Tuesday, August 28, 2012

SCOM 2012 - Visio Integration Add-In Not Loading

I've come across this issue randomly a couple of times over the past few months and have just had some time tonight to troubleshoot the problem and post it up here.

The issue relates to the Visio add-in for System Center 2012 - Operations Manager (SCOM/OpsMgr 2012) and the fact that in some cases, it simply doesn't load into Visio as it should do.

Typically, in my lab or test environments, if I am configuring theVisio and SharePoint integration of SCOM 2012 using the 'Visio 2010 and SharePoint 2010 Extensions for System Center 2012', I would download the file, unzip it and then run the Visio add-in installer on the computer that was running Visio 2010 Professional or Premium edition.

Generally, this would install without any issues and as soon as I open up Visio, the integration tab for Operations Manager is available. In some instances however, after the Visio add-in installer completed successfully, when I opened up Visio, the add-in wouldn't launch at all.

To troubleshoot, I opened up the Add-Ins tab from the File > Options menu inside Visio as below

When I clicked on the Go button to manage the COM Add-Ins, I was presented with a screen similar to the one below. I could also see from that screen that the Load Behavior was configured to 'Load at Startup', which means that I shouldn't have to do anything for the Add-In to start.

If I clicked on the check box for the add-in and then chose the OK button, the window would simply close with no warning and when I went back into it, I could see that the Load Behavior message had changed to the following:

Load Behavior: Not loaded. A runtime error occurred during the loading of the COM Add-in.

The solution to this problem in the end was actually quite simple. I found that the error tended to only occur when I was installing the add-in onto a server that had Visio installed on it as opposed to a client pc or laptop. In my lab/demo environments, I would normally just deploy Visio onto one of my SCOM management servers and enable the 'Desktop Experience' feature to allow for uploading graphics to SharePoint.

If I tried running the Visio add-in installer from a client pc or laptop, it always worked for me without issue so I went about comparing software prerequisites for the Visio add-in between my laptop and my servers. What I found was that on the server, I was missing the Visual Studio 2010 Tools for Office Runtime (VSTOR)  and this was listed as a requirement in the Visio and SharePoint extensions documentation.

If you have encountered this problem, then all you need to do is to go to the following URL and download the VSTOR package for your architecture (x86 or x64):


Once you have downloaded the tools, run the installer as an administrator and follow these screens to configure

When the tools have finished installing, open up Visio 2010 again and you should now be presented with an option to Install or Don't Install the Visio Add-In for System Center 2012 - Operations Manager. Click Install to continue

After you click Install, you will then be able to see the Operations Manager add-in tab from within you Visio window allowing you to configure integration to your SCOM 2012 management server.

Hopefully someone finds this quick solution helpful!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

SCOM 2012 - The APM Consoles Part 2 - Application Advisor

In Part 1 of this series I walked through the Application Diagnostics console that comes as part of the System Center 2012 Operations Manager (SCOM/OpsMgr 2012) APM feature. This post will deal with the Application Advisor console that also comes bundled as part of APM.

Application Advisor Console Overview

The Application Advisor is a web-based console that comes bundled with over 30 pre-configured reports to help you to analyze event and performance issues over specified periods of time.It gives you transparency of the alerts that are causing you the most trouble, or generating the most noise and will give you a deep insight into a specific application’s overall health. In the words of the OpsMgr APM Product Team, Application Advisor is the tool that allows you to “follow the noise” in your APM environment.


As the primary function of the Application Advisor console is to deliver reports about APM, then it goes without saying that you will need to first have the SCOM Reporting role deployed for it to work. During the Application Advisor install a prerequiste check will kick off to see if you've already installed the SCOM Reporting role and if not, it will warn you that you need to have it installed first. Of course, this also means that you must have SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS) installed too as it's a prerequisite of the SCOM Reporting role.


Similar to the Application Diagnostics console, if you want to launch the Application Advisor, there are several ways to do this. The easiest way is to open up a web browser and then input the URL of the Management Server that you've deployed the Web Console role to while adding /AppAdvisor to the end of it similar to:

Another way to launch the Application Advisor console is to logon to the server that you installed the Web Console to and browse to the built-in Start Menu shortcut at All Programs > Microsoft System Center 2012 > Operations Manager > Application Advisor as shown in the screenshot below

Update Feb 2013: I've made some changes to the required user account permissions below based on an inaccuracy/typo that Microsoft's Tim McFadden (Senior PFE) spotted while reading through this yesterday. Thanks Tim!


Ensure that the user account you are logged in with has the relevant security permissions within SCOM to launch the Application Advisor console and be aware that these permissions are slightly different than what's required for the Application Diagnostics console. Your user account must be a member of the following roles:

  • Operations Manager Application Monitoring Operator Role

  • Operations Manager Report Operator Role 

  • Alternatively, if your user account is a member of the Operations Manager Administrator Role, then you will have access to Application Advisor regardless of membership of the above two groups.

    Using the Application Advisor Reports

    The following process will walk you through running an application report from within the Application Advisor console with some basic options being selected:

    Launch the Application Advisor console using one of the methods described above

    From the Navigation pane on the upper left-hand side, choose the drop-down arrow beside the All Application Groups option and select an application group to scope the report to (if you haven't configured any application groups, then you will only see the 'All' option here)

    Once you've chosen the application group, from the Select Report section you can choose the type of report that you want by simply expanding the Client Side Monitoring, Problem Utilization Analysis and Resource Utilization Analysis links or by clicking on any of the other seven reports. You can hover your mouse pointer over the name of a report to get a description box explaining exactly what the report gives you back.

    Once you've chosen your report, you will be presented with a number of  scoping parameters to define the the report contents. These parameters are as follows:

    • Start Date and End Date - allows you to pick the time range you want the report to contain data from
    • Status - this option relates to alert status and it defaults to New and Reviewed but there are also two other options for Deleted and By Design to choose from
    • Sources - by default, this option selects all of your monitored .NET applications but you can select a specific application to target the report to
    • Computers - allows you to focus on specific computers that are hosting your application
    • Problems - allows you to select All problems or just Critical problems
    Once you've made your selections, click the Apply button to save the configuration and generate your report.

    The screenshot below shows the output of a Problems Distribution Analysis report and in the top left-hand side, you can see that I've highlighted the Actions and Tools buttons as well as some icons just below these menus

    You can easily schedule the report that you’ve just generated by hovering your mouse pointer over the six icons just below the Actions and Tools menus and clicking on the Schedule Report icon to open the Schedule Management Wizard. This wizard allows you to make some changes to your report configuration parameters if required, and will then present you with a dialog box to input your e-mail address and format preferences as shown below

     Note: The e-mail option will only work here if it has been previously configured within SSRS.

    Exploring the Tools Menu

    You can access the Tools menu from any view or report inside Application Advisor and it contains six different tasks to help you administer your APM reporting environment. These tasks are detailed below:
    Options Provides the following event data options:
    • Lifetime period for events with a ‘Deleted’ status (hours)
    • Lifetime period for events with a ‘By Design’ status (hours)
    • You can also check and modify the Application Advisor web address here
    Schedule Wizard
    Enables the creation and modification of report schedules
    Favorites Wizard
    Allows you to save your favorite reports for future use without having to reconfigure them again.
    Remove Application Groups Wizard
    Helps you to delete unused application groups
    Remove Computers Wizard
    Deletes old computers
    Remove Applications Wizard
    Remove old application sources

    That concludes this short series of posts on the SCOM 2012 APM consoles. You can check out some other APM related posts of mine here:

    SCOM 2012 - Configuring Application Performance Monitoring (APM)

    SCOM 2012 - APM CSM vs. GSM and Web Application Monitoring....Confused?

    Hopefully you've found APM interesting and learnt something new about this cool addition to SCOM!

    Thursday, August 16, 2012

    Download the IPD Guide for SCOM 2012 (BETA)

    The new Infrastructure Planning and Design Guide (IPD) for System Center 2012 Operations Manager (SCOM/OpsMgr 2012) is now available for BETA review from the Microsoft Connect Site.

    The IPD guides are invaluable when designing a technology solution for your clients or own internal business and are the first port of call for me anytime I'm carrying out a new type of deployment for our customers.

    I've been waiting for this guide to be made available for a while - notably because I'm co-authoring a book on System Center 2012 Operations Manager and it certainly helps to have the knowledge contained in these guides when working on the architecture and installation chapters!

    The guide is over 40 pages long and deep dives into a design process which gets broken into different steps depending on your requirements and each of these steps are then further complemented with tasks that require actions to help you through the entire process.

    As the guide has just been released as a BETA last night, you will need to access it through the Microsoft Connect site and if you haven't registered here, will need to do so first.

    The benefits of using the Connect site though is that you can make comments and requests on the content of the BETA guide and if enough people make the same requests, then it's possible that the final release of the guide will have your changes included.

    Here's the link to register and download the IPD Guide for System Center 2012 - Operations Manager (BETA)