Careers: Interviews
Rory McCaw, Leading Authority in Microsoft Technologies, Microsoft Certified Trainer, Consultant/Advisor to Corporations, Microsoft Systems Center Operation Manager Most Valuable Professional Award Recipient

This week, Stephen Ibaraki, FCIPS, I.S.P., ITCP, MVP, DF/NPA, CNP has an exclusive interview with Rory McCaw.

Rory McCaw Rory McCaw is a Principal Consultant and OpsMgr MVP at Infront Consulting Group, a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner based in Toronto, and the author of a number of technical books, including How to Cheat at Managing Microsoft Operations Manager 2005. Rory actively consults to large organizations helping them architect, implement, configure and customize System Center technologies integrating them into their business processes. Rory holds numerous industry designations, in addition to being an accomplished public speaker who has delivered numerous webcasts and online learning sessions on MOM 2005, SCOM 2007, SMS 2003, SCCM 2007, SQL Reporting Services, Branch Office Infrastructure and Security. Rory has also spoken on these and other topics at industry events such as MMS, TechEd and Comdex.

Rory enjoys developing training materials on the applications that he consults on and regularly delivers this training around the world for large enterprise customers. Rory has been nominated as a Ops Mgr MVP for the last 6 years and actively posts to his blog at http://spaces.msn.com/rorymccaw and company web site http://www.infrontconsulting.com. Rory is also the author of the System Center Operations Manager 2007 Boot Camps (http://www.infrontconsulting.com/events.htm) which deliver in-depth technical knowledge of Ops Mgr to customers worldwide.

To listen to the interview, click on this MP3 file link

Go to www.microsoft.com/youshapeit/technet for a look at this interview and much more.

The latest blog on the interview can be found in the IT Managers Connection (IMC) forum where you can provide your comments in an interactive dialogue.
http://blogs.technet.com/cdnitmanagers/

DISCUSSION:

Interview Time Index (MM:SS) and Topic

:00:34: Can you share a little bit about your background?
"....I am a Principal Consultant at a company called Infront Consulting Group. Infront focuses on the deployment and integration and customization of different Microsoft Systems Center technologies within large corporate enterprise environments. My role is to help and assist in the deployment and integration of those technologies as well as manage a group of consultants that we have that provide similar services to our corporate customers...."

:01:06: Can you share one or more stories centered around these themes and which involve the Systems Management: Focus on the System Center family?
"....Some of the challenges that customers are facing, particularly in today's economic times, are that they are looking at the investments they are making from their capital budgets (primarily into monitoring technologies and changing management technologies) and needing to justify those to senior levels of management. When faced with analyzing their current investments into a variety of different technologies, the Systems Center suite of products typically comes as one of the less expensive offerings. That is where we are typically engaged to help a customer deploy and integrate those technologies within their environment...."

:04:53: Why are you passionate about Systems Management using System Center?
"....One of the reasons that I'm passionate is because we do tend to see an almost immediate return of investment to a customer....The other is the ability to get inside...into all of the mission critical systems within an enterprise...."

:07:01: Can you profile the products in the System Center Family?
"....There are four core products right now.....They consist of Systems Center Configuration Manager which is primarily used for change and configuration management....On the Operations Manager's side....we had MOM 2005 and now we have Systems Center Operations Manager 2007....The second component of Operations Manager is the ability to centrally collect and report on all of the security events that are written to Windows security event log.....The Data Protection Center products would be the third offering in the Systems Center suite....A newcomer to the Systems Center space is the Systems Center Virtual Machine manager...."

:10:58: What are some other related Microsoft solutions connected to Systems Management?
"....Microsoft has a suite of technologies that they have incorporated into the Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack (MDOP). MDOP provides access to technology that would enhance the support in a large enterprise environment of desktop applications...."

:16:57: Do you have any other additional related Microsoft solutions?
"....Different resource kits are available that can enhance the monitoring and the maintenance of Windows' systems and there are a number of third party tools that provide point solutions to different problems within a large corporate environment...."

:18:54: Would you consider PowerShell part of the tools to help with system management?
"....integration of PowerShell into some of the Systems Center suites (it's not available in all of the System Center products) certainly extends the system's capabilities and provides an alternative to administrators who may have a necessity to automate certain tasks....It does have its place in helping you make administrative changes en masse and automate those through the configuration family maintenance mode type task...."

:20:21: What hard-to-find tips do you have for IT Pros concerning Systems Management?
"....An evaluation of what they truly want to accomplish and to come up with a requirements list and a wish list. When they sit down to evaluate the different phases within their project they will be able to realistically identify what the architecture looks like and what the hardware requirements are and what the resources are going to be required....A requirement analysis...."

:22:28: What's cool about System Center?
"....The Systems Center tools allow the systems administrators to become proactively notified as well as more proactive in their day-to-day role. By becoming more proactive and having an understanding ahead of time of potential issues, they can schedule a time that is convenient for them to deal with the issue before it becomes an outage and they have to go into 'fire fighting' mode...."

:24:09: What are the pain points and solutions for IT Pros when installing, managing, and working with Systems Management?
"....Look for commonalities between different server roles. Try to identify what it is that could be grouped together from a logical monitoring or deployment perspective....In the context of operations management look at what it is that you are needing to monitor and what your immediate needs are....Look at the overall health of your operating system and the logical drive, memory and CPU utilization and other key performance indicators....Look at monitoring the applications that run on those systems, extend that to monitoring network devices....Then integrating the system into the business process...."

:26:53: What do you consider to be the best resources for working with Systems Management and System Center?
"....There are a number of resources out there that are easily accessible on the Internet....microsoft.com website (systems center section)....Technet for different how-to and documentation....When it comes to Operations Manager, the best community website is systemcenterforum.org....If you are looking for Systems Center Configuration Manager information my IT forum (http://spaces.msn.com/rorymccaw) tends to be a site where SMS or SCCM administrators contribute .... FAQShop.com ....momanswers.net ....Different blogs from MVPs in the community who post resolutions to different problems on an ongoing basis...."

:28:36: What about the future of Systems Management?
"....From a Microsoft perspective I think there is a lot of potential there...."

:30:09: Can you tell us more about Systems Management with System Center Operations Manager?
"....The Operations Manager technology provides customers the ability through an agent-to-server like configuration, to monitor their production systems and possibly development or QA systems within the large enterprise - to locally identify issues and generate alerts based upon those issues on the agent and have that forwarded back and centrally logged and collected into a backend SQL server database...."

:33:08: What is required to ensure a successful deployment?
"....Make sure you have the right skill set in-house and you have experience with the technology so that you can get it up and running quickly....Look at it from a phased or staged perspective....Allocating the right project resources to those who are knowledgeable in the operations manager technology is important but having administrative resources there to deal with resolving the issues as they are identified and as alerts are generated is another very important component to a successful implementation within a large organization....Integrate through bi-directional communications into a second system so that the business processes can be adhered to...."

:37:19: What are your tips for moving from another product to System Center Operations Manager successfully?
"....First step is identifying what the customer wants to achieve....There are some ways depending on the tool to move different configurations from one platform to another...Other challenges to take into consideration include the need to have multiple agents performing duplicate monitoring during that transition period...."

:40:08: What does it mean to do change and configuration management?
"....From our perspective it includes everything from receiving a new system from your Original Equipment Manufacturer and getting that system to a point where it is ready to be released into your production environment....Patch deployment and application deployment are a very important aspect of configuration and change management ....Having the ability to collect and gather both hardware and software inventory information and licensing information is another component, as is the need for remote administration...."

:44:13: Can you describe the biggest challenges organizations face when implementing a monitoring tool?
"....The biggest challenge that we see is approaching it methodically....We want to encourage the customer to make an investment in a requirements analysis...."

:48:00: What 3 questions would you ask and what would be your answers if you were doing this interview?
"....What are the keys to success for Systems Center deployment?....What do each of the technologies do within the Systems Center suite?...What are some best practices around the System Center toolset?...."

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