Getting started with System Center Operations Manager

System Center Operations Manager (SCOM) is an excellent tool for monitoring your IT resources and keeping them healthy. Even so, SCOM isn’t one of those things that are ready to use immediately following its installation. That being the case, I wanted to walk you through some of the essential configuration tasks that need to be performed to get the most from SCOM.

Discovering computers

The first configuration task that you will need to complete in preparation for using SCOM is to allow it to discover the computers on your network. System Center Operations Manager can discover computers running both on-premises and in the cloud, but for this article, I am going to stick to talking about resources residing on-premises.

To configure SCOM to monitor your computers, open the SCOM Operations Manager, go to the administration workspace, and click the Device Management tab. As you can see in the figure below, this tab provides a link that you can click to configure computers and devices to manage.

System Center Operations Manager
At this point, SCOM will open the Computer and Device Management Wizard. The wizard’s initial screen asks you to choose the types of devices that you want to manage. You can choose between Windows computers, Linux / Unix computers, or network devices.

Upon making your selection, you will be taken to a screen asking if you want to perform automated or advanced discovery. If your computers are all joined to a Windows domain, then you can typically get away with performing an automated discovery. Otherwise, you are probably going to be better off with an advanced discovery.

Depending on the option that you choose, you may be taken to a screen prompting you to select a discovery method, or you might bypass this screen and be taken instead to a screen asking you to provide the administrative credentials to be used during the discovery process. Supply SCOM with the necessary credentials and click Discover. Depending on the options that you have selected and on the size of your network, the discovery process can take a while to complete.

When the discovery process finishes, you will be presented with a list of the computers that have been discovered, as shown below. Choose the devices that you want to manage, as well as the management method that you want to use. It’s usually best to use agent-based management if you can, but an agentless option also exists in case logistical issues prevent you from using agents.

Click Next, and you will be taken to a summary screen, which asks you to specify the agent installation path and credentials. This screen also asks if you want to install application performance monitoring. Make your selections and click Finish. This will cause SCOM to launch the Agent Management Task Status window, which you can use to monitor the agent deployment process, as shown below.

System Center Operations Manager
Install SCOM management packs

When you finish installing the various agents, the next thing that you will need to do is to install management packs. Management packs allow SCOM to monitor specific services and applications. Some management packs are included with SCOM, but others have to be downloaded from Microsoft or a software vendor’s Website.

To install management packs, open the SCOM Operations Manager and go to the administration workspace. Click on the Device Management tab, followed by the Import Management Packs link. You can see this link in the first screen capture in this article.

At this point, SCOM will open the Import Management Packs dialog box. Click the Add button and choose the option to add management packs from the catalog (unless you have downloaded management packs that you need to import). Next, click the Search button, and SCOM will download the management pack catalog. You can now browse the catalog to locate the management packs that you wish to use.

System Center Operations Manager
Choose the management packs that you wish to add and click the Add button. When you are done, click OK, followed by Install.

Configure notification channels

The last essential step in the configuration process is to configure notification channels. This process allows you to tell SCOM how you want to be notified of various events. The current version of SCOM allows for email, instant message, and text message notifications. You can also opt to run a command in place of issuing a more traditional notification type.

To configure the notification channel, open the SCOM Operations Manager and then go to the administration workspace. Now, select the Device Management tab and then click on the Enable Notification Channels link. When you do, you will be presented with a pop-up menu displaying the available notification channel options. You can see what this looks like in the figure below.

System Center Operations Manager
The steps that you will have to follow beyond this point vary widely depending on the notification channel that you choose. If you select the email option, for example, then some of the tasks that you will have to complete include specifying an SMTP server to use, and providing a return address to be used by the notifications. Similarly, choosing the Text Message option requires you to formulate the contents of the text message (although you can use the default option).

System Center Operations Manager: The resources you add are crucial

Preparing SCOM for use is a relatively straightforward process. Even so, SCOM’s usefulness directly depends on the resources that you import and the management packs that you install. Without completing these tasks, SCOM’s ability to monitor your network is extremely limited.

Featured image: Designed by Freepik

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