Johns Hopkins Institutions wanted to trim the cost of managing its IT infrastructure, which spanned 1,500 Windows®, Linux, and UNIX operating system–based servers and 15,000 desktop computers. The organization deployed Microsoft® System Center Operations Manager 2007 R2 to manage all systems through one console, doubling monitoring efficiency, increasing application service levels, and improving auditing.
Johns Hopkins Institutions includes The Johns Hopkins University and The Johns Hopkins Health System, both located in Baltimore, Maryland. As a large research institution, Johns Hopkins has assembled a heterogeneous IT infrastructure to meet the diverse needs of researchers and educators. Over time, the collection grew to include 1,350 servers running the Windows Server® 2003 Enterprise operating system and 150 servers running the Red Hat Linux, UNIX, and other non-Windows operating systems.
Johns Hopkins used Microsoft® Operations Manager 2005 to manage its Windows®-based servers, integrating third-party management packs to manage specific server models and applications. It used additional tools to import information from Linux and Unix-based servers into Operations Manager 2005, but creating those links and maintaining the tools was expensive.
The Systems Monitoring and Management Group at Johns Hopkins also needed more than 50 administrators to manage the organization’s 15,000 desktop computers, all of which ran the Windows XP operating system.
As Johns Hopkins’s IT infrastructure grew and became more complex, it became more difficult for the staff to provide the service and application-level monitoring that the organization required. “Because we had so many tools providing fragmented views, we couldn’t deliver the service levels our customers needed. We were suffering from console sprawl,” says Jamie Bakert, Systems Architect, Systems Monitoring and Management Group at Johns Hopkins Institutions.
Johns Hopkins deployed the Release Candidate of Microsoft System Center Operations Manager 2007 R2, as a participant in the Microsoft Rapid Deployment Program. The new version offered cross-platform and improved service-level monitoring, along with usability enhancements and improved scalability. When the software is fully deployed, Johns Hopkins will have a single monitoring dashboard from which it can monitor all 1,500 servers and 15,000 desktop computers. Instead of integrating data from third-party monitoring products, it will be able to monitor its non-Windows–based systems natively through System Center Operations Manager 2007 R2.
||System Center Operations Manager 2007 R2 gives us an application health view, which allows us to more quickly identify root cause and address incidents before our customers are impacted.
IT Manager and Systems Architect, Systems Monitoring and Management Group, Johns Hopkins Institutions
With the agentless exception monitoring feature in System Center Operations Manager 2007 R2, Johns Hopkins can extend automated management efficiencies to all 15,000 desktop computers. Agentless exception monitoring enables managed computers to send error reports to the management console when an application error, such as a program failure, occurs. These error reports help administrators understand which applications are experiencing problems.
Using the new service-level dashboard capability in System Center Operations Manager 2007 R2, Johns Hopkins IT management can easily view the health of specific application services, across all hardware or operating systems. This enables them to focus on issues directly impacting the service delivered to end users.
Johns Hopkins can take advantage of many third-party management packs to connect its non-Windows–based operating systems and applications to System Center Operations Manager 2007 R2. It has deployed Xandros Bridgeways management packs for some open source programs and is evaluating management packs for managing Apache Web server software, Oracle on Windows, and other programs through System Center Operations Manager 2007 R2. “Our engineers will be able to use their Operations Manager skill set to create rules and reports for a broader set of systems,” says John Taylor, IT Manager and Systems Architect in the Systems Monitoring and Management Group at Johns Hopkins Institutions.
With the expanded monitoring capabilities provided by System Center Operations Manager 2007 R2, Johns Hopkins anticipates boosting monitoring efficiency and improving application service levels. It can more proactively keep critical desktop computers running and enhance security.
Monitoring Efficiency Doubles
“With System Center Operations Manager 2007 R2, we expect to be able to double our server management efficiency,” Taylor says. “We’ll reduce the need to hire more people as our infrastructure grows.”
Johns Hopkins will realize even larger desktop management savings. “We’ll be able to increase our management ratio from one administrator per 200 desktops to one administrator per 500 desktops,” Bakert says.
Johns Hopkins also will save money by eliminating third-party Linux and UNIX monitoring software. “The typical Linux and UNIX monitoring and management application was two to three times more expensive than the cost of monitoring those systems natively through System Center Operations Manager 2007 R2,” Bakert says.
Improved Application Service Levels
With a more holistic view of its systems, Johns Hopkins can greatly improve application service levels. “System Center Operations Manager 2007 R2 gives us an application health view, which allows us to more quickly identify root cause and address incidents before our customers are impacted,” Taylor says.
Proactive Desktop Monitoring
About 3,000 of the institution’s 15,000 desktop computers are running mission-critical applications that must be up all the time. “We will be able to be more proactive in keeping these systems available,” Bakert says. “We can see if a workstation is about to fail and repair it before the user is even aware of a problem.”
The IT staff uses System Center Operations Manager 2007 R2 audit collection services to increase security and better comply with educational and healthcare regulations. “We can now get a great deal of information from our non-Windows computers and report on it in a centralized way,” Taylor says. “Now we can react faster to any intrusions.”