A: System Center Operations Manager 2012 (OpsMgr) offers several new features. Two of the major ones are Application Performance Monitoring (formally known as AviCode) and network device discovery and monitoring.

To test the network monitoring feature, I originally scouted around eBay and bought a Cisco 1600 series router for around $30. However, I recently found a free network device simulator at Jalasoft,  which, once running, allows several devices to be simulated. They can then be discovered and monitored with Operations Manager 2012.

Once the network simulator is downloaded and installed, there are a few steps to get it running. First, don't run it on the Operations Manager server; run it on a spare virtual machine (VM). Next, for every simulated network device, add a new IP address to the network adapter on the OS.

I have four simulated network devices, so I added four additional IP addresses. Open Network Connections, select your network adapter, select Properties, then select Internet Protocol Version 4. Select Advanced, and under IP addresses, click Add; enter the additional IP addresses, then click OK to all dialog boxes (see screen shot below).

 netsim1

Next, you need to add a host record and reverse PTR record for each IP address with a unique name (this seems to help Operations Manager cope with multiple devices on the same MAC). This is done in DNS, and you need a reverse Lookup Zone for the reverse PTR to be created in (see screen shot below).

 netsim2

Now the simulator can be started, and you can add multiple instances of devices, each using one of the new IP addresses you added. Select a Category from the drop-down menu, then select a Model, and select Load. Then right-click the device in the Loaded dumps section, and select Simulate Device, and select the IP address. The devices can then be started using the Start or Start All action (see screen shot below).

 netsim3

Within Operations Manager 2012, create a new Discovery Rule under Administration workspace, Network Management, Discovery Rules, and configure it for the right IP addresses and community string (public). After a period of time, the new devices should show, and their health reporting should display under Monitoring, Network Monitoring, Network Devices. The Network Node Dashboard gives a nice view, as the screen shot below shows. I have seen that sometimes a device doesn't show, but the majority should. 

 netsim4

See more FAQs about Windows and all of Microsoft's products, as well as VMware, Citrix, and more, at John Savill's FAQs here at Windows IT Pro!