Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Download the Free ebook: Introducing Microsoft System Center 2012 R2

The folks at Microsoft Press have given everyone an early Xmas present with the release for download of a new e-book titled 'Introducing Microsoft System Center 2012 R2, Technical Overview'.


I've taken a quick scan through the content and it looks like they've covered everything that you need to know as an introduction to the System Center 2012 R2 suite of cloud and datacenter management products. An added bonus for me is that my good friend and ex-workmate John McCabe wrote a significant piece on the new Service Management Automation (SMA) tool working with the Windows Azure Pack in Chapter 10.

A big thanks has to go to the main authors Mitch Tulloch and Symon Perriman along with all of the other expert contributors to this book for making it a free resource to the general community - well done all!

You can download the book in PDF format from here:

Free ebook: Introducing Microsoft System Center 2012 R2

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

SCOM 2012 R2 - Deploying Highly Available Solutions on Windows Server & SQL 2012

My good friend and fellow Irish CDM MVP Paul Keely has just published a new whitepaper that outlines how to deploy SCOM 2012 R2 in a highly available (HA) configuration using Windows Server 2012 and SQL 2012.


The paper comprises 18 pages of different HA scenarios using these technologies and is a great read for anyone either about to embark on a new SCOM HA deployment or someone who's just thinking about a new customer design that delivers the contingency of uptime that has come to be expected these days.

Here's Paul's own description of it:

This guide covers the options available for deploying SCOM in a HA configuration using Microsoft technologies. We start off with a base SCOM design, and then go through clustering, SQL AlwaysOn, Stretched Clusters and Hyper-V replica.  This is an overview guide for all the options.


You can download the guide directly from TechNet here:

http://gallery.technet.microsoft.com/SCOM-2012-R2-HA-options-540beb95

Thanks Paul!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

TechCamp 2013 - Windows Server 2012 R2, System Center 2012 R2 and Windows 8.1 Launch Event

There's only a few days left to purchase tickets to the Irish Community launch event in Dublin's Citywest Hotel & Conference Centre for Windows Server 2012 R2, System Center 2012 R2 and Windows 8.1




Seats are filling up fast, we've a number of sponsors on board and the speaker line-ups have all been confirmed. It's an MVP driven event and will have some great speakers presenting content across two tracks on the day.

Tickets cost a mere EUR 25.00 and all proceeds from registration goes to our designated charity - Camara. If you're in two minds about attending and are thinking about holding off till the live stream or recordings become available, then you'll be sorry to hear that we won't be streaming or recording any of the sessions so make sure you get registered to attend if you want to learn about what's new in your chosen track.

You can learn more about and register for the event at the official website here:

http://techcamp2013.wordpress.com/

Here's the agenda:


Time
Windows Server & System Center
Windows 8.1 & Device Management
08:00-9.00
Registration
09:00-09:40
Keynote
 
Speaker: Dave Northey, Microsoft
 
Learn how the entire package from Microsoft fits together
 
09:45-11:00Windows Server 2012 R2

Speaker: Aidan Finn, MVP

What does WS2012 R2 bring to virtualisation, cloud, storage and networking?
 
Windows 8.1 in the Business

Speaker: Damian Flynn, MVP

How Windows 8.1 Pro and Enterprise can enhance user experience an enable BYOD.

 
11:00-11:30
Break
Get a drink/snack & meet the sponsors.
11:30-12:45System Center Virtual Manage Manager & Hybrid Cloud

Speaker: Damian Flynn, MVP

Start deploying and taking control of the entire data center with VMM 2012 R2!
 
Windows 8.1 Devices


Speaker: Paul Shanahan, Microsoft

Devices are a central ingredient to the “Windows 8.1 in the business” story. What are Microsoft and partners doing?

 
12:45-13:30
Lunch
Get something to eat & meet the sponsors

13:30-14:45System Center Service manager & Self-Service/Automation

Speaker: Paul Keely, MVP

See how System Center can automate repetitive processes, optimise time planning for IT, and change the business.


 
Windows Intune


Speakers: David McCormick & Patrick Herlihy, Microsoft

Windows Intune is a much bigger solution than you think, including branch offices, BYOD, and covering all kinds of devices (Windows & others).
 
14:45-15:00
Break
Refuel for the afternoon push & meet the sponsors.
 
15:00-16:15
System Center Operations Manager & Service Management

 Speaker: Kevin Greene, MVP

It delivers a service, but just how is that service performing?
System Center Configuration Manager

Speaker: Niall Brady, MVP

Take control of every device in your enterprise like you’ve always dreamed, but keep the users happy with self-service?  That’s not possible, right? Wrong!

 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

New SCOM 2012 R2 APM & Networking Visio Stencils Available for Download

Due to attending the MVP Summit in Seattle, I'm just getting a chance to post these new Visio stencils for SCOM 2012 R2 Application Performance Monitoring (APM) and Network Monitoring. If you're looking for some other Visio stencils related to System Center 2012 R2,  then you can find them here:

SCVMM 2012 R2 Visio Stencils

DPM 2012 R2 Visio Stencils

SCOM 2012 R2 Infrastructure Visio Stencils

SCOM 2012 R2 Application Visio Stencils

Windows Azure Pack (WAP) & Azure Visio Stencils

The APM set contains images for things like Server and Client Side monitoring, services, Web Application transactions and WCF functions.


You can download the stencil from the TechNet Gallery at the following link:

http://gallery.technet.microsoft.com/System-Center-2012-R2-57f8418e

If you find this stencil useful, please take the time to give it a Star rating on the TechNet Gallery :)

In the Network Monitoring stencil, you get images for network devices such as routers, switches, VLAN's, fans, memory etc.


Download this one from:

http://gallery.technet.microsoft.com/System-Center-2012-R2-a159ebae

If you find this stencil useful, please take the time to give it a Star rating on the TechNet Gallery :)

Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

New SCOM 2012 R2 Application Visio Stencils Available for Download

This is the second batch of SCOM 2012 R2 stencils that I've created based on some of the different applications that SCOM monitors. If you're looking for some other Visio stencils related to System Center 2012 R2,  then check out these links:

SCVMM 2012 R2 Visio Stencils

DPM 2012 R2 Visio Stencils

SCOM 2012 R2 Infrastructure Visio Stencils

SCOM 2012 R2 APM & Networking Visio Stencils

Windows Azure Pack (WAP) & Azure Visio Stencils

This set contains images for applications such as Exchange, SQL, SharePoint and Lync. You'll also find some generic application images in there that can be handy when creating Visio diagrams for your SCOM proposals and technical documentation.


You can download the stencil from the TechNet Gallery at the following link:

http://gallery.technet.microsoft.com/System-Center-2012-R2-0608df9a

If you find this stencil useful, please take the time to give it a Star rating on the TechNet Gallery :)

Friday, November 8, 2013

New SCOM 2012 R2 Infrastructure Visio Stencils Available for Download

In my recent posts I shared some new System Center 2012 R2 Visio stencils and if you haven't seen them yet, you can download them from the following links:

If you're looking for stencils for other System Center 2012 R2 products, then check out these links:

SCVMM 2012 R2 Visio Stencils

DPM 2012 R2 Visio Stencils

SCOM 2012 R2 Application Visio Stencils

SCOM 2012 R2 APM & Networking Stencils

Windows Azure Pack (WAP) & Azure Visio Stencils

Continuing on with the same theme, this post contains new SCOM 2012 R2 infrastructure stencils to help you enhance your technical documentation and presentations. Now, there's already a number of SCOM Visio stencils doing the rounds out there and most recently, Larry Rayl updated the original SCOM 2007 ones to reflect the new SCOM 2012 roles. I'm not going to recreate the wheel here and just redo Larry's stencils as they are more than sufficient for most people's needs and if you want to download them, you can do so here.

What I wanted to do was to create some Visio stencils for SCOM 2012 R2 that reflect how SCOM sees the world through it's own diagram views. When I started working on this I quickly realised that I'd need to create more than one stencil set due to the large number of different components and roles in SCOM, so this post is the first of four that I'll share here in relation to SCOM stencils.


This stencil is based on the SCOM infrastructure side of things and along with the usual management server and agents, it contains images for things like the Data Access & Configuration Services, different entity types and groups.


I've also added in some images around the 'often-not-used' but sometimes pretty useful Application Exception Monitoring (AEM) functionality as this can come in handy when creating new sales proposals that need to include information on it.

You can download the stencil from the TechNet Gallery at the following link:

http://gallery.technet.microsoft.com/System-Center-2012-R2-44552676

If you find this stencil useful, please take the time to give it a Star rating on the TechNet Gallery :)

Enjoy!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

New DPM 2012 R2 Visio Stencils Available for Download

I've been working a lot with System Center and Visio lately and had some time to create some new Visio stencils that can be used for technical documentation and presentations of the newly released System Center 2012 R2.  If you're looking for stencils for other System Center 2012 R2 products, then check out these links:

SCVMM 2012 R2 Visio Stencils

SCOM 2012 R2 Infrastructure Visio Stencils

SCOM 2012 R2 Application Visio Stencils

SCOM 2012 R2 APM & Networking Visio Stencils

Windows Azure Pack (WAP) & Azure Visio Stencils

In this post, I'm sharing a stencil for DPM 2012 R2 which contains the following ten images:


You can download the stencil from the TechNet Gallery at the following link:

http://gallery.technet.microsoft.com/System-Center-2012-R2-Data-ef61aa5d

If you find this stencil useful, please take the time to give it a Star rating on the TechNet Gallery :)

Monday, November 4, 2013

New SCVMM 2012 R2 Visio Stencils Available for Download


As a consultant, my job involves working closely with our sales and pre-sales teams to deliver comprehensive technical documentation for our customers around the solutions that we deliver. Good documentation is always more powerful when you include some decent Visio diagrams that give the reader a proper visualisation of what you're proposing.

Working with System Center over the last few years, I've learned quite a few tips and tricks to help me create nice visualisations by leveraging System Center Operations Manager (SCOM) and some nifty PowerShell scripts. Using these methods, I've created a number of Visio stencils that I think might be worthwhile sharing with the community and in this first post (hopefully I'll get around to doing a few more of them over the next week or so), I'd like to share my Visio stencil for the recently released System Center 2012 R2 - Virtual Machine Manager.

The stencil contains twenty images that should cover off all the roles and components of SCVMM 2012 R2.


You can download the stencil from the TechNet Gallery at the following link:

http://gallery.technet.microsoft.com/System-Center-2012-R2-7a5f1fcd

If you find this stencil useful, please take the time to give it a Star rating on the TechNet Gallery :)

Let me know if you have any suggestions or problems with the stencil by posting in the comments section below.

If you're looking for stencils for other System Center 2012 R2 products, then check out these links:

DPM 2012 R2 Visio Stencils

SCOM 2012 R2 Infrastructure Visio Stencils

SCOM 2012 R2 Application Visio Stencils

SCOM 2012 R2 APM & Networking Visio Stencils

Windows Azure Pack (WAP) & Azure Visio Stencils

Enjoy!

Download the VM Role Authoring Tool for Windows Azure Pack

A few days ago, the new VM Role Authoring Tool for Windows Azure Pack (WAP) and System Center 2012 R2 has been released on Codeplex. This tool is used to author the VM Role 'Resource Definition' and 'Resource Extension' artifacts.

Here's a description of the tool taken from Codeplex:

The release of the Virtual Machine Role in Windows Azure Pack and System Center 2012 R2 introduces a cloud service application deployment model to deploy virtual machine workloads that will be deployable on premise and in Windows Azure in the coming year.
 
Hand-crafting these packages against the published schemas of the model is a slow and tedious task.
 
You can download it from here: https://vmroleauthor.codeplex.com/

If you want to see this tool in action, then I highly recommend you check out this series of tutorials from Microsoft's Charles Joy here:

Creating a Linux VM Role Resource Definition
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qrGjA1mYN4M

Creating a Linux VM Role Resource Extension
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LdVsmF4GeYE

Creating a Windows Server VM Role Resource Definition
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=66zznivfh_s

Creating a Windows Server VM Role Resource Extension  
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iCilD2P8vhE

Updating a Virtual Machine Role Gallery Item
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iAm38TMz8RU

When you've watched the video's, I'd recommend that if you're interested in WAP and System Center 2012 R2, then you subscribe to Charles' YouTube channel (http://www.youtube.com/user/charlesjoyMS) to keep up to date with anything new he releases.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Available Now on Pre-Order: Mastering Windows Server 2012 R2



If you've been hiding under a rock for the last few months, then you might not be aware that Microsoft have just recently announced the General Availability of Windows Server 2012 R2. The amount of new feature enhancements and additions that come with this release when compared to its  'not-so-long-ago released' predecessor (Windows Server 2012) are unreal.

Late last year and not too long after our 'Mastering System Center 2012 - Operations Manager' book hit the shelves, I was given the opportunity to head up an excellent team of authors to work on a book that would cover the original release of Windows Server 2012. The book was essentially an update to the excellent 'Mastering Windows Server 2008 R2' book that was led by well known author and speaker Mark Minasi with co-authors like Aidan Finn working their magic throughout. (No pressure on us then!)

This updated Windows Server 2012 book was due to hit the shelves by March/April of this year but when Microsoft announced the upcoming Windows Server 2012 R2 release (codenamed Windows Blue), we just knew we had to re-do our work on the book to keep it consistent and current. What we didn't realise is the sheer volume of extra work that the new R2 release had landed us with and suckers like me who had 8 chapters to work on pretty much had to do a re-write of everything - not to mention labs being rebuilt/upgraded too!

Anyway, all that madness is behind us now and the book is available for pre-order on all the usual channels with discounts up to 33% knocked off the RRP on Amazon.

If you want to learn how to master Windows Server 2012 R2, then this is the book for you and you can get it here:

http://amzn.to/1dZcssL

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Irish Community Launch Event for Windows Server 2012 R2, System Center 2012 R2 and Windows 8.1

If you're working with Microsoft products and are based in Ireland, then the Citywest Hotel & Conference Centre is the place to be on Thursday 28th November. The Windows and System Center Community over here are holding an event to launch the recently released Windows Server 2012 R2, System Center 2012 R2 and Windows 8.1 offerings from Microsoft.

It's an MVP driven event and will have some great speakers presenting content across two tracks on the day. You can learn more about and register for the event at the official website here:

http://techcamp2013.wordpress.com/

 Here's the agenda (some sessions may be subject to change):


Time
Windows Server & System Center
Windows 8.1 & Device Management
08:00-9.00
Registration
09:00-09:40
Keynote
 
Speaker: Dave Northey, Microsoft
 
Learn how the entire package from Microsoft fits together
 
09:45-11:00Windows Server 2012 R2

Speaker: Aidan Finn, MVP

What does WS2012 R2 bring to virtualisation, cloud, storage and networking?
 
Windows 8.1 in the Business

Speaker: Damian Flynn, MVP

How Windows 8.1 Pro and Enterprise can enhance user experience an enable BYOD.

 
11:00-11:30
Break
Get a drink/snack & meet the sponsors.
11:30-12:45System Center Virtual Manage Manager & Hybrid Cloud

Speaker: Damian Flynn, MVP

Start deploying and taking control of the entire data center with VMM 2012 R2!
 
Windows 8.1 Devices


Speaker: Paul Shanahan, Microsoft

Devices are a central ingredient to the “Windows 8.1 in the business” story. What are Microsoft and partners doing?

 
12:45-13:30
Lunch
Get something to eat & meet the sponsors

13:30-14:45System Center Service manager & Self-Service/Automation

Speaker: Paul Keely, MVP

See how System Center can automate repetitive processes, optimise time planning for IT, and change the business.


 
Windows Intune


Speakers: David McCormick & Patrick Herlihy, Microsoft

Windows Intune is a much bigger solution than you think, including branch offices, BYOD, and covering all kinds of devices (Windows & others).
 
14:45-15:00
Break
Refuel for the afternoon push & meet the sponsors.
 
15:00-16:15
System Center Operations Manager & Service Management

 Speaker: Kevin Greene, MVP

It delivers a service, but just how is that service performing?
System Center Configuration Manager

Speaker: Niall Brady, MVP

Take control of every device in your enterprise like you’ve always dreamed, but keep the users happy with self-service?  That’s not possible, right? Wrong!

 

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

System Center 2012 Service Pack 1 Update Rollup 4 Available - (but not for SCSM)

Microsoft have just announced the availability of Update Rollup 4 (UR4) for System Center 2012 SP1 but there have been some issues with the SCSM component of the update and it had to be pulled back. See this update from Microsoft's Christian Booth:
http://blogs.technet.com/b/servicemanager/archive/2013/10/22/service-manager-2012sp1-ur4-availability.aspx

SCOM and SCVMM both get a number of fixes in this update and it looks like definitely worthwhile rolling out, but you might want to hang on a while and keep an eye out for any gothca's that people might post about over the coming week or two. As is the case with previous UR's, these will start coming down through Windows Update over the next few days, so make sure you're ready for it or at least have it staged for testing through WSUS or ConfigMgr.

Here's a link to the full description for Update Rollup 4 (UR4):

http://support.microsoft.com/kb/2879276

You can also manually download the relevant bits that you're interested in by using the above link.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Session Recording Available - What's New in System Center 2012 R2 - Operations Manager?



A few weeks ago, I presented at the System Center Universe DACH event in Bern, Switzerland and the recording of my "What's New in System Center 2012 R2 - Operations Manager?" session has just been made available.

You can download it from here (it's a large file so right-click and 'Save As' is best):

What's new in System Center Operations Manager 2012 R2? (EN) - Kevin Greene

Along with that presentation, I was involved in two other sessions that were great fun to be a part of - you can get them both from the links below:

SCVMM Networking: From zero to hero Part 1/2 (EN) - Thomas Maurer, Damian Flynn, Michel L├╝scher, Kevin Greene

Sponsor Session by OpsLoxix: Trivial Persuit Q&A with Microsoft Employees and MVPs (EN) - Maarten Goet, Cameron Fuller

Finally, if you want to immerse yourself in more System Center nerdiness, then you can check out the entire list of session videos from here:

http://www.systemcenteruniverse.ch


Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Awarded MVP in System Center Cloud and Datacenter Management for a 2nd Year!

Today I've been honoured with the award of Microsoft MVP for System Center Cloud and Datacenter Management (SC CDM) for the 2nd year running.


This is a massive deal for me as the benefits of the MVP program and the interaction with the brilliant technical minds of the community that surrounds it is invaluable to IT Pro's and consultants working in the Microsoft space. These past 12 months as an MVP sure have flown by and I remember my pal Marnix Wolf telling me this time last year to "Hold onto your seat because it's gonna be a blast" - he was so right!

This year alone, I've had the opportunity to travel to Seattle, Las Vegas and Switzerland with another trip back over to Microsoft HQ in Seattle booked for next month! The amount of work you have to put in blogging, tweeting, writing books, working the forums and presenting at events to obtain and hold onto an MVP is not easy (most of it is carried out on your own time after the day job is finished) but it's certainly worth it.

Thanks to everyone in the MVP community for their help and advice over the last year and also thanks to my friends and work colleagues at Ergo for giving me the opportunity to work exclusively on System Center for the last number of years- let's hope the next 12 months can be just as much fun!

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Looking Back on System Center Universe 2013 Europe (SCU DACH)

So it's been just over a week since we flew back into Dublin from Bern, Switzerland where the inaugural European version of the massively popular System Center Universe (SCU) event took place. When we arrived at the hotel, we had a direct view across the road of the huge BERN EXPO Congress where the event would kick off the following morning.



Myself and Damian Flynn headed over to the Expo at 07:30 on the Monday morning and the place was buzzing with activity. We had an opportunity to catch up with some old friends and also to get a quick glimpse of the room where the Keynote was going to be held.


Travis Wright (formerly of Microsoft but just very recently announced as Partner, Director of Product Management with Cireson) kicked off with an excellent keynote called "Cloud and Me - BFFs!" - where he spoke about how the boundaries between cloud and on-premise computing were being slowly broken down and merged to deliver a unified service back to the business - much in the same way as organizations consume electricity without having to think about it's delivery as a service.


After the keynote, it was time for me to get ready as I had the pleasure of being asked to co-present a session called "SCVMM Networking: From Zero to Hero in Two Hours" with  Damian Flynn, Thomas Maurer and Michel Luescher. The session went really well and we had an excellent attendance with audience members willing and ready to have their brains melted with some of the Level 400 content that was being presented throughout!

 
 Even though our session was pretty deep, it was great to see 'just about' everyone who attended Part 1, come back for some more punishment in Part 2! The second session was delivered solely by Damian and Thomas with myself and Michel taking a back seat for that one.

After our sessions, I had a chance to attend some of the other presentations and one that stuck out for me that day was Cameron Fuller's - "Operations Manager Evolution: Taking Your Environment to the Next Level with Operations Manager". Every time I hear Cameron present, I learn a new tip or trick for SCOM.

When Day 1 was over, we had a networking party that evening with more than enough free drinks and food to keep everyone happy!


 It was great meeting other members of the System Center community here and talking tech over a few beers!


 On Day 2, I had my own slot presenting a session on "What's New in System Center 2012 R2 - Operations Manager?"


I had a great turnout for the session and all-in-all, it went pretty well (I think!). The 'Demo Gods' were kind to me and there was some great interaction and questions from the audience. Hopefully people gained a better understanding of what's coming for this new release of SCOM in the next few weeks.

You can download the recording from here (it's a large file so right-click and 'Save As' is best):

What's new in System Center Operations Manager 2012 R2? (EN) - Kevin Greene

Later that afternoon, Maarten Goet (OpsLogix) had organised a really fun "Microsoft & MVP ask-the-experts" session which he co-presented with Cameron Fuller. The guys had put together a number of 'Trivial Pursuit' type questions based on System Center that pitched the audience against the 'Experts' and I think it's fair to say, that just about everyone attending that session (presenters included), learnt something new and interesting!


To close out the event, at the end of Day 2, Cireson hosted a great closing party in the Kornhauskeller restaurant where everyone had more than their fair share of drinks and food (again!).



The irony wasn't lost on some of us that during the few days we were over there, it was announced that the Microsoft Management Summit (MMS) was going to be cancelled. I'd attended MMS for the past three years and it was certainly a conference you looked forward to going to each year (and no, it wasn't just because it was hosted in Las Vegas!)

If there was ever going to be an event that can fill the void left for a System Center conference such as MMS, then it's my belief (along with a growing number of other System Center community members) that SCU is it. Built for the Community, by the Community. Its name alone attracts the best of the best of presenters and each year it's held, it gets bigger and bigger.


You can get access to all the slide decks and video recordings of SCU DACH from the official website here: http://www.systemcenteruniverse.ch/

System Center Universe kicks off again in on January 30th 2014 in Houston, Texas and there will be another European event towards the end of next year too. Stay tuned to http://www.systemcenteruniverse.com/ for all the info!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Heading over to System Center Universe Europe (DACH)

This afternoon, I'm sat in Dublin airport waiting on my buddy Damian Flynn to navigate his way through the big city traffic (he's used to a more rural type of motoring experience) so we can head over to Switzerland and present at the System Center Universe DACH conference.



I'm really looking forward to meeting up (again this year!) with my System Center community friends and also to have the opportunity to hear some of them present on the latest and greatest technologies around systems management and cloud. There's a really impressive line up of speakers coming from far and wide - including Cameron Fuller with his first appearance as a public speaker outside of the USA.

I'm involved in (at least) two sessions over the next few days with the first one being tomorrow with a cameo appearance to talk about Windows Server 2012 R2 IPAM with Damian, Thomas Maurer and Michel Luscher in our session titled "SCVMM Networking: From Zero to Hero in Two Hours". The lads are by far the better virtual network guru's than me, so I should (hopefully) learn a thing or two from them as they do their magic!

On the Tuesday, I've got the chance to either impress or bore people with my very own session on "What's New in System Center 2012 R2 - Operations Manager". I've put the work into the demo's, tidied up the decks and now it's all in the hands of the "Demo Gods"! As a precaution (and learning from past experience here), I've recorded my demo's in case the internet decides to act up at 12:00 on Tuesday!

So that's it for now, I'll try to get a few blog posts out over the next few days on how things are going.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Download a Free White paper on Hybrid Cloud with NVGRE (WSSC 2012 R2)

A new white paper has just been made available by some MVP friends of mine on the complex topic of Hybrid Cloud NVGRE using Windows Server 2012 R2 and System Center 2012 R2.



The whitepaper is available as a free download and was authored by System Center Cloud and Datacenter MVP's - Kristian Nese and Flemming Riis.

The technical reviewers of the paper included two other System Center Cloud and Datacenter MVP's -  Stanislav Zhelyazkov and Daniel Neumann. It also contained input from the Microsoft product group aligned directly with virtual networking and WSSC 2012 R2 so you know the technical content is going to be of a very high standard.

Check out Kristian's blog post from the link below to get your hands on the white paper today:

http://kristiannese.blogspot.no/2013/09/white-paper-hybrid-cloud-with-nvgre.html

Enjoy!

Sunday, September 8, 2013

SCOM - New SQL Management Pack and Summary Dashboard Released

Microsoft has just released a new management pack update for monitoring SQL. We first got a preview of this management pack at the Microsoft Management Summit (MMS 2013) in Las Vegas during the Workloads: Managing Windows, IIS & SQL Technologies session and since then, we've been waiting in earnest for it's release - mainly because of the new SQL Server 2012 Summary dashboard that comes bundled with it.

The release of this MP is a bonus for me as it's just in time for me to be able to include it into my demo for my upcoming session at System Center Universe 2013 DACH.

Here's a screenshot of what the new dashboard looks like (keep in mind that this dashboard will only run on SQL 2012 databases):


The new MP comes with some additional monitors, rules and all round improvements - here's a list of them taken directly from the MP guide:

  • Collect DB Active Requests count
  • Collect DB Active Sessions count
  • Collect DB Active Transactions count
  • Collect DB Engine Thread count
  • Thread Count monitor
  • Transaction Log Free Space (%) monitor
  • Transaction Log Free Space (%) collection
  • Collect DB Engine CPU Utilization (%)
  • CPU Utilization (%) monitor for DB engine
  • Buffer Cache Hit Ratio monitor
  • Collect DB Engine Page Life Expectancy (s)
  • Page Life Expectancy monitor
  • Collect DB Disk Read Latency (ms)
  • Collect DB Disk Write Latency (ms)
  • Disk Read Latency monitor
  • Disk Write Latency monitor
  • Collect DB Transactions per second count
  • Collect DB Engine Average Wait Time (ms)
  • Average Wait Time monitor
  • Collect DB Engine Stolen Server Memory (MB)
  • Stolen Server Memory monitor
  • Collect DB Allocated Free Space (MB)
  • Collect DB Used Space (MB)
  • Collect DB Disk Free Space (MB)
  • SQL Re-Compilation monitor
  • SPN monitor improved
  • Support for special symbols in DB names.
  • Improved AlwaysOn seed discovery
  • Run As configuration changes to support Low privilege for SQL Server 2012 Cluster
  • Improved performance of AlwaysOn discovery
  • Custom User Policy Discovery and Monitoring performance optimization
  • Hid AG health object from Diagram view
You can download the MP and its associated guide from here:

http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=10631

As always, make sure you read the guide from front to back (this is a big one!) and test the MP out first before deploying into production.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

New System Center 2012 - Orchestrator Book Available Now!

This blog has been real quiet of late due to me putting the finishing touches to our upcoming "Mastering Windows Server 2012 R2" book, but I wanted to do up a quick post here to highlight another book which was authored by some really good friends of mine in the System Center community.



This book is based on System Center 2012 - Orchestrator and is an excellent place to go to learn about Microsoft's automation solution in the System Center suite. Here's an excerpt from the book's description:

"Microsoft System Center Orchestrator 2012 simplifies the process of automating systems administration tasks. Originally a third-party product named Opalis, which Microsoft acquired in 2009, Orchestrator provides a simplified way of building complex automation. System Center Orchestrator is a complete solution that goes beyond basic automation.
"Microsoft System Center 2012 Orchestrator Cookbook" will teach you how to plan, create and manage powerful runbooks to help you automate mission-critical and routine administration tasks.
In this practical Cookbook you will learn how to master System Center 2012 by creating runbooks to control and automate every feature possible. You will start by learning how to efficiently install and secure System Center Orchestrator."

I've just purchased a copy and you can get your own copy of the book today in 'dead-tree' format from here or in electronic format from here.

Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

System Center 2012 SP1 Update Rollup 3 is Now Available for Download!

Microsoft have just announced that Update Rollup 3 (UR3) for System Center 2012 SP1 has dropped and is available for download. There's a number of fixes for AppController, DPM and SCOM.

Here's an overview of what's fixed in this update for each product:

App Controller (2012 SP1) Update (KB2853227)

Issue 1
  • When you try to add a Microsoft System Center 2012 Virtual Machine Manager (VMM) connection by using either the UI or a Windows PowerShell command, the connection is unsuccessful. Additionally, you receive the following error message:

Connection address must be a fully qualified domain name.

This problem may occur when the fully qualified domain name (FQDN) contains a hyphen (-) in the last part of the name.


Issue 2
  • When a Windows Azure subscription contains a high-memory (A6 or A7) Windows Azure virtual machine, Azure functionality is not available in Microsoft System Center 2012 App Controller.

Additionally, you receive the following error message:

Retrieved data is incomplete.

When you click More details, you receive a "Service Unavailable" message. You may also receive a "Requested value 'A6' was not found" message.


Issue 3
  • When you try to use App Controller together with a proxy server, you receive the following error message:

(407) authentication required.

Note App Controller does not use configured proxy settings.


Issue 4
  • When you view the network properties of a deployed virtual machine and then click OK, the network connection is set to None. For example, the network connection field is empty and does not show the current network adapter.
 
Issue 5
  • When you move quickly between virtual machines in a list and then click the Properties task, the properties page for the previously selected virtual machine is displayed.
 
Issue 6
  • When you deploy an Azure virtual machine when the User must change password at next logon option is selected, you receive the following error message:
Bad Request
 
 
App Controller (2012 SP1) Setup Update (KB2823452)
  
Issue 1
 
  • App Controller cannot be installed if the Microsoft SQL Server database server name starts with a number.
 
(http://support.microsoft.com/kb/2802110/ ) for more information.
 
 
Issue 2
 
  • Setup incorrectly reports that the SQL Server database has insufficient disk space.
 
 
Issue 3
 
  • Setup on a non-English operating system is unsuccessful when it tries to enable Internet Information Services (IIS)
 
 
Data Protection Manager (DPM 2012 SP1) Update (KB2853210)
 
Issue 1
 
  • When you use a tape library that has many slots, the Microsoft System Center 2012 Data Protection Manager database becomes bloated over time.
 
Issue 2
 
  • When you try to set up library sharing when you use Data Protection Manager SP1 Update Rollup 2 (UR2), you receive the following error message:
 
Failed to execute RBACRolePermissionOnStoredProcScript.sql on DPMServer\Database
 
Issue 3
 
  • When you run a Windows PowerShell script that retrieves the protection groups, the console crashes.
 
Issue 4
 
  • The VMM Helper Service stops responding, and no virtual machines are backed up. A restart enables the backups to continue.
 
 
Operations Manager (SCOM 2012 SP1) Update (KB2852565)

 
Issue 1
 
  • The Audit Collection Services (ACS) dtPrincipal tables sometimes are missing a user's domain name.
 
Issue 2
 
  • If you decide to see more than two days' worth of data in a Service Level Dashboard view, the data is displayed from the Daily Aggregated data and does not contain the last two days' worth of data.
 
Issue 3
 
  • The Health Service stops collecting performance data on Windows Server 2008 R2.
 
Issue 4
 
  • The web console crashes when the Active Alerts view and the Windows Computer State view are accessed at the same time when Internet Explorer 9 is used.
 
Issue 5
 
  • A memory leak may occur in the console when the performance widgets dashboard is left open.
 
Issue 6
 
  • When the Operator role is used, many 26319 events are generated. This causes performance problems.
 
Issue 7
 
  • Health Service availability reports are incorrect because of duplicate entries in the HealthServiceOutage table.
 
Issue 8
 
  • When the Orchestrator Integration pack is under a high-load scenario, a software development kit (SDK) process deadlock may occur.
 
Issue 9
 
This update includes fixes to the following Advisor Connector issues:
  • Group opt-in
  • Microsoft System Center 2012 Operations Manager gateway and Microsoft monitoring
  • Windows PowerShell cmdlets
  • Health state
  • Microsoft Knowledge Base article links in Operations Manager console alerts

Operations Manager (SCOM 2012 SP1) - UNIX and Linux Monitoring (Management Pack Update)

Issue 1

  • The Solaris agent cannot be installed on Solaris 11.1 because it does not find the prerequisite OpenSSL package.

Issue 2

  • Knowledge editing pages are not displayed when monitors that were created by the Shell Command templates are edited.

Issue 3

  • Log files that are encoded in schemes other than ASCII cannot be monitored.

You can choose to install these updates either automatically through Windows Update (recommended) or manually by clicking on the relevant download links from the official KB article on UR3 here:

http://support.microsoft.com/kb/2836751

As always though, make sure to read through the installation instructions for each product and understand what's involved.

Monday, July 22, 2013

SCOM - KB2775511 Causes Unwanted (and nasty) Event ID 2115, Heartbeat Failures and Grey States

I've just seen this one landing by RSS into my inbox from the official System Center Operations Manager Engineering Blog posted by Microsoft's J.C. Hornbeck about a hotfix that you may (or may not) have deployed to your SCOM/OpsMgr management servers that essentially brings them to deadlock resulting in heartbeat failures, grey states and heaps of Event ID 2115 entries in your Windows Event logs.


The KB2775511 hotfix rollup for Windows 7 SP1 and Windows Server is the culprit and if you've deployed it onto your SCOM management servers, you'll need to remove it ASAP.

Update 15th November 2013: I've just seen a comment on this post below informing me that Microsoft have released a hotfix for this exact problem.  Check it out here:

SCOM 2012 or SCOM 2007 R2 throws a "Heartbeat Failure" message and then goes into a greyed out state in Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1

Here's what the OpsMgr engineering team have to say:

"Removal of KB2775511 will correct the issues introduced. The OpsMgr team recommends that Operations Manager users refrain from installing KB2775511 until this deadlock issue is resolved. New information will be posted as it becomes available."

Better to be safe and sorry with this one and to check out your servers today to ensure this hotfix rollup hasn't been installed. It's also worthwhile to forward this information onto any customers or colleagues that have their own deployments of SCOM so they can check for themselves.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Important Cross-Post: Red Alert–Avoid KB2855336 Rollup with NIC Teaming and VLANs

This is a quick post to bring people's attention to an issue with the very recent KB2855336 July rollup update for Windows Server 2012.


Hans Vredevoort over at Hyper-v.nu has just blogged about a possible blue screen issue you might encounter if you have the following in place:
  • Windows Server 2012 Failover Cluster
  • Windows Server 2012 NIC Teaming
  • VLAN's with your NIC Teams

His advice is to hold off on this particular update until an update is released to avoid this issue. Check out his full post here:

http://www.hyper-v.nu/archives/hvredevoort/2013/07/red-alertavoid-kb2855336-rollup-with-nic-teaming-and-vlans/

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Learn What's New in System Center 2012 R2 in this Free 8 Hour Course!

On Monday July 15th, the Microsoft Virtual Academy (MVA) are hosting a free 8 hour online Jump Start course to bring you right up to date with everything that's new in the recently announced System Center 2012 R2.


The instructor team on the day will be lead by Microsoft's Symon Perriman (Senior Technical Evangelist) and the course outline looks like this:

01 | Introduction to the Cloud OS
02 | Infrastructure Provisioning
03 | Infrastructure Monitoring
04 | Application Management
05 | Automation
06 | IT Service Management

It kicks off at 9am PDT (that's 17:00 GMT for us folks over here in Europe) and it promises to be packed full of the type of information you need to help you hit the ground running when 2012 R2 RTM's later this year.

Check out and register for the event on the MVA site here:

http://www.microsoftvirtualacademy.com/liveevents/System-Center-2012R2-Jump-Start

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Want to learn how to Manage Windows Server 2012 NVGRE with PowerShell?

If the answer is Yes to the title of this post, then make sure that you attend this afternoon's (Irish time) MVP Pro Speaker Series session on the topic by System Center MVP - Damian Flynn. Outside of Microsoft, Damian is one of a small number of people on the planet that actually understand this stuff and that can explain it in easy-to-learn steps.

I've just been speaking to Damian about this session and he's told me that it's going to be a Level 300 bordering on Level 400 type session so not for the faint hearted but definitely no marketing fluff will be presented here.

Here's an excerpt from Damian's own blog post on the session:

If you are still wrapping your head around the NVGRE technology which Microsoft has introduced in Windows 2012, and want to get down and dirty into how this stuff actually ticks, then I have some great news for you.

Following the recent presentation and whitepapers which were just published a few weeks ago, as we
“Unravelling the Network”, explaining at a higher level just how these technologies play together to create a seamless implementation for software defined networking, we are now going to deep dive.

In association with the Microsoft MVP Pro Speaker series, on Tuesday July 9th at 8am EST PST (4pm GMT) I will present a 1 hour session demonstrating what needs to happen on the Hosts and VMs to bring NVGRE to life, using nothing but PowerShell.

This presentation is targeted as the Level 300/400 so I am going to really recommend that you take an hour upfront and watch the presentation with
Savision if you have not yet had the opportunity.

You can join the live meeting here:

https://join.microsoft.com/meet/karrieo/5KH311B3

If you're reading this and think it's too late to join up or you're otherwise engaged, then keep an eye out for the recording and slides that will be put up on the Microsoft Partner and Customer Solutions blog here:

http://blogs.technet.com/b/wincat/

Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Microsoft Are Now Gartner Magic Quadrant Leaders For x86 Server Virtualization Infrastructure

Reading the Microsoft In The Cloud blog yesterday, I noticed that Microsoft have smashed into the leaders quadrant of the Gartner Magic Quadrant report on x86 Server Virtualization Infrastructure.

The Gartner Magic Quadrant is an objective third party view on how the different technology players in each specific market are performing. As a Microsoft consultant pitching System Center and Hyper-V, I get asked on a regular basis by our customers - particularly at 'C Level' (i.e. CEO, CIO, CTO etc.) about where Microsoft are at in terms of Gartner. In the past I'd have to tell them that competitors such as VMware were positioned as 'Leaders' and Microsoft were trailing around in the 'Challengers' spot.

Not any more though...
 

As we can see from the graphic above, since June of this year (2013) Microsoft are now in the 'Leaders' quadrant along with VMware. From the graphic we can see that there's still a gap between the two players but with everything coming in the new Windows Server 2012 R2 and System Center 2012 R2 releases, plus the new Windows Azure Pack (formerly Project Katal), I'm pretty confident that that gap will be closed towards the end of the year.

If you're a consultant or engineer in the Microsoft space, then this should be music to your ears, if you're in the VMware space however, then fear not, you can become a superhero for your organization starting from today by clicking the link below ;)

Microsoft Virtualization: VMware Professionals

You can download and read the full report courtesy of Microsoft here.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

System Center 2012 R2 and Windows Azure Pack Evaluation Guide Available for Download!

With todays release of the new R2 (Blue) preview bits, Microsoft have also made available the System Center 2012 R2 and Windows Azure Pack Evaluation Guide.

This document contains a full walkthrough of the deployment process for the hardware and software required to deploy the new preview bits.

If you're planning on downloading and installing the R2 preview bits over the coming days/weeks, I'd highly recommend taking the time to review the contents of this guide to ensure you get them deployed properly.

You can get the guide here:

http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=39297

Microsoft's Cloud OS Preview Bits Are Now Available!

Just woke up this morning to the news that Microsoft have made the preview bits available for their Cloud OS platform.


These previews were first announced at TechEd North America a few weeks ago and you can now download the following:

Windows Azure Evaluation

Windows Azure Pack


I'm particularly looking forward to testing out Windows Server 2012 R2, System Center 2012 R2 and the new Windows Azure Pack. So what are you waiting for? Go get them today :)

Monday, June 24, 2013

SCOM 2012 SP1 Install Error with SQL 2012 SP1 CU4 (KB2833645)

I'm back in action this week with another SCOM project and have come across an issue when deploying a new SCOM 2012 SP1 environment onto a new SQL 2012 SP1 server with the latest Cumulative Update 4 (KB2833645) deployed to it.

With CU4 installed on the SQL 2012 SP1 server, when you go to install your first SCOM 2012 SP1 management server and arrive at the "Configure the Operational Database" dialog box, after you input your server name and instance name (for where you want to deploy the OperationsManager database), you'll quickly see the following error and screenshot:

The installed version of SQL server is not supported. Verify that the computer and installed version of SQL server meet the minimum requirements for installation. Please see the supported configurations document for further information.


We know from the official documentation that SQL 2012 SP1 is fully supported so the easy fix here is to just uninstall Cumulative Update 4 (KB2833645) from your SQL 2012 SP1 server as shown below


Once this has been removed, you can then go back to your SCOM installation and carry on successfully.

Conclusion

My guess is that since SQL 2012 SP1 CU4 has only been released in the last few weeks, we'll need to wait until it's officially supported from the start of the SCOM installation phase to get around this error. In hindsight, it's my own fault in that I always want to have the latest updates deployed to my servers before I put them into production and I was probably a little over-zealous this time :)

SCOM 2012 Hyper-V Management Pack Extensions Released by the Community

This is a quick cross-reference post from Kevin Holman's excellent System Center blog about a new community released management pack (MP) for Microsoft's Hyper-V 3.0 on Windows Server 2012.

The current official Microsoft Hyper-V 2012 MP is quite basic and poor and this new extensions one gives us an extra dimension of Hyper-V monitoring till Microsoft decide to revamp their own official one. You'll still need to deploy the official Hyper-V MP along with the Windows O/S and Cluster MP's, all of which can be found on the Management Pack Wiki Page.

Here's Where To Get It

You can download the new Hyper-V Extensions MP for free on Codeplex here:

Hyper-V Management Pack Extensions 2012

Also Check Out..

I'd recommend that you take a read of Kevin Holman's original post to see exactly what's on offer from this MP (includes screenshots):

http://blogs.technet.com/b/kevinholman/archive/2013/06/22/opsmgr-2012-hyper-v-management-pack-extensions-published.aspx

Enjoy!

New MVP Authored Book on System Center DPM 2012 SP1

In the last few days, a new book has been released called 'Microsoft System Center Data Protection Manager 2012 SP1' that was authored by some friends of mine in the System Center Cloud and Datacenter Management (SC CDM) MVP group.



The Team

Here's a quick bio of each of the guys involved in the book (it's a "who's-who" of the DPM System Center community):

Steve Buchanan (Author)
System Center Cloud and Datacenter Management MVP and an infrastructure consultant at RBA with a focus on System Center. Steve authored System Center Data Protection Manager (SCDPM) 2010 SP1 and was a technical reviewer for the System Center Service Manager 2012 Cookbook and System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2012 Cookbook, Packt Publishing. He can be found blogging at www.buchatech.com and on Twitter as @buchatech.


Islam Gomaa (Author)
System Center Cloud and Datacenter Management MVP and a System Architect at Kivuto Solutions Inc. Islam has over 15 years of expertise in helping organizations align their business goals using Microsoft technology and deploying Microsoft-based solutions. He can be found blogging at http://blog.islamgomaa.com/ and on Twitter as @IslamGomaa.


Robert Hedblom (Author)
System Center Cloud and Datacenter Management MVP and works as a Solution Architect for System Center for hosters, EPG, and SMB customers globally. He was previously an MVP for DPM. Robert's knowledge is often used by Microsoft as a reviewing partner and consultant via Microsoft Consultant Services (MCS) or Premier Field Engineers (PFE) on a global scale. He can be found blogging at http://robertanddpm.blogspot.com and on Twitter as @RobertandDPM.


Flemming Riis (Author)
System Center Cloud and Datacenter Management MVP and is an infrastructure consultant at Kompetera with a focus on System Center. He has been working there since 1997 in various roles, starting with repairing PCs and then presales support. He is now a consultant who started with management software, then became Operations Manager, and hasn't looked back since. He can be found blogging at http://flemmingriis.com/ and on Twitter as @FlemmingRiis.


Mike Resseler (Reviewer)
System Center Cloud and Datacenter Management MVP and is a Product Strategy Specialist for Veeam. Mike is focused on technologies around Hyper-V and System Center. His major hobby is discussing and developing solid Disaster Recovery scenarios. You can also follow Mike on Twitter @MikeResseler and through his blog at  http://scug.be/mike/.


Yegor Startsev (Reviewer)
Is a System Center Cloud and Datacenter Management MVP from Samara, Russia. Yegor has worked in the IT industry for over 11 years, starting as a systems administrator and working up to his current role as a Chief Information Officer at VTS. He is a regular speaker at regional Microsoft and IT Pro community events. Yegor also runs a blog at http://ystartsev.wordpress.com.


Review

The book is a walkthrough of the latest version of Microsoft's flagship backup offering Data Protection Manager (DPM) and is a must-read for anyone looking to up-skill in this area. I've had the RAW e-book format of this book purchased for some time now and that meant that I could read through the book while it was still a work-in-progress over the last few months. I took another look at the final book over the weekend and have to say that as someone who has extensive DPM knowledge, I still managed to pick up a few tips and tricks from the guys real world experience notes.

There's loads of content around backing up Microsoft workloads and non-Microsoft workloads along with integration to SCOM, ConfigMgr and Orchestrator. If you want to learn how to make use of Azure to backup to cloud, then there's a chapter for that too!

All-in-all, an excellent book and well worth a read for anyone working on or considering working on SC DPM 2012 SP1.


Where Can You Get It?

You can get your hands on it today from here:

Microsoft System Center Data Protection Manager 2012 SP1