Wednesday, January 29, 2014

System Center Universe 2014 is Ready to Take Off!

If you work with System Center or Windows Azure and have plans tomorrow, then it might be a good idea to cancel them and make sure you're tuned into the live stream from Houston, Texas where the annual System Center Universe event kicks off.

This is the third year that the team at Catapult Systems have organised this event and each year it just gets better and better. I had the pleasure of presenting at the European version of this last September and have another opportunity to take part again this September, when it rolls back into Switzerland.

For tomorrow though, I'll be (jealously) tuned into the action here in Ireland and I'm looking forward to watching and learning from presentations delivered by a 'who's-who' panel of experts from across the System Center stack. You can check out the full agenda of speakers and sessions here:

If you're going to virtually attend the event, then make sure you register your interest here.

It'll be a late night tomorrow for those of us watching over this side of the pond (last session won't finish till close to midnight!) however, I'm sure it'll be worth it as I know the Herculean effort Cameron Fuller and the rest of the SCU team have put into this to make sure it flows smoothly.

Maybe I'll catch up with some of you guys throughout the day as the System Center community takes a day off work to nerd out even more than usual :)

System Center 2012 R2 - Update Rollup 1 (UR1) Available for Download

As of yesterday, Update Rollup 1 for System Center 2012 R2 has dropped and is ready for download through the Microsoft Download Center.

This update has fixes for the following products in the suite:

Data Protection Manager (DPM) -

Operations Manager (SCOM) -

Virtual Machine Manager (VMM) -

There's no updates available in this package for AppController, Orchestrator, Service Manager (SCSM) or Service Provider Foundation (SPF) however, in relation to SPF, Microsoft had the following to say:

The update for Service Provider Foundation is expected to release in mid-to-late February 2014. Updated information about this release will be added to this article when it becomes available.

Looking at the documentation for UR1, VMM seems to have gotten the most love here with the following 13 fixes:

Virtual Machine Manager

Issue 1

System Center 2012 R2 Virtual Machine Manager cannot deploy a new or imported VMWare template.

Issue 2

A virtual machine with that uses VHDX cannot be refreshed correctly in System Center 2012 R2 Virtual Machine Manager, and you receive the following error message:

Refresh job failed with error 2912: The requested operation cannot be performed on the virtual disk as it is currently used in shared mode (0xC05CFF0A)

Issue 3

Database operations sometimes fail with "FailedToAcquireLockException."

Issue 4

A new virtual machine template from a template that specifies an operating system profile doesn't use credentials from the operating system profile.

Issue 5

Virtual machines in VMWare that connect by the using Cisco N1000V dvSwitch are unavailable for management from Virtual Machine Manager.

Issue 6

System Center Virtual Machine Manager service crashes if you disable one of the teamed network adapters.

Issue 7

The Get-Scstoragearray -host command should return storage arrays that are visible to a host that is using zoning.

Issue 8

During the discovery of a network-attached storage (NAS) provider, the credentials that are used do not include a domain name.

Issue 9

Some localized strings are not displayed correctly in the UI.

Issue 10

A query to find the certificate should match both the subject name and the friendly name because FindBySubjectName is a wildcard search.

Issue 11

Template deployment fails, and you receive the following error message:

Error (2904)
VMM could not find the specified path on the <Server name> server.
The system cannot find the path specified (0x80070003)

Issue 12

Virtual Hard Disk (VHD) cannot be mounted on a host because VHD conflicts with other disks because of a stale entry that was left in the dictionary of Virtual Machine Manager memory.

Issue 13

Differencing disk based deployment may fail because the parent disk is being refreshed as non-cached.

SCOM came in second with resolutions for the following 10 issues:

Operations Manager

Issue 1

An error occurs when you run the p_DataPurging stored procedure. This error occurs when the query processor runs out of internal resources and cannot produce a query plan.

Issue 2

Data warehouse BULK INSERT commands use an unchangeable, default 30-second time-out value that may cause query time-outs.

Issue 3

Many 26319 errors are generated when you use the Operator role. This issue causes performance problems.

Issue 4

The diagram component does not publish location information in the component state.

Issue 5

Renaming a group works correctly on the console. However, the old name of the group appears when you try to override a monitor or scope a view based on group.

Issue 6

SCOM synchronization is not supported in the localized versions of Team Foundation Server.

Issue 7

An SDK process deadlock causes the Exchange correlation engine to fail.

Issue 8

The "Microsoft System Center Advisor monitoring server" reserved group is visible in a computer or group search.

Issue 9

Multiple Advisor Connector are discovered for the same physical computer when the computer hosts a cluster.

Issue 10

A Dashboard exception occurs if the criteria that are used for a query include an invalid character or keyword.

Lastly, DPM gets 3 fixes:

Data Protection Manager

Issue 1

An 0x80070057 error occurs when a session is closed prematurely. This error is caused by a failure during a consistency check.

Issue 2

Lots of concurrent threads or calls to Microsoft SQL Server from the Data Protection Manager (DPM) console cause slow SQL Server performance. When this issue occurs, the DPM console runs out of connections to SQL Server and may hang or crash.

Issue 3

The DPM console crashes, and an error that resembles the following is logged:

Paths that begin with \\?\GlobalRoot are internal to the kernel and should not be opened by managed applications.

You can view a full description of the update from the following link:

Installing System Center 2012 R2 UR1

When you are installing System Center 2012 R2 Update Rollup 1, pay close attention to the installation instructions contained towards the bottom of each products update link. All applicable System Center 2012 R2 products can be automatically updated via the Windows Update mechanism, however, with VMM and SCOM, you'll need to manually run some SQL scripts after the update applies. For SCOM, check out Kevin Holman's Step-by-Step post here to get this Update Rollup installed correctly.

Before you go wildly downloading and installing this update, I'd advise you to wait a few days/weeks before deploying it into your production environments and keep an eye out for any possible 'gotcha' posts about issues after installation.

Finally, when you're ready to go and as is the case with every update or upgrade to System Center 2012 R2, ensure you follow the correct upgrade sequence path as laid out in the 'Upgrade Sequencing for System Center 2012 R2' guide here:

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Download Free Windows Azure Active Directory Whitepapers

Microsoft has just released four new free whitepapers to help you get to grips with Windows Azure Active Directory. The whitepapers are broken down into an initial overview of Active Directory in the cloud and then ramping up the technical level to give you an understanding of how to leverage multi-factor authentication.

Here's a description taken from the download page:

Windows Azure AD is the identity foundation for many Microsoft services like Office 365, Windows Intune, and others. Windows Azure AD is a comprehensive identity and access management cloud solution, utilizing the enterprise-grade quality and proven capabilities of Windows Server AD on-premises. It combines core directory services, advanced identity governance, security and application access management.

This series of whitepapers on Windows Azure AD offerings comprises:

  • Active Directory from the on-premises to the cloud whitepaper.
  • An overview of Windows Azure AD
  • Leverage Multi-Factor Authentication with Windows Azure AD whitepaper.
  • Leverage Multi-Factor Authentication Server on your premises whitepaper
  • Leverage Windows Azure AD for modern Business Applications whitepaper.

There's also a zip file with some handy PoweShell scripts that complement the multi-factor authentication pieces.

Go get your hands on them all from here:


Friday, January 24, 2014

Windows Azure Pack Troubleshooting on TechNet

Microsoft has just added nearly 50 new troubleshooting topics for Windows Azure Pack (WAP) and Service Provider Foundation (SPF) onto the TechNet library.

If you're new to Windows Azure Pack or SPF (as most people are!), and run into problems when deploying either of them, then this is as good a place as any to get started with your troubleshooting.

There's a multitude of categories to work from and some of the main ones are listed below:

Check out the full new library content here:

When you've managed to read through all this information, then why not take a look at the excellent Windows Azure Pack wiki for everything WAP related here.


Thursday, January 23, 2014

New System Center 2012 R2 Wallpaper Available

If you attended the last ever Microsoft Management Summit last year, you might have noticed that a lot of the attendees were using tablet and laptop devices that sported some really cool System Center 2012 wallpaper designs like the ones below:

These wallpapers were created by Cleber Marques and can still be downloaded from here.

Over a year later and Cleber has updated some of the images to System Center 2012 R2 as shown in the below examples:

If you'd like to sport these cool graphics as a lock screen or desktop background for that new tablet that Santa brought you, then go ahead and download them from here:

Thanks Cleber!

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Free Training on Azure and the Windows Azure Pack (WAP)

Yesterday I managed to get some time to participate in a very useful (and free) online webinar that was organised by my buddies over in the UK - Steve Beaumont and Simon Skinner - who run the excellent Cloud OS Community website and user group.

The guys managed to get my Irish MVP colleague Damian Flynn to put together a presentation on Microsoft's relatively new Windows Azure Pack (which is designed for on premise private cloud/ IT infrastructure management) and how it compares to the public cloud Windows Azure model. Although I've a pretty good understanding of the Windows Azure Pack, this session has come at a good time for me because I'm currently in the process of working through our own (Ergo's) deployments of it for our datacentre and customer offerings.

The session was just over an hour long with some very useful Q & A's throughout and not even a day after the event, the guys have uploaded the video along with all of the links that were mentioned during the session.

If you have some time and are interested in learning about this cool new technology, then I'd highly recommend checking out the content here:


Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Available Now - Mastering Windows Server 2012 R2

Just before the Christmas break, it was a nice surprise to see the postman had delivered a package that essentially represented the best part of 12 months of hard work for me - mostly working into the early hours of the morning after the day job finished.

This delivery was none other than the 'dead tree' format of my new book...

Late last year and not too long after our 'Mastering System Center 2012 - Operations Manager' book hit the shelves, I was given the opportunity to head up an excellent team of authors to work on a book that would cover the original release of Windows Server 2012. The book was essentially an update to the excellent 'Mastering Windows Server 2008 R2' book that was led by well known author and speaker Mark Minasi with co-authors like Aidan Finn working their magic throughout. (No pressure on us then!)

This updated Windows Server 2012 book was due to hit the shelves by March/April but when Microsoft announced the upcoming Windows Server 2012 R2 release (codenamed Windows Blue), we just knew we had to re-do our work on the book to keep it consistent and current. What we didn't realise is the sheer volume of extra work that the new R2 release had landed us with and suckers like me who had 8 chapters to work on pretty much had to do a re-write of everything - not to mention labs being rebuilt/upgraded too!

Reading through the full book now though, I can see that all the effort was worth it and I want to say a big thanks to all involved in bringing this to market. There's a great team of authors and editors behind it and if you want to ramp up on your Windows Server 2012 R2 knowledge, then this is a great place to start.

Depending on your country and preference, you can get your hands on a paperback copy of it from the links below:

Hope you enjoy it!