Infrastructure Management Software Blog

SPI DVD for OMW 9.0 - just released!

Did you know that HP Operations SPIs (Smart Plug-ins) are now available for OMW 9.0?  Just released last week, you can now use SPIs with 64-bit, OMW 9.0 servers.

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.

Q&A from EMA webinar on incident management and OMi

Thank you to everyone who attended the EMA webinar on “What is New in the Not-so-New Area of Event Management: Five Tips to Reduce Incident Resolution Costs” (view the archived webinar by clicking on the link).


We had many great questions at the end, some of which we did not have time to answer. Here is a complete list of all the questions that were asked, along with the answers. If you have additional questions, please post them in the comment field on the blog.


 


What effect will cloud computing have on the management strategies you discussed?


In many respects, Cloud computing – if it’s to be successful as a responsible answer to optimizing infrastructure for business applications – will accelerate the need for consolidated event management and its associated technologies.  Cloud computing places many new complexities and a stress and real-time awareness in front of IT managers, including how to manage performance, change, and costs effectively across virtualized environments and potentially across a mix of external service providers wedded together in a dynamic ecosystem.  These requirements will force service providers to become more transparent in support of SLAs, performance management, infrastructure discovery, CMDB Systems and CMS involvements, and shared cost analysis, along with compliance, security and risk management issues.  In other words, Cloud computing cannot succeed except as a niche opportunity without embracing the best practices and process-centric programs within IT to optimize its own internal effectiveness.


As you all know, security event management is a domain in its own right, and there is as much interest in cross-domain integration of security processes & tools as in other areas, if not more so in some cases. How can unified event management help security and IT ops team achieve their common goals?


Security event integration with an overall consolidated event management system is one of the more challenging and also more valuable areas of consideration.  This is partly because rather than being a “component-defined” part of the infrastructure or SW environment, security is pervasively associated with all domains and all disciplines.   It is something like the “phantom” in event management-a more logical than tangible entity.  But as such, defining polices for integration and reconciliation are more complex and overall less evolved.  Of course security has its own well established history in event management, in particular with SIEM—but once again this evolved as a way of consolidating security-related event issues, rather than being a more holistic approach to integrating security events with performance and change related events.  And so to a large degree this challenge still remains unanswered by the industry as a whole.


Is OMi a replacement for OM?


No. OMi is a separate product that adds on to Operations Manager. OMi introduces advanced functionality such as system health indicators and topology-based event correlation using Operations Manager as the event consolidation platform. We designed the products in this way to allow our customers to gain significant new capabilities without disrupting their current Operations Manager deployment. There is no rip and replace, just adding a new component on top of the existing monitoring solution.


OMI looks alot like BAC, are they tightly coupled?  Do I need both?


So is BAC and OMi the same product now?


Great observation. OMi is built on the BAC foundation so they do share a common look and feel. OMi performs advanced event management. BAC handles application management, transaction monitoring, and problem isolation. You can mix and match to components from the two product sets to meet the needs of your organization and you only need to purchase the components that fit your needs. So, OMi and BAC are separate products, just tightly integrated.



Sounds great, but what is the cost?  Is there some way to justify the big cash outlay for IT organizations in SMBs?


The return on investment should be apparent. As we covered in the presentation, if you assume the cost per manually handling an event is $75 and OMi will eliminate processing of around 10% of events (conservative estimate), just determine how many events your Operations Bridge team handles per day/week/month/year and do the math.
And, of course, that ignores the benefits associated with a more rapid fix-time for incidents which will enhance business service availability.


For pricing on OMi, please contact your local HP sales representative.


Can OMi run on the same server as Operations Manager?


No. You need to run the two products on different servers. OMi will run on its own Windows based platform and will be connected bi-directionally to a nominated OM server.


Do I need OMi to use the runbook automation capabilities of Operations Orchestration?


No. Operations Orchestration can use the events from Operations Manager as the trigger to launch flows. You do not need OMi too. Like OMi, OO leverages the power of OM and its agents. I strongly recommend you contact your HP sales rep to schedule a demo of Operations Manager and Operations Orchestration working together.


If everyone uses the same console, how will domain experts perform advanced troubleshooting?


The OMi console is designed for Operations Bridge personnel to view events, identify the causal event, and resolve the incident. Likely users will be Tier 1 operators and subject matter experts (SME) starting to troubleshoot problems and determine what to fix. The SMEs will then use their specialized tools to investigate the problems in more detail within their domain. For example, someone on the server team might see that a server is down and then use HP SIM (System Insight Manager) to identify that a fan has stopped working.
OMi includes the concept of “user roles” so that specific users can be provided with access to the events, infrastructure views and tools that are appropriate for their role. Domain experts could have user roles defined which include direct access to tools utilized for advanced troubleshooting.


Is there any special configuration I need to run OMi?


You need Operations Manager to consolidate events before feeding them to OMi. You can feed events from other tools (such as SiteScope for agentless monitoring) into Operations Manager to get better visibility of your enterprise by expanding the number of managed nodes. Operations Manager can also consolidate events from other domain managers such as Microsoft SCOM or IBM Tivoli.
You do need a recent version of Operations Manager – either OMW 8.10 with some specific patches or OMU 9.0. Existing Smart Plug-Ins will work with OMi but we’ve also been making some enhancements to provide tighter integration and to enable the Smart PlugIns for OMU to populate the topology maps automatically. So in general you need a recent OM version and later SPI versions are ‘better’.
Other than that, there is no special configuration.


Does OMi require ECS (event correlation services) to be built out?


No. As a general rule it’s a good idea to ‘refine’ the event stream that is processed by the OM server and passed to OMi. There is absolutely no point in passing lots of noise to OMi – stuff that we know is noise – so we would recommend making good use of all of the traditional event consolidation and filtering technologies in OM. Time and count based correlation on agents, de-duplication etc.
ECS – Event Correlation Services – can also be used to further refine the event stream as it arrives at an OMU server but it is not a requirement for OMi.


Any issues or challenges to be utilize OMi in duplicated IP addresses environment for company like MSP (managed service providers)?


OMi should work in duplicate IP address environments providing that appropriate DNS resolution and IP routing OR HTTP PROXY CHAINING is in place to enable outbound connections from the existing OM server to the managed nodes (agents) to work correctly. The support for dup-IP is something we included in the HTTP communications protocol which can be used with OM agents after version 8.x of the OM servers. There are a number of different ways that the network 'resolution' can be set up - including http proxies and NAT - and we cannot commit to testing every possible configuration. However, with an appropriate configuration OMi will work in these environments. In general, if you have a dup-IP environment working with your existing OM server then OMi should also work.


Does OMi take into consideration HA (high availability) configurations such that it can identify business degradation as opposed to an outage?


Yes. This is one advantage of having health calculation and event correlation which is dynamically driven by the discovery of the infrastructure. Consider a cluster running some Microsoft Exchange Resource Groups, or a number of VMware hosts with some virtual machines which participate in delivering a business service. In either case, if we have a hardware issue then we may move the ‘application’ (resource group or VM) to another host. This may happen automatically.
The Operations Manager Smart Plug-In (SPI) which is monitoring these resources – so the Exchange SPI (which is cluster aware) or the Virtualization Infrastructure SPI – will detect the movement of resources typically within 1 to 2 minutes. The SPI will update the discovery information in OM and this will be synchronized into OMi a short time later. OMi’s perspective of the topology of the infrastructure will change and the health and event correlation rules will adapt.
OMi will now ‘understand’ that the hardware events which arrived from the cluster or VM host do not impact the business service which is supported by the specific Exchange Resource Group or virtual machine.


 


For HP Operations Center, Peter Spielvogel.


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


Join the HP OpenView & Operations Management group onLinkedIn.

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