Within any software company, it's always a struggle to come up with the right mix of functionality and features for each release. In Microsoft, we try to gather a lot of customer data to help up make those decisions, and a common battle cry of product development teams for resourcing projects is "show me the data!". One of the tools we use is the Customer Experience Improvement Program (CEIP), which for Operations Manager produces the Operational Data Reports (ODR). In short, the ODR reports show anonymous, aggregate data from all Operations Manager customers who have enabled ODR in the product.
So why am I mentioning this? It's not because we're having to justify whether or not to support cross platform operating systems in Operations Manager or other System Center products. The evidence is clear that it's a customer requirement and that we need to do it. We're not scaling back our plans for supporting cross platform. Far from it – we're working on supporting cross platform in much larger ways (which will be detailed as we get further in product development cycles). I'm mentioning ODR because we want to get a good estimate of the percentage of the Operations Manager customers who are using cross platform MPs, and also which ones they're using.
Your cross platform ODR data could result in even more effort being put into cross platform support, or could help us decide resourcing for the individual supported operating systems.
People ask us all the time if we can "officially" support some new Linux or Unix platform, and without the data to back up these requests, it's not something we can justify. I know, I know… how can we get data from ODR on Management Packs that don't exist? Well it's an issue that has two sides. First, by tracking ODR data, we can spot trends or shifts in "official" MP usage. For example, if Red Hat 4 started declining and Red Hat 5 increased, we know people are moving to new versions. Or, if Sun Solaris usage was dropping and another Linux or Unix platform was gaining, we might say that was a trend toward that OS. Second, we can track "unofficial" MP usage too. For example, if you read this blog and created a CentOS management pack, we would be able to see that and it would show up as a statistic we could track. If we spot more MPs that are related to Linux and UNIX but not in the official supported list, there can be a point where we might add that MP as a supported OS. The thing is, that without the data, the only thing we can go by is random customer surveys and the existing ODR-enabled customers. This limits our decision-making abilities.
So here's your call to action: Enable Operational Data Reporting in Operations Manager!
It's easy and painless! Here's how:
Thanks for helping us make a better product and give you what you need for cross platform support!