How to Use Customized Groups to simplify the OpsMgr Console for Server Owners – Using Custom Groups with Subscriptions & One-Off Notifications

This is the third of the four part series that describes how to create custom groups to scope the Operations console, used through the rest of this series:

  • Part 1: Creating Custom Groups
  • Part 2: Using Custom Groups to create Views
  • Part 3: Using Custom Groups with Subscriptions & Using One-Off Notifications
  • Part 4: Using Custom Group to secure Views

This blog post uses custom groups, created in the first part of this series, with subscriptions and one-off notifications.

Creating Custom Groups with Subscriptions

Start by logging into a domain controller and creating a distribution list (OpsMgr_(Function)Admins) and mail-enable the distribution list. If there is an existing distribution list for the group you can use it rather than creating a new distribution list. Note that throughout this posting and series (Function) refers to Security.

Add the appropriate members to the group.

In the Operations Manager console, create a subscriber for this function in the Administration node under Notifications –> Subscribers; right-click and choose New subscriber.

Create the subscriber name as <OpsMgr_><Function><Admins>

Configure using the default to Always send notifications.

Specify the subscriber address name as <OpsMgr_><Function><Admins>

Specify the delivery address as <OpsMgr_><Function><Admins@odyssey.com>

Now create a subscription/channel/distribution group for this Function in the Operations Manager console on the Administration node under Notifications –> Subscribers. Right-click and choose New subscription.

Create a description/subscription name for this Function with <Critical ><Function>< Alerts>

On the Criteria page, specify the criteria to only notify on the following alerts:

Specify the subscriber name specified earlier (<OpsMgr_><Function><Admins>)

Create a new Customized copy of the existing SMTP Channel – AD, customizing it to <SMTP Channel – > <Function>

On the description for the new channel create the name as <SMTP Channel – > <Function>, and provide a description of <SMTP E-Mail – > <Function>.

The copied channel should already have the multiple SMTP servers available as shown below. Change the return address to <Function>OpsMgrAdmin@odyssey.com. This is extremely useful when server administrators maintain multiple groups of servers, as they can create Outlook rules that route the email based upon the return address of the sender.

Customize the format of the notification channel to specify the <Function> at the beginning of the E-mail subject and the E-mail message. This approach makes it easy to identify where an alert came from, which is very helpful when debugging notifications.

You should be able to see the new channel as listed below.

Using this technique for creating subscribers and subscriptions provides a method to only notify on the most actionable alerts to those personnel responsible for the systems and applications.This approach can significantly lower alert volume and enables you to target alerts to the appropriate personnel.

If an alert is found to not be critical / high priority and the server owners want to receive that alert, you can easily address this by overriding the alert to critical / high priority. To override, highlight the alert and choose Overrides -> Override the Rules -> For the object:

You can override the priority to 2 and the severity to 2 (see http://blogs.msdn.com/mariussutara/archive/2007/12/17/alert-severity-and-priority-use-with-override.aspx for details on numbers for severity and priority).

Using One-off Subscriptions

Another option is to create a one-off subscription for the alert. To do so, right-click on the alert and choose Notification subscription to create the subscription as shown below.

Selecting Create launches a wizard to create a subscription based upon the criteria for the alert.

From this you can add the subscriber that was created for the group.

And you can specify the channel that you created for the group.

Using this approach makes it easy to add alerts to the notification as required, either by increasing the priority and severity of an alert, or creating a one-off subscription using the same subscriber and channel.

Acknowledgements and References

We owe a huge thanks to Kevin Holman for his concept (see references in the links provided below) as his ideas spurred this approach for us to use groups in this manner.

Additional links on subscriptions and how to use them include the following

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