HackaSCOM 2022: everything that happened

Aakash Basavaraj / / / / /

HackaSCOM 2022 – the two-day hackathon – was another incredible SCOM event!

Our expert contestants were given just 24 hours to build a SCOM solution, as voted for by the SCOMathon community. Each contestant was given a different challenge and they delivered some amazing solutions.

Unfortunately, one contestant had to drop out, so there’s now the opportunity for anyone in the community to step up and offer a solution to the missing MP and win LEGO. Just email Bruce at [email protected]

Here’s everything you need to know about HackaSCOM 2022 and the SCOM solutions the contestants created.

Meet the contestants

Our two contestants are each titans in their fields. Both Nathan Foreman (last year’s winner) and Anders Öberg return for another year.

Each contestant was assigned one challenge, selected by the judges and the SCOM community. Their SCOM solutions built in just 24 hours were then judged by these famous faces…

Meet the judges

On the judging panel we have two Microsoft MVPs, Bob Cornelissen and Stoyan Chalakov, and a member of the Microsoft SCOM Product Group itself, Aakash Basavaraj – each bringing a unique perspective on SCOM.

Bob said, “I’m looking forward to the application of brain power, using creativity and authoring skills.”

Stoyan added, “I cannot wait to see the same as last year – cool, useful solutions for us to use.”

And Aakash chipped in with, “Every problem has ways to be solved. So, I’m looking for innovative solutions.”

Plus, the whole event was hosted by Bruce Cullen, Director of Advanced Products at SquaredUp and Founding Member at Cookdown.

The challenge

Leading up to the Hackathon, a call was put out for ideas that the community would like to see the experts build. The judges shortlisted challenges from the pool and put them to the vote to assign them to contenders on Day 1. The code from all the solutions will be made available open-source for the community. 

A whopping 62 ideas were submitted by the community! Here are the 5 that made the shortlist, and the challenge allocations: 

  1. File Drop MP to first discover a large list of folders, the files themselves and whether a file exists. Monitor each folder/file for age, size, count (of files in folder)
  2. Distribute a UI through Monitoring Agent to servers and clients. From the UI admins can access different services where they order and set up monitoring locally
  3. Monitor tmpfs file system in Linux
  4. Generate predicted thresholds for a new MP from previous manually set thresholds (using AI/ML/SQL history)
  5. An MP that can tell when IIS sites/pools have been stopped by user or set to disabled and overridden to not monitor/alert

Challenges were then allocated to contestants based on votes from the judges and the community. The Judges had one vote each, and the community had one collective vote via polls on the event. 

This was an amazing opportunity for the SCOM community to get solutions to real problems built that they would use themselves.

Challenge Allocations

Here’s what each contestant got allocated and their initial thoughts on their projects.

Anders Öberg

MP challenge: Anders was given the first challenge: File Drop MP to first discover a large list of folders, the files themselves and whether a file exists. Monitor each folder/file for age, size, count (of files in folder)

Anders’ reaction:

“I just love to work with monitoring and programming and problem-solving so I like this type of event where you can do something from zero in just a short amount of time. I like challenges.”

The judges said about this task:

“A potential problem could be the number of files and folders and their sizes. So the problem needs to be solved with environments that have many folders of large sizes in mind.” – Stoyan

“There are different things we’re looking for in this one MP. It could be checking the file size, age, if it exists at all, or if there’s a folder with too many files. This gives leeway to Anders to choose what he will go after first.” – Bob

After a few hours, Bruce Cullen caught up with Anders to see what he was thinking in regard to how he’d build the MP.

He shared, “I think I’ll create a rich PowerShell script with the complexity in it and an easier integration into SCOM. This will give the community the opportunity to edit the script, which is often easier than deep diving into SCOM. I also hope to build a double input possibility so you can input both on the management server side and also on the client side. I hope this MP is something that the community wants and that it’s good enough.”

Nathan Foreman

MP challenge: Because he was last year’s winner, the judges decided to give Nathan a challenge. So, they picked the final option: Generate predicted thresholds for a new MP from previous manually set thresholds (using AI/ML/SQL history)

Nathan’s reaction:

“I can’t judge the competition this year so I’m excited to start.”

Bruce also caught up with Nathan a few hours into the challenge and this is what Nathan shared:

“I got the challenge of writing some AI into SCOM. Originally it was something to predict overrides, but I was struggling to shape that out. So, I’m now looking to use some predictive modeling with ML to give you an idea of when you might cross a threshold, based on past performance, without having to wait until you’re CPU is pegged out, for example.”

Challenge for the community

Unfortunately, Scott Moss wasn’t able to compete this year in the end. He’d been given challenge 2: Distribute a UI through Monitoring Agent to servers and clients. From the UI admins can access different services where they order and set up monitoring locally.

Because this challenge hasn’t been completed…

We’re offering the chance to win $120 worth of LEGO to someone in the community who takes this challenge on and provides a solution by Christmas.

Email [email protected] to share your MP!

How to get started with MP Authoring by Silect

We then heard from Mike Sargent from Silect on how to get started with SCOM MP authoring. He shared the tools, techniques, and resources that you’ll need. Catch the full presentation in the webinar. But here’s a quick overview.

MP authoring tools

MP authoring techniques

MP authoring resources

Day 2: The HackaSCOM Results

After 24 hours, the contestants both delivered incredible new solutions for SCOM!

But before we get to that, we also had Shawn Williams, Senior Integrations Engineer at SquaredUp, share the powerful new platform that solves the core problem of being unable to give a succinct answer to customers when they ask about the health of their new application.

The servers and networks don’t share the same place for monitoring metrics so data is siloed and metrics aren’t accessible to those who need to share rolled-up health statuses.

SquaredUp has long been the “secret sauce” for SCOM monitoring but they now offer the EAM-X tier which lets users bring any data together instantly, from anywhere, with over 50+ plugins.

You can roll up all your data from SCOM, networks, VMware, and more into beautiful dashboards that help you clearly answer, “What’s the health of my application?”

SquaredUp for SCOM: EAM-X lets you:

You can get totally free access to SquaredUp for SCOM: EAM-X here.

The HackaSCOM MP Authoring Challenge Results

We then launched into the results from the contestants’ 24 hours of coding during HackaSCOM. Here’s what they created:

Anders Öberg

Anders built a probe and data source from PowerShell script to help discover folder, file and catalog changes and provide details about those changes.

In SCOM, you can now detect and track changes to subdirectories. The MP helps show the changes to each folder, like file count change, last write time, file size change, as well as when a new file is created and catalogs are changed.

Watch the full demo of this MP on the HackaSCOM 2022 – Day 2 webinar:

Anders confessed, “At first I thought it was easy but then I saw I had to take performance into consideration. So, I tried to make a central probe for the data source.”

On seeing the MP solution from Anders, Aakash said, “I’d find storage optimisation useful with this MP – local storage, cloud storage, or large files causing latency and lag of the disks.”

Stoyan added, “I really like this solution. It can even be built on easily with PowerShell to make it a great solution.”

Nathan Foreman

Nathan dived into AI and ML and made use of singular spectrum analysis (SSA) forecasting to create predictive modeling that shows you when you might cross a threshold, based on past performance. It’s a bit different to the original task, but still highly valuable.

Nathan ended up with a single spectral estimation based on an embedded time series. He then created a UI that makes the interface easier. The wizard provides a table of historical data on the left and SSA forecasting in a table on the right so you can quickly see when you will cross your thresholds and act before that happens.

“It was exciting to work on a different path to where I typically work but I did run a little short on time,” said Nathan.  

Watch the demo of the final solution on the webinar replay here.

After seeing the MP demo, Stoyan reacted: “I’m almost speechless right now because the complexity of the task and approach and within 24 hours you have something working on these real issues and challenges. I think that it would be great to have this implemented in SCOM. It’s super exciting.”

Bob added, “I’m also very excited. Forecasting has always been missing in SCOM. Previously, you could just set thresholds to alert you, but now the model can predict when you’ll hit the zero point and that’s very interesting.”

Aakash wrapped up the review with: “I’m completely spellbound. The solution looks so simple at the end of the day but the thought flow that has been put in at the backend by Nathan has been fabulous.”

And the Winner is…

After a grueling 24 hours of coding and not enough sleep, the winner of HackaSCOM 2022 was selected. The winner is…


Nathan Foreman!

Here’s what the judges had to say about Nathan’s solution.

Bob: “We threw Nathan a bone that was too big to chew. But I really liked the results. He made the best use of what was available to him, showing the flexibility and creativity we were looking for.”

Stoyan: “Nathan did all the thinking on how to solve the problem but also built a UI that gets the data from the data warehouse, evaluates it according to the model, and then presents it as a nice output.”

Aakash: “The completeness and well-roundedness of the solution was a real takeaway. Although the solution looked really simple there was a lot of thought behind it.”

Get the SCOM solutions

But of course, the real winners are all in the SCOM community who can now use these MPs for free.

We’ll be releasing detailed blog posts for each solution over the next couple of weeks so you can see how each one was built and use them for yourselves. Stay tuned!

Winning prize – donation

The winning prize was $250 to go to a charity of their choosing. Nathan chose the worthy local cause of South London Xmas Dinners. They provide a Christmas day dinner to young people who have left care – they’ve been in foster families or children’s homes – and have no family or place to go to celebrate Christmas. Please also feel free to donate to this cause too.

And finally, please don’t forget to fill in the annual SCOM survey! Your feedback is used by the SCOM product team to enhance SCOM for future years. www.scomathon.com/survey

Congratulations to our heroic HackaSCOM contestants!

See you all next year.