Working with BPPM Maintenance Blackout Policy

Using the BPPM 9.5 Maintenance Blackout Policy

How do you handle your organization’s maintenance windows? Imagine this: it’s the early hours of Sunday morning, and your company is about to embark upon its weekly maintenance windows. The operations staff has a full list of all the servers involved with maintenance. How many people and technologies do you need to implement a full blackout for all involved in the monitoring? With BPPM 9.5, the answer is easy: one person and one console. Want to learn how easy it can be, and see it in action?! Keep reading…

Introducing the new BPPM 9.5 Blackout Policy

The BPPM 9.5 Blackout Policy comes in handy in today’s overly dynamic monitoring environments, as it allows the user to perform various blackout functions on a scheduled timeframe, or immediately as needed, from within the BPPM console.  It now allows for your operations staff to do one or more of the following at the Patrol Agent level:

  • Suppress data collection
  • Disable event generation
  • Disengage all recovery actions

BPPM 9.5 differs from older versions in respect to this ‘Blackout’ method, as it doesn’t require an in-depth understanding of the Patrol Agent, Patrol Configuration Manager, or Event Management Rules or Policies.

All of this can now be done from within the BPPM Central Monitoring Administration (CMA) Console quickly and easily with the know-how, which we’ll cover in our associated webinar overview.

In our Blackout webinar demonstration, we will show how to engage a BPPM Blackout Policy by performing the following tasks:

  • Deploy a BPPM Tag “BLKOUT” with 2 Monitoring Configuration Policies to a system we wish to blackout
  • Configure a Total Agent Blackout Policy and set up an “immediate and ongoing” time-frame
  • Test and Verify the Blackout Policy Works
  • Disable the Blackout and Verify the monitoring returns promptly

Setting up the BPPM CMA Blackout Policy Enabler

As we explained in our prior webinar, Policies have engagement mechanisms knows as “Selector Criteria.” It is the “Selector Criteria” that govern when a policy will be engaged.  In our Blackout Policy webinar, we will configure a Monitoring Configuration Policy to use a HOSTNAME specific selector to deploy out a BPPM Tag called “BLKOUT” to a system we want to blackout. In this case, we provide a hostname which we intend to be in maintenance mode, and the Policy deploys the BPPM tag to this system in maintenance.

Subsequently, after the maintenance is complete, we will use a policy which will remove the BPPM Tag “BLKOUT.”  This will disable the blackout and return monitoring to its active and original state.

Configure Blackout Policy and Timeframe

The CMA Blackout Policy is the BPPM mechanism that will actually perform the maintenance blackouts.  A BPPM Blackout Policy has three main moving parts.

First, because it’s a policy, it again must have a Selector Criteria specified that engages it.  We’ll setup our example Blackout Policy Selector Criteria to simply look for the BPPM Tag “BLKOUT” on the Patrol Agents, which is distributed with the above mentioned policies in the setup phase.

Second, it must be told WHEN to engage the blackout.  This is the “Timeframe” of the Blackout Policy.  This is done using the Timeframe “Recurrence Pattern” selection box, which gives the options of Always ActiveOnceDaily, or Weekly. This allows you to build whatever time-frame you want.  To demonstrate this Timeframe function, we’ll set our blackout up to be “Immediate and Ongoing.”

Third, and last, we need to tell the Blackout WHAT to be associated with, in regard to the monitoring.  BMC has provided a nice set of selections here that make the new blackout ability very useful, without requiring technical expertise in the agent technology.  In this case, a complete agent blackout of:

  • Collection –  Stop and disable all monitoring and data collection.
  • Event –  Prevent any and all events from being generated.
  • Recovery –  Prevent the Patrol Agent from running all Recovery Actions.

The condition for this blackout is simply the existence of the “BLKOUT” BPPM Tag on the Patrol Agent. If it exists, the condition is TRUE, and the Blackout engages immediately and forever, stopping all data collection, event generation, and agent recovery actions.

Test and Verify that the Blackout Works

In order to test this out, we simply need to make sure our Blackout Policy is active, and then choose a system to deploy the BPPM Tag out to.  We enable the Policy to deploy the BPPM Tag out to the system we want to blackout, and then watch what happens.

To verify that the Blackout Policy is engaged, I’ll show you how to go into the CMA console and look under the “Servers” tray and verify the server being worked on is shown as “Blacked Out.”  Because our blackout is a full agent blackout, we should expect to see no data collection taking place, no events being generated, and no recovery actions engaged.  It should appear as if the agent or server has been turned completely off.

We’ll allow full agent blackout to continue for 15 minutes and show you how it looks within the BPPM console.  If all goes according to plan, we will see no data presented on the graph during this time-frame.

To reengage the monitoring and end the blackout, we will use the “Delete the BPPM Tag” Policy created earlier to delete the “BLKOUT” BPPM tag from the system and restore full functionality to the Patrol Agent. Because BPPM Policies are dynamic and in force around the clock, the removal of the BPPM Tag “BLKOUT” will instruct the Patrol Agent to begin monitoring again immediately.  The only question here is how long will this take?  You’ll be surprised just how quick this actually takes place.  After all, the only thing worse than not having a blackout in place is having a blackout in place longer than you need, and missing critical monitoring.

And the best part of all is that each administrative task will be done within BPPM engaging full Patrol Agent Blackout using the BPPM 9.5 Central Monitoring Administration Policies and Selectors.  No involvement with Patrol Consoles, Patrol Configuration Manager (PCM), Event Manager Rules, or Policies is needed to make this happen now.

Using the maintenance blackout can save you and your organization untold numbers of man hours and prevent false outage notifications and escalations.  As we all know, time is precious in our heavily burdened daily routines.  You want your monitoring to be proactive, accurate, and up-to-date.  With the BPPM 9.5 Blackout Policy, you now have a new tool to help you achieve this goal.

In case you missed it, be sure to check out our BPPM Policy Introduction blog and webinar here: “Introduction to the Central Monitoring Administration Policy Console.”  In that introduction, we covered the BPPM CMA console and the seven types of Monitoring Configuration Policies, as well as provided a simple Policy example around a “Server Build” procedure.  Be sure to watch it.

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