Infrastructure Management Software Blog

Data Collection: Smart Plug-Ins (SPIs) explained in deeper detail ...

This post is basically a follow-in to my post from February 16, 2010 entitled “Smart Plug-Ins (SPIs) and Agent-Based/Agentless Data Collection Explained: What you need to manage your IT environment”.


To reiterate, an HP Operations Manager solution consists basically of two things: an Operations Manager management server and data collection technologies. Data collection technologies, at a very high level, are either agent-based or agentless. The purpose of this post is to go into further detail around agent-based data collection – specifically, how SPIs or Smart Plug-Ins assist in agent-based data collection.  Referring to the graphic in the attachment to this post, I will be talking about that little thing labeled “App SPI”:


Application SPIs reside on a node that hosts the application you want to monitor.  Each SPI is basically a “bundle” of functionality that addresses detailed monitoring of a specific application and assists in the following:



  • monitoring availability of the application

  • discovering applications on an automatic basis

  • collecting performance data of the application at a regular interval

  • sending alert messages to HP Operations Manager in the event of a threshold violation

  • visualizing performance behavior of the application over a period of time, by providing data to HP Reporter (when used with HP Operations Manager)

  • providing instruction text along with alert messages


The process of data collection and alert generation is governed by sets of rules called policies, which must be deployed on the managed nodes in order to start collecting data. A policy is essentially a combination of several rules and specifications that define:
• Types of data that can be collected from the node
• Mechanism to collect the data
• Collection interval
• Mechanism to generate an alert at the event of threshold violation


Policies are comprised of attributes, each of which has a specific value or setting.  The value of each attribute determines the manner in which the policy behaves to collect information. For example, the polling interval of Microsoft’s Active Directory Directory Information Tree (DIT) —ADSPI-DIT_TotalDITSize, a Microsoft Active Directory SPI policy—is set to 24 hours. This attribute value defines how frequently this policy should poll data from the node.


Every HP Operations SPI is equipped with out-of-the-box, default policies, which allow you to quickly start monitoring your applications. You can customize these out-of-the-box policies - using HP Operations Manager - to enhance the application monitoring process and optimally manage your IT environment.  Continuing with the ADSPI-DIT_TotalDITSize policy example mentioned above, you could set the polling internal of this policy to 12 hours by changing the appropriate attribute. As soon as you change the attribute value, the SPI creates a new version of the policy. Basically, you are changing the base version (the original version of the policy) and creating a new customer version of the policy—the version that includes the customization done by you.


There are many application SPIs for HP Operations Manager, either developed and offered by HP or developed by third-party vendors, that cover the following areas:



  • databases such as Oracle, Microsoft SQL Server, IBM DB2, Informix, and Sybase

  • web application servers such as WebLogic, WebSphere, and JBoss

  • ERP/CRM such as PeopleSoft, SAP, Siebel, and TIBCO

  • mail servers such as Exchange and Lotus Notes

  • BlackBerry environments

  • document management such as EMC Documentum and IBM FileNet Image Services


I hope you have learned something from this post and, as always, please feel free to comment on it or send an e-mail to me at asksonja@hp.com.  I would love to hear your thoughts and/or ideas on other topics of interest that should be discussed in this blog.


Sonja Hickey


For HP Operations Center, Sonja Hickey.


Get the latest updates on our Twitter feed @HPITOps http://twitter.com/HPITOps


Join the HP OpenView & Operations Management group on LinkedIn.

Simplify your life! Upgrade you HP Operations SPIs with ease!!!

I’m a big time Quicken fan and just upgraded to the latest version. As with many upgrade processes, here are some of the issues I encountered before, during, and after the migration process:


- First, I hesitated – for 3+ years - to upgrade to the latest version of Quicken. I really wanted to take advantage of all the great things Intuit has introduced, but was concerned that the upgrade would be difficult and time-consuming.


- During the upgrade process, I ended up doing a lot of manual spot checking and comparison of data between my older and newer versions of Quicken. Certainly a frustration …. as well as VERY time-consuming!


- After the upgrade was complete, I soon realized that a lot of the customization and personalization that I had done over the past 3+ years was lost – gone for good AND not apparent to me during the upgrade process.


Sound familiar???


It’s a shame that something as seemingly simple as moving to the latest version of a product can be so daunting, complex, and time-consuming – causing you to ultimately delay performing the upgrade.


Well, this is not the case when upgrading your HP Operations SPIs (Smart Plug-ins) because of a great new tool we’ve introduced – called the SPI Upgrade Toolkit  or SUTK.  Now you can quickly and easily move to the latest version of a SPI, so that you can take advantage of the enhanced and/or new monitoring and management capabilities of your IT environment; in other words, better monitor and manage and technologies and environments such as virtualized servers, BlackBerry applications, application servers (JBoss, WebLogic, and WebSphere), databases (Oracle, Informix, and DB2), and much more. Like my Quicken dilemma, you shouldn’t hold off upgrading because you fear what the upgrade process is going to be.


We’ve made it easy to upgrade your SPIs!!!


This toolkit allows you to quickly and easily upgrade to the latest version of a SPI as follows:


- Any customization(s) you have done around policies are NOT lost during the upgrade process, ensuring all work and effort you have done in the past stays intact.


- Changes made to any policy during the upgrade process are reported and brought to your attention BEFORE they are made, thus eliminating the possibility of overwriting policy customizations you’ve done in the past.


- From a performance standpoint, the process is quick, as it takes less than one second per policy comparison.


- Again, the process is quick, as you are provided – in a summary format – policy comparisons that are in an easy-to-read and digest format.


- The toolkit has an intuitive, easy-to-use interface that allows you to quickly and easily perform an upgrade.


The attachment to this post shows how the upgrade would work if you have customized any policies associated with a SPI that you are upgrading.


Best of all – the toolkit is FREE! Simply download it (ftp://sutk:Andante0@ftp.usa.hp.com/) and then launch it from HP Operations Manager and you’re ready to go! (Note: This is a large download.)


And, per usual, we’d love to get comments and feedback on the toolkit. Feel free to comment on this post or e-mail me with your input on how your upgrade went when using this tool! I look forward to hearing from you.


Sonja Hickey


For HP Operations Center, Sonja Hickey.


Get the latest updates on our Twitter feed @HPITOps http://twitter.com/HPITOps


Join the HP OpenView & Operations Management group on LinkedIn.

OH, IL, WI, IN, MI Operations Center Technical Roadshow - April 20th to April 29th - Don't miss it!

Ever wish you could talk face-to-face with more technical people about Operations Center and Network Management Center products? Don’t really have the time or budget to travel very far to do so?  Well, here is a great opportunity to meet and talk with technical experts on products like Operations Manager and NNMi – right in your background.


Vivit will be hosting a series of six (6) one-day sessions, where there will be a nice mix between presentations and Q&A sessions around these products.  The sessions will be held in the following states on the following days:


- (Columbus) Ohio – April 20, 2010


- (Orrville) Ohio – April 21, 2010


- (Dearborn) Michigan – April 22, 2010


- Wisconsin – April 27, 2010


- (Chicago) Illinois – April 28, 2010


 - (Fishers) Indiana – April 29, 2010


Feel free to contact me if you have any further questions about this roadshow at asksonja@hp.com.

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Learn how Independence Blue Cross reduced IT Operations costs

Join HP Software and Solutions for a live InformationWeek webcast with special guests Maryann Phillip, Director of Service Delivery at Independence Blue Cross (IBC), and Ken Herold, Practice Manager & Principal Architect with Melillo Consulting.


Hear first-hand how IBC is using HP Operations Center products like Operations Manager, Performance Manager, and DDM in addition to agentless and agent-based data collection to:



  • achieve profitable growth through enabling technologies

  • reduce costs by achieving a competitive cost structure

  • manage medical costs better -- through operational stability & improvements


Register today and learn how you can streamline and make YOUR processes more efficient.

Does Virtualization Consolidate Your IT Operations Or Fragment Them?

Customers tell me constantly they are consolidating their tools sets to drive efficiency and reduce operating costs. They tell me they do not want hundreds of point tools that they have to integrate themselves. They tell me they want to spend more time working on strategic projects and less on keeping the lights on. They tell me that they have Virtualization projects that are following the same path as previous innovation projects. When is it going to stop?

 

The average IT organization spends 70-80% of their budget “keep the lights on” and not innovating. As a result, most IT organizations are looking for ways to reduce their IT operations costs so they can free up resources to work on more strategic business demands.

 

Most customers are modifying their cost structure through consolidation projects (Data Center Transformation). The goal for these consolidation projects is to eliminate redundancy and more importantly increase efficiency to avoid and minimize downtime.

 

There are many types of IT consolidation that can occur but the most common are organizational, and datacenter consolidations. In both cases virtualization is often one of the key enabling technologies deployed. Each of these projects usually kicks off an IT management tools re-evaluation.

 

Unfortunately as IT organizations invest in these projects they are often very disruptive and counter productive to IT initiatives focused on reducing operating costs. I believe it is due to the lack of planning on how to best manage the new technologies once deployed.

 

Virtualization promises to deliver significant hardware and software license cost savings and thus very attractive to companies trying to reduce capital expenses. What is not understood by most companies is the fact that every new technology deployed can be very disruptive to IT Operations goal of keeping the lights on and potentially increase operating expenses.

 

Virtualization is not alone. Think back when your organization first deployed new technologies like, PCs, Client Server, Web, ERP, SOA, etc. How disruptive was it? How long did it take to get the management technologies embedded into your IT Operations processes correctly? For most companies it was too long, which drove the need to consolidate the number of management vendors because it was too costly and inefficient to maintain multiple home grown integrations, event management systems, dashboards, and IT processes.

 

Most of the disruptions were because IT organizations do not know where or how to integrate the data received by the multiple tools deployed or where different organizational boundaries should lie. This is where HP Software and Solutions has helped thousands of customers over the past 15 years drive the cost out of IT operations through tools consolidation projects.

 

What disruptions have you encountered during your data center consolidation project? Or, how did careful planning avoid the pitfalls that trip up most IT professionals.

 

For HP Operations Center, Dennis Corning


 

Is Managing Virtual Servers Just Like Managing Physical Servers?

As I travel and speak with customers, partners and analysts firms, I keep hearing that ownership for virtualization management is fragmented within the IT organization. Some companies have even created a new role called the Virtualization Administrator. Why?

 

If virtual servers are just like the legacy “physical” or dedicated servers why is there such a fragmentation in monitoring responsibilities, tools and processes today? Haven’t we learned from previous technology innovation that when it comes to IT Operations, the sooner the monitoring tools and process are streamlined into the standard operating procedure the better?

 

Take a look inside your organization today. Are you fragmenting the monitoring and management of your Virtual Servers? Are you deploying point products to manage your Virtual Server farms separate from your physical servers? You know from previous projects the sooner you streamline the management tools into the process the more efficiently IT can keep the lights on while freeing up resources to execute more strategic projects.

 

So what do you need to successfully manage Virtual Servers, the applications running on them and the underlying network? The same tools you already use to manage these entities prior to virtualization (HP Operations Center, formerly OpenView), with some enhancements to monitor the virtual layer.

 

The enhancement comes in the form of a new HP Smart Plug In (SPIs) for Virtualization. This new SPI for Virtualization plugs into HP Operations Manager and delivers the following:



  • Uses a common methodology to monitor both Physical (dedicated) and Virtual Servers.

  • Monitors both performance and availability of VM host and guests independent of each other to provide current status

  • Automates the creation of baselines and setting thresholds to reduces configuration overhead

  • Auto-discovery and visualization of the virtualized environment—including the dependency between the ESX host system and each guest system and updates service navigator views

  • Provides a single console to simplify operation tasks. When a metric exceeds a defined threshold it alerts Operators and provides instructions for fixing the problem and/or launch corrective actions automatically or manually

  • Delivers comprehensive reporting on the short- and long-time behavior for a virtualized system.

The alternative is to use a native tool that came with your virtualization platform or buy a niche point product. Both approaches can be effective for the Virtualization Administration team but does it enable you to drive the cost out of IT Operations? My recommendation is to extend your HP Operations Center deployment to ensure you continue to optimize your cost structure.

 

Let me know why or why not centralizing your physical and virtual operations into a single console is right for you.


For HP Operations Center, Dennis Corning

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