Thursday, May 31, 2012

Download Windows Server 8 Beta, the final pre-RTM version!

Even though this blog isn’t about Windows Server 8 Beta it’s still great news!

Get them while they’re fresh and hot!

APM Demo Lab ‘Talking Heads’ and some Tips & Tricks

05-02-2013 Update: The download has moved to Codeplex and can be downloaded from here. A BIG word of thanks to Markus Bölske for mentioning it to me.

Since I had to build myself a whole new OM12 test environment at home I decided to use the .NET test application Talking Heads for demonstrating the APM (Application Performance Monitoring) component of OM12.

All credits go to VIAcode for sharing this APM Test Lab for FREE!!! 

Even though the website of Talking Heads makes one think it’s a Next > Next > Finish experience, there are some caveats to reckon with. Otherwise this APM demo lab will never take off and become a frustration which would be bad. In this posting I describe the caveats to reckon with.

  1. Download ALL the files, to be found here on the bottom of the webpage (no registration needed which saves some valuable time);

  2. The file contains the two MSI files which must be installed: TalkingHeads.msi and TalkingHeadsMidtier.msi
    Use these settings when installing TalkingHeads.msi:

    And these settings when installing TalkingHeadsMidtier.msi:

  3. In order to work a SQL Server must be present (SQL Server Express is OK here but PLEASE install the version with SQL Server Management Studio, SQLEXPRWT_x64_ENU.exe (SQL Server Express with TOOLS) since it makes it much more easier to manage your SQL Express Server). A good alternative is to use the same SQL Server which hosts the OM12 databases and SSRS instance.

Until now it’s a straight forward process, just as stated on the website of VIAcode. But now the fun starts. Since many times the configuration won’t do for the SQL Server Connection string as stated in the web.config file for the TalkingHeadsMidTier part:

When the website of TalkingHeads is opened (http://localhost/TalkingHeads/) and one goes to the menu option Setup in order to create the database and seed it with bogus information, this error is shown:

On itself nothing wrong here. The database must be created so nothing wrong there. So an applicable time frame is selected and the button Seed Database is hit. For a second or two this screen is shown:

And then it’s back to the beginning of the Setup screen again:

And indeed, when I checked, there wasn’t a new database created on the SQL Server instance…

And yet, SQL Server (full blown version) was available and operational. But the Application log of that SQL Server told me nothing about a connection attempt made by TalkingHeads.

So apparently there was something else happening here. The connection string in the file web.config of the TalkingHeadsMidTier wasn’t properly configured:

This website tells it all. I adjusted the web.config file to this: (local) instead of (local)\SQLEXPRESS:

Saved the modifications and tried it again. Now everything seemed to work just fine. However, another error was thrown: ‘…Login failed for user 'IIS APPPOOL\ASP.NET v4.0'. Reason: Token-based server access validation failed with an infrastructure error. Check for previous errors. [CLIENT: <local machine>]

This has everything to do with the Application Pool (ASP.NET v4.0 remember?) and it’s identity. SQL Server doesn’t accept the ApplicationPoolIdentity which is default for this Application Pool.

So it’s time to change that as well:

  1. Open IIS Manager;
  2. Go to Application Pools and select the ASP.NET v4.0 Application Pool, right click it, select Advanced Settings and change the Identity to LocalSystem, like this:
  3. Save the changes and run the TalkingHeads website again and go to the Setup menu.

Now you can create and seed the database successfully:

Now you can start configuring APM! Have a nice day everybody!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

System Center 2012 & The Unified Installer: Some Good Resources

With the release of System Center 2012 and all its related components, Microsoft also released the Unified Installer. This product helps one to build a lab or test environment running System Center 2012 by performing new distributed installations for ALL of the System Center 2012 components.

I haven’t used this tool since I want to install everything by myself, experiencing the installations first hand and learn from it. But none the less, when you’re interested in a ‘quick’ manner to build yourself a test lab, the Unified Installer might be the tool you’re looking for.

But where to start and how to perform such an installation? Since many components are involved so there is still much work to be done. Gladly there are many good resources available all about using the Unified Installer. In this posting I have put them together in a short list:

  1. RTFM
    Like any installation, RTFM is key. So go here and READ before you CLICK!

  2. Private Cloud Evaluation Guide
    This document (in pdf-format) is all about the Private Cloud and as Microsoft sees it. It tells way much more compared to the first item I mentioned, since it describes a scenario and environment in which the Private Cloud is situated. And yes, it contains a comprehensive manual about using the Unified Installer as well. The guide can be downloaded from here.

  3. Steve Rachui’s blog
    Steve Rachui, PFE for Microsoft, has posted an excellent article all about his installation experiences with the Unified Installer. Also how to trouble shoot some issues like SC2012 components not installing. Also a section about the cons for using the Unified Installer is a good one. Nice to see that he’s unbiased and just shares his thoughts openly. This posting can be found here.

Even though it’s much to read I strongly advise any one who is interested into using the Unified Installer to read all these documents since it will prepare you thoroughly. And even when you decide not to use the Unified Installer, all these documents will tell you much about SC2012 in general so it’s time well spent!

SQL Server Collation Settings Requirements for System Center 2012 Explained

Already with the predecessors of System Center 2012 the SQL Server Collation settings requirements for SCOM and SCSM could be a real challenge. With System Center 2012 this challenge became a pain in the a** since the documentation for those products (OM12 and SCSM12) contradicted with each other and – in some cases – even conflicted with itself…
(Picture borrowed from

Gladly Microsoft realized this omission and corrected it. They’re correcting the related documentation and posted an excellent blog posting all about this topic.

Anyone involved with OM12/SCSM12 should read this posting since it contains tons of good information all about SQL Server Collation settings requirements for OM12 and SCSM12.

So finally there is a single source which brings it all together! Many thanks to Travis who wrote this posting. Want to know more? Go here.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

New Jumpstart: Windows Server 2012 for FREE!

Even though my blog isn’t about Windows Server 2012 it’s still important information I want to share with you all.

Taken directly from the website: ‘…Microsoft Learning and the Windows Server Product Marketing team are excited to bring you a new two-day Jump Start covering Windows Server 2012! Of course, the entire IT industry is excited about this new release and we believe this Jump Start will show you why. On June 21-22, from 9:00am – 4:00pm PDT, join Microsoft Senior Technical Evangelist Rick Claus and Microsoft Partner Corey Hynes as they walk you through their personal favorite feature sets and answer why and how each can improve your day-to-day IT environment…

This training is presented in a virtual classroom. So you can join it from every where on the world which is very nice.

Course Outline:

Day One
Morning |
Beyond Virtualization
• Game changers in the next release of the Hyper-V role on Windows Server 2012
• Massive scale increases, networking improvements, replication and disaster recovery is all in the box
Afternoon | Manageability
• Learn how you can manage a few systems up to a hundred – all from one console
• Server Core installs scaring you off? Learn about all your installation and management options
• Windows PowerShell automation and management at scale – all with built in tools
• Clustering—Cluster-aware updating
• Networking, Network Teaming, network configuration, SMB MultiChannel and RDMA

Day Two
Morning |
• Learn how Continuous Availability of File Services improves workload reliability and performance
• Storage groups, disk provisioning, iSCSI and SAN integration
Afternoon | Remote Users
• Remote connectivity options for your workforce (DA)
• VDI and Remote Desktop Services deployment and changes

Want to know more? Go here.

TechNet Webcast Series: Bare Metal to Private Cloud

Travis Wright from Microsoft made a whole video series all about deploying your own Private Cloud.

Taken directly from his posting: ‘…In this 8 part webcast series I will show you some of the best practices and process for getting start with your System Center 2012 managed private cloud.  We will deploy a Hyper-V host cluster, Virtual Machine Manager, Operations Manager, Service Manager, Orchestrator, the Cloud Service Process Management Pack, integrate them all together and do so in a high performance and high availability configuration…’.

So this is awesome! You need to register for the sessions and add them to your calendar. All of the web casts will be available on demand after the initial showing.


5/29/2012 11:00:00 AM - Bare Metal to Private Cloud (Part 1 of 8): Beginning with the End in Mind  or

In this session, we take a look at the end state of managing a private cloud with Microsoft System Center, including the Cloud Services management pack. The sessions that follow this session describe how to go from bare metal to a private cloud managed by System Center.

5/31/2012 11:00:00 AM - Bare Metal to Private Cloud (Part 2 of 8): Hardware and Prerequisite Software Platform  or

In this session, we take a look at the hardware used for these sessions as examples of the kind of hardware that you can use to run a private cloud. We’ll also discuss how to install and configure the prerequisite software, such as the Windows Server operating system, SQL Server data management software, and Active Directory Domain Services.

6/5/2012 11:00:00 AM - Bare Metal to Private Cloud (Part 3 of 8): Clustering Hyper-V and Installing a Highly Available Virtual Machine Manager Cluster  or

In this session, we take a look at how to create a Hyper-V host cluster and install a highly available cluster by using Virtual Machine Manager, a component of Microsoft System Center 2012.


6/7/2012 11:00:00 AM - Bare Metal to Private Cloud (Part 4 of 8): Configuring System Center 2012 - Virtual Machine Manager   or

In this session, we talk about how to configure Virtual Machine Manager, a component of Microsoft System Center 2012. We explore how to deploy agents, create a host group, create a cloud, and create virtual networks.


6/19/2012 11:00:00 AM - Bare Metal to Private Cloud (Part 5 of 8): Installing and Configuring System Center 2012 - Operations Manager  or

In this session, we show how to install a highly available Microsoft System Center 2012 - Operations Manager and deploy agents to manage the private cloud.


6/21/2012 11:00:00 AM - Bare Metal to Private Cloud (Part 6 of 8): Installing and Configuring System Center 2012 - Service Manager   or

In this session, we show how to install a highly available Microsoft System Center 2012 Service Manager, including the configuration management database (CMDB), data warehouse, reporting, self-service portal, and service catalog.


6/26/2012 11:00:00 AM - Bare Metal to Private Cloud (Part 7 of 8): Installing and Configuring System Center 2012 - Orchestrator  or

In this session, we show how to install a highly available Microsoft System Center 2012 - Orchestrator and installing the System Center and other integration packs for automated administration of the private cloud.


6/28/2012 11:00:00 AM - Bare Metal to Private Cloud (Part 8 of 8): Integrating System Center 2012  or

In this session, we configure the many integration points between the Microsoft System Center components and also between System Center and Active Directory Domain Services.


TechNet Video: 17(!) Private Cloud Demo Extravaganza Videos!

Travis Wright from Microsoft posted this information on his blog. Since these are really cool videos I want to cross post it on my blog as well in order to give it more exposure.

These videos show you how to use all System Center 2012 components in order to build, manage and maintain your own Private Cloud.

Taken from the posting of Travis:

  1. Private Cloud Demo Extravaganza 01: Deploy Bare Metal Servers to Hyper-V with System Center 2012

  2. Private Cloud Demo Extravaganza 02: Multiple Hypervisors for Cloud Resources & Adding ESX Servers with System Center 2012

  3. Private Cloud Demo Extravaganza 03: Add Resources to a Failover Cluster with System Center 2012

  4. Private Cloud Demo Extravaganza 04: Service Template Creation & Deployment with System Center 2012

  5. Private Cloud Demo Extravaganza 05: Standardized Service Updating with System Center 2012

  6. Private Cloud Demo Extravaganza 06: Monitor Network Devices with System Center 2012

  7. Private Cloud Demo Extravaganza 07: Monitor and Automatically Resolve Issues in the Fabric with System Center 2012 

  8. Private Cloud Demo Extravaganza 08: Create an Orchestrator Runbook and Integrate with Service Manager with System Center 2012

  9. Private Cloud Demo Extravaganza 09: Create Self-Service Request Offerings using the Service Catalog with System Center 2012

  10. Private Cloud Demo Extravaganza 10: Deliver Self-Service Request Offerings using the Service Catalog with System Center 2012 

  11. Private Cloud Demo Extravaganza 11: Gain Insight & Visibility through Service Manager Reporting with System Center 2012

  12. Private Cloud Demo Extravaganza 12: Enabling Application Performance Monitoring with System Center 2012

  13. Private Cloud Demo Extravaganza 13: Creating an Application Performance Monitoring Dashboard with System Center 2012

  14. Private Cloud Demo Extravaganza 14: Deep Application Diagnostics & Insight with System Center 2012

  15. Private Cloud Demo Extravaganza 15: Managing Applications Across Private & Public Clouds with System Center 2012 

  16. Private Cloud Demo Extravaganza 16: Managing Application Resources Across Private & Public Clouds with System Center 2012

  17. Private Cloud Demo Extravaganza 17: Self-Service Application Deployment with System Center 2012

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Monitoring made Real, Dynamic & Easy

As we all know SCOM/OM12 can monitor anything as long there is a MP for it. However, monitoring is just one step in the whole process of getting in control of your IT environment. Another important step is presenting the collected information, statuses and Alerts.

Do You SEE it?
Even more important, visualizing the relationships of the monitored components in order to reflect the overall status of an important business application or process is key here. Now no one has to cycle through a whole bunch of statuses or Alerts in order to create a mental picture of the status where the knowledge about that important business application or process of that individual is crucial as well. A senior will take a whole different approach and form a far different mental picture as such compared to a junior who just started and doesn’t know it all.

Instead, a dashboard displaying the whole chain of components, flow of processes, services and information which makes up the critical business application/process is far more better. Now all the knowledge of it is brought into a single location and presented in an uniform manner to anyone. This leaves not much room for mistakes or misinterpreting the current status of the monitored application/process and in pinpointing the components which are having issues.

In the days SCOM went RTM this visualization wasn’t high on the wish list of too many organizations. They just started with monitoring components which was already a huge step forward. Today however, the visualization of the monitored ICT assets has moved from the wish list to the list of monitoring requirements. And not just that. Organizations want more insight as well, like mapping it to their organization as a whole. Like, what locations are having issues?

Suppose you have a whole chain of shops and every shop has multiple servers, clients and cashpoints in place. Wouldn’t it be nice to show them on a map? This way you know exactly what shop in what location is experiencing issues.

Past & Present – So 1980’s! 
Already in SCOM one could put monitored ICT assets on a map. This could be done by using Visio or Savision Live Maps™.  I myself prefer Savision Live Maps since it’s very user friendly, low maintenance and flexible. With OM12 Microsoft has introduced some map backgrounds as well. But still, all these solutions aren’t dynamic at all. These are just static maps which aren’t really useful besides being an informational background, like this:

Maps’ like these are so 1980! Smile

The Future of Monitoring
Wouldn’t it be awesome to use Bing Maps as a dynamic background for your monitored assets and being able to use the full functionality of Bing Maps as well? Like zooming in, showing traffic or other overlays provided by the government or other third parties showing weather, earthquakes to name a few? Which means Bing Maps isn’t a background anymore but additional information for your monitoring solution.

Some Usage Examples… 
Suppose you can zoom into to Las Vegas on Bing Maps. With a single glance you’ll see all the shops you’re responsible for depicted by pins showing the status (healthy, warning, critical). At a high level, the pins are clustered per health status. When zooming in, the pins will be shown separately. This will enable one to pinpoint exactly the locations experiencing issues. Or suppose you are monitoring cash vending machines. This way with a single glance you can see the overall status of all the cash vending machines and with a few mouse clicks, isolate and locate exactly those machines experiencing issues and send out repair teams with detailed information where to locate the machines and the problems those machines are experiencing.

Not only stationary objects…
Or think about this scenario: You have moving monitored objects, like busses or vans. They have onboard computers as well which require monitoring. Wouldn’t it be awesome to monitor the location of those objects as well and having them depicted on Bing Maps? This scenario can be used for ships as well. In conjunction with a layer showing the current weather status, you’ll get a far more better insight of the external conditions as well.

Yeah right! It’s a dream but not real!
Hold your breath please, since this isn’t a dream at all:

Savision will add this functionality, integrating Bing Maps with SCOM R2/OM12 and Savision Live Maps within a few weeks from now!

Just take a look at this awesome YouTube video recorded by Savision, based on a beta version of the newest version of Savision Live Maps with this cool feature:

Savision’s Bing Maps Integration Demo

Sweet ain’t it? Already saw an impressive demo while attending MMS but then I was under NDA. Now I am allowed to share this news.

Personally I think this new feature of Savision Live Maps brings any SCOM R2/OM12 environment to a new level of presentation by combining new ways of visualizing status information and external sources of information like traffic, weather and the lot. This way a whole new enrichment of monitoring comes into the reach of everyone.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Migrating from SCOM R2 CU#5 to OM12. Part VI: Wrapping up

Postings in the same series:
Part I - The environment
Part II - Prepare yourself
Part IIIPre Upgrade Tasks for Operations Manager
Part IV – Upgrade Tasks for Operations Manager
Part VUpgrade Tasks for Operations Manager, continued

In the final posting of this series I’ll write about the final steps. Yes, I know. We successfully migrated a distributed SCOM R2 CU#5 environment to OM12. So what’s more to share? As stated before, any migration has three phases:

  1. Preparation;
  2. Actual Migration;
  3. Cleaning and wrapping up.

The second phase costs most times about 30% of all the required resources and time where as the preparation itself takes about 40 to 50% and the wrapping up about 10 to 20%. So that last phase is important as well. Besides the regular technical stuff (like importing and configuring ported MPs like the OpsLogix Ping MP for instance) there is also such a thing as DOCUMENTATION.

Much has changed so make sure the documentation, all about your OM12 environment is up to specs as well. When you don’t have that much documentation of your previous SCOM R2 environment, it’s time to do it now. Check this posting of mine, all about what good documentation of any SCOM/OM12 Management Group should contain…

Most Important Steps and Things to Reckon with
In any SCOM R2 to OM12 migration there are certain steps which are crucial for success and delivering a solid OM12 environment which is future ready and robust. So make sure you get them right from the start. It will save a lot of work not only for now but also in the future. Even though some items might sound too stupid to be mentioned, I still put them here in the list.

  1. Think About The Future – Windows Server 2012
    Any OM12 Management Server (or Gateway Server) for that matter, will be present in your IT environment for the first two to three years to come. So whenever possible, used the latest version of the Server OS which is RTM at that moment. Even though Windows Server 2012 isn’t supported now by OM12, changes are that it will be with the release of SP1 for System Center 2012. Which makes sense.   

    When you aren’t in the process of migrating to OM12 with in the next few months, consider Windows Server 2012 as a serious option for the Server OS for your OM12 Management Servers and SQL Server(s) used for hosting for your OM12 databases and SSRS functionality as well.

  2. Think About The Future – SQL Server 2012
    Same thing goes for the SQL Server version. Even though SQL Server 2012 isn’t supported yet by OM12, my guess is it will be supported when SP1 comes out.

    Even when your organization isn’t ready for this latest version of SQL Server, please consider that the mainstream support for SQL Server 2008 (R2) will end on the 14th of January 2014, as stated on this webpage of Microsoft. And many times a OM12 environment isn’t installed for just two years.

    Of course, there will be upgrade scenario’s in order to move from SQL Server 2008 (R2) to SQL Server 2012 but it will take a lot of time (again) and it won’t be a low care move as well. So it’s better to invest more in the beginning, resulting in a low maintenance OM12 infrastructure then to investing over and over again.

  3. In-place  Upgrade or Along-side?
    Even though SCOM R2 CU#5 can be upgraded to OM12, it doesn’t mean it’s the best way to go about it. Sometimes a SCOM R2 environment contains so many customizations, third party MPs, add-ons like ACS with SVT (Secure Vantage) and a past (installed fresh when SCOM was RTM, SP1 installed, upgraded to SCOM R2, every CU installed…), that’s better to start fresh again with OM12.

    But wait! This particular SCOM R2 environment has so many customizations that it will take a lot of time to rebuild it! So therefore an in-place upgrade is the way to go! Even though you might be right here, the same arguments you use in order to run an in-place upgrade might be the same ones to be used for choosing for an along-side approach:

    Many customizations
    OK. But is every customization a good one? I mean much has changed under the hood when comparing SCOM R2 with SCOM RTM. Also your level of knowledge and experience has changed for the better in the last years. My bet is many things you did back then won’t make it today…

    Third Party MPs, add-ons:
    Yes, the licenses can become costly. Therefore keep the support contracts in good order by renewing them. It will create the necessary space for negotiations for the new licenses in your OM12 MG.  My bet is the vendor would like to sell you the OM12 product as well… Sometimes an in-place upgrade might be too costly in time and required resources. Suppose you have a SVT environment in place, based on ACS. Changes are it isn’t based on the latest version of SVT which supports OM12 out of the box. So you have an additional challenge to be dealt with. In cases like these it’s better to start fresh.

    The Past
    When your SCOM R2 environment came a long way, from like SCOM RTM and went through the upgrade paths SCOM RTM > SCOM SP1 > SCOM R2, changes are many SCOM R2 Management Servers are still running Windows Server 2003 and perhaps even SQL Server 2005. So you have to upgrade those components first before moving to OM12. Which can be done of course. But it will take time ALSO for the required preparations. Many times SCOM R2 Management Servers do way much more than only having monitored Windows Servers reporting to them, so those servers must be looked into very well, before replacing them by SCOM R2 Management Servers based on Windows Server 2008 R2 (or Windows Server 2012).

    On top of it all, changes are that the requirements for the availability of the monitoring solution have been changed over the years. First when SCOM RTM was installed, monitoring wasn’t looked upon as really crucial. Much has changed. So the organization might require a HA OM12 environment. Lucky you, the OM12 Managements Servers are HA out of the box. But what about your SQL Server for OM12? Another item on the list which might push you to choose for the along-side scenario.

    Garbage In, Garbage Out. Seriously, is your current SCOM R2 environment 100% OK? Never having doubt about it? Never ever had moments like ‘ouch’ and ‘oops’? Never made a MP which almost wrecked your environment? Really feeling happy about it? Not a single shred of doubt? Never thinking: ‘By what I do know now, I would have done TONS of things differently…’?

    Forgive me for making you doubt, but this one (GiGo) deserves really attention. First of all an upgrade WON’T FIX ANY ISSUES. So when you have issues now, you’ll find them back in OM12. Period. Secondly, perhaps you current monitoring environment doesn’t fit the bill anymore. Simply upgrading it won’t help you either.

    In cases like these it’s good to consider an along-side approach as a serious option as well. Of course, good planning and designing is required here as well. That way you have two well founded options to choose from.

  4. Prepare Thy Self!
    Sometimes I bump into environments where upgrades to newer versions of SCOM/OM12 went wrong. Seriously wrong. Only restores of the old situation before the upgrade started, will help. However, the backups aren’t there (anymore) or can’t be used since the backups aren’t good. This is really bad for any organization and doesn’t bring them anything good. In situations like these only a total rebuild remains to be done.

    When looking back at what caused the upgrade to go bad like that it turns out that a certain set of these ‘events’ took place:
    - Not enough preparation;
    - Not enough testing;
    - Not enough time (sometimes schedules which are too tight);
    - Not enough knowledge of the newer product;
    - Not enough knowledge what’s in place and will be touched by the upgrade as well;
    - Not enough RTFM;
    - Current environment was already flawed (SNAFU) and upgrade was expected to ‘fix’ it;
    - Requirements for upgrade weren’t met but the upgrade was started none the less;
    - People performing the upgrade had to perform other tasks during the upgrade as well;
    - Servers were switched off while performing the upgrade by the hardware team because they didn’t know it;
    - Upgrade was performed in the wrong order since the documentation wasn’t completely read or properly understood;
    - No backups or partial backups of faulty ones.

    And please don’t laugh! This could happen to you as well! So be careful and PREPARE yourself, like (BUT NOT LIMITED TO!) reading this series of postings all about upgrading to OM12 in conjunction with reading all the documentation Microsoft provides. And when it’s too much, just tell your boss. It’s better to communicate fair and square by telling what’s missing and how it could be addressed instead of pushing along and BREAKING it…

Again, upgrading isn’t to be taken too lightly. But is most certainly possible. Only prepare yourself and think about the other approach as well: along-side, where a new OM12 MG is freshly installed and step by step replacing your current SCOM R2 environment. I can’t (and won’t!) tell you what’s best to do. You’re in charge of your MG so you know best. Don’t hesitate to communicate with your team and managers. Involve them and you’ll be surprised!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012


08-01-2012 Update:
The recordings of this event can be downloaded from here.

On Friday, June 1, 2012 - 8:30 AM to 3 PM located at Microsoft Campus, 1125 Sanctuary Parkway #300, Alpharetta, GA, the the Atlanta Active Directory User Group, Atlanta Systems Management User Group, and the Atlanta PowerShell User Group will bring you the ATLANTA TECHSTRAVAGANZA.

Taken directly from the website:

All sessions will be good. However, one session will be very interesting since it will be all about the new licensing model introduced for System Center 2012. Sure, we came from 200+ SKUs and went to two. However, there are still some interesting questions which need answering. As my fellow MVP Cameron Fuller put it: ‘…Things have been COMPLIFIED…’

Of course, many of us won’t be able to attend the ATLANTA TECHSTRAVAGANZA. But I have been told that change are it might be live streamed as well!

Want to know more? To see the agenda, the speakers or even better to REGISTER for this FREE event? Go here.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

CU#6 for SCOM R2 is out!

For a few hours Microsoft has released Cumulative Update (CU) #6 for SCOM R2.

KB2626076 contains a complete description of changes that are contained in CU#6 for SCOM R2:

CU#6 can be downloaded from here. And yes, it’s rather huge: 1,001.0 MB. So Microsoft sticks with this tradition for SCOM R2 CUs :).

KB2626076 also contains the installation procedures.

For now I haven’t tested this CU yet (a bit too early). I advise you to keep a keen eye on Kevin Holman’s blog since he’s always pretty fast on sharing his CU#x installation experiences. Soon I’ll share mine.

Another piece of advise: As we have seen in the past, sometimes CUs introduced new ‘challenges’ like restarting non-SCOM related services (CU#3 and CU#4). Ouch! So be careful and test CU#6 in a lab before moving into production. And when not immediately required, just wait a few weeks before installing it in production and check the community for CU#6 installation experiences as well.

Peter Noorderijk & Savision: Whitepaper ‘Hyper-V Management: Addressing the Top Nine Challenges’

Even though this blog isn’t about Hyper-V I still want to share it since my guess is that many readers of my blog will find it interesting just as me.

When one says Hyper-V in the Netherlands, one says Peter Noorderijk (and Hans Vredevoort of course). Peter has written a whitepaper with some tips, guidelines and best practices for a Hyper-V environment.

Or as Peter describes it: ‘…This whitepaper is neither a tutorial nor step-by-step handbook for common problems. Rather, this whitepaper provides one with the wisdom of the smartest, cutting edge Hyper-V administrators…’.

A BIG thank you to Peter and Savision for sharing this information.

Whitepaper can be downloaded from the Savision website.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Certification: 2 for 1 Exam Vouchers

Found this one by accident on the internet. As stated on the website:

Get Current Now With a Two for One Offer!

To help you move to the cloud, Microsoft is offering a limited time* "Two for One" exam offer. When you purchase and take a qualifying exam at full price between April 11, 2012 and June 30, 2012, you will be emailed a voucher valid for the next version exam of your chosen technology path, at no additional cost. Your voucher for the second qualifying exam will be emailed to you when the new exams release and will expire 90 days after the new Certification in your technology path becomes available.

Qualifying Technology Paths

Interested? Go here and get YOUR voucher now!

Free MP: Infront Orchestrator MP

While attending MMS 2012 there was a lot of good news to be found. One of these good news items is a FREE MP from the Infront Consulting Group. This Canada/US/Europe/Asia based System Center /Hyper-V consulting company has built a MP which monitors and integrates Orchestrator into OM12.

Brief description of what this MP does (taken directly from the slide deck of session CD-B318 ‘EXPERIENCE THE ULTIMATE IN DESKTOP SUPPORT WITH OPERATIONS MANAGER’ presented by Rory McCaw, Managing Principal Consultant of the Infront Consulting Group):

  • Discovers Runbooks;
  • Monitors Runbooks;
  • Includes a task to execute a Runbook from the Operations Manager console;
  • Includes a task to execute a Runbook with parameters from the Operations Manager console.

This MP is really good. Also because Brian Wren (a famous Microsoft employer who’s considered to be the MP Authoring King) was building such a MP for the community. But when he heard the Infront Orchestrator MP was out and saw it, he pulled his MP. And believe me, he wouldn’t do such a thing when he thought the Infront MP wasn’t that good…

You can download this FREE MP from here. Registration is needed though. But soon you’ll have the MP which is a MUST have for anyone running OM12 and SCOrch.

A BIG thanks to Infront for sharing this MP with the community.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Updated products, new slang…

With the release of the System Center 2012 products many things have changed. Some major, some minor.

Some of the minor are important to know as well, for instance the status of the Cumulative Updates (CUs) which were introduced with SCOM R2. These are the things you’ve got to know:

  1. With the release of OM12 the CUs are replaced by Update Rollups (UR);
  2. URs will be released for the entire System Center 2012 stack and not for the individual components of it;
  3. Not every component will have something to release in each UR.

As stated earlier UR#1 is just released by Microsoft. This UR contains some fixes for OM12 as well. Check out KB2686249.

SCOM/OM12 Notification Errors: ‘Failed to send notification’ & ‘Failed to send notification using server/device’

The Case
Bumped into this issue at a customers location. SCOM R2 CU#5 is in place and SMTP as Channel fully configured and operational for sending out Notifications through e-mail by using an Exchange 2003 environment. However, when the new Exchange 2010 environment was used, and the SMTP Channel reconfigured in order to use the new Exchange 2010 environment the Alerts weren’t send out any more and these two errors were shown in the SCOM Console:
  1. Failed to send notification
    Notification subsystem failed to send notification over 'Smtp' protocol to ''. Rule id: Subscription [GUID]

  2. Failed to send notification using server/device
    Notification subsystem failed to send notification using device/server '[FQDN MAIL SERVER]' over 'Smtp' protocol to ''. Microsoft.EnterpriseManagement.HealthService.Modules.Notification.SmtpNotificationException: Mailbox unavailable. The server response was: 5.7.1 Client does not have permissions to send as this sender. Smtp status code 'MailboxUnavailable'. Rule id: Subscription [GUID]

What Caused it?
Even though one would blame Exchange 2010 at a first glance (Duh! It worked with Exchange 2003!) SCOM needs some investigation as well. Yes, Exchange 2010 is different compared to Exchange 2003. Also for it’s security which is far more sophisticated compared to Exchange 2003. And we do NEED that additional security since we don’t want too much spam nor any kind of mail relaying and other not so funny stuff.

The second Alert tells it all actually: ‘…The server response was: 5.7.1 Client does not have permissions to send as this sender…’. So tightened security is causing this issue.

The Solutions – First Phase
Many times in SCOM e-mail notifications work out of the box without additional configuration. But with Exchange 2010 some additional steps might be required in SCOM, like these ones:

  1. The RMS server has to be trusted by the Exchange 2010 environment for sending out e-mail Alerts;
  2. The RMS server has to use a special AD account for authenticating to the Exchange server.

Step 1 is easily configured by the Exchange Admins. They know what you mean and better, now how to go about it.

Step 2 has to be done within SCOM itself. A new Run-As-Account (Windows based!) has to be added and mapped to the Run-As-Profile Notification Account. This AD based account will be used by the RMS to authenticate itself to the Exchange server. When this Run-As-Profile isn’t configured, the RMS will use the RMS Action Account by default.

Normally these two steps are the solution to the earlier mentioned issue. However, in this case it wasn’t. The two errors kept coming back. The Exchange admins stated all was well and OK on their side of this story. So before blaming their environment additional investigation in SCOM was at order.

The Solutions – Final Phase
When a Channel for e-mail is configured, one needs to configure a Return Address as well. In 99% of those case, a bogus return address works just fine. Many times I use a bogus Return Address in this format

Since all the other components for sending out Alerts through e-mail were configured by the book, I decided to replace the Return Address by a real one. Saved the Channel and YES!!! It works!

When ever your SCOM environment refuses to send out Alerts through e-mail and both Alerts are shown in the SCOM/OM12 Console try these THREE steps and you’re OK:

  1. The RMS server has to be trusted by the Exchange 2010 environment for sending out e-mail Alerts;
  2. The RMS server has to use a special AD account for authenticating to the Exchange server;
  3. Replace the Return Address for a real one.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

HP Storage MP v 2.0: DCOM EventID 10009 every 5 seconds in the System Log of the RMS

Since the HP Storage MP 2.1 is really filled with BUGS and causes many issues in any SCOM environment, I have customers running version This MP isn’t good either. Since is just as bad I don’t see any reason to upgrade to this version.

However, version has some issues as well. Many of them can be addressed as described before. But now it seems this MP causes some other issues as well, like throwing EventID 10009 every 5 seconds in the System Log of the RMS:

However, the environments where these issues took place (multiple MGs) the MP wasn’t tuned as described earlier. Also this EventID only happens when Gateway Servers are involved.

Cause & Solution
As it turned out there are two Rules in the HP Storage MP which are targeted against GROUPS :(.

Well, I am NOT a real MP Author myself , but I DO KNOW the difference between good and BAD practices.

And you NEVER EVER target a Group for ANY Rule or Monitor. PERIOD! So by targeting the ‘instance’ Group itself, one still commits this sin!

However, it happens in this MP. Since Groups aren’t enumerated in this kind of setup so the Rules and Monitors end up being targeted against the owner of those Groups, which is the RMS. So these Rules/Monitors run on the RMS. And the scripts of those Rules try to contact each monitored server in order to run some checks. However, the servers being managed by the Gateway Server can’t be contacted directly from the RMS, hence the errors.

So by disabling these two Rules the DCOM errors disappeared completely.

I wonder when HP publishes a new HP Storage MP which is really good compared to these MPs which are really BAD and break SCOM… However, with all the information out there about what’s wrong with the current MPs it should only get better…

OM12: Update Rollup 1 is available

Even though OM12 is just GA, Update Rollup (UR) #1 is just shipped. Which is good news since OM12 RTM has some ‘hidden features’ which need to be addressed. With CU#1 many of those issues are addressed. Like the website states: ‘…Update Rollup 1 contains a number of fixes for System Center 2012 Operations Manager, including cross platform fixes, as well as support for Oracle Solaris 11…’.

What UR#1 for OM12 fixes? Pretty much actually, so checkout KB2686249 yourself.

Another thing which is good is the size of the UR. It’s ONLY about 76 MB! I seriously hope it stays like that since the SCOM R2 CU monsters of +1 GB were a bit too much IMO.

Secondly, no more bootstrapper. The package simply contains some MSP files which are extracted to a folder of your choice. Per OM12 server role the relevant file is run. How simple can life get?

Useful links:

  • Website where UR#1 can be downloaded from;
  • Website with all the fixes for all System Center 2012 products in UR#1;
  • Kevin’s posting all about his installation experiences of this UR.

For anyone running OM12 this CU is highly recommended.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Migrating from SCOM R2 CU#5 to OM12. Part V: Upgrade Tasks for Operations Manager, continued

Postings in the same series:
Part I   - The environment
Part II   - Prepare yourself
Part IIIPre Upgrade Tasks for Operations Manager
Part IVUpgrade Tasks for Operations Manager
Part VI – Wrapping Up 

In the fifth posting of this series I’ll describe the upgrade of the RMS itself, the related databases (OperationsManager and OperationsManagerDW) and the related Reporting component. This will complete the upgrade process itself. In another posting of this series I’ll write about the aftercare and a wrap-up of the whole migration process. Let’s start since there is much to tell and share.

What previously happened in this series
We ran through all the preparations (Part II and Part III of this series). Then we upgraded the secondary Management Server and Gateway Server. After that we upgraded all SCOM R2 Agents to OM12 Agents. Until now the environment is still running at primarily SCOM R2 CU#5 level since the RMS is still in place and the related databases are still untouched.

The upgrade hasn’t really bothered the monitoring solution. Yes, there was some downtime when the secondary Management Server and Gateway Server were upgraded. Also monitoring of the related servers was paused briefly while their related Agents were upgraded. But still, monitoring was running and people could simply run their Consoles, whether they’re UI or web based.

But now we’re going to upgrade the RMS and the related databases. This will most certainly affect the availability of the monitoring solution. Yes, the servers will be monitored while we’re upgrading the RMS. Even when we’re upgrading the databases. Most of the collected data will flow into the databases. But while the RMS is upgrading, the Consoles won’t be working nor will any Alert be send out through notifications. Nor will any Connector work.

And after the upgrade, the SCOM R2 Consoles (UI or web based) won’t work anymore since the Data Access Service (aka SDK Service) is totally revamped and therefore incompatible with the old Consoles. So have the installation files ready in order to upgrade the old Consoles to the new version as well please. The Web Console is totally rewritten for OM12 (IMO, a very good move!) so the url is changed as well. Therefore the IE favorite pointing to the Web Console has to be updated as well.

So now we’re here in the Distributed Upgrade (Simple) Process Flow Diagram:

Before we begin
Another thing to reckon with is some preparations (again!) are required before we start the actual upgrade of the RMS and the SCOM Reporting server:

  1. Run a special query against the OperationsManager database.
    This will speed up the upgrade process. Even though Microsoft recommends this query to be run in bigger SCOM R2 environments, with 800 SCOM R2 Agents or more, I advise everybody to run this query before you start the upgrade of the RMS. This query is found in the Deployment Guide, page 131:
    use OperationsManager
    exec sp_updatestats

  2. SCOM R2 Agent on SCOM Reporting Server: Bad combo during the upgrade
    Remove the SCOM R2 Agent temporarily from the SCOM R2 Reporting server. Remember how sensitive the SCOM R2 Reporting installation was? Well, the good news is, this is hugely improved in OM12. However, an upgrade is still a complex process (under water that is). So in order to make it a bit easier for the upgrade process to run smoother, it’s better to remove the SCOM R2 Agent prior to the upgrade.

    DO NOT REMOVE SCOM R2 REPORTING!!! This may sound stupid but just be sure to remove the SCOM R2 Agent please! When the Agent is pushed, remove it through the SCOM R2 Console. Now you’re sure you remove the correct component, the System Center Operations Manager 2012 Agent. When manually installed, select the high lighted component through the Programs and Features control panel:

    And when manually installed, don’t forget to delete the Agent from SCOM by using the Console. Now were set and ALMOST ready to update the RMS and the related databases.

Steps we still have to make before we start the upgrade:

  • Check for connected Consoles. Basically this means communication in advance with the end users of SCOM;
  • Disabling all Notifications (simply disable all Subscriptions);
  • Stop all Connectors and their related services (exception here is the Operations Manager Internal Connector which is present by default);
  • Verify database free space in the OperationsManager database (50% or more);
  • Backup the databases;
  • ??? RESTORE THE ENCRYPTION KEY ???. This is a strange one. Only applies when your RMS isn’t upgradable and is replaced by a MS. In this scenario we simply ignore it.

Upgrading the RMS and the related databases
Now we’re in good shape! Let’s start the upgrade of the RMS and the related databases.

  1. Log on the RMS with an account which has these permissions:
    - LOCAL ADMIN on the server which hosts the RMS role;
    - SQL SERVER ADMINISTRATOR permissions on both the operational database server and the data warehouse server which is in our case the same SQL box.

  2. I insert the installation media of OM12, start it WITH ELEVATED PERMISSIONS and choose Install

  3. Nice! As you can see, the installer has detected an upgrade is required here and has also detected ALL the SCOM R2 Components which are going to be upgraded > Next

  4. Accept EULA > Next

  5. The Installation Location is automatically chosen > Next

  6. The PreReq Checker runs now. Some issues are found. Only the ISAPI and CGI Restrictions are a showstopper here. The warnings about needing more RAM (is a test lab, so I ignore it) and the non-MOM Connector (is the OpsLogix Connector, used for the Ping MP which can be ignored as well since the MP itself is removed, thus disabling the Connector) are safely ignored by me.

    I fix the ISAPI and CGI Restrictions and run the PreReq Checker (by hitting the Verify Prerequisites again button) again. Now all is well, except for the two Warnings which I safely ignore  > Next

  7. I select the Default Website for the new Web Console. The old one won’t do here and will be deleted afterwards > Next

  8. Authentication method is selected > Next

  9. Enter the account information for the SDK service (Data Access service) > Next

  10. And now the upgrade is ready to start. Read the summary carefully though simply because now some mistakes can be corrected easily > Upgrade 

  11. Upgrade is running. Be patient. This will take a while…

  12. Upgrade is complete and ended successfully:
    Please note the checkbox for Launch Microsoft Update when the wizard closes. Yes, OM12 can be updated through the same mechanisms as your Windows Server. Be careful though since we all know what CU#3 and CU#4 did with restarting non-SCOM related services… But that’s just me.

    Click Close. And now the SCOM R2 environment is almost upgraded to OM12. Only the SCOM R2 Reporting server remains to be done. 

  13. Let’s start the OM12 Console. Yes it starts:
    And the RMS is green as well as far as the Operations Manager Upgrade MP goes! Nice!

  14. Let’s start the revamped Web Console by using this path of actions for instance (notice the new web address):

    The new Web Console requires Silver Light, when not present you’ll be prompted to download and install it. A one minute exercise it is. Afterwards some additional configuration might be required as well, which is just as simple:

    And now we see the new Web Console:

  15. Are we there now? No not totally. Follow me and I’ll show you. In the UI (not the Web Console) go to: Monitoring > Monitoring (top level node) and check the middle pane, it will state this:
    This is new in OM12. A real key is required. It’s a simple process explained in detail in KB2699998

    However, a reboot isn’t needed, only a restart of the Data Access Service on ALL OM12 Management Servers and a restart of the OM12 Console will do the trick:

  16. Now all is well and we only have to upgrade SCOM R2 Reporting. Let’s do that now. CLOSE THE CONSOLE!!!

Upgrading SCOM R2 Reporting to OM12
Time for the last step in the upgrade to OM12!

  1. I insert the installation media of OM12, start it WITH ELEVATED PERMISSIONS and choose Install

  2. Nice, it notices that SCOM R2 Reporting needs to be upgraded > Next

  3. The Installation Location is automatically chosen > Next

  4. PreReq Checker runs. All is well! > Next

  5. Upgrade is ready to start > Upgrade

  6. Be patient, this takes a while

  7. Upgrade is complete and ended successfully:
    Please note the checkbox for Launch Microsoft Update when the wizard closes. Yes, OM12 can be updated through the same mechanisms as your Windows Server. Be careful though since we all know what CU#3 and CU#4 did with restarting non-SCOM related services… But that’s just me.

    Click Close. And now the SCOM R2 environment is totally upgraded to OM12!.

As you can see upgrading to OM12 isn’t to be taken lightly, like ANY OTHER upgrade but can be done. In the next – and last posting of this series – I’ll wrap it all up and add some interesting notes as well. See you all next time!