Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Community MP: HP EVA MP V2 has been released

Already blogged before about this MP. Since a few days V2 has been released, to be found here.

SCOM Notification Model & Twitter

Walter Eikenboom, a much respected Dutch SCOM guru, has published a real good posting how to enable SCOM in order to TWITTER the Alerts using the Notification Model.

This is really great!

All credits go to Walter of course. Posting to be found here.

New MP released: System Center Service Manager 2010 for SCOM R2

Yesterday Microsoft released the MP for System Center Service Manager 2010. This MP requires SCOM R2.

MP to be found here.

A very good thing is that the System Center Service Manager (SCSM) Team has published a Best Practices posting on how to deploy and run this MP.

To be found here.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

SMS Notifications Error: ‘Sms error 'Device not ready' (16013).’

Got this error today at a customers site. SMS was configured as stated in this blog posting. But nothing got out. These two errors were shown in the Console:
  1. Failed to send notification. Notification subsystem failed to send notification over 'SMS' protocol to 'xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx'.’

  2. Failed to send notification using server/device. Notification subsystem failed to send notification using device/server 'Standard  9600 bps Modem' over 'SMS' protocol to 'xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx'.

All was checked. The modem worked just great. The diagnostics returned good data, the modem was properly recognized.

So time to check out the hardware. As it turned out, the SIM contained a PIN and was configured in such a way that it asked for it before it became fully operational. After removing the PIN challenge all worked just fine.

Where are the Opalis files?

For some weeks now the Opalis website has been transferred to the Microsoft website. Which was to be expected since Microsoft acquired Opalis.

But out of the field I do get questions like: Where do I find SP1 for Opalis Integration Server 6.2.2 and the Opalis Operator Console Installer Script? Until the transfer of the Opalis website these files were easy to be found but now I can not find them anymore, like many other users.

Therefore I have uploaded these two files to my DropBox so you can download them from there.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Facts and Fiction & Ten Steps To Make The Right Choice…

Normally I do not post much about differences between MPs from different suppliers. But now I feel I have to since some customers of mine started to ask questions about this document.

Being a consultant for SCOM I do not only advise on how to implement a SCOM environment for any given customer, but also advise on what MPs to use. And for this I also refer to third party MPs since many times customers need additional functionality in SCOM for which non-Microsoft MPs are needed.

For a long time I advised Jalasoft MPs for monitoring network devices since – until recently – they were the only viable option. How ever, for some months now this has changed and a new player has entered the market. Which is good. A bit healthy competition keeps every one sharp and delivers the customer more choice.

Do not get me wrong, Jalasoft is still a valid option. But with the new Network MP delivered by OpsLogix, there is just more to choose from. For one customer the Jalasoft will do and the other the OpsLogix Network MP will do.

But what worries me here is the way the earlier mentioned document ‘compares’ both MPs. It is like me being at a customer who wants me or another company to implement SCOM for them and asks me whether they should choose for me or the other company. Guess you already know my (biased) answer… :)

Same here with the document. Just know from what perspective it has been written. Do not take all for granted. TEST both MPs in order to get the best solution for your environment and situation. How to do that? Well, a bit like these Ten Steps To Make The Right Choice:

  1. Write down the models/types and amounts of network devices to be monitored by SCOM R2,
  2. Write down WHAT you want to be monitored by SCOM R2,
  3. Write down HOW MUCH money you want to spent, or are ALLOWED to spend on it,
  4. Check the websites of both vendors,
  5. Contact both vendors and ask them what you want to know (This is also a great test for how their support is being run),
  6. Ask the vendors what the costs will be of all needed licenses (Do NOT forget the hidden costs like adding an additional server when Jalasoft is being used) and compare them to step 3,
  7. Download trial versions of both MPs and install them in the SCOM environment,
  8. Look how these MPs integrate (some more, some less) into the SCOM (test) environment,
  9. How easy (or not) they are to operate/configure and how much the ACTUAL costs of operation – in time – are going to be,
  10. Experience the ‘Look & Feel’ of both MPs.

When you run through these ten steps you are bound to get it right.

My personal experiences?

Well, to be frankly, when I implement SCOM many times the new users are a bit overwhelmed by the power and the interface of SCOM. Which is normal since SCOM is not anything like Notepad but an ENTERPRISE monitoring solution. Which takes time to understand it.

So when SCOM is implemented I like KISS (Keep It Simple St..). When a customer wants to monitor network devices and Jalasoft is being used, it adds an additional server and an additional interface. Also more changes for things to go wrong. OK, the support of Jalasoft is really good, but it still makes SCOM more complex where the OpsLogix MP integrates into the SCOM Console and needs no additional server(s) nor additional interfaces. All is done from the SCOM Console itself with some add-ons.

Yes, Jalasoft can monitor many things more deeply and detailed. But when all these extra things are not needed, why add an additional server and interface to manage? KISS is the magic word here.

On top of it all, the costs are also important here. And to be frankly, OpsLogix is way much cheaper compared to Jalasoft. One gets more for less money. And now, with the recent economic ‘events’, budgets have become more tight then before.

The last thing I want to mention is the SNMP module OpsLogix introduces, in order to replace the SCOM R2 SNMP module, which is way much more robust. Which is also very important for the total health of the SCOM R2 environment.

I won’t go further by telling what comparisons in the earlier mentioned document are totally correct or not. Because that is just my personal opinion. Just experience it yourself, first hand.

The choice is up to you what MP to use.

So when you want to make a choice, do it based on a test situation. Not a document like the one mentioned before nor this posting of mine. Use the Ten Steps To Make The Right Choice and be happy…

SCOM R2 Web Console: Unexpected Error

Got this error today on a customers site of mine:

SCOM R2 had been running just fine, including the SCOM R2 Web Console. But now, after returning from my holiday, it all went wrong. The SCOM R2 Web Console refused to run. All I got was the message ‘Unexpected Error’ shown in IE… :(

So I started to check out the IIS logs but nothing solid turned up. Then I checked the event logs, nothing as well. I even rebooted the related server but again the error returned. The related web.config file was OK as well.

Time for a different approach. More bold and a bit like replacing the fundaments of a house because a door does not close properly… This is what I did:

  1. Removed the Web Console by starting the Setup of SCOM R2 on the related server > Install Operations Manager 2007 R2 > Next > Modify > Next. Deselect the option Web Console > Next and follow the wizard.
  2. Reinstalled the Web Console on the by starting the Setup of SCOM R2 on the related server > Install Operations Manager 2007 R2 > Next > Modify > Next. Select the option Web Console > Next and follow the wizard.

  3. Installed CU#2 for SCOM R2 so all SCOM R2 Web Console components got updated accordingly.

And now all is well again:

Even though I do not like approaches like these, since the real cause is not found not addresses, it saves me a lot of time spent trouble shooting. The Web Console is functional again and everybody is happy. Time to move on to another topic…

Friday, June 4, 2010

Holiday – Vacance – Urlaub – Vakantie – Semester – праздник - Maintenance Mode

For the next three weeks this blog will be silent since I will be enjoying HOLIDAY! :)

Thanks everybody for visiting this blog and all your comments which keep me sharp. With Opalis and the future versions of SCOM there will more than enough to blog about.

For now and the next three weeks I will put myself and my blog into Maintenance Mode:

Sending out SMS messages with SCOM

In order for SCOM to send out SMS messages a regular cellular phone needs to be attached to the RMS server. When this phone is being recognized by the server OS running on the RMS, SCOM is capable of sending out SMS messages.

However with this kind of setup there are some drawbacks to reckon with:

  1. A cellular phone is a bit clunky and prone to hard- and software errors. So changes are the cellular will fail sooner or later;
  2. A cellular phone attached to a server can invite certain administrators to use it for doing some private calls, so the RMS can no longer send out SMS messages;
  3. When a RMS fails and a MS is promoted to RMS, it takes time to reconnect the mobile device to the new RMS. Many times people forget it;
  4. A cellular phone requires software which is mostly written for desktops not for servers. Changes are likely new bugs are pumped into the server hosting the RMS role;
  5. A cellular phone is an overkill: one only needs SMS capability nothing more, nothing less;
  6. When the RMS is virtualized, how to go about connecting a cellular phone to that server?

So how to go about it? How to take care of these earlier mentioned drawbacks in such a way that one can send out SMS messages with SCOM and not being all to vulnerable? One can use internet solutions in order to send out SMS messages but that introduces new risks, many of which one can not influence at all. So another approach is required here.

The whole solution:
The solution is to be found in two pieces of hardware:

  1. a SIM box;
  2. a ‘translator’ of a serial connection over IP.

With the first mentioned solution one could do almost the trick and cover most earlier mentioned drawbacks. However, numbers 3 and 6 are still not covered for. Why? The SIM box needs to be directly attached to the RMS, using a serial connection. So when the RMS is virtualized, this cannot be done. Or when the RMS is physical and it fails, the new RMS (a promoted MS) cannot send out any SMS messages, only when the SIM box is attached to that server and the software is installed and properly configured.

In order to tackle number 3 and 6, the ‘translator’ comes into play. This solution connects on one site to the SIM box over a serial connection and translates it to an ordinary IP connection. When the software for this device is installed on the RMS it becomes ‘transparent’ and the RMS will be able to use the SIM Box as a modem using a ordinary LAN connection!

So the setup looks like this schematic drawing:


  • The RMS is connected to the LAN;
  • The Serial-Over-IP device (Digi One SP for instance) is connected to the LAN as well;
  • The SIM Box (Siemens TC35i for instance) is connected to the Serial-Over-IP Device through a serial connection;
  • On the RMS the software for the Serial-Over-IP Device is installed and configured (really easy);
  • On the RMS a Modem is added, the Siemens TC35i is being used here.

This way all the earlier mentioned drawbacks have been covered. On the MS the software for the Digi One is easily installed. So when that MS is promoted to RMS, the Notification Model using SMS is also easily transferred to that server.

Another huge advantage of the SIM Box is its robustness. It is not easily wrecked nor used by a systems engineer looking for a cheap way to make a phone call…

Where to get what:
- SIM Box, like the Siemens TC35i;
- Serial-Over-IP, like the Digi One SP.

Special Credits:
Without the help and advice of Alexandre Verkinderen this posting could not have been written. So all credits go to him.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Experts Live


On the 16th of June a huge Knowledge Event in Nijkerk (The Netherlands) will be given, all about Microsoft Infra & Security, Unified Communications, Virtualization and Management with System Center.

I will not be there since I am enjoying holiday. But believe me when I say that I would certainly be there when not having a holiday since the topics and speakers are really great.

So when you interested, go here and sign up!

Even better: entrance is FREE!!!

Forefront Identity Manager 2010 MP (Pre Release) available

From the Microsoft Connect website the FIM 2010 Pre Release MP is available.

Directly taken from Connect:

What it does:

Supported Configurations:

Interested? Go get it here. Before you can download it, you must first complete a short survey.

Recap TechNet DeepDive

On the 1st of June Microsoft and some Partners organized the first TechNet DeepDive in the Netherlands. I was there as well, doing MVP ATE (Ask The Experts) together with other MVPs. This posting is a recap about that day.

Breakfast Q&A/Meeting
For starters I had the honor to join a breakfast meeting with John Craddock. It was more like a Q&A session with good food and hot coffee. Interesting it was since John is really into many topics and knows how to get the message across. Topics like authentication over many different separate forests (Active Directory Federation Services), the Cloud, Virtualization, the early days of Active Directory were discussed.

What made it really worth while was the way John extended everything to daily and practical usage where also the future was accounted for. For instance, how will authentication being taken care off in the future with many services, like the ones offered by the banks, going totally online. How to deal with authentication and how to secure identities? Of course, not all the answers were given but the most critical issues were high lighted.

Keynote: All about the Cloud but with both feet on the ground…
After this John gave his Keynote to the whole audience attending TechNet DeepDive. Which was good as well since he spoke about the Cloud but did it in a non-commercial manner. Told about the possibilities, the potential pitfalls  and how to reckon with those. Many times I have heard/seen/joined sessions or Keynotes about the same topic. But this one was really good because it was based on today's reality and near future possibilities.

Also the English humor was good:

This is a Cloud we can do without….

So with some humor – without going off-topic – and some good facts John gave a very good Keynote.

Time for a Break
After the Keynote there was a break. On the Partner Plaza people could meet, talk to Microsoft and it’s Partners. Also MVP ATE was present there. I met MVPs on the topics Clustering, AD and Forefront. I met many new people. Good it was.

In Total
there were 2 tracks: Management & Security. There were three slots with two sessions per slot. Every slot covered the Management and Security Tracks.

I visited the session about Opalis (duh!) which was really good. Kaj Wierda demonstrated Opalis in such a manner that it went all the way through an IT organization. It touched every aspect of it. It was nice to see how Opalis does not only act as a the ‘glue’ here but also simplifies IT management to a huge extend. Of course, one has to reckon with the organizational structure but it is really of great value. And Kaj knows his stuff and way around in Opalis. Impressive it was.

The second session I visited was all about SCCCM and the new features available in R3. Jannes Alink presented this session. Normally someone else should have done this session but he couldn’t. So Jannes stepped in and did his magic. As a SCOM expert I do not know much about SCCM so this session was a good heads-up for me. The demonstration where a XP workstation was upgraded to W7 – with maintaining the users files – was spot on. Also the way SCCM R3 is capable of deploying virtual applications is awesome. I have worked with SCCM long ago but I must say SCCM has covered many miles with R3. Funny to see how the new W7 workstation ran a virtualized Office 95 application!

Phew. Hadn’t seen that screen for a while!

From the beginning to the end the session was spot on.

And last but not least, I joined a session about Service Manager. The way it connects to SCCM and SCOM is really neat. Still much has to be added to SCSM but the roadmap is impressive since 2011 will be the year for SCSM vNext. So Microsoft goes for gold. The Self Service Portal adds many new features. in conjunction with Opalis, SCCM, SCOM and SCVMM (to name a few) there is a huge power available to do things in a new kind of way where software deployments are automated and people do not have to wait for weeks for an application in order to do their job. All the while all is put into the CMDB so nothing goes into the ‘black hole’ and everything is being accounted for. It has the potential of a killer app.

In between the sessions there was also the lunch, during which another ATE, run by some Microsoft Partners, was given. Many experts were available in order to answer all kind of questions. Also the MVP ATE was available for all kind of questions.

All good things come to an end – Who is the HERO?
TechNet DeepDive came to an end. John gave his second Keynote during that day, all about the question  ‘Who is the HERO?’, It turned out to be a presentation about all kind of issues where John and his team had gone to the rescue. All about disasters which took place at IT shops. It was good for a few laughs but sometimes painful as well since many bad situations were caused by processes which weren’t taken care of properly. And sometimes certain things hit home since they were all to familiar…

Overall Impression
A good day it was. The sessions I attended were good, especially the sessions about Opalis and SCCM. What I did miss however were people ASKING questions during the Q&A times. I mean, I will not pretend to know it all about SCOM. But when I do not know it, I know who does. So you get an answer, ALWAYS. I heard the same from the other MVPs.

So when you are attending such an event, do not be afraid to ask any question. Dumb questions do NOT exist. Or perhaps there is a dumb question: the question which is NOT being asked. So step up, learn and ask. And teach as well.

Tech-Ed Berlin 2010


From the 8th of November until the 12th of November 2010, Tech-Ed Europe 2010 will be held in Berlin!

And not just that, I am part of it. Bought today my entrance ticket! And as last year, I will do my utmost best to blog about it.

Let me know whether you are going as well.