Management Packs (MPs) are the core of Operations Manager (OpsMgr). They contain the definitions and instructions to discover and monitor the various technologies or applications you wish to monitor and be alerted on, so it makes sense that you keep them up to date.
Why are MPs updated?
If you’ve authored your own MPs, you’ll understand the amount of complexity involved with building monitoring scenarios and the increasingly better ways to implement those monitoring scenarios or discoveries. Monitoring scenarios themselves may change over time based on business goals and requirements. Also, the possibility of mistakes or errors may be introduced in MPs. For Microsoft and other third parties that build MPs professionally, user feedback is another source of change (e.g., customers may find that certain monitors are too noisy or do not provide the value originally intended and get deprecated).
What about my organization’s customizations?
You may be wondering what would happen if an update to an MP was conflicting with overrides you created for your organization. For example, what if you created an override for a monitor that was too aggressive in the original MP, but the updated MP was even less aggressive than yours?
At a high level, overrides stored in an unsealed MP will “win” over overrides stored in a sealed MP. If your organizations’ overrides are stored in a sealed MP (for change management purposes), whichever one is the more specific will be applied. For example, an override applied to a group of servers will “win” over an override applied to a class.
Where do I find MPs?
A number of resources outside of the OpsMgr Console are available for keeping up to date with the latest MPs.
- Systems Center Marketplace on PinPoint is a website that keeps track of the latest MP offerings from Microsoft and 3rd parties. Good for downloading the MP guide at the same time.
- The OpsMgr Engineering team blog will often post information regarding new MPs.
- A new TechNet Wiki from Daniel Savage is intended to be a one stop shop for Microsoft MPs.
- Fellow PFE, Stefan Stranger, has posted a blog on using PowerShell to extract the list of MPs from the catalog.
- A number of Microsoft bloggers will either post on their site (such as Kevin Holman) or tweet when new MPs are released (such as myself!).
Finally, in the Operations Manager Administrator Console, an option exists to download MPs.
In the Administrator Console, under Administration, click on Management Packs. There are two actions on the right side pane, “Download Management Packs…” and “Import Management Packs…” (see below):
After clicking on Download Management Packs…, click on the Add button (see below):
Click on the Search button to look for all MPs available in the catalog (below). Feel free to type in keywords in the Find field for something specific (like SharePoint) and also experiment with the options in the View field:
A word of caution on using the administrator console directly to update management packs. Be careful if you import MPs directly from the MP catalog to only do one or two at a time. A few reasons for this:
- The MP catalog allows you to easily import multiple MPs at a time, a practice that could introduce a lot of noise in an environment and make it difficult to tune MPs.
- The MP catalog also allows you to skip over reviewing the MP guide, a practice that should be observed. After all, administrators will usually review the content of Service Packs before applying them to operating systems or applications.
- It’s also easy to inadvertently import MPs in other languages.
Before importing MPs into your environment, download them along with their guide. Ideally you want to maintain an offline store of the MPs imported in the environment. Download them on a network location so that you have a record of which MPs were imported and when.
A little trick exists in the console that often goes unnoticed: under the Information column in the catalog wizard is a hidden link to the MP guide. Click on it to download the MP guide.
After reviewing the MP guide–a quick process for updates, since you’ve already reviewed the MP guide when first imported ()—you should only need to review the changes. Pay special attention to rules and monitors that may have been disabled or deprecated or thresholds that may have changed. This could resolve in alerts that you expect, but are no longer raised. Import the MPs one by one.
Once the updated MPs have been imported, review any new alerts that may be raised.
Keeping the management packs in your environment up to date is important. MPs are updated to be more efficient, reduce noise, enable new monitoring scenarios, and address errors or issues that an MP could have encountered. Updating your MPs should be done regularly, ideally once a month.