Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Just Released - All New Exchange 2013 Management Pack!

Microsoft has just announced the release of an updated version of their Exchange Server 2013 Management Pack for SCOM and it's a world apart from its predecessor.

The original iteration of this MP was released over a year ago and was one of the most underwhelming management packs that we've seen in a long time. For whatever reason back then, a decision was made to leave most of the monitoring of Exchange Server 2013 to itself in a kind of 'self-monitoring' role. This decision then resulted in us getting an MP that barely gave us more than an 'Up or Down' overview of our newly deployed and on-premise email systems - which meant that in a lot of cases, people didn't even bother installing the MP into SCOM at all.

Thankfully, the team over in Redmond that are responsible for working on SCOM management packs listened to feedback from customers and the community and put their resources together to come up with this all new and improved MP.

In a world where we're being told that hybrid-cloud is the way to go, it didn't make sense for customers that were deploying hybrid email scenarios (Office365 for some off-prem and Exchange Server 2013 for on-prem) to not have a fully centralized monitoring solution for them. This new MP thankfully should ensure that Exchange and SCOM admins alike will want to get this deployed and managed inside their SCOM deployments now.

Here's some screenshots of the new Exchange Server 2013 MP in action:

Organization Diagram

Organization Summary (using some of the new SCOM Dashboard Widgets)

Server Summary

Like what you see? If so, then you can download the new MP either for your lab environments through the built-in catalog (shown here)

For your production environments, download the MP directly from this link -

Note: I always recommend to only use the built-in catalog option if you want to quickly deploy your MP's into a lab as you don't get easy access to the MP guide when using the direct download link option. As is the case with all SCOM management packs, it's crucial that you read the MP guide from front to back (RTFM!) to ensure you understand everything that the MP monitors out of the box and how to get any discoveries turned on or off.

You can get more info on this new MP from some of my fellow MVP's here and here or you can check out the official announcement here.

Finally, a huge well done should be given to the MP team led by Daniel Savage that got this MP updated and released - I can see a lot of deployments putting this into production now - thanks!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

System Center Universe Europe 2014 Presentations Now Live on!

The great team over at System Center Universe (SCU) Europe have just announced the availability of all the presentations that were delivered over the three day event last month up on Microsoft's

I presented two sessions at the event on IP address management with Windows Server 2012 R2 and Application Performance Monitoring (APM) across your private and public clouds. Here's the links to both my presentations:

Stefan Roth has listed all sixty presentations on his blog here and for quick access to the ones you want, I've copied them all below too (you should still check out Stefan's blog for loads more cool Cloud OS info though!):

  1. Advanced Orchestrator Runbook Authoring and Management
  2. Author your own custom gallery item and deploy VM roles in Windows Azure Pack
  3. Building a Real self-service platform with SCSM, SMA PowerShell Workflows
  4. Building solid business continuity plans using System Center, Windows Server and Azure
  5. Compliance Management – the new orange in Client Management
  6. Configuration Manager 2012 R2 – a site review
  7. Creating awesome System Center Reports with PowerBI and PowerView
  8. Customer requirements first – Service Manager Customizations without limits
  9. Data Deduplication in depth
  10. Deploy the Microsoft Cloud OS in high available
  11. Deploy Windows Azure Pack across sites
  12. Disaster Recovery in a service provider cloud
  13. Disaster Recovery with Azure Site Recovery
  14. Enterprise Management Solution (EMS) – the full story
  15. How to build a service provider cloud
  16. How to deliver BaaS, RaaS and DRaaS in a modern datacenter using System Center & Azure
  17. Hybrid Cloud DevOps with APM
  18. Identity Management for Hybrid IT with Windows Azure and Windows Server 2012 R2
  19. Integrating the System Center components – your path to the galaxy
  20. Leaving the dark ages – Migrating from Configuration Manager 2007 to 2012 R2
  21. Manage your Azure through Service Manager and SMA
  22. Managing your IP Addresses the Easy Way with IPAM
  23. Microsoft Hybrid Cloud – Manage Azure with Microsoft System Center
  24. Microsoft Mobile Device Management from A to Z
  25. Multi-factor authentication for your clouds
  26. My top ten things in Windows Server 2012 R2 that will make your life easier
  27. OMI and DAL – Understanding the big picture
  28. OpsMgr Dashboards – new widgets and possibilities
  29. Optimize Azure Virtual Machines for performance and availability
  30. PowerShell’s Desired State Configuration – Resource authoring
  31. PowerShell’s Desired State Configuration – Notes from the field
  32. Self-service software provisioning with SCSM, SCORCH and SCCM
  33. Send your monitoring probes deep into unexplored space
  34. Service Management Automation – Introduction
  35. Service Management Automation (SMA) deep dive
  36. Service Manager – Performance and Scalability best practices
  37. Show me the reporting money with System Center
  38. Software Defined Networking – Comparison of different solutions
  39. Speed Lab – Deploy a Microsoft System Center 2012 R2 environment
  40. Sponsor Session OPSLOGIX & ITNETX – Conference Closing Note
  41. Sponsored Session BLUESTRIPE SOFTWARE – Using System Center and BlueStripe for dynamic application management across Azure and datacenter business applications
  42. Sponsored Session CASED DIMENSIONS – How to make Service Manager enterprise
  43. Sponsored Session CIRESON – Worldwide First – Unveiling Cireson Portal v3
  44. Sponsored Session CISCO – a Unified Data Center – Best integration for Microsoft Environments
  45. Sponsored Session COMTRADE – Deliver Citrix desktop virtualization confidently with Operations Manager
  46. Sponsored Session DERDACK – Never miss a critical IT incident again. Resolve IT incidents on-the-go. On-call duty redefined
  47. Sponsored Session MATRIX42 – Web Console for SCCM – easiness and delegation
  48. Sponsored Session NUTANIX – Automating Your Datacenter – Web-Scale Style
  49. Sponsored Session STEFFEN INFORMATIK – SCOM Manager
  50. Sponsored Session SYLIANCE IT SERVICES – Customizing System Center – Things you’ve never seen before!
  51. Sponsored Session VEEAM – Rock your Microsoft datacenter with Veeam
  52. Storage Spaces – Scale-out file server deep dive
  53. System Center Orchestrator – Runbook Design 101
  54. Unified Device Management – It’s all about the experience
  55. Upgrading to Configuration Manager 2012 R2
  56. VMware to Hyper-V Migration
  57. Welcome Note and Keynote Going beyond the borders – prepare yourself for the future!
  58. Windows Apps in the Cloud – Azure RemoteApp
  59. Windows Azure Pack – Usage Metering & Reporting Troubleshooting Guide
  60. Windows Azure Pack usage metering
So, between these sessions and the upcoming TechEd Europe ones that should be available from next week, I think I'll have enough to download to keep me occupied on the plane journey over and back to Seattle when I head to the MVP Summit in a couple of weeks!


Friday, October 17, 2014

System Center Advisor Just Got Even Better!

When I'm working with customers delivering System Center projects, a key component of those engagements always revolves around visualizing the data that we gather through the various products in the suite.

Unless you've been living under a rock for the past few months, you should have noticed the buzz that's starting to build around the new System Center Advisor platform - which is currently available as a limited public preview here.

Even though Advisor is in preview, we've deployed it for a few customers when we wanted to super-charge SCOM 2012 R2 and get an extra edge on best practices and recommendations around some new (or even problematic) IT services that they were monitoring and it hasn't disappointed!

Anyway, similar to the speed at which the Microsoft Azure team are releasing updates to their platform, the SC Advisor team are doing their own hard work to make it better and better each week.

An example of this is yesterday's announcement by Joseph Chan that now empowers Advisor users to create their own custom dashboards and visualizations on-the-fly.

Here's an example of a custom dashboard that you can create yourself...

These new dashboards can be easily configured by clicking on the 'My Dashboard' option in the right-hand shortcut bar as shown here...

Pretty easy huh?

So, if you want to get started with these new visualizations today, then first have a quick read over Joseph's full post from the link below, then you should have everything you need to know to enhance your monitoring solutions even more than before!


Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Awarded Microsoft MVP 2014 for Cloud and Datacenter Management!

I've just seen 'the email' that all MVP's anticipate every 12 months - which is when their existing MVP is up for renewal.

I'd nearly forgotten that today was my own renewal day as I was busy delivering some webinars on DevOps to the community.

Thanks to all my friends and colleagues that I've worked with and shared knowledge on CloudOS with over the last year - it's great to see the 'Number of MVP Awards' counter on my profile go up by one each year!

I'll be at the MVP Summit in November and if you've been renewed or are a first time MVP awardee, then we might catch up over there for a beer! For now though, I'll just bask in my own glory for an hour or so!