Saturday, January 16, 2010

So, what is HP SIM good for?

Over time, HP Systems Insight Manager has grown to become an important part of our infrastructure. The path to success has not been easy; many man-hours have been invested by both me and our previous CMS administrator into making everything work reliably. The best advice I can give you is to install it from scratch on dedicated hardware.

So what do we use SIM for? Mainly for three things:
  • System inventory
  • Contract and warranty management
  • Monitoring of hardware failures
We use SIM to monitor and manage a few hundred devices scattered in 7 data centers. It is used with almost every piece of HP hardware we have, from Proliant to Integrity, from MSAs to EVAs. Integrating SIM with Remote Support has been bumpy, to say the least, but once I made everything work, it has become a well-appreciated service. Support personnel like the fact that service calls are opened automatically at HP.

SIM and Remote Support helped us slowly move to a Preventive Maintenance way of thinking, instead of a Corrective Maintenance approach. We're now able to monitor the health of just about any piece of hardware, and have power supplies and disks replaced within a few hours when problems happen. I can't quantify how much our risk of downtime or data loss has decreased by using Remote Support, but it is certainly an appreciable amount.

On the downside, SIM has many other functions that we don't need, but they come bundled in anyway and cannot be hidden. Its interface is not very intuitive, with drop-down menus that tend to integrate many different concepts. The SIM UI has many performance and design problems which makes it a hard to learn and understand. Maybe 6.0 will be better.

It seems that HP is pushing SIM as the interface to to just about anything to manage servers -- from what I've seen in the recent years, they talk about it much more than OpenView and boast it as a component of the Converged Infrastructure ploy. However, Insight is not a brand I've grown to trust over time. SIM does the job, but it is clunky, slow, and I find its documentation to be rebarbative.


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