SCOM 2016 features – Management Pack Updates and Recommendations

This blog post discussed one of the new features in SCOM 2016 which is the Management Pack Updates and Recommendations. Now this feature addition was introduced I think in SCOM 2016 TP4 preview version already, but I will discuss it now anyway.
All SCOM admins know that we can get management packs from either the Microsoft websites (and of course community and third party pages for their management packs), or we could use the Import Management Packs option and point it to the Catalog.
In there we have the options of looking for specific management packs, or to look for recently released management packs, or look for updates to already installed management packs.
Thing is that it was easy to forget to look for new management pack updates, and also it often happened that SCOM admins forgot to download management packs for new products they did install on servers in their environment (or new versions like a new SQL version).

A new solution

In SCOM 2016 we can see in the Administration pane an entry under Management Packs called Updates and Recommendations:

From here we can select one management pack and download and install that management pack. There is also the possibility to do that with all of them. This will take you to the management pack download interface we were used to already.
As you can see from above screenshot there are a few management packs where we get an update recommendation, and two management packs this solution found to be missing if you thought you were already monitoring all roles.
What happens really is that this is a mini management pack which runs on all your agents and has very basic discoveries in it. It runs a discovery to see if you have for instance IIS or SQL installed or a number of other roles. These are looking for Microsoft management packs and not custom ones. When it finds certain software/roles installed this feature will check if you have the applicable management pack installed. There will be more discoveries added over time for additional software/features/roles over time.
Also of course there is a pack version comparison done with the catalog to check if you have the latest version of already installed management packs.
Another interesting addition to the tasks pane in that view above is the possibility to go to the management pack guide. This option will take you right to the download of the management pack guide in a web browser.
The second option there is to go to the DLC page. This is the Microsoft download center page where you can find the description of the management pack, its downloads and guides, and installation instructions. Not all management packs have this link enabled, but a lot of them will have.
The last task is called More Information. Now this is also a nice one. It will open a popup and show you which agents are running a workload relating to this management pack recommendation.

In this case it is my freshly installed SCOM TP5 machine needing the SQL 2014 management pack.
This is going to help us manage our management packs and check for updates to currently loaded management packs and also to check for forgotten management packs to get as much monitoring coverage as we can.

Back to the SCOM 2016 Features – Overview post!

Good luck monitoring!
Bob Cornelissen