Getting a handle on the Availability Reporting Management Pack

An indicator of operating system stability is the amount of time the OS itself is available. Microsoft’s Availability Management Pack (AR MP) can help you identify servers with unexpected outages. The MP tracks server availability over a period of time and uses reports to track trends. You can use these reports to identify causes for both planned and unplanned downtime.
 
Most of Microsoft’s management packs are installed by extracting files (.akm and .xml files) from a downloaded package. The AR MP is a bit different as it has four separate pieces:
  • Database components
  • Management Pack file (.akm) 
  • MMC snap-in 
  • Report file (.rdl)

When you extract the files, you get two MSI installer files in addition to the akm and rdl components:

  • MOM-MRAS.msi – this MSI should be run on the MOM Reporting server system that hosts the SystemCenterReporting database. It extracts into the %ProgramFiles%\Microsoft Reliability Analysis Reporting\MomReliabilityAnalysisReporting directory by default. This file installs the database components (database tables and a DTS job)
  • MRAS_MP_UI.msi – the MSI installs the Availability Reporting MMC snap-in.
Although the akm creates a number of rule groups, it does not link any computer groups to these rule groups, which is required for the rules to function. You will want to either use a custom computer group or link the rules to the Microsoft Windows Servers computer group. Here is where things start go get exciting. Documentation in the Availability Reporting Management Pack Guide states computer groups should be linked to the following rule groups:
 
Microsoft Availability Reporting MP

Microsoft Windows 2000 and 2003 Servers

Application Events
Microsoft Windows 2000 and 2003 Servers
Directory Services
Windows 2003 Domain Controllers
Windows 2000 Domain Controllers
Installer Events
Microsoft Windows 2000 and 2003 Servers
Microsoft Exchange Events
Microsoft Exchange Installed Computers
Microsoft SQL Server Events
Microsoft SQL Server 2000
Microsoft SQL Server 2005
System Events
Microsoft Windows 2000 and 2003 Servers

Unfortunately, without version 005.0.5000.000 or above of the MP, linking the groups as suggested above does not generate any reports! As Microsoft discusses in support document #914989 (http://support.microsoft.com/kb/914989/),  the workaround at that time was to associate the computer groups with the top-level rule. Microsoft released a substantial update to the Availability Reporting MP at the end of August 2006. The updated version appears to have resolved the computer group issues so the original documentation now does represent the correct mapping.

For obvious reasons, this makes it important to know which version of the management pack you are working with. To date, Microsoft has released three versions of this MP. Since there are multiple parts to the management pack, just checking the version of the rule group in the Administrator console is not enough.

Microsoft suggests running a SQL Server query, documented in KB 924633 (http://support.microsoft.com/kb/924633/). The query has the following syntax:

SELECT * FROM MRAS_MRASInstallVersion

The query returns values for two important fields:

  • TableVersion (to determine the table schema version)
  •  ProcVersion (tells you the stored procedure schema version)

If you have the August 2006 version of the Availability Reporting MP, the TableVersion Value is 1.0, the ProcVersion is 1.8, and the akm file version is 05.0.5000.000. Specifically:

  • Current releases of the Availability Reporting Management Pack have a TableVersion value of 1.0.
  • The first release of the Management Pack was released in September 2005. Its ProcVersion value is 1.5 and the management pack version is 05.0.3000.000.
  • The second release was in November 2005, with a ProcVersion value of 1.5 and a management pack version of 05.0.4000.000.
  • The third release of the Management Pack, released in August 2006, has the ProcVersion value 1.8 and a management pack version of 05.0.5000.000.

There are several other gotcha’s to implementing the Availably Reporting MP, which we discuss in our forthcoming book, Microsoft Operations Manager 2005 Unleashed, http://tinyurl.com/yxtrqd.

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