Monday, December 15, 2014

Another (Equally Cool) Way to Build Your Own SCOM MP Store!

Following on from my recent post about building a SCOM management pack catalog using SharePoint or SharePoint online, Microsoft's Dirk Brinkmann has put together his own solution to help you download, categorize and then store all of your management packs in one handy and automated way.

He's written a three-part blog series using PowerShell and some free scripts written by other SCOM community members and it's definitely worth a read - particularly if you manage environments with multiple management groups (Test/Dev/Production etc.)

Have a read of Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3 of the series before downloading the relevant scripts from the TechNet Gallery from the links below:

A big thanks to Dirk, Tao and the rest of the guys for their work on bringing these solutions to the community!

Enjoy :)

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Building Your Very Own Internal or External SCOM MP Catalog

This is essentially a cross-post to highlight some of the awesome work that my buddy Tao Yang has been working on in his spare time.

Recently and for whatever reason, the official Microsoft Pinpoint Site has been missing some of the more recent releases of SCOM management packs. Now, before people start panicking and complaining that they can't get access to any new MP's for their SCOM environments, you can be safe in the knowledge that the Microsoft MP Wiki is the first place to check for all of the latest and greatest MP releases:

You can also get access to MP's by performing a quick Google (Bing) search for the MP name or by searching the Microsoft Download Center site.

The Microsoft Pinpoint site used to be a one-stop-shop for all your Microsoft (and even some approved third-party vendor) management packs and if nothing else, it was a handy place to go and quickly download what you're looking for.

The On-Premise Solution

As the Pinpoint solution isn't as reliable as it used to be, Tao first started working on his own private 'MP Catalog' for SCOM that leverages the power of Service Management Automation (SMA) and SharePoint 2013 to deliver a fully dynamic and up-to-date list of all available Microsoft MP's that looks something like this.....

Check out Tao's walkthrough on how to get this up and running here.

The Off-Premise Solution

Not content on delivering an internal version of his private catalog, he then got to work on creating a similar solution up in Microsoft Azure using Azure Automation and SharePoint Online as his preferred model.

You can see this second awesome post here.

Whether or not you ever intend on actually deploying your own SCOM MP Catalog onsite or off-prem, what Tao has done shows the automation extensibility that comes with both SMA and Azure Automation. I highly recommend you take a read over both posts as there's some very useful information and scripts that can easily be used or tweaked for different purposes to suit your needs.

Great work Tao and thanks for sharing this content with the community :)

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Cloud Platform Integration Framework (CPIF) for the Modern Datacenter

Microsoft has just released a new download for their Cloud Platform Integration Framework (CPIF) for the Modern Datacenter. The download contains six documents (twelve if you count the fact that each one comes in both PDF and Word format) that delivers integration guidance for onboarding your applications into a Microsoft Cloud Solution.

Here's an overview of CPIF taken from their website:

"CPIF describes how organizations, Microsoft Partners and Solution Integrator's should design and deploy Cloud-targeted workloads utilizing the hybrid cloud platform and management capabilities of Azure, System Center and Windows Server."

Aligning with Microsoft's CloudOS story, the various components of the CPIF have been broken down into the functions shown in this graphic:

Quoting the website again:

"By integrating these functions directly into workloads, “platforms” can be developed which allow for further configuration by tenants to implement extended software services."

The download includes foundation documents for the following CPIF architecture patterns:

  • Azure Search Tier 
  • Multi-Site Data Tier 
  • Offsite Batch Processing Tier 
  • Web Tier 
  • Hybrid Networking
Sound interesting?

If so, then download the CPIF here.

Performance Problems with your SCOM Console? This 'Might' Help....

My good friend Marnix has just blogged a very interesting post about a really slow performing SCOM console issue that he was having at one of his customer sites.

After a lot of searching to try and resolve the issue, he came across some information about editing the default 'Max Degree of Parallelism' setting inside the SQL instance that was hosting the SCOM databases. When he modified this SQL setting, the difference in performance of the SCOM console was HUGE! He even had staff at the customer site come up to him to see what he had changed because the difference in performance was so noticeable!

Now halt for just a second!

Before you rush off and go back to all your slow performing consoles and change the 'Max Degree of Parallelism' setting on every SQL server that your customers run SCOM on, just take note of some interesting points that Marnix and a few other SCOM 'enthusiasts' (i.e. MVP's and Microsoft staff) have been having offline about this topic in the last day or so....

  • Some MVP's modified this setting and encountered performance gains.
  • Other MVP's made the change and saw either no difference, or even a drop in performance of the SCOM console.
  • A very well respected Microsoft employee working in the SCOM space also chipped in with his thoughts and made some interesting observations about how modifying 'Max Degree of Parrallelism' in the same way that each MVP saw gains in their console performance SHOULD NOT make any difference whatsoever!
  • Another point was also made that, modifying this setting 'MIGHT' help with performance when using HyperThreading on VMware with CPU Gang Scheduling.

So, taking all these points into account, my recommendation is to have a good read of Marnix' post here...

Then make your own judgement call on whether or not you modify the setting.

My view on this is that if you're already having bad SCOM console performance issues, then you've got nothing to lose by first bench-marking how long it takes you to open the console and perform certain tasks, then making the change to SQL and comparing the new performance load times with their originals. If you see much of a difference for the better, then you could be on to a winner - if not, then just change the setting back to it's default value of '0' and you're back to where you started with no harm done!

SCOM - Free eBook - Extending Operations Manager Reporting

The team over at Microsoft Press have been busy putting together another free eBook for your System Center reading pleasure. This one is 122 pages of goodness on how to work with and author reports in your SCOM environments.

Here's an introduction to its content:

The System Center Operations Manager data warehouse stores many objects, making it possible to report on performance, availability, configuration, and security. You can use data collected by Operations Manager for issue tracking, awareness, planning, and forecasting, all of which are important factors for maintaining and managing your environment. But understanding what to report on and how to do so is what actually contributes to the stability of your infrastructure.

If you're not using the data you collect about your environment, you're simply wasting space. If you use Operations Manager to monitor your environment, whether your infrastructure or a public, private, or hybrid cloud, this book is a good resource to help you understand the basics of reporting and how to build queries and stored procedures for your reports. It can also help you understand the various elements of Operations Manager management packs that are used when you create reports.

This book assumes that you have a good understanding of Operations Manager and the management pack structure required to create custom reports. It also assumes that you have a good working knowledge of SQL Server and tools like Report Builder, Business Intelligence Development Suite, and SQL Server Data Tools.

The book was authored by George Wallace, Chris Jones, Bill May, Fred Lee, edited by Mitch Tulloch and had contributions from Kevin Holman and Alban Montanera.

If you are in any way serious about delivering deep-level and easy-to-consume reports back to either your own or your customer SCOM deployments, then this book is as good a starting point as any to get you going.

Oh, and did I also mention it's FREE!

Download the book in your electronic format of choice from the Official Microsoft Press Blog here.

If this is something that interests you and you know that you'll have plenty of spare time over the upcoming Xmas holiday period, then why not check out all the other 'FREE' eBooks that MS Press have to offer from the link below: