I recently came across this review of System Center Operations Manger 2012 by Scott Hill.  Scott, like many, has a new enterprise license of System Center, which now bundles many previously sold stand-alone components like System Center Operations Manager (SCOM).  Since SCOM is now a “free” software monitoring tool, IT administrators over the globe are being strongly encouraged to use it.


For many organizations, System Center is a good systems management suite that provides comprehensive functionality from monitoring to configuration management to update management and virtual machine management.  However, while System Center provides the breadth of capabilities many IT shop needs, the depth of capability may not be to the level that an organization may require.


As Scott points out in his post, to monitor everything offered by Microsoft, you need to plug in management packs.  Unfortunately, management packs do not always offer the best guidance on why alerts fire, and one may have to resort to a Google search to see potential causes of the problem (often attributes that a monitoring tool should have identified).


To get the most out of your now-free tool (SCOM), SolarWinds offers a great product at very affordable price, SolarWinds Server & Application Monitor, that can be easily deployed alongside your SCOM environment in order to gain more visibility.  Server & Application Monitor provides out-of-the-box templates for nearly 150 Microsoft and non-Microsoft applications.  The benefits of this native support is:


• You don’t need to seek out multiple Management Packs from multiple vendors

• Each application template provides expert advice on metrics that should be monitored for each application.  For example, the Microsoft Exchange template monitors RPC latency (among many other metrics), and the tool provides guidance on what is good or bad performance for that threshold (should be less than 100ms at all times), which is reflected in the out-of-the-box thresholds.

• The time savings is incredible for creating custom application monitors – it literally takes minutes with SolarWinds Wizard driven approach.

• You can send alerts to specific groups or people via SMS or email.

• And Server & Application Monitor can also integrate alerts, via a Management Pack, so you have all your alerts in one place – your SCOM console.


Since this product can typically be deployed in less than an hour it is easy to see the value, and when I say value, that is evident in the price tag.  Try it for yourself in your own environment – free for 30 days.