Monday, September 29, 2014

Tools: FREE Full Version Of Xian SNMP Device Simulator!!!

Jalasoft Xian Network Manager (Xian NM) is 10 years old this month and celebrates it in a BIG way.

One of those ways is a FREE full version of the SNMP Device Simulator valid for up to 10 devices.

The only ‘catch’ here is that you download the trial from their website on the 15th of October 2014. Jalasoft will send you a permanent license on that date.

Want to know more? Go here.

SCOM 2007x/2012x: Performance Views Show Counters When Perf Collection Rules Are Disabled

When performance collection rules are disabled in Microsoft System Center Operations Manager, performance views still show counters even after all the data is groomed out. This clutters the related Views and can make them even useless because too many counters are being shown.

This is by design (yikes!)….

A SQL script removes the entries from PerformanceDataAllView for which no data is recorded. KB3002249 contains the SQL scripts (one for removing the entries, another for showing which performance counters will be deleted for what objects before you run the delete script).

The same KB states: ‘…Stop all the Operations Manager services on all Management Servers before you run the script…’ AND ‘…back up your OperationsManager Database before you run this script…’.


WSUS: Guided Walkthrough Troubleshooting WSUS Agents Not Reporting To WSUS Server

Some weeks ago Microsoft released KB2993943, all about solving issues with WSUS Agents not reporting to their WSUS server.

For anyone running WSUS NOT being managed by SCCM 2012x, this KB is a great starting point for resolving WSUS Agent issues.

SCCM: Guided Walkthrough Troubleshooting Software Update Synchronization Issues

About a week ago Microsoft released KB2995743, a guided walkthrough about troubleshooting software update synchronization issues in SCCM 2012x.

Even though managing WSUS with SCCM 2012x has many advantages, it can be a challenge to get it right or to solve issues when they arise. This KB article helps you to get things running again.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

SCCM 2012 R2: CU#3 Is Out!

Yesterday Microsoft released Cumulative Update #3 for SCCM 2012 R2 with build number 5.00.7958.1401. KB2994331 describes this CU in more detail.

Issues fixed in CU#3 involve these SCCM 2012 R2 components:

  1. Administrator Console
  2. Client
  3. Company portal
  4. Migration
  5. Mobile devices
  6. Operating system deployment
  7. Site servers and site systems
  8. Software distribution and application management
  9. Wake on LAN
  10. Windows PowerShell

A new added feature is ‘Management Point Affinity’. This enables you to define on client level to what DP it connects to. Even though it sounds great there are some caveats to reckon with. Justin Chalfant, a Microsoft PFE for SCCM has written an excellent posting about it, to be found here.

I strongly advice you to read it thoroughly before you start implementing MP Affinity.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Lync Server 2010 MP Bug Alert: ‘Consolidator Module Failed Initialization’

A customer of mine runs a SCOM 2012 R2 environment and has many servers and workloads in place, all monitored by SCOM. So far so good. Also a SINGLE Lync 2012 Server is in place and being monitored by SCOM.

But soon the Alert came in: ‘Consolidator Module Failed Initialization’.  Even though I had seen this Alert in the past on a Lync 2010 server, the fix I found back then didn’t work. Simply because the fix for a WMI memory issue, didn’t apply here since it was already outdated by newer file versions. So something else was at play here.

Some time ago I was on an assignment for a customer running many many Lync Server environments, among them many Lync 2010 servers as well. And NO WHERE this issue popped up. So what was different here?

Soon I found it. As it turned out, Lync isn’t really made to be installed on a single server. For a POC perhaps – even then I would not recommend it since you can’t test all the functionality of Lync – or a lab. But not for full production.

So in environments with just ONE Lync server this issue pops up! And the Alert is caused by just ONE single Monitor which is configured in the wrong way. But more about that one later on.

This is what the OpsMgr event log on the single Lync 2012 server told me:

Log Name:      Operations Manager
Source:        Health Service Modules
Event ID:      11112
Task Category: None
Level:         Error
Keywords:      Classic
User:          N/A

The Microsoft Operations Manager Consolidator Module failed to initialize because the specified compare count is less than the minimum allowed.

Compare count value: 1
Minimum value allowed: 2

One or more workflows were affected by this. 

Workflow name: Microsoft.LS.2010.Monitoring.UnitMonitor.TimerResetEvent.PDP_PDP_IPADDRESS_NOT_CONFIGURED_IN_NCS
Instance name: LS Policy Decision Point Component []
Instance ID: {D97677B9-BA09-426C-2FFF-EE8CB1F6A774}
Management group: ABC

In this case the compare count value and the minimum value allowed triggered an Alert for me. When comparing items, you require at least TWO of them, You can’t compare just ONE item with itself!

So apparently this specific Unit Monitor was trying to compare at least TWO items but only found ONE (understandable since it’s only ONE Lync 2010 Server) and failed because of it!

Now my search on the internet became much simpler because I knew now what to look for. And soon on the TechNet Forums I found this topic where I found the cause of it all, as described by ZYEngineer: ‘…On simple deployments of Lync, such as mine, there is no explicitly defined Region, Site, Subnet, Region Link or Region Route.  There's no need since there's only one front-end server.  This monitor is looking for the PDP IP Address in Network Configuration Settings (PDP_PDP_IPADDRESS_NOT_CONFIGURED_IN_NCS). …’


So the only solution here is to disable the Unit Monitor. After some searching in the XML code of this MP I located it, it’s Unit Monitor: IP addresses missed from Network Configuration Settings targeted against LSPolicy Decision Point Component.

As it turned out, this Unit Monitor has a serious issue (allowing a compare count of 1, DUH!) causing it to crash the SCOM Console when trying to look at the properties of it:

And the details show the cause of this Console crashConfused smile:
So the SCOM Console detects the defect of this Unit Monitor without any issue, so why did it slip through QC before this MP was published?

GLADLY, an Override wasn’t an issue at all. So I disabled this Unit Monitor and some minutes later this error in the event log on the Lync 2010 Server and the related SCOM Alert were gone.

Tool: SMART Documentation & Conversion 2.0 Helper For Orchestrator Runbooks

Update, 09-22-2014
Based on this posting I got feedback from Bruno Saille, the Program Manager who’s responsible for this tooling (among other things). I’ve decided to incorporate his feedback in blue. Thanks Bruno for your feedback, awesome!

Already some months ago Microsoft released an updated version their tool to document your Orchestrator  Runbooks, Orchestrator Visio and Word Generator.

However, as it turns out, this is just more than an update of the tool since it incorporates an update of the tool SMART Runbook Conversion Helper as well. This results in the tool SMART Documentation and Conversion Helper 2.0.

The tool itself – with a long description about how to use it with some good examples – can be found here.

So far, so good. But since I’ve used this tool I want to share some of my personal experiences:

  1. Icons please?
    Bumped into it just once. Visio and Word output ended up without icons, even though the export PS script for Runbook icons (this is a 32 bits PS script!) had run successfully and all icon files (jpeg) were present in the same folder the script was run from. Only fix for me was to remove all the icon files, rerun the export PS script for Runbook icons again. Afterwards Visio and Word output had icons again. Don’t know whether this was a one time glitch.

  2. Output to Word is dead slow
    On a well dimensioned server it took a long time to convert some Runbooks to Word format, especially compared to the conversion to Visio. Something which I couldn’t solve and just had to ride it out.

    Feedback from Bruno Saille, Microsoft PM responsible for this software: ‘…Yes, Word output is unfortunately slow, and this is due to how PowerShell works with COM automation. The same code used to be much faster in .NET, and the Visio automation code is not slower with PowerShell. Good thing is that WMF 5.0 is supposed to have a few enhancements in COM automation speed, so this may help (I have not had a chance to give it a good try)…’

  3. Running multiple PS instances on the same computer doesn’t work for conversion to Word
    Tried to run two PS instances in order to make the conversion go faster. For Visio and PS this works great, but when converting Runbooks to Word documents, it doesn’t work. Somehow the document gets corrupted and only the last line is kept. The rest is overwritten by newer output of the conversion. No title, no table. Just a single line of text.

  4. Configure Visio before you start the conversion
    Visio needs some additional configuration before you start your first conversion to it. In my case Visio was installed on the D:\ drive, so I had to modify the path referring to a specific Visio startup file.

  5. Be patient
    The tool works, but has some quirks, one of them is lacking speed. Also when you click something, sometimes there will be a lag. Just be patient and wait. Until now the tool didn’t crash on me which is far more unwelcome.

  6. Placement of the tool window
    When running the tool and starting a conversion (especially to Word), don’t forget to place the window of the tool to a place which doesn’t ‘eat away’ most of your screen. Because when a conversion is started, this windows can’t be dragged to another position. Just something to be aware off.

    Feedback from Bruno Saille, Microsoft PM responsible for this software: ‘…That is one of the limitation of doing this via a PowerShell XAML/WPF "GUI" : The tool will not give focus back until the processing has been finished. This is why we tried to add more extensive feedback in the console window at the same time, so you can confirm something is happening. You can move the console window around even when the GUI is "waiting". Adding multi-threading, etc. might be possible, but then it may bring more complexity than anything, vs a more "simple" PS script that you can modify to your needs…’

Besides this I am happy with the tool since it allows me to gain a good insight in an Orchestrator environment and more important, the Runbooks present. But don’t forget that this tool is the START of your journey in how the Runbooks are made, and not the end of it.

Having a cup of coffee with the persons who built the Runbooks provides tons of information as well, which can’t be captured by any tooling. But than of course, those people must be still around AND available…