Design Questions

I was chatting with my friend who specialises in SharePoint and we were discussing what you need to ask you get designs going on our respective technologies. Apparently SharePoint is quite complex. I was saying that SCOM is quite easy and that got me thinking.. What are the questions that I ask that help me narrow down the design options and help me work out how long the project will take. Here is what I would ask a customer as to help establish a design. Based on discussions around these questions I can quickly establish what the SCOM design should be for that organisation.

Question: Should the OM solution be fault tolerant?

Reason: If fault tolerance is needed then that affects the hardware requirements as cluster SQL and multiple management servers will be needed. This question is the biggest one that affects the cost of the hardware required.

Question: Are you only interested in doing SCOM or do you want to do Audit Collection Services (ACS) and Agent Exception Monitoring (AEM)?

Reason: ACS is for collection security events and depending on the numbers (servers and clients) this may require extra hardware on top on the OM hardware requirements.

Question: How many servers are to be monitored?

Reason: The number of servers to be monitored will affect the sizing of the system. This will determine if all the components can go on a single server or whether multiple servers are needed or even whether multiple management groups are needed.

Question: How many clients are to be monitored (for OM, ACS, AEM)?

Reason: If clients are included in the monitoring then this will affect the design as there is usually significantly more clients than servers in an organization. However if the monitoring is AEM only then that would have a lesser impact (no agent) than using OM and/or ACS.

Question: OS versions on servers and clients?

Reason: NT4 is not supported. Also if any non Windows OS are to be included then the design must take into account the choice and purchase of 3rd party products to monitor these OSes.

Question: What applications (Exchange, SQL, SharePoint etc) and components (AD, IIS, DNS, GP etc) are to be monitored.

Reason: This will determine the management packs to use. It will also highlight gaps where there may be a need to purchase a 3rd party MP or to create a custom MP. Also the type of monitoring being done on each server will determine whether an Enterprise or Standard OML is needed and will affect the cost. The more MPs that are used then the more tuning will be needed which will affect the length of the project.

Creating custom MPs for distributed application monitoring will also increase the project length.

Question: Extend OM out to network devices?

Reason: This may require the purchase of third party software.

Question: Do you need long term reporting?

Reason: This will determine whether or not Reporting needs to be installed. And depending on the number of devices the sizing of the database and also whether it requires additional hardware.

Question: Do you have DMZ servers and/or workgroup servers or multiple AD forests that do not have a full 2 way trust.

Reason: OM requires a secure connection between the agent and the management server. In an AD forest this is done using Kerberos trusts. However if separate forests or servers in DMZ exists then this method cannot be used and depending on the numbers one or more Gateway server may be needed.

Question: If the answer to the above is yes do you already have a certificate server in place?

Reason: The method for securing servers in DMZ’s etc is to use certificates. If this does not exist in the environment then the design will need to take into account the provisioning of a certificate server.

Question: Is the plan to link OM into a service desk, helpdesk or manager of managers?

Reason: If this is a requirement then the design needs to take into account linking the systems and that there may be a need to purchase 3rd party software.

Question: WAN topology, links and speed?

Reason; Are there any slow WAN links which may affect the deployment of agents or the collecting of alerts?

Question: What is the IT organizations support model?

Reason: OM leans towards a centralized model but if delegated access is needed then account must be taken of the number of consoles needed as that may impact on the sizing of the RMS and also the requirement to set up roles.

Question: Does the organisation build servers from images?

Reason: That would suggest that they would want the OM agent as part of the build and AD Integration will be needed.

Question: Is you organisation (and number of servers) growing? Does your organisation regularly do mergers and acquisitions?

Reason: If they are at a border or a design then using the bigger design would be more beneficial if they are planning growth or their organisation has a history or acquiring other companies.


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