Thursday, March 28, 2013

OpsMgr 2012 Unleashed Book

I've just arrived home from the commute to work today (still can't believe it's snowing at the end of March!) and found that this had arrived by post for me

As someone who has been working on pretty much nothing else but SCOM/OpsMgr for the past 3 years, the two previous versions of this book - System Center Operations Manager 2007 Unleashed and System Center Operations Manager 2007 R2 Unleashed - played a massive role in helping me understand how to deploy and administer this complex monitoring and management tool.

When I heard that the latest version for SCOM 2012 was available for pre-order months ago, I wasted no time in getting out the credit card and purchasing it in both 'dead-tree' and then kindle formats. This blog post isn't a review of the book in any way, shape or form but simply just some quick observations along with some advice to anyone out there who's working on SCOM.

The book is a massive 1500 pages of front-to-back content that gives you expert tips and advice in every chapter. As someone who has tried their hand at writing a SCOM 2012 book that came close to 700 pages, I can assure you it's no mean feat to put together this amount of good high-level content.

When you check out the members of the authoring team whose efforts combined to bring us this book, it's a "who's who" of the SCOM and System Center world:

Lead Authors

Kerrie Meyler - System Center Cloud and Datacenter MVP
Cameron Fuller - System Center Cloud and Datacenter MVP
John Joyner - System Center Cloud and Datacenter MVP


Pete Zerger - System Center Cloud and Datacenter MVP
Jonathan Almquist -
Alex Fedotyev -
Scott Moss - System Center Cloud and Datacenter MVP
Oskar Landman - System Center Cloud and Datacenter MVP
Marnix Wolf - System Center Cloud and Datacenter MVP

Technical Editor

Kevin Holman - Microsoft TSP (owner of probably the best SCOM blog on the internet!)

So with this kind of SCOM authoring firepower bursting out of the 1500 pages, I don't even need to read through this book to tell you that it's a quality resource that you absolutely have to add to your library if you're serious about SCOM.

Side Note (and slight groupie story...)

I've just noticed that a link to one of my posts on SCOM 2012 APM got a mention and plug in the "General Resources" section of the OpsMgr 2012 Unleashed book and wanted to say a huge and sincere THANK YOU to whoever it was from the writing team above that took the time to read over my post and feel it worthy of a mention. It wasn't that long ago that I attended MMS 2011 and won a signed copy of the OpsMgr 2007 R2 Unleashed book from Cameron Fuller whilst attending (what still is so far for me) the most fun and interesting SCOM presentation I've ever seen. Reading that book on the plane back to Dublin, I never thought a few years later I'd have a mention in it's successor and it's an honour to be included.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

New MSFT Blog To Help Keep Your Feet On the Ground and Head In The Clouds

For the last few years everyone has been talking about 'the cloud' and what it means for their businesses. Depending on where you look or who you talk to, you may well get A LOT of different versions of what exactly 'the cloud' is.

As I work primarily in the Microsoft space, I'm really only concerned about what 'the cloud' means from their perspective and I just had to write up this blog post to tell people about a new Microsoft blog called 'In The Cloud'. This blog is headed up by non other than Microsoft's Corporate VP Brad Anderson and it's aim is to help us all understand what the cloud means from the Microsoft side and where they're going to take us with this journey.

The blog has just been launched in the last couple of weeks and already Brad has some interesting posts up there that are worth taking a look over as a taste of what's to come. I'd expect as we get closer to MMS 2013 and TechEd 2013 that there will be a plethora of great information added and if Brad and his team maintain the content here, it could well become one of the most popular blogs around on MSFT Cloud.

Along with the new blog, Brad has taken the plunge and (very bravely) joined Twitter to help get his views across and information out there. If you're on Twitter and interested in Microsoft cloud technologies, then this is an account that you'll definitely want to follow and if you're not on Twitter, then I'd recommend adding the RSS feed for the blog to your Inbox to keep right up to date.

Check out the blog and Twitter account from these links:

 'In The Cloud' (Blog)

@InTheCloudMSFT (Twitter)

Thanks to Brad and the rest of the System Center and Windows Server team for getting us access to these new resources!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Guest Blogger on TechNet UK - 10 Top Tips to Make OpsMgr 2012 Rock!

Recently, I was asked to create some content for a guest blogger slot on Microsoft's TechNet UK site and yesterday saw the post I wrote on some tips and best practice recommendations go live.

If you want to learn more and maybe pick up a few useful pointers to help you with your SCOM / OpsMgr 2012 deployments, then check out my post from the link below:

 10 Top Tips to Make OpsMgr 2012 Rock!

Enjoy :)

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

SCOM - Official System Center MP Catalog Wiki

A couple of years ago I created a blog post with a link to an 'Unofficial System Center Management Pack Catlog' that a member of the community had put together as a central location to get access to all the download links for non-Microsoft developed management packs. This post proved pretty popular and I still refer to it a lot myself when looking for a particular MP on a deployment.

You can check out this post here:  'Unofficial System Center MP Catalog'

In the last week or so, Microsoft's 'MP Supremo' - Daniel Savage created a new Wiki page that lists all of the existing and soon to be released Microsoft Management Packs along with each and every one of the download links to get quick access to them.

And before anyone mentions it, I know we have the Pinpoint Site that also has a central location for these MP's, but if we as members of the System Center community can ensure that this Wiki is maintained and the links kept up-to-date, then this can be the 'de facto' location for us to get quick access to these management packs.

The new Wiki can be accessed from this link: 'Microsoft Management Packs'

Once again, well done to Microsoft and in particular Daniel and his team for putting the effort into the management pack experience and ensuring that all our queries and issues with them are getting resolved. This type of initiative can only add to the overall value of System Center 2012 in the long run.

**Update April 2015**
I've just come across another useful blog post on that lists all management packs for both SCOM and SCSM and comes with a really handy MP Elements table and download link for each one.

Check the library out here -

Monday, March 4, 2013

SCOM - Essential Community MPs, Scripts & Tools to Enhance Your Deployments

It's well known that System Center Operations Manager (SCOM/OpsMgr) is a complex product that can take a long time to master and be comfortable with. Without the right SCOM tools and resources to work with, then it can sometimes be like trying to solve a Rubik's Cube in the dark!

If you're responsible for delivering and managing SCOM either in-house or to your customers, you will also then know that just about every SCOM deployment is going to be different from the last one. The reason for this is that not every environment will require the same management packs and type of monitoring. For me though, there are a few management packs and scripts that I will nearly always install to every SCOM deployment and I thought it's about time that I shared them.

This post will describe some of my favourite free community management packs (some old and some new) and scripts that I think are essential to the majority of SCOM deployments out there. Although not an absolute and definitive list of all of the excellent community resources that are available, I will list the ones here that I deploy (or plan to deploy if it's a newly released MP) on a regular basis.

Management and Maintenance Tasks

These management packs will add a number of really useful maintenance and management tasks to the Tasks action pane inside the SCOM Operations Console.

OpsMgr Self Maintenance Management Pack (by Tao Yang)

SCOM Task Collection MP (by Stefan Roth)

Upgrading or Migrating to SCOM 2012

This is an excellent MP that will essentially allow you to modify the SCOM Management Group (MG) name on your multi-homed agents. Ideal for when you are migrating from SCOM 2007 to SCOM 2012 and want to remove the old MG name when the new environment is ready.

 SCOM 2012 Extended Agent Info (by José Fehse)

Backing Up SCOM 2012

Tuning and customizing your SCOM environment is what takes the most amount of time during deployments and ensuring that these modifications are backed up and quickly recoverable is where this management pack comes in. A 'must have' MP in my opinion.

Backup Unsealed Management Packs (OpsMgr 2012 Edition from

Scheduled Maintenance Mode in SCOM 2012

In SCOM 2007 we could make use of the Scheduled Maintenance Mode utility that came bundled with the SCOM 2007 R2 Admin Resource Kit. Unfortunately, this great tool doesn't work with SCOM 2012 so Pete Zerger and Matthew Long from Infront Consulting came up with the perfect script to help you place groups of servers into maintenance mode whenever you wish.

 OpsMgr 2012: Group Maintenance Mode via PowerShell (from

Stefan Roth has just recently (December 2013) created a new Maintenance Mode tool for SCOM 2012 SP1 and higher that will allow you to schedule your maintenance windows in much the same way as the old SCOM 2007 R2 Admin Resource Kit tool. Check it out here:

SCOM 2012 – Maintenance Mode Tool V 1.0

Viewing MPs, Overrides and Proxy Setting Tools

When Boris Yanushpolsky originally developed his MPViewer, OverrideExplorer and Proxy Settings utilities for SCOM 2007, he immediately endeared himself to SCOM administrators around the world! Daniele Muscetta has taken these tools and given them an upgrade to work with SCOM 2012 and you can get information and downloads to both sets of tools from the link below. I use at least one of these tools in just about every SCOM deployment I'm involved with.

 Boris’s OpsMgr Tools – Updated (by Boris Yanushpolsky and Daniele Muscetta)

Additional SCOM Resources

The above tools and scripts are just a small portion of a huge number of resources available to you right now (and for free!) that have been developed by the greater System Center community. If some or all of these tools are new to you, then I'd highly advise you to take a good look around the websites and blogs of each of the authors above and when you've done that, then check out some of these links below for even more information to get you started on the right track:

ThoughtsOnOpsMgr (by Marnix Wolf)

Cameron Fuller's Catapult Systems Blog

Bob Cornelissen's Blog

Kevin Holman's System Center Blog

System Center: Operations Manager Engineering Blog (Official MSFT SCOM team blog)

System Center 2012 Operations Manager Survival Guide (Official SCOM Wiki page) (by Pete Zerger et al.) (by Rod Trent et al.)

SCOM 2012: Overview link blog (by Dieter Wijckmans) (by Stefan Roth)

With these reference links and all of the MP's, scripts and tools, you should have more than enough information to truly enhance both your existing and new SCOM deployments.