Software helps manage packs in MOM tool

Ottawa-based Silect Software Inc.’s latest version of MP Studio helps IT administrators manage Microsoft Operations Manager (MOM) management packs.

Management packs (MP) are a set of rules and scripts that determine how MOM monitors Windows servers and e-mail servers. MOM is an operations monitoring product that helps organizations with many Microsoft servers deployed within an IT infrastructure detect problems at an early stage.

“What MP Studio does is help IT administrators push out not only the right management packs but the right rules and components within MPs,” said Harold Dyck, president of Silect.

Version 2.0 of the software lets users simulate the implementation of a MP so they can see exactly what data is collected and what alerts would be generated. Dyck added users can then “tune” the MP to edit rules so it better reflects a user’s IT infrastructure.

“For example, users may not care that the 50 messages queued to the Internet has exceeded the certain number of messages allowed,” said Dyck. With MP Studio, users can tune the rule (i.e. change the threshold, disable the rule or change the severity of the alert to informational) that monitors this characteristic, he added.

The editing capabilities are one of the new additions that wasn’t available in version 1.0 released last May. “Without MP Studio, the only way to edit MPs was through the MOM administrator console,” he said.

Dyck said using the MOM console for edits can be a tedious process as it doesn’t allow for bulk editing. For example, there are more than 2,000 rules that come with an Exchange MP. Such rules include alerting MOM operators that the email database is running out of room or that users are unable to access their email within a defined time. Using MOM, all of these new rules would be implemented at once, with some possibly generating false alerts.

“Turning off 2,000 rules using the MOM console would take forever because you need to turn them off one by one,” said Dyck.

With MP Studio, it would take a matter of minutes to edit the rules as organizations can highlight all the rules at once to either edit or disable certain MPs, he said.

Also new with version 2.0 is MP Studio in three different versions. The first, MP Studio Express, is designed for smaller organizations that want to do things like document an MP. The professional edition is for users that need the ability to take that MP and test, tune and make edits to it before and after implementation into an IT infrastructure.

The enterprise version is designed for the largest MOM infrastructure that has many management servers in its environment. This version allows for things like broad comparison of all MPs implemented within their infrastructure.

According to one MP Studio reseller, what attracted him to the product was the ability to greatly reduce the amount of administration required to analyze changes to a MP when Microsoft releases a version change.

“The difficulties with any monitoring application are being able to test it completely in a non-production lab environment prior to making production changes,” said Rory McCaw, senior technical consultant with Washington-based Infront Consulting, who started offering MP Studio to his customers last December.

He added that a product like MP Studio provides organizations with an increased level of certainty that the rules in a management pack, either from Microsoft or from a third party are not going to generate an alert or event storm that would impact productivity of end users.

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