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From Visio drawing to automated provisioning

10:47 am in Uncategorized by kurtvh



This blog post will describe a solution that is posted on the AuthoringFriday System Center blog site. The solution detailed in this blog post is explaining how you can build your own Integration Pack, how to read information out-of a Microsoft Visio file and start building and post this information back as output of the activity. This output of the custom activity in Orchestrator (example server OS deployment) can be further used to actually deploy the infrastructure.

Overview of the overall Process flow of the example used in the build blog post:


The idea of the blog post on AuthoringFriday site was to explain how to read the Visio file and create the Integration Pack, but look at the possibilities you have with this kind of solution. Now these days a project starts and the architect creates a blueprint of the infra for the project in a Visio file. This file is evaluated and updated during the process where it “lands” with the guys that really have to install and configure the infrastructure. There this a manual activity here where people have to look rights and type that information on the left (or the other way around).

The process starts with your Visio template. In the MS Visio template you define what information needs to be specified for a successful provisioning. The example is using a *.vsd file, but this can be changed to any kind of provisioning you want to do. SharePoint sites, POC environment, and so on …. as long as your back-end can do the actual provisioning. The custom activity reads the information and based on this information, other activities can run and create the virtual machine or starts creating sites in your SharePoint environment.

Take this a bit further where you integrate System Center Service Manager in the whole Process. The Service Request is created via the self-service portal. Via the defined approval process, an Automated Runbook Activity is triggered where the file gets picked-up by Orchestrator. The Orchestrator runbook reads the Visio file information and starts building the requested infrastructure in a very automated way.


As you can read, the possibilities in automation with Orchestrator are end-less. If you need another input, it is just a matter of creating the code to read the file…follow a bit the creation if the IP as explained in the build blog post and you have your own input system to build further automation on.

If you like to “play” with the Visio OS deployment solution, I will post a download link of the Integration pack that is created at writing the AuthoringFriday blog post. 

Download link: (available soon)

Have fun and think about how you can automate your environment!

Kurt Van Hoecke

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Announcement: SCSM 2012 Orchestrator / VMM Integration live meeting on 15 Dec 2011

10:27 pm in Uncategorized by kurtvh


Little announcement for an upcoming live meeting around System Center Service Manager 2012. Next Thursday I will give you an overview of the SCSM connectors with a focus on the Virtual Machine Manager and Orchestrator connectors.

Info around the configuration of the connectors is explained, what you can do with the synchronized CI’s in your CMDB and how to manage this information is discussed and illustrated in demo’s during the session.

Registration info: SCSM 2012 Orchestrator / VMM Integration

Until then!


Previous session content: SCSM 2012 Request Fulfillment with Orchestrator on SCUG day.

First of all, thank you to all attendees! As promised during that day, the content of the session.

The recording is accessible via TechNet Edge:

Other SCUG sessions of that day:

Important downloads
System Center Configuration Manager 2007 R3
System Center Data Protection Manager 2010
System Center Operations Manager 2007 R2
System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2008 R2 SP1
System Center Configuration Manager 2012 Beta 2
System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2012 Beta
Hyper-V Server 2008 R2 SP1
Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1
Microsoft Hyper-V Server 2008 R2
Managing Windows Azure Applications

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by kurtvh

System Center Service Manager 2010 SP1 CU3 released

11:44 am in Uncategorized by kurtvh


SCSM product team already announced it on their blog: System Center Service Manager 2010 Cumulative Update 3 Now Available!

The CU3 supersedes SP1 Cumulative Update 2 (CU2) and contains a superset of the fixes that are provided in SP1 CU2. It can be applied to SP1 CU2 or directly to a Service Manager 2010 SP1 installation.
This update contains a set of bug fixes to the Service Manager 2010 SP1 release. It should be applied to all Service Manager 2010 SP1 server installations and to any Authoring Tool installations. There are three executable files available:

  • SCSM2010SP1_CU_KB2588492_i386_7.0.6555.128_EN.exe or
    These executables contain the cumulative update package and should be applied to all Service Manager server installations.
  • KB2542118_MPLibraryUpdate_AuthoringTool.exe
    This executable contains the updated management packs and should be applied to any local Authoring Tool installations to make them compatible with the server.

Included in this update are fixes for the following issues:

  • Management Pack Import: When a data type is a decimal sometimes the decimal becomes an integer
  • Corruption of the Type ManagementEntity table when importing a type extension
  • Updates to properties are not brought forward to DW if updates to the instances happens in the same transaction or right before deleting the instance
  • AD Connector not bringing in new updates
  • When you create a new CR by using the new CR form, clicking the Apply button sometimes creates a duplicate record
  • Console intermittently freezes when you update/creating incident and clicking apply
  • HealthService does not stop at the end of SP1 DW update if previous start action takes too long
  • When opening the SCSM console on client computers and server the Reporting Wunderbar does not appear
  • High CPU in monitoringhost.exe when you create or updating an incident that triggers a notification workflow

Full description of the update and installation instructions: Description of the Cumulative Update 3 for Microsoft System Center Service Manager 2010 Service Pack 1

Download the CU3: Cumulative Update 3 for System Center Service Manager 2010 SP1 (KB2588492)

Have fun updating your environment!


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Service Manager 2012 Beta is available!

9:29 pm in Uncategorized by kurtvh


The SCSM 2012 public Beta is finally available. Time to download and evaluate the new features. The 2012 release includes the following key features:

  • New Self-Service Portal
  • Service Catalog and Service Requests
  • Integration with VMM and Orchestrator
  • Service Level Agreement support for Incident and Service Requests
  • Service Manager 2010 can be upgraded to SCSM 2012 Beta.
  • Authoring tool support for customer customizations.
  • Performance improvements above SCSM2010 SP1 with larger datasets
  • Bug fixes for all areas including UX and customer / partner reported issues
  • Release Management with parallel activity support
  • Enterprise Data Warehouse with BI Analytics (OLAP)
  • Periodic Notification support
  • Improved PowerShell support
  • Performance improvements
  • Updated connectors to support SC Wave 12
  • Parent – child support for incident and release management

Download the Service Manager 2012 Beta:

SCSM 2012 on Technet: Service Manager Beta

Release Notes for System Center 2012 – Service Manager Beta

Also check the Release Candidate of System Center Orchestrator 2012. You could download it at the following address :

Have fun!


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Service Request mgmt pack (Codeplex) update

7:43 am in Uncategorized by kurtvh


With this post I want to explain how you can adjust the codeplex SCSM Service Request mgmt pack to fit your needs. This codeplex mgmt pack provides a Work Item class model for Service Requests and a form for creating/editing service requests. The project itself is fully usable, but is rather difficult to change when the requirements for the classification of the Service Requests are changing:

  • Service Request Classification is not a console editable list, I need to hack xml to change the classification.
  • If you need additional properties in this work item class than you need go back to the VS project, add the required properties to the class.

The following procedure will guide you to the steps that need to be done in order to get some flexibility in the work item class.

NOTE: SCSM 2012 will have this additional functionality included, out-of-the-box. Service Catalog, Service fulfillment & Request fulfillment are items that are available in next version of SCSM.

Clean-up the codeplex xml file:

  • Download ( the SCSM Service Request mgmt pack from codeplex and extract the zip file to your SCSM Authoring folder. In there you can find the xml file – Microsoft.Demo.ServiceRequest.xml
  • Open this file in you favorite xml editor and search for following entries in the xml file:


    • Remove the <Property ID=”Classification” line.
    • Below the </ClassTypes> you can completely delete the  <EnumerationTypes>
    • You <TypeDefinitions> should look like this after the delete of the different items.


    • The  <Categories> section can be deleted.
    • The same you can do with the  <Forms>. We are going to create our own form later.
    • The <Views> & <Folders> is something we keep in the mgmt pack.
    • Browse further in the xml file to  <StringResources> and delete this section.
    • In the <LanguagePacks> section, delete the different references to our deleted items:
      • <DisplayString ElementID="Microsoft.Demo.WorkItem.ServiceRequest" SubElementID="Classification">
      • All <DisplayString ElementID="Microsoft.Demo.ServiceRequest.Form.Label. DisplayStrings.
      • All <DisplayString ElementID="ServiceRequestClassificationEnum entries in this section.
    • Delete the <Resources> section completely.
    • The last thing you need to do is to update the <References> section. These reference have older versions listed in the reference. (<Version>7.0.5244.0</Version> – Change to <Version>7.0.6555.0</Version> for example)
    • If you like to change the naming of the mgmt pack, replace the “Microsoft.Demo.ServiceRequest” entries in this mgmt pack and save the xml with your new name.
  • Save the xml file.

Recreate the properties and from for the Service Request work item class:

An example – the form I have created in this solution.



In this way you can start logging Service Requests in your environment. The further handling of the Service Request work items can be done like any other work item, you can build workflows behind it and notify people when needed. This is only a temporary solution until SCSM 2012 is available, there we can fully configure/Automate/Measure service/request fulfillment.

Have fun with it!


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by kurtvh

Very nice blog post about IT Business Service Form.

10:52 pm in Uncategorized by kurtvh


Oskar Landman has written a nice blog about a scenario where an extension was needed on the Business Service class and the impact of this extension on the Service form.

The blog can be found on this URL: Creating the IT Business Form in Service Manager 2010 SP1 based on the IT Service Form 

Have fun,

Kurt Van Hoecke

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SCSM–DataAccessLayer warning with event ID 33333

9:23 am in Uncategorized by kurtvh


A hotfix for Cumulative Update 1 for System Center Service Manager 2010 SP1 ( ) is released in order to address the following issues:

Issue 1

After installing the Cumulative Update 1 for System Center Service Manager 2010 SP1 the SCSM Mgmt servers start logging the following events:

Log Name: Operations Manager
Source: DataAccessLayer
Event ID: 33333
Task Category: None
Level: Warning
Keywords: Classic
User: N/A
Data Access Layer rejected retry on SqlError:
Request: EntityChangeLogSnapshot — (ManagedTypeId=a604b942-4c7b-2fb2-28dc-61dc6f465c68), (BeginTransactionId=68184), (EndTransactionId=68226), (RETURN_VALUE=1)
Class: 15
Number: 156
Message: Incorrect syntax near the keyword ‘INNER’.

Log Name: Operations Manager
Source: DataAccessLayer
Event ID: 33333
Task Category: None
Level: Warning
Keywords: Classic
User: N/A
Data Access Layer rejected retry on SqlError:
Request: EntityChangeLogSnapshot — (ManagedTypeId=a604b942-4c7b-2fb2-28dc-61dc6f465c68), (BeginTransactionId=68184), (EndTransactionId=68226), (RETURN_VALUE=1)
Class: 15
Number: 102
Message: Incorrect syntax near ‘,’.

Important note is added on the Microsoft support KB: The GUIDs and transaction IDs vary, depending on the environment. However, the text in the description is the same.

Issue 2

Duplicated notifications or workflows that are triggered two times for the same object.

I recently encountered this issue and this fixed the issue.

Have fun,


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by kurtvh

Notes from MMS: Service Manager 2012 overview

12:10 pm in Uncategorized by kurtvh


The Service Manager 2012 overview session at MMS has provided a nice overview of what we can expect in the upcoming System Center Service Manager version. SCSM 2012 is focusing on ITaaS through automation, standardization, Self-Service and compliance.

SCSM 2012 will provide more controlled automation through the integration in other System Center products. Two additional connectors will be available, the SCVMM and Opalis (System Center Orchestrator (SCO)) connectors. The nice thing on the Opalis connector is that you will have your Opalis runbooks available in the SCSM console for integration (aka automate) your processes. The new Self Service portal that is based on Silverlight web parts hosted in SharePoint Foundation 2010 is another enhancement. You will have to possibility to customize the web parts using the SharePoint admin tools. The Self-Service portal is role based, you will see the items where you have rights on. Customizable link for Service Request that are applicable for your environment are available in the portal and you scope them to the appropriate user group.

Release Management will be available in SCSM 2012. Running through the different environments (test, dev…production – configuration of your Release Management in SCSM) will be possible. The release of for example a new software in your environment can travel through a workflow in SCSM 2012 from test to all other environments. All with the different activities (review, manual, Opalis runbook activities or automated activities) as required for your release. This will be a great feature in SCSM, a standardized way to introduce Changes or new configuration in the IT environment. You will have the possibility to combine different Changes in one Release.

Another major investment is made on System Center Data Warehouse. The System Center Data Warehouse will be able to pull data from SM, OM & CM for a consolidated overview of your IT environment. Also, direct publish to the Data Warehouse from custom sources, for example SAP will be possible. Self service report & dashboard authoring will be available with OLAP cubes. Which brings the SCSM data in Excel (PowerPivot table) from where you can “slice and dice” with the live data from the Data Warehouse.

Beside the major enhancements, some incremental improvements:

  • Incident SLA
  • Parent/Child Work Items
  • AD Connector Improvements
  • PowerShell
  • Subscription Infrastructure
  • Parallel Activities
  • Performance Improvements
  • Bug Fixes

This will address much of the comments on the 2010 version and will enable a lot of opportunities in this area!!

Kurt Van Hoecke

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Data sources clean-up/update for Service Manager

11:17 am in Uncategorized by kurtvh


In this blog I want to share some experience with importing data in Service Manager. As you probably already now, you can automatically import CI’s (and other object) in Service Manager via connectors. SCSM connectors are available for Active Directory, System Center Configuration Manager, Operations Manager & CSV file import.

Information from Active Directory, OpsMgr, ConfigMgr or CSV is imported in SCSM and in this way you can keep your CI’s in SCSM in sync with the “source” in an automated way. Nice functionality and it’s a real added value of SCSM, but there are some attention points. Be aware that you are going to use this information and maybe build some automation in SCSM based properties of the CI’s… If certain properties are not available or up-to-date then this could break your automation, ending up with for example incidents in the wrong queue and so on. This could negatively impact the KPI reporting…

This blog provides an overview on how you could check/update/adjust/complete the data sources before you start importing the information in Service Manager.

Active Directory data sources:

  • Issues
    • AD object that are expired or not used anymore
    • AD object properties that are not filled in or wrong information is specified
    • Missing AD accounts
  • Cleanup/Update/Adjust information
    • There are a lot of AD tools available to accomplish this task.
      • In case of you need bulk adjustment of settings for your environment then you need something powerful. There are some xls sheets with vba code behind that can do the job, but there is also a very powerful tool ADModify that has functionality to do bulk changes. Watch out with this tool, think before hitting the “Next” button !!!
      • Some examples of AD cleanup tooling: Hyena, JiJi Active Directory Cleaner or AD Janitor (These are not free tools!)
      • If you don’t want to pay for such tooling you always have the scriptable way to accomplish this task. Check Microsoft script center for some example scripts.
    • Hey, if you have Opalis available in your environment, then you could create a workflow to do some AD maintenance…
  • Mapping Active Directory Domain Services Attributes to Service Manager Properties

System Center Configuration Manager data sources:

System Center Operations Manager data sources:

  • Two connectors exist for the integration of OpsMgr with SCSM.
    • Alerts connector
    • CI connector for objects discovered by SCOM
  • Issues
    • Noisy OpsMgr environment is raising to many incident work items.
    • OpsMgr discovered objects are not available in SCSM.
  • Cleanup/Update/Adjust information
    • For the alerts:
      • try and understand what is causing the alerts in the first place.  Attempt to tune these alerts to reduce the number of tickets in SCSM
      • Check the documentation that is delivered with the mgmt pack, for many of them there is very useful information in these docs
      • You probably have to work together with your monitoring team to clean and make it work like you want.
    • CI’s via OpsMgr
      • All you need is the management packs that contain the service model i.e. classes/properties, and relationship types to make them visible in SCSM.
      • Generally the service model is defined in Discovery or the Library MP so you could just import those MPs.
      • There is a nice tool to compare mgmt packs between SCOM & SCSM:
      • Service Manager maintains a list of Allowed classes. You can mange the Allowed List using PowerShell – managing-the-allowed-list-for-the-operations-manager-ci-connector-with-powershell.aspx
  • SCOM information that is synchronized
    • Organizational Unit (AD OU)
    • Network Name
    • IP Address
    • DNS Forest Name
    • NetBIOS Computer Name
    • Virtual Machine (True/False)
    • Logical Processors
    • DNS Domain Name
    • Hosts Windows Computer Role
    • Hosts System Center License
    • Hosts Windows Local Application

I hope this blog provides you with some information to start discussing the data sources cleanup/adjustments with the different teams in your environment.

Have fun,

Kurt Van Hoecke

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Announcing: System Center Service Manager (SCSM) 2010 Unleashed

7:13 pm in Uncategorized by kurtvh

Everyone working with the System Center product suite has most likely read one of the “Unleashed” books. In many forums they have been described as a technical ”bible.” We are pleased to announce there will be a new “bible” for Service Manager 2010!

Service Manager, the long-awaited third major component of Microsoft’s System Center suite, addresses the "Supporting" quadrant of the MOF process model.  System Center Service Manager 2010 Unleashed will provide in-depth reference and technical information about Microsoft System Center Service Manager 2010, as well as information on other products and technologies on which its features and components are dependent.

The content uses an end-to-end feature implementation perspective, facilitating more optimized deployments by covering related topics in a stepwise order for a given feature area. The book begins with an overview, moves into planning, design, and implementation, and then covers the most important and significant feature sets of the product – of interest to SCSM administrators worldwide.

Authors are Kerrie Meyler, Alexandre Verkinderen, Anders Bengtsson, David Pultorak, and Patrik Sundqvist. Also contributing are Travis Wright, Kurt Van Hoecke, and Maarten Goet.

Here are some of the topics we plan to cover:

· Service Manager Basics

· Service Manager 2010 Overview

· MOF & ITIL  (Why You Care)

· Looking Inside Service Manager

· Designing Service Manager

· Planning Complex Configurations

· Installing Service Manager 2010

· Using the Service Manager Console

· Connecting to Operations Manager, Configuration Manager, and Active Directory

· Business Services

· Incident Management

· Problem Management

· Change Management

· IT Management – Governance, Risk Management, and Compliance

· Using the Self-Service Portal

· Notification

· Service Manager and Security

· Backup, Recovery, and Maintenance

· Customization Planning

· Customizing Workflows and Management Packs

· Reports, Dashboards, and Data Analysis

· Customizing the Data Warehouse and Reporting

· Service Manager and the Managed Service Provider

· Partner Solutions

Service Manager 2010 Unleashed will be published by Sams Publishing, joining the existing System Center series with Unleashed books on Operations Manager and Configuration Manager. The book will incorporate Service Manager 2010 SP1 as well as enhancements in an anticipated R2 release in 2011.

The two SCUG writers are very proud to be working on this book and we would like to thank Kerrie Meyler for asking us to join the project.

We keep you informed!

Kurt & Alex