Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Quick Tip: Enabling Disk Cleanup Tool Without Reboot

Bumped into this issue where I had to free up some space on a Windows 2008 R2 SP1 server without rebooting it. The Disk Cleanup tool is perfectly suited for the job but isn’t installed by default on Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1.

However, when you install this tool by using the default way a lot of other unwanted software on the same server is installed as well. Simply because this tool is installed when adding the Feature Desktop Experience. And before it works a reboot is required as well. And during production this is unwanted.

Gladly I found another way which involved two simple copy & paste actions. This gives me the Disk Cleanup tool ONLY and doesn’t require a reboot at all. So that’s two wins in one strike!

Want to know more? Go here and follow the steps as described in the second procedure. Works like a charm!

A big word of thanks to Nathalie Vaise for sharing this.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Trick: Personalizing Veeam Demo MP (UNSUPPORTED!)

The Veeam Demo MP is a very powerful tool enabling one to demonstrate the power of the latest version of the Veeam MP WITHOUT having to run a real VMware environment.

I run this MP in all my demo environments and has aided me in demonstrating the USP (Unique Selling Points) of the Veeam MP to many of my customers.

However, sometimes it’s even better to personalize the demo environment in order to make it even more realistic, like using the name of the customer involved or – even better – to use their own naming scheme. This way the demo really hits home since the customer gets the feeling they’re monitoring real time their own production VMware environment Smile.

Remark 01
Only perform these steps in SCOM DEMO environments NOT in SCOM production environments. In production environments is far more better to install the trial version of the Veeam MP which has the full functionality and manageability capabilities of the licensed Veeam MP. The trial version is only time limited.

Remark 02
This trick is unsupported by Veeam. So there is NO support in any kind of way. Also they aren’t (nor me) responsible for any unwanted results.

Default situation

Modified situation

And the way to get this done is soooo easy, just follow these steps and you’re done.

This is what you need in order to give the Veeam Demo MP a more personalized experience:

  1. Notepad++
    Enables fast editing of the XML-files. To be found here.
  2. Veeam Demo MP
    To be found here.
  3. SCOM
    Preferred: SCOM 2012 SP1 UR#3. SCOM 2007 R2 CU#7 will also work. SCOM needs to be up & running & fully configured.

These are the required steps.

  1. Install the Veeam Demo MP as described in the manual;
  2. Stop the Windows service Veeam VMware Collector on the same server where you ran Step 1;
  3. Import the Veeam MPs as described in the manual;
  4. Create the folder DataSource in the %temp% directory. Create in that folder two new folders: ORG and Modified;
  5. Go to the folder C:\Program Files\Veeam\VeeamVMwareDemo\DataSource. Copy the three XML files to the folder %temp%\ORG and %temp%\Modified;
  6. Open all three XML files residing in the folder %temp%\Modified, in Notepad++ ;
  7. Per XML file search for the entry SRVGRE and replace it by the name you want to use, like Insight24 in this example;
  8. Make sure there are no entries of SRVGRE to be found in all three files. Save the modifications;
  9. Replace the files in the folder C:\Program Files\Veeam\VeeamVMwareDemo\DataSource with the modified files residing in the folder %temp%\Modified;
  10. When those files are replaced, start the Windows service Veeam VMware Collector;
  11. Within 10 to 20 minutes the emulated VMware environment will show up in SCOM with the name you used as described in Step 7:

As you see, it’s very easy and this trick can be repeated every time when required.

Remark 01
Only perform these steps in SCOM DEMO environments NOT in SCOM production environments. In production environments is far more better to install the trial version of the Veeam MP which has the full functionality and manageability capabilities of the licensed Veeam MP. The trial version is only time limited.

Remark 02
This trick is unsupported by Veeam. So there is NO support in any kind of way. Also they aren’t (nor me) responsible for any unwanted results

Updated MP: UNIX and Linux Operating Systems

Yesterday Microsoft released the updated version of the MP for monitoring UNIX and Linux Operating Systems, version 7.4.4263.0. Also the UNIX/Linux Agents which are included in the same MP are updated to version

Feature summary (taken directly from the website):

  • Provides monitoring of the AIX 5.3, 6.1, and AIX 7 operating systems.
  • Provides monitoring of the HP-UX 11iv2 PA-RISC, HP-UX 11iv2 IA64, HP-UX 11iv3 PA-RISC, and HP-UX 11iv3 IA64 operating systems.
  • Provides monitoring of the Red Hat Enterprise Linux Server 4 (x64), Red Hat Enterprise Linux Server 5 (x64) and Red Hat Enterprise Linux Server 6 (x64) operating systems.
  • Provides monitoring of Solaris 9, Solaris 10, and Solaris 11 operating systems.
  • Provides monitoring of SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 9, SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 10 SP1, and SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 11 operating systems.
  • Enables the installation of the Audit Collection Services for UNIX/Linux Management Packs.

MP can be downloaded from here.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Goodbye Steve Ballmer, Hello…?

Last Friday evening I was surfing the web on my non-Microsoft based tablet when I suddenly read the news about Steve Ballmer’s retirement within the next 12 months.

Soon the first articles came out all about this topic. And quite a few of those weren’t all to nice on Steve. Another significant signal was the jump of the Microsoft shares in the opening trade of Wall Street: a rise of 7%! So apparently some stake-/shareholders out there weren’t unpleased by this news.

In the last few days I have read dozens of articles all about this topic. Some were outright bad (written by anti-Microsoft people, or people who were biased in any kind of way) and others mediocre. And just a few of them were really good and contained good information.

Even though I already shared most of them by Twitter, here is the Top Ten of the articles which I personally liked most:

    Just a day before the news of Steve Ballmer’s retirement, GIGAOM posted this article, all about ValueAct, a shareholder activist, likely to spark a shake-up and gain a seat on the Microsoft board.

  2. ZDNET
    A two part interview Mary Jo Foley had with Steve Ballmer and lead Microsoft board member John Thompson (part 2). Go here for Part 1: Microsoft's Ballmer on his biggest regret, the next CEO and more. Go here for Part 2: Microsoft's Ballmer: Why Microsoft doesn't want to be IBM (or Apple) and more.

  3. The Seattle Times
    Advantages, challenges for new CEO at Microsoft

  4. Bloomberg
    Six Opportunities Steve Ballmer Missed at Microsoft 

  5. Slate
    A Microsoft Breakup in 2000 Could Have Spawned Amazing Innovations
    The Poisonous Employee-Ranking System That Helps Explain Microsoft’s Decline

  6. TechRadar.Pro
    Ballmer leaves Microsoft. But in what shape?

  7. CIO
    Only an outsider CEO can help Microsoft

  8. The Guardian
    Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer to retire as company faces needed shakeup

  9. TechCrunch
    On itself not an article with new insights but yet it contains this quote which I highlighted for myself: ‘'…That’s why today’s news is even more surprising after Ballmer achieved such a big change for Microsoft. If his successor doesn’t like the ‘One Microsoft’ vision, he or she will have to do another reorganization…’
    Article to be found here.

  10. The New York Times
    Ballmer Exit Brings Microsoft a Chance for Reinvention

For sure, all these articles do have overlap. And yet when combined they tell a good story and as complete as it can get for outsiders like us.

My personal thoughts on this topic: there is much to say but the bottom line is that Microsoft isn’t that sexy anymore like they were about ten years ago. Why? To sum up a few items:

  • The PC is loosing ground fast. Ten years ago and even less, all the ‘screen time’ a person had to spent was his/her pc/laptop. Now with the smart phones and tablets, for many situations a pc/laptop isn’t required any more. However, the pc/laptop is still the bread and butter for Microsoft.
  • In the mobile space (smart phones/tablets) they’re not playing a key role right now. The Surface could/should have changed that but the premium pricing and the poor app store closed that door for them.
  • Why not bring a REAL version of Office 201x to Android/iOS based tablets? Not like the software they’re trying to ‘sell’ now? I love Office and would be happy to pay for a grownup version running on my non-Microsoft tablet.
  • Windows 8 on itself is a good operating system but forces people away from the start menu. Even though many complaints were made, Windows 8.1 isn’t going to change that. The negative criticism and feedback is killing a good product, which is bad.
  • Microsoft is loosing support on a huge scale. Developers are working for other platforms (iOS and Android mostly) since those platforms deliver the best ROI.
  • The decision to retire TechNet has started a fire among many system engineers and other people who work with Microsoft technologies on a daily basis. This is causing Microsoft damage on a scale which is far bigger than the gains the retirement of TechNet is supposed to bring. They’re loosing the heart and minds of a very powerful community which helped Microsoft to get where they’re today.
  • The Cloud-First strategy combined with the high development cycles are causing issues. Last Patch Tuesday 6(!) patches had to be recalled.
  • SMB companies find themselves in a situation where they’re almost forced to opt for the public cloud offering. But they don’t want it (yet). And don’t forget PRISM. Microsoft didn’t invent or invoke PRISM but it will hamper the cloud adoption rate even more. So SMB are almost forced to look outside the Microsoft product/services offering. Wondering how long it will take before someone fills that gap…

But is Steve Ballmer to blame for all of this? I don’t think so. It’s more like a whole chain of processes and culture which put Microsoft into the position it’s in today. And yet, Steve Ballmer being the CEO of Microsoft is also the one who takes up the responsibility for it all.

For myself I don’t know whether a new CEO will bring the required changes to Microsoft. Only time will tell. One thing is for sure though: these are exciting times!

SCOM & SQL: Provide Sufficient Memory Please

Bumped into this issue at a customers location. The MG came to a standstill which started with these two errors:
  1. Database error. MPInfra_p_ManagementPackInstall failed with exception:
    Database error. MPInfra_p_ManagementPackInstall failed with exception:
    There is insufficient system memory in resource pool 'default' to run this query.

  2. AppDomain OperationsManager.dbo[runtime].78 was unloaded by escalation policy to ensure the consistency of your application. Out of memory happened while accessing a critical resource.
    The application domain in which the thread was running has been unloaded.

  3. .NET Framework execution was aborted by escalation policy because out of memory. Thread was being aborted.

First errors 1 and 2 were thrown. Afterwards the Console (UI) wouldn’t start anymore. Only the error as stated in Item 3 was thrown, happening on every computer where the Console (UI) was started.

After some thorough investigation it turned out the SQL server hosting the OpsMgr database was running out of memory. Because it of it, it couldn’t serve any requests any more, resulting in an unresponsive SCOM Console.

This SQL server only ran 8 GB of RAM. After doubling it to 16 GB, and allocating a maximum of 12 GB of RAM to the related SQL instance, everything was just fine again.

The SQL server hosting the OpsMgr database is crucial to the overall health, performance and availability of the related Management Group. Therefore this server needs to be a beefed one for CPU, RAM and disk IO.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Windows Azure Posters/Infographics

Yesterday Microsoft has launched a website which contains infographics (AKA posters) all about Windows Azure technology:



As Microsoft states on this website: ‘…These technical posters and infographics are excellent for learning and training. Zoom into details, download, or print (26X30"/66.04X99.06cm). Most of these posters and all future posters will link to deeper technical content through the mobile tags for a more complete set of information...’

These infographics contains loads of information for anyone working with Windows Azure. So my advice is: Get them all!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

To Do List When Adding Additional SCOM Management Server To Existing MG

When a SCOM Management Group (MG) is already in place for some time and an additional SCOM Management Server is added to it later on, their are quite a few steps one must do in order to get it working properly. When forgetting one of those steps it might result in a SCOM MG showing erratic behavior.

Mind you all these steps take place AFTER the new SCOM Management Server is installed. Also good to know, this To Do List is based on OM12 SP1.

  1. Antivirus exclusions
    Please make sure the new SCOM Management Server uses the same AV policy as the other SCOM Management Server. So the correct folders and processes are excluded from AV scans. Check KB975931 for more information.

  2. Certificates
    When using Gateway Servers and/or monitoring servers using certificates, make sure the new SCOM Management Server gets a valid certificate as well. And don’t forget to configure it properly.

  3. Firewall
    Make sure all the firewalls, either running on your Windows Server hosting the new SCOM Management Server role and the dedicated network firewalls, accept the traffic coming from the new SCOM Management Server. Also read this posting of my fellow MVP buddy Bob Cornelissen since it might prevent a lot of hassle.

  4. Resource Pools
    Make sure the new SCOM Management Server is added to the proper Resource Pools so it adheres to the original design.

  5. UNIX/Linux monitoring
    When monitoring UNIX/Linux systems and the new SCOM Management Server will become a member of that Resource Pool, make sure it has the proper certificates in place. Not only its own certificate but also the certificates of all the other Resource Pool members. Also the other Resource Pool members must get the certificate of the new SCOM Management Server as well. Kevin Holman wrote an excellent posting about it, to be found here. Look for the header Configure the Xplat certificates.

  6. Special MPs
    Sometimes special MPs are in place, requiring additional actions on the new SCOM Management Servers. Examples are the NetApp MP, SharePoint 2013 MP.

  7. Console extensions
    Some third party tools extend the SCOM Console, like Savision Live Maps. So install those Console extensions on the new SCOM Management Servers as well.

This covers it all and enables you to enroll successfully an additional SCOM Management Server to an existing MG without bumping into issues after it.

Monday, August 19, 2013

How To Solve Error: ‘Partitioning And Grooming Has Not Completed Recently’

Bumped into this error in  an OM12 SP1 environment. The error message Partitioning and grooming has not completed recently kept popping up.

The best way to go about it is to run the Stored Procedure, p_PartitioningAndGrooming, run by the Rule “Partitioning and Grooming” manually against the OpsMgr database. Changes are it will go wrong as well but it will show additional information about the reasons as well.

  1. Go to the SQL Server. log on with an account with sufficient permissions and start SQL Server Management Studio;
  2. Log on to the SQL DB Engine with an account which has sufficient permissions to run the Stored Procedure against the OpsMgr database;
  3. Right-click on the OpsMgr database, select the option New Query. Copy the Stored Procedure p_PartitioningAndGrooming and hit F5
  4. Within a few minutes the results will come in, reported under the header Messages:

In this case as you can see the SP fails because of a transaction log which is loaded. After running a backup of this database the SP ran just fine:

After solving this error an investigation was started why this database wasn’t backed up successfully for a long time…

Whenever you get the error message Partitioning and grooming has not completed, use this procedure in order to get more detailed error message, enabling you to troubleshoot the issue in a neat manner and avoiding a goose chase.

R2 Releases & Windows 8.1 Release Scheduled For October 18th

The R2 releases of Windows Server 2012, System Center 2012 & Windows 8.1 release are scheduled for October the 18th.

Brad Anderson (Corporate Vice President Windows Server & System Center) blogged about it here.

Dutch WMUG NL Event With Topic ‘Virtualization’

On the evening of the 17th of September WMUG NL has an event all about virtualization. During this event three top notch speakers will share their thoughts and experiences all about virtualization. These three stars are:
  1. Ruben Spruijt, CTO of PQR;
  2. James van den Berg, MVP and virtualization expert;
  3. Henk Arts, senior systems engineer at Veeam Software and virtualization expert.

This event will be hosted by PQR and at their location.

Go here for more information and to get your FREE ticket.