Sunday, May 27, 2012

System Center SQL Collation Requirements

I don't normally like posting about other people's blog posts but I felt this one is important enough to bend the rules a little for.

When installing any System Center product in your environment, you will need to install it's database(s) into an instance of SQL. One of the main reasons that I've come across in the past for dysfunctional System Center deployments - particularly SCOM and SCCM - is attributed to an incorrect SQL collation setting being specified during installation.

When deploying System Center and when using the English language within your Operating System, you will nearly always want to use the SQL_Latin1_General_CP1_CI_AS collation setting.

I use the word 'nearly' in the above sentence because after reading an excellent post yesterday from Microsoft's Travis Wright, he explains how Microsoft are starting to move away from this once 'De Facto' standard of SQL collation due to issues around search and data retrieval within the new System Center Service Manager product.

Travis also posts a list of the other SQL collation settings that are applicable when not using the English language.

The link to his excellent post is below:

Even though all of System Center 2012 products have the recommended SQL collation configuration built into their Pre-Requisite checks, I'd suggest bookmarking this post for future reference as it can save you or someone else a LOT of time in the future!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Community Power!

The last few months have been real busy for me with the release of System Center 2012, attending MMS, writing a book and working between all of the different System Center 2012 project deployments that we're involved in. Not to mention trying to make some quality time to spend with the family!

In fact, the last year has been pretty much the same story with everything that has gone on and I find myself never having the time to study for and sit the certification exams that I set myself targets for. Nor have I had anywhere near the free time that I would like to have so I can ramp up my skills on the likes of Orchestrator and Service Manager.

Still, when new technologies come to market or unusual fixes and workarounds are made public for the products that I deal with on a daily basis, I always seem to be able to quickly find the information I need to enable me to do my job. This is all thanks to the huge amount of community resources that are available to us all every day. It doesn't matter whether your preference is for System Center, Hyper-V, Exchange or Linux - there's always going to be specialists in the relevant disciplines from across the world who love to share their knowledge and experiences with their respective online and local technology communities. These community experts share their information through blogs, central community based websites, forums, Twitter and even by presenting at local user groups and events. Best of all - it's shared completely free!

It's with the latter in mind that this week allowed me the opportunity through expert local community resources to attend some excellent sessions on the upcoming Windows Server 2012 and newly released SQL 2012 technologies. Apart from the fantastic technical content on offer, the best part was, the events were completely free!

Windows Server 2012

Yesterday I attended the Windows Server 2012 Rocks event in Microsoft Ireland which was presented by Alex Juschin (RDP MVP) and Aidan Finn (Hyper-V MVP). Although this was never going to be a deep dive Level 400 type session (you'd never fit all that info into 4 hours!), it was perfect to get an overall understanding with some really cool demo's of the new features around managebility, remote access and virtualization that comes out of the box with this release.

Although the Irish Windows Server 2012 Rocks events have now finished, this event is taking place all over the world and you can check out the official site from the link below to see if there's a presentation on in your locality in the coming month:

I left there yesterday with a much better understanding of what we can now do with Windows Server and Hyper-V and more importantly for me, how my future System Center deployments will benefit from all of the new game-changing features. Did I mention that all this is for free?

SQL Server 2012

If the Windows Server 2012 event was more for me to brush up on my already pretty good Hyper-V and Server O/S knowledge, then the SQL 2012 Always On Deep Dive event that I've just attended tonight in Microsoft Ireland was purely to help me on the long road to improving my SQL 'Kung Fu' -which by the way, just about get's me out of trouble when I need it to!

I realised a long time ago that no matter how good you are at System Center, if you don't know SQL, then you're missing a trick and it's something that is a MUST for anyone deploying System Center 2012. Of course I've earmarked the SQL MCITP exams as ones to sit and pass, but I hardly ever can find the time these days to commit to studying for them!

Step forward another community resource in Ireland and that's the SQL User Group run by Niall Flanagan and Bob Duffy. The session this evening was presented by Bob Duffy who's been working on databases since I was still in school! He's an SQL Ranger and also an SSAS Maestro and definitely someone who knows what they're talking about when it comes to databases!

The session on SQL 2012 Always On was excellent and the demo's backed up seamlessly what Bob was presenting on and to top it all off, we all got our fair share of pizza's and refreshments. Once again, did I mention that this was all free?

The point I'm trying to make I suppose, is that, although as IT Pro's we might get caught up with all of the new technologies being released and the pressure of trying to juggle any spare time we have to get to know and understand them, it doesn't have to cost a load of money on instructer-led training or expensive books - we're in a recession right - to get the knowledge you need to become proficient.

Instead, if sometimes, you're prepared to give up a small amount of your own time, then take a look around the Internet and pay attention to your local IT community user groups, you can get expert technical advice from some of the best in the world, right on your doorstep and all for FREE!!

That's what I call Community Power!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

SCOM 2007 R2 (OpsMgr) - Cumulative Update Rollup 6 (CU6) - Available Now

Microsoft has just released their latest cumulative update for SCOM 2007 R2 - CU6. This update hotfix comes with a number of fixes including some I've had in the past in relation to reports failing on Windows 7 and the reporting pane not opening from the console sometimes too.

It also brings some new feature set additions for Cross Platform monitoring including:
  • Support for IBM AIX 7.1 (POWER)
  • Support for Oracle Solaris 11 (x86 and SPARC)

An overview of the fixes and issues that this rollup resolves are below:

Cumulative Update 6 for Operations Manager 2007 R2 resolves the following issues:
  • RMS promotion fails if NetworkName and PrincipalNames are not in sync for agents.
  • UI is limited to only 100 MB for the Memory Usage field in the wizard.
  • Additional OIDs in auth certificate are not processed correctly.
  • AEM creates duplicate computer objects in OpsMgr based on Agents NetBIOS name.
  • Cannot open reporting pane on OpsMgr 2007 R2 remote console.
  • Cannot view schedule for scheduled report.
  • ManagementServerConfigTool with the option "promoterms" fails because it stops polling the SDK Service.
  • OpsMgr reports are failing on Windows 7 with the error: "Cannot initialize report."
  • ACS events have "n/a" as their category in the ACS database.
  • Watch agentless monitoring listener to detect failure to respond.
  • SCOM SDK memory leak on cryptography keys and cryptography contexts.
  • After you click Edit Schedule, a message box appears, and you cannot save the change value.
  • Audit events can be lost when the AdtServer process crashes.
Cumulative Update 6 for Operations Manager 2007 R2 resolves the following cross-platform issues:
  • The installation process for the IBM AIX 6.1 agent incorrectly checks for AIX 5.3 packages.
  • After a system restart, the OpsMgr agent for Solaris may start to run before local file systems are mounted.
  • On Red Hat Linux version 4 and SUSE Linux version 9, LVM disks are not discovered and cannot be monitored.
  • The OpsMgr agent for AIX does not report the arguments for monitored processes.
  • When Microsoft security update MS12-006 is installed on an OpsMgr management server, that management server can no longer communicate with the OpsMgr agent on any Linux or UNIX server.
  • On HP-UX, OpsMgr cannot discover and monitor a logical volume that is composed of more than 127 physical volumes.

You can download the CU6 for SCOM 2007 R2 from the link below:

Friday, May 11, 2012

Beta Guide: Managing and Operating a Microsoft Private Cloud with MOF Application

After spending the last few months involved in writing a book that included a chapter on Systems Management with the Microsoft Operations Framework and Private Cloud components, it's typical that when I finish the writing process that Microsoft have just announced the release of the 'Managing and Operating a Microsoft Private Cloud-How to Apply the Microsoft Operations Framework (MOF) Beta' guide that covers most of what I was trying to research!

The guide is available on the Microsoft Connect site and you will need to click on the link below to register (if you aren't already registered) and then download the guide:

The following is an excerpt from the Overview section of the guide to give you a feel for what's contained in it:


This guide describes how to manage and operate a Microsoft private cloud using the service management processes of the Microsoft® Operations Framework (MOF). MOF is a framework that helps IT organizations plan, create, operate, and support IT services that deliver expected business value at an acceptable level of risk.

The guide assumes an organization has already built an infrastructure-as-a-service private cloud environment based on one of Microsoft’s three private cloud options, using the conceptual architecture and technical components that are recommended. More information about those options can be found in the “Microsoft Private Cloud” section of this guide.

The guide applies MOF’s IT service management principles to that conceptual architecture and technology stack. However, the guide’s approach and principles can be applied to any private cloud, regardless of the technology used, with the understanding that the specific technical references will not be relevant.

If you have deployed System Center 2012 or are planning on implementing it over the coming months, then this guide is essential reading before you deploy to get you in the correct frame of mind when designing your ITSM processes.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

SCOM 2012 - Deploying Cumulative Update Rollup 1 (CU1) Hotfix

With the recent RTM of SCOM 2012, Microsoft have just announced the release of Cumulative Update Rollup 1 (CU1). Unlike previous Cumulative Rollups for SCOM 2007 R2 which were over 1GB in size, thankfully this one is only 74MB!

Edit July 2012: This update has now been replaced with Cumulative Update 2 (UR2). Check out my post on it's deployment here:

SCOM 2012 - Deploying Cumulative Update Rollup 2 (CU2) Hotfix

The process to deploy the update is quite simple and this time there is no need to run any SQL queries against the SCOM databases as part of the update - as was the case with the SCOM 2007 R2 CU's. Some of the information below is taken directly from kb 2686249 on the Microsoft Support website.

Note: As with all updates, it goes without saying that you should first make a full backup of your SCOM 2012 environment before proceeding with these steps.

The supported installation order of CU1 is as follows:

Server Infrastructure Deployment Order Overview:
  • Management server or servers

  • Gateway servers

  • Reporting servers

  • Web console server role computer

  • Operations console role computers

Note: If Connected MG/Tiering is enabled, the top tier should be patched first.

Update Management Packs Overview:

  • Manually import CU1 management packs
Agent Deployment Overview:

  • Apply the agent update to manually installed agents, or push installation from the Pending view in the Operations console.

Note: This update rollup can be installed on agents either before or after server infrastructure.


Download CU1 to a location on your SCOM 2012 Management Server from the link below:

Update Rollup 1 for System Center 2012 - Operations Manager

Right mouse click on the downloaded package and choose 'Run As Administrator' to begin the extraction of files

Click Yes to accept the licence

Choose a location to extract the files to (this can be a shared network folder if needs be), then click OK twice to finish the extraction

You should now see the following files extracted to the chosen folder

Server Infrastructure

Now you need to apply the relevant .MSP package to your computers depending on the architecture (AMD64 or i386) and the role each one has in your SCOM environment (Server, Console, Web Console, Reporting, Gateway or Agent)

On servers that have User Account Control (UAC) enabled, be sure to run these updates from an elevated command prompt as you will most likely receive 'Access Denied' errors when running direct from the GUI.

The server I'm installing this to is a single SCOM 2012 Management Server with the Console and Web Console roles deployed so in this instance, I have to install three packages - KB2674695-AMD64-Server, KB2674695-AMD64-Console, KB2674695-AMD64-WebConsole.

Edit: Thanks to my good man Steve Beaumont for pointing out that I forgot to mention that when deploying the KB2674695-AMD64-WebConsole update to your Web Console server, a line within the 'web.config' file needs to be modified to allow the fixes within the update to be applied - nice one Steve, can't let the standards slip at all these days :)

The following is taken directly from the KB:

Web console fixes will work after adding the following line to the %windir%\Microsoft.NET\Framework64\v2.0.50727\CONFIG\web.config file:

<machineKey validationKey="AutoGenerate,IsolateApps"
decryptionKey="AutoGenerate,IsolateApps" validation="3DES" decryption="3DES"/>

The line should be added under <system.web>, as described in the following article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:

911722 You may receive an error message when you access ASP.NET Web pages that have ViewState enabled after you upgrade from ASP.NET 1.1 to ASP.NET 2.0

In my environment, I also need to deploy the KB2674695-AMD64-Reporting package to my SQL Reporting Services (SSRS) server and the KB2674695-AMD64-Gateway to my SCOM 2012 Gateway server.

To install a package, just right mouse click on it and then choose Apply from the menu as below

You will see a window similar to the one below open up and run through some processes before automatically closing without any notification or reference to the process being completed.

Once you have updated your server, browse to the SCOM 2012 installation folder - normally located at C:\Program Files\System Center Operations Manager 2012\Server. Once here, add a column view for 'File Version' and then sort the column by file version and you should see four files with a new version level of 7.0.8560.1021 as the screen below shows

If you don't see the product version updated as above to your files, then your server hasn't updated properly and you will need to revisit the installation to see if you've missed something.

Thanks to Shaun Loughton for pointing these updated file names out in his comment below!

Once you are happy that your first SCOM 2012 Management Server has been updated, then you can then move onto installing the new management packs that come with the CU1 hotfix.

Note: You only need to import the updated management packs once. You will not have to carry out this process for every SCOM server role that you upgrade.

To do this, simply open up the SCOM Console and click on the Administration button in the wunderbar from the bottom left hand side of the screen. From there, expand the Administration view, right mouse click on Management Packs and then select Import Management Packs from the resultant menu

From the Import Management Packs window, click on the Add button, choose the Add From Disk option and then click on No when prompted to go online to download any dependencies

You now need to browse to the location that you expanded the CU1 file into previously and you should see three management pack files (.MP). Select all three files and click on the Open button

Click on Yes from the security warning to confirm you are happy to continue

Once the import is completed, you should see a successful status beside all three management packs confirming you have imported them without issue

Once you have upgraded the first SCOM 2012 Management Server and imported the updated management packs into your environment, you then need to repeat the .MSP installation process on all of your other SCOM 2012 server roles as well

Agent Infrastructure

Although the agent installation upgrade can be carried out at any time, I prefer to wait until I have upgraded my SCOM 2012 server infrastructure first before working on the agents.

To upgrade the agents using the SCOM 2012 Console, simply browse to the Administration tab again in the wunderbar, expand the Administration view, expand Device Management and then click on the Pending Management view to see all of the agents awaiting upgrade. Highlight the ones you want to upgrade, then click on the Approve link from the Tasks pane on the right hand side to update all of your push based agents

For any agents that have been manually installed, then you will manually need to copy the .MSP file for the agent to each server and manually carry out each upgrade.

Unix/Linux Infrastructure

Once you have upgraded your Windows based servers and agents, all that's left to do now is to upgrade any Unix/Linux agents that you have in your environment. The following is taken directly from KB2686249:

Update Rollup 1 for System Center 2012 Operations Manager contains new agents and management packs for all supported Linux and UNIX operating systems. Therefore, to fully install Update Rollup 1, follow these steps to make sure that your monitoring of UNIX and Linux computers is up to date.

Download and then install the updated management packs from the following Microsoft website:

Import the updated management pack for each version of Linux or UNIX that you are monitoring in your environment.

Use the Update-SCXAgent Windows PowerShell cmdlet or the UNIX/Linux Agent Upgrade Wizard in the Administration pane of the Operations Console to upgrade each agent to the latest version.

Note:The Management Pack Bundle files for each UNIX and Linux operating system version contain the management pack and agent files. It may take several minutes after importing the Management Pack Bundle for the agent files to become available for agent upgrades

For each UNIX or Linux Management Pack Bundle that is imported, the update installs new UNIX and Linux agents to the following folder:

Program Files\System Center 2012\Operations Manager\Server\AgentManagement\UnixAgents\DownloadedKits

The updated agents have file names that use the following format and a version number of 214:
Scx-1.3.0-214-server type.server version.architecture.package type

The placeholder server type represents the name of the UNIX or Linux server product.
The placeholder server version represents the version number of the server type.
The placeholder architecture represents the processor architecture of the destination computer.
The placeholder package type represents the kind of installation file.

For example, the following is the file name format for the agent for SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 10 (x86):


The agents that are included with the original release of System Center 2012 Operations Manager have a version number of 204. These files are not removed during installation. These files are as follows:


That completes the deployment of SCOM 2012 Cumulative Update Rollup 1 (CU1) into your environment.

Newly Released System Center 2012 Downloads

We're only a week into the month of May and Microsoft have been busy releasing a whole raft of updates, technical documentation and Infrastructure Planning Design (IPD) guides for System Center 2012. The links below contain all of the releases for May to keep you up to date on what's been happening:

System Center 2012 – Service Manager Component Add-ons and Extensions

Application Approval Workflow

Technical Documentation Download for System Center 2012 - Service Manager

Technical Documentation Download for System Center 2012 – App Controller

System Center Monitoring Pack for System Center 2012 - Virtual Machine Manager

Update Rollup 1 for System Center 2012 - Operations Manager

System Center Monitoring Pack for UNIX and Linux Operating Systems

Infrastructure Planning and Design Guides (Includes the new Service Manager 2012 IPD)

Technical Documentation Download for System Center 2012 – Data Protection Manager

If you are serious about deploying System Center 2012 into your environment, then I suggest you download all of the documentation and updates from these links and get reading and installing as soon as possible!

Along with some great deep-dive information to be gleaned from the documentation, there are some additional feature set additions that some of these downloads bring such as Oracle Solaris 11 support in Operations Manager within the first Update Rollup 1.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

SCOM 2012 - Installing the SCOrch 2012 Management Pack

Following on from my previous post on Installing the SCVMM 2012 Update Rollup 1 Management Pack into SCOM, this post will detail the steps required to install and configure the System Center 2012 Orchestrator (SCOrch) Management Pack that will enable you to monitor the health and availability of the SCOrch servers that deliver automation to your environment.

Although some people may not think this is a function that they really care about, the focus of System Center 2012 is all about the automation and self-service of your environment and if your main automation server isn't working as expected, then it's defintiely something that you want to know about!

For this post, it is presumed that you have already installed System Center 2012 Orchestrator and that you have deployed the SCOM 2012 agent to your SCorch servers. If you haven't yet installed SCOrch, then check out this post I wrote last year on what to do:

Installing System Center Orchestrator 2012

To begin, download the 'System Center Monitoring Pack for System Center 2012 - Orchestrator' from the link below (as always, make sure to also download the associated MP guide and read it from front to back first before deploying to get a good understanding of what's required):

The following Pre-Requisites must be in place before you deploy the management pack:

  • The Windows Server 2008 Internet Information Services 7 Management Pack (version 6.0.6658 or later) must be imported to the management group prior to importing the Monitoring Pack for System Center 2012 - Orchestrator.

  • Windows PowerShell is required on Orchestrator Management Servers and Runbook servers.

Once you've the MP downloaded to a location on your SCOM 2012 Management Server, browse to the location and run the SC2012OrchestratorMP.EXE file to open up the licence agreement screen and click Yes to continue.

From the window below, choose a location to extract the MP files to,then click OK

Now open up the SCOM Console, click on the Administration button from the Wunderbar down the bottom left hand side of the screen, expand Administration\Device Management, right mouse click on Management Packs and then choose the Import Management Packs option from the resulting menu as below

From the Import Management Packs window, click on the Add button and choose the Add from disk option. Select No from the window that asks if you want to go online to search for dependencies

Now browse to the location on your disk that you extracted the SCOrch management pack files to from earlier, select the two .MP files and then click Open

Confirm that both management pack files are ready for import as in the screen below and click on the Install button to continue

Once the management pack files have been imported successfully, you will see the screen below with a status of Imported for each one. Click on the Close button to exit the window.

Once the management pack has been imported, click on the Monitoring button in the Wunderbar on the bottom left hand side of the SCOM Console. Once in the Monitoring window, you should now see a new folder called System Center Orchestrator that represents the new management pack you've just installed. If you expand this folder and click on the Components view, you should see a nice diagram view of your System Center 2012 Orchestrator configuration as the screen below shows

This completes the installation of the SCOrch 2012 management pack.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

SCOM 2012 - Installing the SCVMM 2012 Update Rollup 1 Management Pack

Recently, the System Center 2012 Virtual Machine Manager (SCVMM) Update Rollup 1 Management Pack for System Center 2012 Operations Manager was released and as there are a number of steps that you need to follow to get it working and your SCVMM servers discovered, I thought I'd do up a blog post to cover everything that's needed.

Update 6th June 2012: I've recently ran into some issues when deploying this Update Rollup MP and thought I'd add in some pointers. If you have already integrated your SCVMM 2012 setup with your SCOM environment, then the Management Pack versions in there will be of a lower version than the new ones contained in the Update Rollup 1 Management Pack. It's because of this that you will need to make a change to a registry key and then re-import/update the existing old MP's back into SCOM.

For all this information in detail, firstly, make sure you download the 'OpsMgr_MP_VMM.doc' guide that is provided in the link below and once downloaded, ensure you read thoroughly the 'Mandatory Configuration' and 'Updates to this Monitoring Pack' sections.

Also, I found the steps in the technet link below much more precise than the information that is scattered in the MP guide so take a look at that too from here:

First up, I'll presume that you've already installed SCOM 2012 and deployed the SCOM agent to the SCVMM 2012 server. Next, you will need to download the SCVMM 2012 Update Rollup 1 Management Pack from the following link:

Although this post references SCOM 2012, this process and management pack will work fine with SCOM 2007 as well. The following pre-requisites need to be in place though before the management pack installation:

System requirements

Supported operating systems: Windows Server 2008, Windows Server 2008 R2, Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1, Windows Server 2008 Service Pack 2

The Operations Manager configuration must meet the following requirements:

The VMM monitoring pack requires System Center Operations Manager 2007 with Service Pack 1 (SP1), System Center Operations Manager 2007 R2, or System Center 2012 - Operations Manager.

The virtual environment managed by a management server must be monitored by a single management group in Operations Manager. However, an Operations Manager management group can monitor multiple VMM instances.

The VMM monitoring pack does not support agentless management of hosts and virtual machines in Operations Manager.

The following requirements must be met to run this monitoring pack:
  • PowerShell 2.0 must be installed on all Operations Manager management servers.
  • Operations console must be installed on the VMM management server. Note:The version must match the version of Operations Manager.
  • The management server must have the following management packs installed:
  • Windows Server Internet Information Services 2003
  • Windows Server 2008 Internet Information Services 7
  • Windows Server Internet Information Services Library
  • SQL Server Core Library
Once all of the pre-requisites are in place, you can go ahead and run the installer for the management pack that you downloaded earlier.

From the first screen, accept the license agreement, then click Next

Choose the installation location and then click Next

Confirm the installation, then click Install

Once the installation has completed we now need to import the extracted management packs into SCOM. To do this go back to your SCOM 2012 console, click on the Administration button of the Wunderbar, expand Administration\Device Management, right mouse click on Management Packs and choose the Import Management Packs option from the resulting menu

From the Import Management Packs window, click on the Add button and then choose the Add From Disk option (click No when prompted to go online to check for dependencies)

Browse to the location that specified earlier when running the MP installer (the default location is C:\Program Files (x86)\System Center Management Packs\System Center 2012 Virtual Machine Manager Update Rollup 1 MP) and then select all of the management packs as below and click on the Open button to continue

You should now see all of the new SCVMM 2012 management packs listed in the window and ready for installation. Click on the Install button now to continue and choose Yes to acknowledge the security message that pops up.

When the import is complete, you should see the screen below showing that all management packs have been imported successfully. Click the Close button to close off the window.

Once you have all of the SCVMM 2012 management packs imported into SCOM, you then need to logon to your SCVMM 2012 server and open up the SCVMM console.

From within the console, click on the Settings button from the wunderbar, then click on System Center Settings from the Settings menu on the left hand side. In the central pane, you should see an entry for Operations Manager Server. Double click on this to continue.

From the Add Operations Manager wizard, click Next on the first screen to move on

At the Connection to Operations Manager window, type your SCOM Management Server name and choose an account with administrative permissions to your SCOM management group. You can create a new Run As Account at this point that will be stored within the SCVMM 2012 security model for future administrative purposes if you wish.

Choose whether or not you want to enable the PRO and Maintenance Mode integration features of the SCVMM 2012 management pack, then click Next to move on

Next up, specify an account that has administrative credentials on the SCVMM server, then click Next to continue

Finally, confirm your settings, and click on the Finish button to begin the integration.

When the integration process has completed, you should see a screen similar to the one below showing a successful operation

Now all that's left to do is to go back to your SCOM server, open the console at the Monitoring tab and expand the Virtual Machine Manager management pack view folder on the left hand side.

Click on the Agent State view, wait a few minutes for the discovery of your newly integrated SCVMM server to complete, and you should then see your SCVMM server's state view similar to the screen below.

If you chose the PRO option when configuring your integration, you can also then expand the PRO folder from the SCOM console Monitoring window and you should see your SCVMM server and any active PRO tips listed too.

That concludes the installation and configuration of the SCVMM 2012 Update Rollup 1 Management Pack into your SCOM environment.