I recently came across Cameron Fuller’s latest post which provides a counter view to our post on why Sysadmins should find SolarWinds® Server & Application Monitor a refreshing alternative to Microsoft® SCOM. Cameron is an Operations Manager MVP well versed with how Operations Manager works and I do agree with some of his comments. System Center Operations Manager has its strengths and weaknesses, just as Server & Application Monitor has strengths and weaknesses.
1. One of SCOM’s strengths is that that it is a framework that can be extended through the use of Management Packs. Microsoft does provide its Management Packs with SCOM free of charge, but as Scott Hill points out in his blog, not all Microsoft’s Management Packs provide in depth product knowledge on how to troubleshoot a problem. I also disagree with Cameron’s assessment that “While SolarWinds provides monitoring for “virtually any application” it does it with little knowledge of what the product actually does”. SolarWinds Server & Application Monitor (SAM) does provide expert knowledge on what to monitor, why, and the optimal thresholds for many applications, and this is especially important for admins who have no idea what metrics should be monitored for a particular application. Take for example the metric Idle Workers for Apache – the component settings describe why this metric might be off and what to do about it.
Component Settings - Idle Workers for Apache
2. As an enterprise framework, SCOM also makes available the ability extend monitoring to applications which are not covered by Management Packs that come with Operations Manager like Lotus, Oracle or XenApp. SolarWinds Server & Application Monitor’s strength is that it does fully support well over 100 applications and can be deployed quickly, which is great for departments needing quick application support which is not offered natively by Microsoft. These departments can also feed alerts to SCOM via Management Pack. In this case, these products are used for different reasons. Take Scott for example, he uses both SCOM and SolarWinds. SCOM is used for high level alerts which he checks every day, and SolarWinds is used primarily because he wants the ability to easily modify alerts on specific metrics and send alerts to specific groups or people via SMS or email. In this instance, SAM is a great complement to organizations that already have SCOM.
3. To Cameron’s point on agentless monitoring, I do agree that agents can be very scalable. Cameron indicates agentless monitoring is not recommended for SCOM deployments because it does not scale well. Agentless technology has come a long way, and SolarWinds Server & Application Monitor, a pure agentless product, is architected to scale to 10,000 servers. In deploying agentless versus agent based technology, you really need to look at understanding the pros and cons from a business perspective.
Ultimately we do agree that one size does not fit all and that for some users, they will want to look at both products.