Infrastructure Management Software Blog

Radio interview on IT Operations Management book (recording)

On Wednesday, August 3, 2011, my co-authors Jon Haworth and Sonja Hickey joined me on The Bill Marlow show, a radio show focused on business innovations. Bill interviewed us for about half an hour, asking questions about the IT Operations Management book and how we came up with some of the insights in the book.

 

Listen to internet radio with The Bill Marlow Show on Blog Talk Radio

 

You can listen to a recording of the episode here - and perhaps gain some additional color beyond what’s in the book.

 

For HP Operations Center, Peter Spielvogel.

 

IT Operations Management book promotion radio interview and free ebook offer

Thank you to everyone that has purchased our IT Operations Management book (www.itopsbook.com). I will be appearing on The Bill Marlow Show (http://www.thebillmarlowshow.com) along with my co-authors Jon Haworth and Sonja Hickey on Wednesday August 3 at 10AM Eastern time.

 

As a special promotion to readers of this blog, you can download a FREE copy of the ebook version at www.hpitopsbook.com.

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.

Free today at 1 pm ET? Don't miss this webinar! How to monitor your IT environment more efficiently!

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 and Performance Manager 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.

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.

Labels: agent| agentless| agentless monitoring| agents| automating operations management| automation| BES| BlackBerry Enterprise Server| CMDB| consolidate events| consolidated event| Consolidated Event and Performance Management| consolidated event management| Consolidated Management| correlate events| DDM| Discovery and Dependency Mapping| event console| event consolidation| event correlation| event management| Hewlett Packard| HP Network Node Manager| HP OMi| HP OpenView| HP Operations Center| HP Operations Manager| infrastructure management| infrastructure monitoring| IT dashboard| IT infrastructure management| IT infrastructure monitoring| IT management| manager of managers| managing IT| managing IT infrastructure| managing IT operations| monitoring| Network Management| Network Node Manager| NNM| NNMi| Norm Follett| OM| OMi| OML| OMU| OMU 9.0| OMW| OpenView| OpenView Operations| Operations Center| Operations Manager| Operations Manager i| Operations Manager on Linux| Operations Manager on Unix| Operations Manager on Windows| performance| Performance Agent| performance management| Performance Manager| performance monitoring| SiteScope| Smart Plug-in| Sonja Hickey| SPI| TBEC| Topology Based Event Correlation| topology-based event correlation| virtual server| virtual servers| virtual systems management| virtualization management| Virtualization SPI| virtualization sprawl| virtualization strategy| virtualizationation| virtualized environment| virtualized environments| Virtualized Infrastructure| Vivit

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.

Smart Plug-Ins (SPIs) and Agent-Based/Agentless Data Collection Explained: What you need to manage your IT environment

Have questions about HP Operations Center SPIs like the infrastructure SPI or the SPI for virtualization? Wondering what agents you need to get? And how many? The following post is a good high-level summary of what you need and where you need it. Read on …


In general, an HP Operations Manager solution consists basically of two things: an Operations Manager server along with data collection technologies. Data collection technologies, at a very high level, are either agent-based or agentless. The purpose of this post is to explain the latter two: agent-based data collection and agentless data collection and what you need to implement a solution comprised of both. The following two figures provide high-level architectural representations of the following discussion.



 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 



Agent-based data collection explained


HP Operations Manager agents collect, aggregate, and correlate monitoring information to manage data and events collected and aggregated from multiple sources. The agents can suppress irrelevant and duplicate events and correlate the remaining relevant events to produce actionable and enriched management information. In addition, dependencies and propagation rules show the cause of an incident, which assist in reducing mean-time-to-recovery and downtime. Agents are installed on each managed system or node, regardless if it is a physical or a virtual machine, and have the following additional capabilities:


· Allow the addition and customization of monitoring sources not included in out-of-the-box monitoring policies.


· Collect and analyze performance data from operating systems and installed applications and use historical patterns to establish performance baselines.


· Autonomously perform automated corrective actions (in isolation from the Operations Manager server) and manage by exception (forward only actionable events to the Operations Manager server through the use of intelligent filtering, duplicate suppression, and correlation techniques).


· Set up HTTPS communication with the Operations Manager server – even in outbound-only communications configurations.


· Support monitoring data center technologies such as virtualization and clusters.


Agentless data collection explained


Agentless data collection, through the use of HP SiteScope monitoring probes, complements agent-based data collection by providing flexibility in how information is gathered from the IT environment. Like agent-based data collection, agentless monitoring is performed on both physical and virtual systems and has the following capabilities:


· Gathers detailed performance data for infrastructure targets without installing an agent on the managed node.


· Provides easy monitoring of the IT infrastructure.


· Has an intuitive user interface.


· Allows actions to be initiated automatically when a monitor’s status changes.


· Provides solution templates that enable quick deployment of monitoring probes, which include specialized monitors, default metrics, proactive tests, and best practices for an application or monitoring component.


· Has the ability to monitor previously unmanaged or hard-to-manage systems and devices through easy-to-use customization tools.


Infrastructure Smart Plug-Ins – what are they and where do they fit in?


Infrastructure Smart Plug-ins supplement agents by collecting data at the infrastructure or managed systems level. They provide out-of-the-box, packaged, and intelligent management and are comprised of the following three SPIs:


· The “system” SPI discovers operation system and platform resources, generates alerts on system diagnostic events, monitors system services and processes, and monitors resource utilization.


· The “cluster” SPI automatically discovers and represents cluster nodes and configured resource groups in a clustered environment, monitors cluster services and processes, and enables monitoring of clustered applications - even as they move “on-the-fly” between cluster servers.


· The “virtualization” SPI -which is supported on the most common virtualization hypervisors - discovers and monitors virtualization platforms (both host and virtual machines) and provides graphs and reports on resource utilization.


Application SPIs – are these different than infrastructure SPIs?


In a sense, yes and no. Yes because they basically perform the same functions as infrastructure SPIs in terms of collecting, aggregating, and correlating monitoring information. No in terms of what data they are responsible for. Infrastructure SPIs, as mentioned before, do this at the system level, whereas application SPIs do this at the application level. The following picture builds on the previous one, but more clearly depicts where application and infrastructure SPIs reside:


 



 


And does HP have SPIs! We have SPIs for databases (Oracle, Informix, Microsoft SQL Server, IBM DB2), web application servers (IBM WebSphere, JBoss, Oracle WebLogic), storage (HP Storage Area Manager, Veritas NetBackup and Volume Manager), and ERP/CRM (PeopleSoft, SAP, Siebel) products. Not to mention lots of SPIs developed by HP partners around Cisco, Novell NetWare, and Documentum products.  


New Licensing of Agents and SPIs!


Yes, we’ve changed our licensing structure for both SPIs and Agents. They are now instance-based, meaning you have one per operating system or application instance. Plus, we’ve got this great new “Operating System Instance Advanced License”, which includes the following:


o Operations Manager agents


o “System” Smart Plug-In


o “Cluster” Smart Plug-In


o 15 agentless monitoring probes/points


If monitoring a virtualized environment, a “virtualization” SPI - although an infrastructure SPI like the “system” and “cluster” SPIs - is purchased separately from the Operating System Instance Advanced License. One virtualization SPI is required for each monitored Virtual Server host.


I hope that this has helped explained agents and SPIs. If you have any questions about this post or instrumentation in general, please feel free to comment on this post.


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.

Deadline for submitting abstracts for HP Software Universe has been extended!


Great News! I’ve got more speaking slots during the “Consolidated Events and Performance Management” track at HP Software Universe 2010 … and we’ve extended the deadline to submit abstracts to February 1, 2010! 


Don’t forget … if you get chosen to present, you get to attend HP Software Universe - HP’s largest customer event of the year - for FREE.


  
For further information about this event, visit:
https://www.hpsoftwareuniverse2010.com/event/



To submit an abstract, visit:
https://www.hpsoftwareuniverse2010.com/portal/cfp/login.ww


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.

How to attend Software Universe for free (and maybe meet the president!)

Yes, that’s right – HP Software Universe has moved its venue from Las Vegas to Washington D.C. – an appropriate setting for a technology conference in a recovering economy.



It’s never too soon to start thinking about HP Software Universe, HP’s largest customer event of the year.  At the conference, hundreds of people will share their success stories and lessons learned from using HP Software to deliver better business outcomes. And you can too, by simply completing the “Call for Papers” form. Some examples of customer presentations from recent conferences include:


• How Kimberly-Clark’s implementation of HP solutions such as Operations Manager on Windows and Service Desk provided quick and easy ways to improve ROI.
• How HBO used of a variety of HP Software products to implement an integrated monitoring and management view into HBO’s infrastructure among three divisions in two locations.
• How the New York Stock Exchange collected business and IT performance metrics with one tool and also correlated and visualized this information on combined dashboards – all using HP Software products.


Need help justifying attendance to your manager? Is your company cutting back on activities such as attending conferences?  Well – you can attend for FREE by simply presenting at the conference.  All we ask is that you share a success story on how you have used HP Software products to solve your business’ problems.  The deadline for letting us know if you would like to present is January 25 and all you have to do is complete a “Call for Papers” form.


We hold this event twice each year, alternating between a United States and European location.  The upcoming event is being held June 15th – June 18th in National Harbor, a new waterfront community nestled on the banks of the historic Potomac River and only 15 minutes from historic Washington D.C.  It’s a wonderful locale for this conference and we hope you can join us, especially as a presenter!


Present at Software Universe 2010: https://www.hpsoftwareuniverse2010.com/portal/cfp/login.ww
Register for Software Universe 2010: https://www.hpsoftwareuniverse2010.com/portal/newreg.ww
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.

Virtualization: Are you doing it or just talking about it? (user survey)

There is a no doubt that virtualization is a hot topic these days.  CIOs are being challenged - in today’s tough economic times – to drive both hardware and energy costs down and are embracing virtualization as a way to do so.  I recently checked some stats in a new tool that I’m using that tracks blogs, Twitter, etc., and couldn’t help but notice the number of times “virtualization” was mentioned in the last 30 days – actually, its mention is an order of magnitude higher than any of my other search terms! 


 


Furthermore, in the last 3 days, I have received invitations to 12 virtualization-related webinars and webcasts – more than triple the number of invitations I receive to webinars, etc. related to other topics.  This leads me to wonder – is all the hype around virtualization fact or fiction?  Are people truly embracing it or simply just “talking” about it?


I’d like to ask your help in answering my question – an informal survey of sorts.   Comment on this post or e-mail me with one of the following three answers:



  1. My company has an IT environment that is comprised of both physical and virtual resources.

  2. My company has not implemented any sort of virtualization into our IT environment, but plans to do so in the next 12 months.

  3. My company has not implemented any sort of virtualization into our IT environment, and does not plan to do in the next 12 months.


In a week or so, I will post the percentage split among the 3 answers for all to see.
If you’d like to elaborate on your answer, I’ll take that too!  (I will keep all answers confidential.)
Thanks in advance to all of you that respond to my survey.  I look forward to hearing from you!  


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.

Labels: Sonja Hickey| survey

Sonja Hickey has joined the HP Operations Center team

My name is Sonja Hickey and I just joined the HP Operations Center team 3 days ago.  I will be focusing on the data collection aspects of the Operations Center product line and working with Peter Spielvogel and Jon Haworth as a Product Marketing Manager.


I’m really excited to be working for Hewlett-Packard for several reasons.  First, I like HP’s financial strength, which I think is due to its diversification in many different areas.  It’s pretty obvious that HP doesn’t put all of its eggs in one basket and that has paid off.  You’ll learn through my posts that I am very much into investing and as I read through my latest financial newsletters, I take note of comments like “HP has a pragmatic culture” and “HP was better positioned than most when the recession hit”.  I think you can now see why I’m very happy to be part of the HP team.


I also truly believe in the products that I will be representing - products that help IT teams effectively monitor and manage their IT infrastructure and environment.  In my opinion, these are not “nice-to-have” products, but rather “must-have” products for any company that want to be successful in today’s marketplace.


On a different note, I’d like take this opportunity to let you know a little about me.  From a work/career perspective, I’ve primarily worked in the high-tech space in either product management or product marketing roles for the past 12 years.  Outside of work, my free time is spent with my family (3 children and a wonderful husband) as well as reading historical fiction books and honing my investing skills (sorry, I don’t provide stock tips!).


I’d like to end this post with a request.  Pease do not hesitate to post a comment should you have any questions, concerns, issues, etc. around the Operations Center products.  This will help me understand the problems and issues you face and how our products can help solve them.  I may not have an immediate answer or I may not be the right person to answer your question, but I will get back to you.  That’s a promise.


Thanks so much for reading my blog and I look forward to hearing from you. 


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.


 

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