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SCOM 2012: Pass data to custom fields with monitors

12:01 am in Uncategorized by Dieter Wijckmans

During the “ask the experts” session on SystemCenterUniverse 2012 (which was the dress rehearsal for MMS2012) I had the privilege to ask a question about a many used feature at some of my clients: Fill in the custom fields when alerting in SCOM.

My question: “Will it be possible to update the custom fields using a monitor like you do with a rule?

Answer: “We know this is a many requested feature but unfortunately it will not be possible”

The issue is that the architecture to raise an alert is fundamentally different for rules and monitors. With rules it’s possible to pass parameters through the GenerateAlert module while for monitors this is not possible.

So there are 2 possibilities:

Either create an alerting rule for the monitor which passes the parameters to the alert. But this is from a manageability point of view very difficult.

The only thing I came up with is running the parameters through the notification channels:

So let’s play around in the console of SCOM 2012 to get us going.

I already created a rule and a monitor for event 900.

While creating the rule you can specify the custom fields at the alerting tab as shown below:

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In my case if filled in the IP address and the computer name in the custom fields.

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During the creation of the monitor there’s no option to pass data to the custom fields although the option is still available in the dbase there’s no way to fill them in using the GUI:

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So when can this come in handy? I used it to pass my own data to the alert so I could use the alertID in the notification channel to read out the alert with the custom fields to escalate to a problem management tool which uses specific keywords to escalate problems.

This is the powershell I use to fill the custom fields via the notification channel associated with the monitor:

SCOM 2012: What’s new: Default behavior of overrides

11:46 pm in Uncategorized by Dieter Wijckmans

This post is part of a series What’s new: Check here for the other parts.

SCOM has some huge changes on board… But some are rather small and go unnoticed to the untrained eye although they could save you a major headache.

I’m pretty sure not a lot of hands will be raised when I pop the question: “Are you 100% sure your default management pack is free of overrides, if it’s not you buy me a beer?”. Although this is not that important because (let’s face it) it works doesn’t it? You will at one point or another have a big headache when you want to delete or upgrade a management pack which has an override stored in the default management pack. This makes the default management pack referenced by the management pack and therefore you can’t delete it.

Although a lot of new System Center admins make this error I must admit it’s in fact quite easy to make the error… Just click next and it’s there…

In SCOM2007R2 the default behavior when creating an override is storing it in the default management pack:

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NOTE: Notice that My default management pack name has been changes to something which draws a little bit more attention when you want to click OK to minimize the possibility you click ok to fast. Check here how to do this: http://scug.be/blogs/dieter/archive/2011/05/13/scom-2007-renaming-default-management-pack-display-name.aspx

This is one of the first things to do on my checklist when I open the console at a new client. As this is not ruling out the fact that you once in a while just click ok to fast it helps avoiding some issues.

In SCOM2012 this behavior is changed. Now you need to explicitly select a management pack before you can click ok. Making my linked blog post above completely useless but hey you can’t win them all Smile

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This small adaption will keep a lot of default management packs clean and will score me a lot less free rounds of beer but hey… it’s for a good cause Smile

While we are on the subject make sure you use the proper approach for storing your overrides.

Marnix Wolf MVP has written a nice blog post on the subject: Storing overrides, the good, the bad and the ugly.

His conclusion:

When storing Overrides, store them in a single unsealed MP which is dedicated only to the MP where you’re making the override for. So overrides for the SQL MP go into the unsealed MP ‘Overrides SQL’ and overrides for the Server OS MP go in to the unsealed MP ‘Overrides Server OS’. This is the only viable and workable option. All other options cause issues, sooner or later.”

SCOM 2012: What’s new: Maintenance mode changes

9:09 am in Uncategorized by Dieter Wijckmans

This post is part of a series What’s new: Check here for the other parts.

In the second part of this series of what’s new in SCOM2012 I’ll be highlighting a small change with big implications in SCOM 2012 in the maintenance mode department.

image_2It was kind of frustrating to see that a lot of issues at customer sites had to do with the fact that the RMS or MS (or even worse both) were put in maintenance mode and never came out of it until manually removed.

Putting your RMS in maintenance mode is a big no no as this is the pounding heart of your environment and can cause serious issues.

But hey enough said about the past… let’s talk about the future! Fortunately the future is bright in the SOCM 2012 world concerning maintenance mode.

These are in fact the changes in maintenance mode:

  • When a management server in SCOM 2012 (remember no more RMS) is placed in maintenance mode the System Center Management Configuration Service will act up and make sure that the agents are forced to failover to another management server so no data loss will occur. This is of course possible by bundling the management servers in resource pools.
  • The far most important change in maintenance mode is the fact that when you put a management server in maintenance mode the workflow to get that particular management server out of maintenance mode is actually moved to another management server which is not in maintenance mode. This way the command to get the server out of maintenance mode is triggered from another server. Finally…

Why is this such a huge improvement?

In SCOOM2007R2 if you for one reason or another find your RMS in maintenance mode the workflow to actually get it out of maintenance mode was also fired from the RMS. Which of course will not fire because… yeah it’s in maintenance mode. This can keep your RMS in maintenance mode without you even knowing it. The only possible way to get it out is to manually remove the maintenance mode.

So this is resolved in SCOM2012 by moving the workflow to get the management server out of maintenance mode to another management server in the resource pool. Another cool feature of the resource pools where the different management servers are residing in.

The only catch is that to have this new approach working you’ll need at least 50% of your management servers out of maintenance mode. So take this in account when you decide on update strategies to divide your management servers in at least 2 different patch groups with different action times.

SCOM 2007: Authoring console can’t find referenced mp

8:24 am in Uncategorized by Dieter Wijckmans

Just the other day I was working on an MP after updating the environment to CU4 and all of a sudden I got the error that a reference management pack wasn’t found.

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Ok no big issue. Locate the management pack and reference it…

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no go… Still the same error…

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So why? My version should be correct no? Wrong…

Apparently the Microsoft.SystemCenter.Library management pack is included in the CU4 but is installed while running the SQL update script (that’s why it’s so important to run them!). It bypasses the verification code.

CAUTION: Just download the management pack but do not import it into your environment. It’s already in there and functioning correctly. In rare cases reimporting the management pack again in your environment can cause a corrupt dbase.

In fact Microsoft has released a KB2590414 to address this issue:

http://support.microsoft.com/kb/2590414

In the middle of the kb you can download the management pack which is transported in a MSI file

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Read the license agreement carefully (yes you should!) and except it:

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Select the folder (I kept it default) click next:

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Confirm:

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Installation complete:

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When you click close the folder where the mp was copied will open:

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Open your console again and browse to the newly installed Management pack:

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This time no error anymore and you can happily start authoring…

New System Center 2012 licensing model

2:41 pm in Uncategorized by Dieter Wijckmans

Today Microsoft released some details about the new licensing model of the System Center 2012 products.

In a constant effort to reduce the different licensing models they have significantly changed the way you need to license your products. Pricing at this time is not yet available but you can already prepare yourself to check which licenses you need to purchase for the new suite.

There’s of course a difference between existing customers and new customers but in general this is what’s new in the licensing model:

What’s included?

To maximize the support for your private cloud the following tools will be included when you buy a standard or Datacenter edition of System center 2012:

  • Configuration Manager

  • Service Manager

  • Virtual Machine Manager

  • Operations Manager

  • Data Protection Manager

  • Orchestrator

  • App Controller

  • Endpoint Protection

Difference between Standard and Datacenter Edition of System Center 2012:

The Standard and Datacenter editions of the System Center 2012 server management licenses differ only based on the number of Operating System Environments (OSEs) that may be managed.

Standard edition:

  • allow customers to manage two OSEs on premises or two OSEs in a public cloud environment.
  • Targeted at lightly or non-virtualized private cloud workloads.

DataCenter edition:

  • Allow an unlimited number of OSEs in an on premises environment or eight OSEs in a public cloud environment.
  • Maximizes cloud capacity with unlimited Operating System Environments (OSEs) for high density private clouds.

Server Management Licensing

System Center 2012 server management licensing maximizes your private cloud value while simplifying purchasing:

  • License required only for endpoints being managed. No additional licenses needed for management servers or SQL Server technology.

  • Consistent licensing model across editions. Processor based license, covering up to two processors targeted at most common hardware configuration.

  • Same capabilities across editions differentiated by virtualization rights. All server management licenses include the same components and the ability to manage any private cloud workload.

Client Management Licensing

System Center 2012 client management licensing provides simple, cost-effective options to manage and protect client systems. Client management licenses are available in three offers:

  • System Center 2012 Configuration Manager: System Center 2012 Configuration Manager is available on a per-user or per-OSE basis as well as in the Core CAL and Enterprise CAL suites.

  • System Center 2012 Endpoint Protection: System Center 2012 Endpoint Protection (the next version of Forefront Endpoint Protection 2010) is available as a per-user or per-device subscription as well as in the Core CAL and Enterprise CAL suites. The subscription includes all antimalware updates and product upgrades during the subscription period.

  • System Center Client Management Suite: The System Center 2012 Client Management Suite is available on a per-user or per-OSE basis as well as in the Enterprise CAL suite. It is composed of Data Protection Manager, Operations Manager, Service Manager, and Orchestrator.

Core CAL and Enterprise CAL Suites will continue to be the most cost effective way to purchase client management products.

The new licensing model is mainly focused towards the private cloud and significantly reduces the number of options to choose from while keeping enough options for your environment.

More info here Microsoft licensing model System Center 2012

SCOM 2012: Meet the SCOM 2012 experts at SCUG NL (wrap up)

12:38 am in Uncategorized by Dieter Wijckmans

Last friday 06/01 the event “Meet the SCOM 2012 experts” was held by SCUG NL near Amsterdam.

The turn up was really great and a lot of speakers (including yours truly Smile ) gave sessions regarding the next big version of System Center Operations Manager.

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The day was quickly sold out and those who made it in enjoyed the session which gave away a nice first view of the different aspects of the SCOM 2012.

All the slide decks can be found here:

http://www.scug.nl/2012/01/13/presentaties-scug-nl-vrijdag-6-januari-2012/

Program (in order of appearance):

Dieter Wijckmans:

Session about the proper preparation to upgrade your environment from SCOM 2007 to SCOM 2012 with all the different tweaks and perks you need to do to make sure everything goes smoothly: scug_nl_How to prepare yourself for SCOM 2012_Dieter_Wijckmans

Walter Eikenboom:

Session about the End to End application monitoring in SCOM 2012. Nice session packed with demo’s how to take full advantage of the different aspects of correctly monitoring your applications with SCOM 2012: SCUG NL – OpsMgr 2012 End-To-End monitoring v1.0_Walter_Eikenboom

Michael Guthrie (Microsoft product team of SCOM 2012)

Session about the different aspects of Application Monitoring features in SCOM 2012. The features are greatly improved to give you even more in depth insight in where to pinpoint the issue of a problem with an application: SCUG NL APM with OM12_Michael_Guthrie

Vishnu Nath (Microsoft product team of SCOM 2012)

Session about the greatly improved Network monitoring features in SCOM 2012. Discussed a broad variety of new features and possibilities in the field of network monitoring. The initial configuration is also explained: SCUG NL OM2012_NetworkMonitoring_Vishnu Nath

Oskar Landman (SCOM MVP)

Session about the difference between SCOM 2007 and SCOM 2012. Oskar highlighted some well hidden new features which make your live as a SCOM admin a lot easier. An in depth insight deep down the SCOM application. A nice interactive session with lots of questions from the crowd (unfortunately they are not documented in the slide deck Smile with tongue out): SCUG NL – under the hood_Oskar_Landman

SCOM 2012: What’s new: Agent Config in SCOM2012

11:18 pm in Uncategorized by Dieter Wijckmans

This post is part of a series What’s new: Check here for the other parts.

In SCOM2007R2 you could multihome an agent to different management groups but it was quite the hassle as there was no option in the management console to control this feature. In SCOM 2012 this has changed by including the Operations Manager Agent Application to the control panel when the agent has been installed. Pretty cool feature if you ask my because now you have full control over the homing or multihoming of the agents.

Although this feature is not that high on a lot of peoples list of great new features this really facilitates the work of those who are working with a complex environment with connected management groups.

So where is this feature actually.

You can do this semi automatic by pushing the agent from all the different management groups (the maximum is 4). This is in fact a recommende maximum and not hardcoded. So in theory it is possible to multihome an agent to more than 4 management groups but it’s not supported as Alexis Yakovlev kindly pointed out. In fact the agent will be detected and not reinstalled but the additional management group will be added…

Now there’s the option to do it manually on the server as well using the new Agent Configuration app in control panel.

Before you had to run the setup wizard of the SCOM 2007 R2 agent and choose the “add a management group” option when installing.

Now you can just open your control panel:

Navigate to System and Securityprintscreen-0018_thumb

Open up the Operations Manager Agent

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You’ll see your primary Management group where the client initially was pushed from:

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Click add and fill in the name / primary server and port of the additional management group:

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It’s added! Click apply and wait for the services to restart and your done.

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So at this point your agent is multihomed to your 2 management groups and is happily sending it’s alerts to both of the management groups.

This convenient little adaption has changed the way you multihome an agent and has significantly improved the user experience of doing so.

Stay tuned

SCOM 2012: So what’s new?

11:18 pm in Uncategorized by Dieter Wijckmans

So the System Center Operations Manager 2012 is almost rolling in the station…

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What are the cool new things which will make your life so much easier as an SCOM Admin? Will they help you to convince others of the great things SCOM is capable of doing?

There will be small things which will make great difference and of course there will be big things which will make little difference (because the old situation was already SO good Smile )

The different parts will be linked here so you’ll have the overview in 1 post:

  1.  Agent Config in scom 2012 for multihoming agents
  2.  Maintenance mode changes in scom 2012
  3.  Default behavior of overrides in scom 2012

Get your ticket now to hop on and explore the new features in this blog series.

SCOM 2007: Dynamically populating a group from txt file

10:53 pm in Uncategorized by Dieter Wijckmans

At one of my clients they are using a custom build problem management tool + cmdb tool.

This means there’s not much flexibility of getting data in and out of these systems. At one point the question came to make a division between either critical servers and non critical servers to adapt the level of monitoring accordingly.

The only possible way to get the server list in was by supplying me with a txt file of all the critical servers.

So well… you can go and click away daily to compare the list with the group or automate the process… Of course I choose the second option.

By creating a new custom management pack that basically will read in the txt file on a regular basis and populate the group by deleting the servers which were removed and adding the new ones. So let’s get going.

The management pack can be downloaded here: Download management pack here

Things to adapt to your needs:

  • Line 52: The interval in my management pack is set to every 3 minutes (180 sec) which is way to high for production reasons but great for testing. Set it to more convenient level as this group will not change multiple times a day. Suggestion: 129600 = 6 hours.
  • Line 75: If you do not want to alter the management pack above you have to have your input file at c:\extract.txt. This can easily be adapted by editing line 75 before importing the management pack into your environment.

So now you have the xml file. Let’s import it in our environment and test:

Fire up your console and navigate to Administration > management packs

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In the actions pane select Import Management Packs…

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Select to import the management pack from disk by selecting add…

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Click no at the following question. Browse to your management pack location and click import

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Browse to your management pack location and click import.

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Wait for it to import

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When the import was successful you’ll notice the management pack listed in your mp list.

Check whether the group was created by going to the author tab > Groups.

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The critical servers group was created but is empty at the moment because the discovery process did not run for the first time.

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For this example I’ve created the extract.txt file with 3 servers who are currently residing in my environment.

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After the first run of the script the servers are added to the group and the population has been completed.printscreen-0013

To test whether the servers are dynamically removed I’ve removed VSERVER05 from the file and wait for the following run of the discovery.

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and eureka! A couple of minutes later the server has been removed from the group:

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Note: Make sure to not have empty lines in the file because this will trigger an End Of File (EOF) command and stop the script.

Now that you are sure that you always have the latest update of your critical servers group you can target this group for more strict monitoring or any additional overrides you specifically want to apply to these critical servers in your environment.

Sources:

I’ve based my management pack on other community members who did similar projects:

Kevin Holman did it with populating groups from a CMDB which is SQL based: Populating groups from a sql server

Steve Rachui did it with a txt file and included several groups based on location: Populating from text file based on location

Finally 2012 has arrived…

9:41 pm in Uncategorized by Dieter Wijckmans

Ok first of all I’m wishing you all a very nice year 2012 with everything you wish for as well on private as professional fields…

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But enough chit chat. That’s not why I’m so excited.

THIS… yes THIS year will be a milestone in the System Center family. All the new versions of System Center products are just waiting around the corner packed with new features to make your live as a Sysctr admins even easier.

It has been a bit quiet on this blog due to various professional and personal reasons but my resolution for 2012 (at least one I can keep) is to start posting to this blog back regularly.

Stay tuned for the next events in the pipeline:

Next blog series in the pipeline:

  • I’ll be highlighting the project approach on how to tackle a SCOM project (new install / upgrade)
  • Of course all the hot news of MMS
  • Various comparisons between SCOM2007R2 and SCOM2012
  • And last but not least the various troubleshoots I need to pull out of my sleeve to resolve the SCOM issues which are thrown at me at various customer sites.

So take a deep breath, close your eyes and then jump in and let the system center 2012 rollercoaster take off Smile