Tuesday, February 11, 2014

SCOM 2012 & Maintenance Mode: Finally Fixed!

SCOM rocks but has some issues as well, one of them being MM
As we all know is Maintenance Mode (MM) in SCOM – ANY version – a pain in the backside. Excuse my ‘French’ but that’s what it is.

On one hand we MUST use MM in order to prevent alert storms and for running proper availability reports for the management. When MM is used in a proper manner, planned MM won’t have a negative effect on those same reports.

So this makes proper usage of MM very important. But on the other hand, the way it’s taken care off by default in ANY version of SCOM is outright bad. Nowhere is the ability present to plan MM from a proper interface. Thanks to the effort of the community many PS scripts are available, allowing you to perform a basic task: PLANNING MM ahead of time.

We hear you but we run a different agenda
Yes, many persons, communities and companies have complained about it since SCOM 2007 hit RTM up to SCOM 2012 R2. But never has this issue been properly addressed by Microsoft. Oh yes, we’ve got Orchestrator. And Microsoft wants all of us to use it so why not build a runbook for it?

The car and the parking lights
To me it sounds the same like buying a car and asking where the parking lights are. Yes, they’re present but in order to use them you have to get out of the car, crawl underneath it and press a couple of buttons. And when you want more comfort for using this functionality, you have to buy yourself additional hardware…

The community and Microsoft
As stated before in order to address this issue in SCOM many people in the community stood up and tried to solve it. Some solutions were okay where others were really good, like Tim McFadden’s SCOM Remote Maintenance Mode Scheduler for SCOM 2007x.

At a certain point in time Microsoft tried to address the MM issue by building a tool themselves. It involved an additional MP and an interface outside SCOM. However, even though the effort on itself was good, the result wasn’t good at all. The solution wasn’t scalable and introduced issues in SCOM 2007x environments when used at scale.

Along came SCOM 2012x
Yes, SCOM 2012x has many improvements compared to SCOM 2007x. Sadly MM isn’t one of them. It’s a copy of the crappy MM interface present in SCOM 2007x Sad smile.

And no, Tim’s old tool – which IMHO is the best – doesn’t work with SCOM 2012x since the SDK service is totally rewritten. So no luck there?

Time to meet the NEW tool made by Tim!!!
Wow! This really rocks! Tim has taken the time to rewrite his super duper SCOM Remote Maintenance Mode Scheduler tool for SCOM 2012, resulting in the SCOM 2012 Maintenance Mode Scheduler tool!!!

I’ve had the honor and privilege to test some beta versions. During these tests I was already deeply impressed by the way this tool is made and how it works. Compared to the SCOM 2007x tool this version has really grown up, like moving from a functional Ford to a BMW!

The installation is a walk in the park and the tool has a sharp looking interface which is highly intuitive. With a few mouse clicks MM is scheduled, either for computers, Groups or Classes. MM becomes what it should have been from the very beginning: a next, next, finish experience with 100% results. A ‘Set & Forget’ experience.

It’s clear to see that Tim has started from scratch! Awesome!

No, this tool comes with a price tag. But a very reasonable one. And the explanation is straight forward. Tim want’s to show the world he’s in for the real deal. With the previous versions many persons asked for additional functionalities or reported some minor bugs.

Eventually this lead to a new version of that tool, version 2. But that new version took a long time to get there simply because everything had to be made in his own spare time. I’ve met the guy a couple of times and even though he’s a hero with writing code, it seems to me he has a private life as well Smile.

So now with this newest version of this tool, rewritten from the ground up, he has decided to license it. In total there are three types of site licenses. The only difference between the three site licenses is the coverage for free updates. The basic site license covers free updates for one year, the second type of site license covers free updates for two years and the latter site license covers free updates for unlimited time.

Top dollars?
No, not at all! When looking at how the tool works (fast, stable, reliable and easy) and the coverage (there is even a Windows 8 app for it!) the pricing is highly affordable. The most basic license will have a ROI within a month at most, looking at how fast this tool works and prevents mishaps.

Okay! I want to TEST it!
Good news! There is a 30 day FREE trial of the tool available for download. You can download it from Tim’s website. On the same website you can read all about this tool, how it works and look at screenshots of it, so you know that I am NOT exaggerating about it.

Download the trial version, install it, experience it and buy it. That’s all I can say about this tool.

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