15 Views. So the free license which allows 5 Views won’t suffice here. But still, the free license enables one to get a good look at the possibilities of Savision LiveMaps.

The end result in the SCOM R2 Console

  1. Only the Main Dashboard is shown in the SCOM R2 Console:

  2. Lets click the first button Sub-dashboard: IT Components
    Notice the yellow highlighted area above. One knows exactly where one is. Also the Details pane is neat:

  3. Lets hit the button DNS Servers

  4. Lets go back to the Main Dashboard and hit the second button Sub-Dashboard: Network Locations:

    When I click the button WAN-Netherlands this is what I see:

    Lets click on Rotterdam:

    Lets click on and the Health Explorer is opened:

I could show you ALL Views but that would be a bit too much I am afraid. Without doing that I hope to have shown the real power of Savision LiveMaps when it comes down to create some very nice Dashboards.

Download your FREE trial version today and have fun. And when you want to use more then 5 Views additional licenses are required. But looking at the added value it is a small investment with a fast ROI.

With Savision LiveMaps Dashboards with multiple layers are easily created, enabling any organization with a SCOM environment in place to drill down quickly to the real issues. With a smart usage of Savision LiveMaps in conjunction with a good Notification Model (forwarding Alerts to E-mail and SMS for instance) the usage of the SCOM R2 Console can be limited mostly to tweaking and tuning of SCOM itself.

This will aid organizations in lowering the steep learning curve of SCOM by keeping the most hardest part away from the IT Service Desk staff. Instead some smart Savision LiveMaps based Dashboards are used, thus creating a new and way much nicer entrance to SCOM.

All I can say it to download the FREE trial version, watch the trainings videos, build some Dashboards of your own and be impressed just like me!

In the last posting of this series I will talk about integrating the Visio 2010 and Savision LiveMaps based Dashboards with SharePoint 2010.

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