Friday, December 21, 2012

Merry Christmas & A Happy New Year

From Saturday the 22nd of December 2012 until the second of January 2013 this blog will be silent since I am enjoying holiday season with my family.

Like every year when I post a similar article, I want to thank YOU for visiting my blog and taking time to comment on many of my postings. This is very important to me since this blog isn’t about me but for everyone working with System Center on a daily basis. And like a restaurant which becomes just as good as it’s critics, this blog can only become a good one (and stay up to specs) with your feedback.

So keep your comments coming in, I will most certainly respond to it (sometimes I get swamped by all the comments and work so sometimes some comments slip through for which I apologize).

For now I wish you all (and your family) all the best for 2013 and a

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

HOT NEWS: SP1 Bits For System Center 2012 Are Available For Download!!!

From now on SP1 for System Center 2012 can be downloaded from TechNet and MSDN (subscription required)!!!!
  • TechNet Subscriptions:
  • MSDN Subscriptions:

At this moment I am downloading these bits. Soon (after the holiday season Glimlach) I’ll share my upgrade experiences from OM12 RU#3 to OM12 SP1.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

What’s New In SP1 For System Center 2012?

My posting about SP1 for System Center 2012 being RTM’d caused my mailbox being flooded, all with questions about what SP1 for System Center 2012 will bring.

Before I’ll answer that (or better provide a link to to the official webpage of Microsoft about that topic) I want to tell that it looks like that SP1 for System Center 2012 will be general available from the 3rd of January 2013. So just a few more weeks to go before the bits can be downloaded. Nice!

The official webpage all about SP1 for System Center 2012 can be found here. As you can see there are many improvements. And because the webpage is a bit dated it might be expected there will more to tell about SP1 when it becomes GA.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

It’s Official: System Center 2012 Service Pack 1 Has RTMd!

It’s official:

Service Pack 1 for System Center has RTMd!

See here:

Can’t wait to update my own environments….

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

SCOM 2007 R2 Reporting Issue: Reporting Tree Not Updated Anymore & Event ID 31569

Bumped into this issue: the SCOM R2 Reporting Tree was stale: MPs which were a long time ago removed still showed the Reports and newly added MPs, containing Reports, weren’t uploaded to the SSRS instance. Time for an investigation.

The OpsMgr event log on the RMS showed many times Event ID 31569 with these details: ‘… Report deployment process failed to request management pack list from SQL RS Server. The operation will be retried.
Exception 'WebException': The request failed with HTTP status 407: Proxy Authentication Required (The ISA Server requires authorization to fulfill the request. Access to the Web Proxy filter is denied. )

It turned out there had been a change of proxy server several months ago and was enforced to all users by a GPO. Even though the SCOM 2007 R2 service accounts had internet access, the Data Warehouse WRITE account needed additional adjustments as well.

Problem Solved
I logged on to the RMS by using the Data Warehouse WRITE account for SCOM 2007 R2. Opened IE and adjusted the proxy settings so it would bypass the proxy for local addresses:

Soon afterwards the RMS logged Event ID 31568 telling it successfully deployed the Reports:

Case closed Glimlach!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

New KB: Cumulative Update For Lync 2010 MP

A few days ago Microsoft released a CU for the Lync 2010 MP which fixes the Secure References issue as described in KB2735318.

Want to know more? Check KB2742265.

Updated MP: Monitoring Print Server version 6.0.7004.0

A few days ago Microsoft released an updated version of the Print Server MP, version 6.0.7004.0.

Taken directly from the related MP guide:

Version 6.0.7004 of the Management Pack for Windows Print Server includes the following changes:

Print Server Library:
- Disabled and set visible to false for dashboard and performance views.

Print Server 2003:
- Fixed rule for collecting “jobs spooling”

Print Server 2008:
- Added support for monitoring the Print Server Role on Windows Server 2008 R2.

Print Server 2012:
- Added support for monitoring the Print Server Role on Windows Server 2012.

Want to know more? Go here.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Installation 2nd OM12 Management Server Fails: OpsMgrSetupWizard.log Shows Entry ‘Error: :Error:AddPrivilegesToDataWarehouseAccount: DAS account is not specified’

In the Netherlands have a saying:
All credits for the tile go to

The saying is based on this fact: A pearl come to be because in the oyster shell a small particle (sand) is irritating the mussel. Therefore it puts a layer of material around it so it doesn’t irritate anymore, thus a pearl is created. Thus meaning, out of irritation many good things come to be…

When looking at my blog, I can say the same about it for many postings. Quite a few times I bumped into a situation which really looked straightforward to me at the beginning but after 30 minutes, everything is totally different and a seemingly easy procedure – like ABC – turns sour. Until now I cracked most of them and posted them on my blog for the community and as my ‘personal’ KB library.

This posting is no different. A seemingly easy procedure goes bad. Took me some hours to find the cause but I cracked it. There’s much to tell so let’s start.

The Deal
Adding a second OM12 Management Server to an existing OM12 Management Group since only one OM12 MS is in place which isn’t valid for any OM12 environment.

Next > Next > Finish? No! Next > Next > Roll back!
Of course I have everything in place and ready. A new VM, with enough storage, CPU and RAM. Added to AD and the proper permissions in place. All the information of the MG is at hand with also the OM12 service accounts. The prereqs on the OM12 MS to be are installed and functional.

So lets start! Next > Next > Next > ?!%$^@ > Rollback?!

But all the OM12 services started so KB2677070 isn’t at play here. Double checked it (presumptions are the mother of all…), but no way, that KB isn’t present on that server. And yes, the new server can connect to the OM12 SQL Server without any issue. And yes, the account which runs the install has all the required permissions. Is admin on the local server, has OM12 Admin permissions and SA permissions on the SQL Server instance. And no, the firewalls aren’t blocking anything here.

So time for a deeper dive.

The Cause
The installation logs had to be investigated. System Center Central has written a good posting about where to find them and their purpose. So in the folder %LocalAppData%\SCOM\Logs I opened log file OpsMgrSetupWizard.log and went through it, step by step.

After some time I found these entries which puzzled me:

  1. Error:    :Error:AddPrivilegesToDataWarehouseAccount: DAS account is not specified;
  2. Error:    :AddPrivilegesToDataWarehouseAccount: failed: Threw Exception.Type: System.ArgumentNullException, Exception Error Code: 0x80004003, Exception.Message: Value cannot be null.

And that’s correct. Simply because the installation GUI of OM12 when installing an additional OM12 MS doesn’t prompt for those credentials:

As you can see, no credentials are entered for the Data Warehouse accounts (Read/Write). So the installer passes an empty value for those accounts which SQL Server refuses, causing the installation of the OM12 MS to fail.

But WHY?
OK, now I have found the cause. But now the reason WHY. I have installed many new OM12 environments with many additional OM12 MS servers. And that went just fine. So what’s different here?

In this particular situation the SQL Server being used here runs many other SQL Server instances as well. One is dedicated to OM12. But this is a named instance with another port then the default one, 1433.

Somehow, somewhere when an additional OM12 MS server has to be installed and the OM12 databases reside on a named SQL Server instance NOT using port 1433, the OM12 installer has to pass the Data Warehouse credentials used by OM12. But the GUI installer doesn’t prompt for them so it’s passes a zero value instead!

Why doesn’t the GUI installer prompt for ALL OM12 Service Account credentials? Good question and beats me as well…

The Fix
Install the additional OM12 MS servers using an elevated cmd-prompt while running a silent install. But before you start read this posting of mine as well because otherwise it won’t work.

  1. Close all other installation screens opened by the Install GUI of OM12. Otherwise the new installation will fail as well;
  2. Empty the folder %LocalAppData%\SCOM\Logs. Two reasons: we don’t want to be remembered by our failures and secondly we want clean log files;
  3. Copy the contents of the installation media of OM12 to the local server for instance C:\Install\OM12;
  4. Create the syntax for the Setup.exe file you’re going to need later on. Syntax is this:
    setup.exe /silent /install /components: OMServer /ManagementGroupName: XYZ /SqlServerInstance: SQLSERVER\INSTANCE /SqlInstancePort: 12345 /DatabaseName: OperationsManager /DWSqlServerInstance: SQLSERVER\INSTANCE /DWSqlInstancePort: 12345 /DWDatabaseName: OperationsManagerDW /ActionAccountUser: DOMAIN\SCOMACTION /ActionAccountPassword: PASSWORD /DASAccountUser: DOMAIN\SCOMSDK / DASAccountPassword: PASSWORD /DataReaderUser: DOMAIN\SCOMDWREADER /DataReaderPassword: PASSWORD /DataWriterUser: DOMAIN\SCOMDWWRITER /DataWriterPassword: PASSWORD /EnableErrorReporting: Never /SendCEIPReports: 0 /UseMicrosoftUpdate: 0
  5. Replace all values in blue with your values and copy everything into a single line;
  6. Open an elevated cmd-prompt and go to the folder containing the installation media of OM12;
  7. Run the syntax you made based on the information as described in Steps 4 and 5;
  8. Because it’s a SILENT installation nothing will be shown like a GUI for instance;
  9. In Task Manager however you’ll see some instances of msiexec.exe taking place;
  10. Be patient, in my case it took less then 10 minutes for the additional OM12 MS server to install successfully;
  11. Signs of success:
    1. The OM12 Console shows in Administration > Management Servers the additional OM12 MS which becomes green and stays like that (not greyed out anymore for an endless period of time);
    2. On the additional OM12 MS server itself the OpsMgr event log is being filled and continues to grow with good healthy messages;
    3. On the additional OM12 MS server itself, the earlier mentioned msiexec.exe processes disappear and are ‘replaced’ by some MonitoringHost.exe processes, telling you the OM12 MS server has started monitoring itself.
  12. Now with the additional OM12 MS server in place it’s time to install the OM12 Console as well, we left that initially;
  13. Open Control Panel > Programs and Features > select System Center 2012 – Operations Manager > right click, select Uninstall/Change;
  14. In the screen which appears now select the option Add a feature > Next;
  15. Select Operations Console > Next;
  16. Follow the rest of the wizard and the OM12 Console will be installed within a few minutes;
  17. Close all screens and install now the same Update Rollup which is in place for the OM12 MG on the newest OM12 MS server.

Now all is well and OM12 has an additional OM12 MS server. Still puzzles me why the installation GUI of OM12 doesn’t prompt for ALL OM12 Service Accounts. Would have saved me a lot of time…

New MP: Windows Server 2012 Essentials

A few days ago Microsoft released a new MP for monitoring Windows Server 2012 Essentials, version 6.2.9805.0. This MP requires OM12 so SCOM R2 won’t fit the bill here.

One small side note: Even though the website states the MP to be version 1, the MP itself is a bit more distinctive for its version, 6.2.9805.0.

And one last thing I noticed, in the latest MP guides (under the header Additional References), Microsoft references my blog as well which is REALLY an honor!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Dell MP Suite, version 5.0.1. Part IV: The Verdict

Postings in the same series:
Part  I Let’s Start
Part IIKnow What’s In Place
Part III Server Monitoring

In the last posting of this series I’ll take a look at the other Dell MP Suite monitoring functionality and come to a verdict of this MP Suite. When you haven’t read the previous postings you’re advised to do so before reading this posting.

Other monitoring functionality
The Dell MP Suite delivers besides server hardware monitoring also monitoring of other Dell hardware:

  1. Dell Chassis Management Controller (CMC)
    Monitors Dell CMC and DRAC/MC devices. The required MPs are found in the folder C:\Program Files\Dell Management Packs\Server Mgmt Suite\5.0.1\Chassis Monitoring.

    A nice touch of Dell is here that a MP especially for SCOM R2 is made ( and another for OM12 ( So depending on the OM version you run you import the MP which is relevant. For CMC monitoring four MPs must be imported.

    Dependencies (limited to the CMC MPs only!)
    imageAs you can see is the the foundation here. The SCOM R2 MP or OM12 MP depends on all other three CMC MPs. Basically meaning all four MPs must be imported otherwise CMC monitoring won’t work.

    MPBA & MPViewer results
    The isn’t shocking. MPBA shows only one warning which was to be expected since this MP is really tiny. It only creates the foundation for CMC monitoring. It defines some classes and relationships. No Rules or Monitors what so ever.

    The is a library file defining the operations used by the Dell CMC MP. A small MP as well only containing four discoveries. No Rules or Monitors to be found here. MPBA is happy with the MP and finds nothing to report about. Didn’t expect otherwise actually with such a basic small MP.

    The defines the views used by the CMC MP. It doesn’t contain any OM12 Console widgets which is why this MP fits SCOM R2 as well. The MP adds 5 basic Views to the console. MPBA finds one nagging issue which results into the Alerts to be displayed in the wrong order (not the newest Alert on top).

    The is the one which does all the CMC monitoring. It contains 4 Unit Monitors (2 SNMP based) and about 25 Rules, all SNMP trap based.

    So per CMC device you have about 27 SNMP based Rules/Monitors running against it. Something to reckon with in your OM12 environment. Make sure your MG is properly dimensioned to take this additional load of network device monitoring.

  2. Dell Remote Access Monitoring (DRAC)
    Monitors DRAC devices. The required MPs are found in the folder C:\Program Files\Dell Management Packs\Server Mgmt Suite\5.0.1\Remote Access Monitoring.

    Also here Dell differentiates between SCOM R2 and OM12 by delivering the and the So depending on the OM version you run you import the MP which is relevant. For DRAC monitoring four MPs must be imported.

    Dependencies (limited to the DRAC MPs only!)
    As you can see is the the foundation here. The SCOM R2 MP or OM12 MP depends on all other three DRAC MPs. Basically meaning all four MPs must be imported otherwise DRAC monitoring won’t work.

    MPBA & MPViewer results
    The is a surprise. MPBA shows about 18(!) warnings which is bad since it creates the foundation for DRAC monitoring. Most warnings are about missing Display Names. So this isn’t a good start. The MP itself defines some classes and relationships. No Rules or Monitors what so ever.

    The is a library file defining the operations used by the Dell DRAC MP. A small MP as well only containing five discoveries. No Rules or Monitors to be found here.

    The defines the views used by the DRAC MP. It doesn’t contain any OM12 Console widgets which is why this MP fits SCOM R2 as well. The MP adds 8 basic Views to the console. MPBA finds two nagging issues which result into the Alerts to be displayed in the wrong order (not the newest Alert on top) and another issue about missing Display Names.

    The is the one which does all the DRAC monitoring. It contains 10 Unit Monitors, 9 Dependency Monitors and  191(!) Rules, all of them enabled and generating Alerts.

    Good to know is that 74 of these Alerts have an Informational Alert Severity. Personally I don’t fancy informational Alerts since they don’t really add value to SCOM R2/OM12. Many times they’re noise.

    But still 67 of the 191 Rules do have a Critical Alert Severity which is really a whole lot. Don’t know how many of these are really critical.

    And YES, all of these Rules are SNMP based. So per DRAC device being monitored by OM12 there are 191 SNMP based Rules in place. Again an additional load on your OM12 environment. Something to reckon with in your OM12 environment. Make sure your MG is properly dimensioned to take this additional load of network device monitoring.

  3. Chassis Modular Server Correlation
    This MP ( doesn’t monitor anything – thus not a single Rule or Monitor to be found in that MP – but correlates the Dell CMC and DRAC/MC slots with Dell Modular Servers.

    Not much to add here besides this MP is advised to be imported when you decide to monitor CMC and/or DRAC.

The Dell MP Suite on itself proofs Dell is truly dedicated to bring Dell hardware in to SCOM R2/OM12. The scale of the MP is rather huge since it covers many aspects of the Dell hardware. Compared to a few years back the Dell MP Suite shows progression in build quality.

However, the build quality is still one of the most crucial points of any MP and the Dell MP Suite isn’t an exception here. As shown in previous postings and this one as well, the Dell Suite MP and it’s set of MPs do have some issues, ranging from a nuisance (wrong sorting order of Alerts) to more serious issues many of them directly related to Core MP Functionality.

This new suit also introduces a new approach to importing the Dell MPs in SCOM R2/OM12. On itself, looking at the amount of MPs involved, an understandable idea. But the way it’s done (by adding the functionality in the Monitoring part of the Console) is a bad idea. This part of the Console is shown to the Operators as well and they don’t have any permissions to import/delete MPs. So Dell should bring this to the Administration part of the Console or skip it all together. For now my advice is to remove that MP (Dell Feature Management) from your environment, as described in the third posting of this series.

As seen with previous Dell MP Suites, the amount of Rules and Monitors using SNMP can be enormous. In SCOM R2 this can pose a real threat to the overall stability, scalability and availability of the whole MG simply because the SNMP module used by SCOM R2 is anything but robust and scalable.

But even when running OM12 there is still a lot going on SNMP wise. So be careful when monitoring CMC/DRAC modules since the additional load created can be (to) big for your environment. Testing is key here and also very important, tweaking and tuning.

Perhaps Dell should build the next version of the Dell MP Suite in a different kind of way: Most of all Rules/Monitors disabled and a few MPs only containing overrides to enable the most relevant ones. This way one can use a phased approach when deploying the Dell MP Suite.

Coverage of Dell hardware: Thumbs up
Overall build quality: Fingers crossed
Amount of noise in certain MPs: Thumbs down
Overall progression compared to previous versions: Fingers crossed
Quality of documentation
: Fingers crossed
Total: Fingers crossed 

Should I or not?
When you have Dell hardware in place it’s wise to monitor it by using the Dell MP Suite. However, don’t import all Dell MPs found in this suite but use a phased approach instead. Go about it like this:

  1. RTFM both documents (PDF and text file);
  2. Start with Dell Server hardware monitoring only and nothing fancy like OOB;
  3. Tuning, tuning and tuning is key here.

When that’s in place and functional AND OM12 is still OK, you can move on but only after you’ve tested these MPs thoroughly. The DRAC MP contains too many SNMP Rules for instance so tuning is really required here.

And for the rest take notice of the advice I have given in all the previous postings of this series.

Monday, December 3, 2012

System Center 2012 Delivered From The Cloud

It was to be expected, sooner or later one or more SC 2012 components to be delivered from the cloud. Cased Dimensions is the first one to make it really happen.

They offer System Center 2012 – Service Manager directly from the cloud!

Taken directly from the Service Manager Engineering Blog: ‘…The offering is pushed from a Private Cloud platform where clients get the full native functionality of Service Manager whilst being in the Cloud. Their Management Packs for Asset Management, SLA Management and Assigned to me also come as part of the Cloud

Their whole posting can be found here.

Makes me wonder what SC 2012 component will be next…

SCOrch Integration Guide

A few days ago Microsoft released the System Center 2012 Integration Guide – Orchestrator.

Purpose: ‘…to provide an overview of each System Center component in its role as a programmable platform to be leveraged for the Microsoft Private Cloud.  It is intended to provide an abstraction layer that guides partners and customers on their decision process for methods to build automated solutions across System Center components…’

Want to know more? Go here.

OM12 Integration Guide

A few days ago Microsoft released the System Center 2012 Integration Guide - Operations Manager.

Purpose: ‘…to provide an overview of each System Center component in its role as a programmable platform to be leveraged for the Microsoft Private Cloud.  It is intended to provide an abstraction layer that guides partners and customers on their decision process for methods to build automated solutions across System Center components and between System Center and other systems…’

Want to know more? Go here.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V Books

With System Center 2012 becoming more and more like one product, consisting out of many components, like OM12, VMM, SCOrch, SCSM and the lot, it’s hard to ignore the underlying platform as well.

In my line of work I see a shift taking place. Even though in real life the SC 2012 product and it’s related components might be challenging and not always working seamlessly together as the marketing machine of Microsoft wants us to believe, the foundation is good and with SP1 for SC 2012 getting better.

For a long time I tried to focus myself on some of the SC 2012 components. However, when touching VMM it’s a bit harder since the very product manages hypervisors (XenServer, VMware and Hyper-V of course).

I am a Microsoft man so soon I found myself digging through whitepapers, blogs and free e-books all about Hyper-V. And to my surprise, loving it.

No I am not aiming to become a Hyper-V specialist but I want to know the basics and how to integrate and manage it with VMM. With Windows Server 2012 Microsoft has made a huge leap with Hyper-V and brought it to a whole new level where it can really compete with VMware.

So it’s important for me to learn about Hyper-V version 3 by buying the right books. Even though there are already some out there, two of them really stand out since they’re written by people who work with it on a daily basis. So they know it, inside and out. One of these books is already available and another will be published soon.

  1. Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V Cookbook
    Written by Leandro Carvalho a virtualization MVP. Book is already available in paperback and Kindle edition (a one-click Buy & Read experience!).

  2. Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V Installation and Configuration Guide
    Written by Patrick Lownds, Michel Luescher, Damian Flynn AND the man who’s feared (and perhaps even hated? Glimlach) by VMware. The man who speaks his mind and LOVES Hyper-V, Aidan Finn. I am a regular visitor of his blog. His postings are fun to read since he mixes technology with his open and direct approach to it all. Resulting in a unique style of blogging.

    This book isn’t available yet but will be soon. For now in paperback format. Hopefully a Kindle edition will become available as well since I really love that format for e-books.

Any one involved with Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V version 3 should buy these books since they’ll teach you a lot and even more since these books are written by the Hyper-V mechanics themselves, standing knee deep in the grease, oil and boiler rooms of Hyper-V, the modern datacenters . No marketing bullshit crap but the real deal.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Cisco UCS MP Download & Information Links

Whenever you need the Cisco Unified Computing System (UCS) MP here are some useful download and information links:
  • Plug-in Cisco webpage
    • SCOM 2012 – Management Pack v2.5 Downloads
      • Quick Start Guide
      • Release Notes
      • MSI file containing the MP itself
    • SCOM 2007R2 – Management Pack v2.4 Downloads
      • Quick Start Guide
      • Release Notes
      • MSI file containing the MP itself
    • System Center Orchestrator (SCO) Integration Pack Downloads
      • Quick Start Guide
      • IP
    • Archive: SCOM 2007R2 – Management Pack v2.1.0 Download
      • ZIP archive
  • Three blog postings from, all about the latest MP with running the Cisco UCS Emulator

A real matryoshka doll:
One thing to keep in mind: The MP ( is like a matryoshka doll: It doesn’t contain any any Discoveries, nor any Unit Monitor only one Rule and two basic Views. But don’t let that fool you.

The real magic happens when the newly added Management Pack Template Cisco Unified Computing Systems is successfully run: many Discoveries, Rules, (Unit) Monitors, (Diagram/State/Performance/Alert) Views are created afterwards, so be patient.

So make sure to create a dedicated unsealed MP when you run this MP Template because all of those objects will be saved into that MP…

Cross Post: OpsMgr 2012 – Agents Across Slow WAN Links Are Unable To Communicate

This is a very important posting even though it dates from the 26th of October 2012.

Fellow MVP Daniele Grandini writes about an issue where SCOM R2/OM12 Agents and Gateways across slow WAN links are unable to communicate.

Back in 2010 I bumped into a similar situation which took me many days to crack. And somehow I solved it but it never felt OK. Like the situation had solved itself and that my actions were of no influence what so ever. They simply coincided with the other real remediation. Now I know why.

So anyone using Agents/Gateways on remote locations connected by slow WAN links and without a DC on that location, might bump into this issue as well.

Even though the ‘solution’ mentioned in this posting isn’t very solid, at least I know now what really caused the issue back in 2010. And on top of it all, Daniele has provided a PowerShell scripts which mimics the call made by the Management Server. When it takes about one second or more to complete changes are you have the same issues…

New OM12 MP: Monitoring Windows Server 2012 Remote Desktop Services

Yesterday Microsoft released a new MP (OM12 only!) for monitoring Windows Server 2012 Remote Desktop Services, version 7.0.8560.0.

MP and its related guide can be downloaded from here.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

System Center Blog App For iPhone, Android & Windows Phone

An employer of Microsoft created an app which aggregates the official blogs related to news and support for various Microsoft System Center and MDOP products (App-V, AVIcode, Configuration Manager, SMS 2003, Data Protection Manager, MED-V, Opalis, Orchestrator, Operations Manager, MOM 2005, Server App-V, Service Manager, VMM and WSUS).

For any one working with System Center products this app is a must have. Go here for more information about this app and where to get it.

Microsoft Private Cloud Fast Track Guidance Set

Recently Microsoft released a set of documents assisting you to implement a private cloud solution.

As Microsoft states: ‘…Customers can use this guidance to implement a private cloud solution with hardware they already own or purchase…’.

The guidance set consists out of these documents:

  • Reference Architecture Guide:
    This guide details a reference architecture that incorporates many Microsoft product and consulting team best practices.  The architecture is the foundation for a highly available, scalable, secure, and manageable private cloud with high performance.  While all organizations will find it of value, it will prove most useful to medium through large enterprise environments.
  • Reference Deployment Guide:
    This guide provides detailed installation and configuration steps to deploy the physical architecture detailed in the reference architecture guide.
  • Reference Operations Guide:
    This guide includes many of the operational tasks that are often executed in a private cloud environment

The whole set can be downloaded from this location.

Orchestrator Survival Guide

For some months now Microsoft has published a Wiki all about System Center 2012 – Orchestrator.

It covers all aspects of Orchestrator and provides many resources for any one working with this product:

Want to know more? Go here.

Cross Post: SCOM & Excel

Michel Kamp is a fellow MVP and has written an excellent posting about how to use Excel to retrieve data from the OpsMgr database. He’s even sharing his Excel sheet when you drop him a note!

Michel’s approach to SCOM is from the angle of a programmer so his postings on his blog have a totally different point of view which makes his blog even more interesting.

Thanks for sharing Michel!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Dell MP Suite, version 5.0.1. Part III: Server Monitoring

Postings in the same series:
Part  I Let’s Start
Part IIKnow What’s In Place
Part IVThe Verdict

This is the third posting of a series about the Dell MP Suite, version 5.0.1 When you haven’t read the previous postings you’re advised to do so before reading this posting.

Purpose of this posting
In this posting I’ll tell you about the monitoring of Dell servers, also referred to as (what else?) Server Monitoring. When the Dell MP Suite is installed three Dell MPs are imported into your SCOM R2/OM12 MG. As stated before, these MPs serve as the foundation for the rest of the Dell MPs you’re going to import.

The same installer also places an impressive amount of MPs on the hard drive of that computer (by default in C:\Program Files\Dell Management Packs\Server Mgmt Suite\5.0.1). Gladly Dell helps us a bit here and groups these MPs in folders so you’ll know what they’re meant for:

The folder Server Monitoring contains 8 MPs in total, all aimed at monitoring the Dell Server hardware:

Even though you might be tempted to import every single one of them, please don’t! Only import the MPs your organization really requires and nothing more. It keeps the monitoring environment lean & mean and far more easier to manage compared to a situation where you have an overkill of information (Alerts for instance) while no one deems them really important which is bad since it creates an environment where really important Alerts are easily overlooked…

And please don’t go to the organization asking them what they want to have monitored. They want it all just because they can and don’t understand the impact of it.

It’s better to ask what ICT components the organization deems really critical for their business and map those requirements yourself. After all, you’re the SCOM/OM12 expert and knows best how to translate the organizational requirements to the monitoring technologies you run. And when you think the mappings are OK, check them with some colleagues who have a good understanding of the organization as well, for instance a service manager. This way you know you’re in the clear and have a solid foundation to build on.

There is enough to tell so let’s start.

The Server Monitoring MPs
So there are eight MPs for only monitoring Dell server hardware, which is a lot. Let’s differentiate them so you know what these MPs are meant for.

Library MPs
These MPs deliver the basis for the monitoring of the Dell server hardware and are referenced by all other Dell Server Monitoring MPs. These MPs themselves refer to two of the three Dell MPs which were imported when the setup file of the Dell MP Suite was run.

    Library file for Server monitoring
    Library file for Server monitoring
    Library file for Server monitoring

This how these MPs refer to the other Dell MPs:
Dell MPs on the right (dark blue) are the three MPs imported when the setup file of the Dell MP Suite was run.
Dell MPs in light blue are the 3 library MPs used as the foundation for Dell Server Monitoring.
The arrows show how they reference each other.

These 3 library Dell MPs are required when you want to run any level of Dell server hardware.

Basic/Extended MPs
These MPs deliver the real monitoring of the Dell server hardware. One of them is an OOB (Out-Of-Band) MP which only works in OM12 and when the MP for WS-Management and SMASH Device Discovery is imported. So when you run SCOM R2, only import the first one as listed below.

    Dell Windows Server Scalable Management Pack for agent-based (in-band) lightweight, scalable server discovery and monitoring of Dell Systems.
    Dell Server (Out Of Band) Management Pack for agentless server discovery and monitoring of Dell Systems on SCOM 2012.

These MPs refer to the three library MPs mentioned before and to two of the three Dell MPs which were imported when the setup file of the Dell MP Suite was run:
Dell MPs on the right (dark blue) are the three MPs imported when the setup file of the Dell MP Suite was run.
Dell MPs on the left (green) are the 2 library MPs used for Dell Server Monitoring.
The arrows show how they reference each other.

The ‘You-Want-To-Know-It-All-And-To-Get-All-Alerts’ Dell MPs
These MPs are really something special and to be reckoned with. When imported blindly (just because you can), changes are you’ll be flooded by information. Whether it enhances the overall quality of the monitoring experience is something else though. So be carefull and ONLY import them when you think they’re required. Otherwise let them be or even better, delete them from the servers so no one can import them by accident…

    Dell Windows Server Detailed Management Pack for agent-based Systems Management(in-band) detailed discovery and monitoring of Dell Servers and its components.
    Dell Overrides utility for turning ON the Informational Alerts provided in the Dell Windows Server Scalable Management Pack.
    Dell Server Out-Of-Band Detailed Monitoring On - Overrides MP enable detailed component-level monitoring for the Dell Server (Out Of Band) Management Pack.

These MPs refer to the Dell MPs used for basic/extended monitoring of Dell based hardware, to the library Dell MPs and to one Dell MPs which were imported when the setup file of the Dell MP Suite was run.
Dell MPs on the right (dark blue) are the three MPs imported when the setup file of the Dell MP Suite was run.
Dell MPs on the left (orange) are the 3 extension MPs used for Dell Server Monitoring.
The arrows show how they reference each other.

Bringing it all together
As you already see, there are many references between these MPs. When lighting everything up in a single picture, the references look like this:

Personally I would start with these MPs:

  1. The three library MPs;
  2. The MP which enables basic monitoring, the

And only when some Dell servers require monitoring but an Agent isn’t an option AND it’s an OM12 environment were talking about, I would take the into consideration. But I would want to test it first before putting it into production.

A server can only be monitored once by a single Management Group, whether it’s agentless or with an Agent. So when a server is covered by agentless monitoring an Agent can’t be installed anymore. Besides that, Agentless monitoring creates a bigger load on a server compared to monitoring running an Agent simply because the Agent decided what’s happens and when. When the load becomes too heavy it will throttle it or even shut down itself.

How about the quality of three library and basic monitoring MPs?
What better tool to use than MPBA (Management Pack Best Practices Analyzer)?

    Nothing really bad to mention here.
    Would like to see this screen more often. But for this MP I didn’t expect less since it’s an almost empty MP.
    A nuisance: The newest Alerts won’t be shown first because the sorting isn’t correct. Even though minor it’s no fun.
    OUCH!!! This is one of the MPs it’s all about and this is where Dell starts dropping the ball!!!

    Way too many Criticals and Warnings. Violations? Plenty!
    - Core MP Functionality: Elements in an expression must be explicitly defined when doing comparisons;
    - Core MP Functionality: Rules and monitors that are not enabled by default should be documented;
    - Core MP Functionality: All scripts should include the US locale;
    - Core MP Functionality: Performance collection rules should be categorized correctly;
    - Core MP Functionality: Unit monitor AlertOnState should correspond to a valid unhealthy state;
    - Core MP Functionality: AlertSeverity should correspond to the severity of this monitor's unhealthy state;
    - Localization: Alerts should not use hardcoded names or descriptions;
    - Knowledge and Documentation: Knowledge articles should have valid section names;
    - Usability: Management pack elements should have display names;
    - Extensibility & Compability: Monitor should have public accessibility.

    Time for a deeper dive into this MP. Lets run MPViewer against it.
    Hmm, the Dell Server Discovery runs against every Windows Computer once per 24 hours. Way too much when you ask me, I would change that to once a week (604800 seconds).

    Also good to know this Discovery only runs successfully on Windows Server running OMSA 6.2 or higher:
    A quick count:
    - 7 Discoveries, 4 of them are enabled by default (run once per 24 hours);
    - 456 Rules, 206 of them are enabled by default (all event driven!);
    - 38 Unit Monitors, 33 are enabled by default.

    As you can see a LOT of things happen in your SCOM R2/OM12 environment when this MP is imported!

When you want to monitor your Windows servers based on Dell hardware a lot of the monitoring is already delivered by only importing the three library MPs and the MP for ‘basic’ monitoring. When these MPs are in place start tuning right away since the Discovery runs way too often and 206 Rules are collecting events, which is a bit too much for ‘basic’ monitoring.

And go from there. Only import the OOB MPs when required AND tested thoroughly. Even though Dell has done a lot to improve them (remember the old days when the Dell MPs could wreck your SCOM RTM environment?) it still makes me a bit sad that the MP which is so important ( contains so many issues…

So be careful here and start light. The OOB MPs are using SNMP to a great extend so make sure your SCOM R2/OM12 Management Servers can handle the additional load. Also take a good look at the sizing of your databases since a LOT of additional information will be flowing in.

One of the three MPs which is imported when the Dell Suite MP installer is run (Dell Feature Management) only introduces a way to import the Dell MPs from the Monitoring pane.

Which is a BAD idea for some reasons:

  1. You don’t want to expose this kind of features to a SCOM R2/OM12 Operator. Even though those actions will be blocked, it doesn’t need exposure there;
  2. Last but not least, as you can see the Dell MPs introduce many many things into your SCOM R2/OM12 environment. It’s better for you to stay in control and to import the required, tested and allowed Dell MPs by yourself and not to have a process like this one do it for you where you loose another level of control…

Since this MP isn’t referenced by any other MP at all, simply remove it and be done with it.


That’s way much better!

Cross Post: MSMQ MP Misconfiguration

Last week I got an e-mail from Vedran Matica, from Zagreb, Croatia. He’s a systems architect and runs a blog on System Center. Even though he doesn’t post on a regular basis, there is some good content to be found there.

His last posting is about the MSMQ MP which seems to collect way too many events, resulting in a bloated OpsMgr database…

So for anyone running this MP, go here in order to know what’s happening and how to tune it properly.

All credits go to Vedran Matica for sharing his knowlegde and experience. Thanks for sharing!

Friday, November 23, 2012

Veeam MP For VMware Report Issue SOLVED: ‘Query execution failed for dataset 'AnalysisDS'. Error converting data type varchar to numeric’

Bumped into this issue on a customers location. OM12 in place and a VMware production environment. Of course the Veeam MP for VMware was installed, imported and configured. Soon the information started to flow into OM12. Nice!

The issue
Time for some demonstrations in order to show the power of the Veeam MP for VMware!

Everything went just fine. But when I tried to ran the report Virtual Machines. Right-sizing – VMs Oversized for Memory and CPU, I got this error (with remote errors on the related SSRS instance enabled):

This puzzled me since the Collation setting is 100% OK. But as the last sentence of the error states (Error converting data type varchar to numeric) changes are something else is at play here, the (in)famous location issues we IT people living outside the US/UK do experience many times…

The cause
One of the reasons I am a BIG fan of Veeam is not only the quality of its products but also the high level of support one gets. Within a minute I located this issue in their KB library, article KB1565.

And indeed, the location issue is at play here. Have bumped into it many times before with other software as well. In western Europe many countries use the comma (,) as decimal separator format whereas the US uses the dot (.) instead. And this is why the report fails. It expects a dot (.) and gets a comma (,) instead.

So there is nothing wrong with the dataset of that report, it’s just the location setting which is haunting me from day one I became an IT geek…

Taken directly from KB1565:

‘…To resolve the issue, either set the English System Locale in Region and Language options or change the decimal separator setting in Region and Language> Formats> Additional settings> Decimal symbol (for Win 2k3: Region and Language OptionsRegional Options> Customize> Decimal Symbol). Make sure you change the decimal symbol for nworks collector service account…’

After these steps I did a rebuild of the full topology ‘…Next, trigger full topology rebuild in nworks UI> Enterprise Manager> Rebuild Full Topology (available, when the Enterprise Manager node is selected in the left pane)…’ and soon afterwards the report worked like a charm!

When using OpsMgr 2012 and other software in area’s where a comma (,) is used as decimal separator, make sure you run your servers in the English system locale OR change the decimal symbol to a dot (.) instead.

And last but not least, the customer was even more impressed about Veeam because the time to fix (time measured from the moment the problem was found, the cause isolated and a solution applied), took less then half an hour simply because Veeam has a good relevant and up to date KB library in place. Awesome!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Cross Post: The Road to SCOM 2012

My fellow MVP Cameron Fuller (and much respected friend) will soon present a webinar for Savision on called “The Road to SCOM 2012”. He will be discussing the top 10+ things to consider when moving to Operations Manager 2012.

The times for these are listed below:

Since I came to know Cameron as a person who knows really much about OM12 and shares his experiences and knowledge openly, I am sure the webinar will be very interesting. So any one planning to move to OM12, join this free webinar and learn.

KB2573329: Troubleshooting Empty Reports

Some time ago Microsoft updated KB2573329 all about troubleshooting empty Reports in SCOM R2/OM12.

It contains besides a series of symptoms also a walkthrough (resolution) how to pinpoint the causes of your issue. In the resolution five different steps are identified and described in detail along with the required SQL queries you’ll need to run against the Data Warehouse database.

This KB article is really helpful when having issues with empty reports. Want to know more, read KB2573329.

Base OS MP Version 6.0.6989.0 Imported? And Now Some Reports Are Partially Empty?

I have seen this issue on multiple locations: The customer has imported the latest version of the Windows Server OS MP (aka Base OS MP) version 6.0.6989.0 and after some time these Reports (found under Reports > Windows Server Operating System Reports) Performance By System and Performance By Utilization fail to show the data related to the Processor performance, like this for instance:

First of all the good news. When your Reports did show data related to the Processor before you updated the Base OS MP to version 6.0.6989.0 changes are your SCOM R2/OM12 environment isn’t having issues at all. So before the Base OS MP was updated the Performance By System Report looked like this (based on the Base OS MP version 6.0.6958.0):

With the latest version of the Base OS MP, Microsoft has changed some Rules for Performance Collection, among them the Rule which collects the Total Percentage Processor Time. Kevin Holman already blogged about it: ‘…Several monitoring workflows were change from Processor, to “Processor Information” perf object.  This change was made because a new perf counter/object (Processor Information) was added to the OS to support more than 64 logical processors.  The old perf counter object (Processor) was limited to 64 CPU’s.  As physical hardware is starting to ship 6+ core systems, with HT, and multiple sockets, this was a problem for measuring utilization for VERY large boxes…’

And he continues to explain it further: ‘…NOTE:  This might BREAK your existing reports and dashboard views that are expecting “Processor” object, as we no longer collect that.…. so be prepared to make some changes there…’

And guess what? The two mentioned Reports aren’t adjusted to reflect this change. So the Reports want to show performance data which isn’t longer collected.

Old situation (Base OS MP before version 6.0.6989.0)
Let’s check the performance collection Rule Processor % Processor Time 2008:

As you can see, the Object is Processor and the Counter is % Processor Time, which matches 1:1 with the related Reports, for instance the Performance By System Report:

New situation (Base OS MP version 6.0.6989.0)
Let’s check the performance collection Rule Processor % Processor Time 2008:

As you can see, the Object is changed to Processor Information with the same counter (% Processor Time). On the other hand, the Report itself is still using the ‘old’ Performance Collection Rule which isn’t used anymore, thus resulting in partially empty Reports Bedroefde emoticon.

There are two solutions: either changing the underlying code of the Reports involved and upload the modified Reports – under a different name – to the SSRS instance being used by SCOM R2/OM12.

The other solution is faster and requires less ‘magic’: rebuilding the old Perfomance Collection Rule and disable the new one. After a couple of days the earlier mentioned Reports will start showing data again. In this posting I’ll give you a quick explanation how to do this.

Creating a new Performance Collection Rule & Disabling the old one
When you have ‘beasts’ of Servers in place where many CPUs are present, it’s better to disable the Performance Collection Rule Processor % Processor Time 2008 using a Group which is dynamically populated with all Windows Servers which has those ‘beasts’ as excluded members. This way this Performance Collection Rule will run against those Windows Servers and will be disabled against all other Windows Servers.

Also it’s a good idea to put these modifications in a dedicated MP. Simply because I expect Microsoft to repair this glitch in a next version of the Base OS MP. When you put all these modifications in a special dedicated MP you only have to delete it and be done with it. Otherwise you have to go through it step by step which is a more time consuming process…

  1. Open the SCOMR2/OM12 Console with an account which has sufficient permissions to create/modify Rules;
  2. Go to Authoring > Authoring > Management Pack Objects;
  3. Hit ‘Change Scope’ and type Windows Server 2008 Processor;
  4. Select the Rule Processor % Processor Time 2008 and disable it through an override (put it in a dedicated MP like Temporary MP for Processor Performance);
  5. Right click Type: Windows Server 2008 Processor (3) and select Create a new Rule;
  6. As stated before put this Rule in a dedicated MP (example: Temporary MP for Processor Performance);
  7. Select the correct type of Rule to create (Collection Rules > Performance Based > Windows Performance);
    > Next
  8. Give it a proper name, like Processor % Processor Time 2008 – TEMPORARY and a proper description:
    Because of Step 4 and 5 the Rule Category and Rule Target are set correctly. Double check them though. > Next;
  9. In this screen, hit the Select button. Select a server which is running Windows Server 2008 R2 and select the correct items according the screen dump. Hit the OK button and the fields Object (Processor), Counter (% Processor Time) and Instance (_Total) will be filled with the correct information.
    Set the interval to 5 minutes > Next
  10. Place a checkmark for Use Optimization, select the option Absolute number and set it to 5;
    > Create. The temporary new Performance Collection Rule will be created now.

Within a few days the earlier mentioned Reports will show data again for the processor object Glimlach.