Wednesday, September 29, 2010

SCOM and Dashboards – Part III – Visio 2010 Add-In for SCOM R2

Postings in the same series:
Part   ISome Questions
Part  IIThe SCOM Console  
Part IVSavision LiveMaps
Part V  – SharePoint 2010 Integration

In the third posting of this series I will describe how to use the Visio Add-in for SCOM R2 and how to create some nice Dashboards with it. But before I start I want you to know that this posting won’t be about how to install to Visio Add-in. Why? Microsoft has done a great job in explaining how to use it.

The download page contains besides the two downloads (client and server) also a pdf-document explaining how to use the Add-in in great detail. So RTFM is the message here. Webpage to be found here. Since the page can loop a ‘bit’ while trying to download the required files, I have put them on my SkyDrive.

The strength of the Visio Add-in is that you aren’t limited any more by the Views the SCOM R2 Console has to offer. Now your imagination becomes the only real limit here. And the requirements of the business of course. Even though it looks nice to have a Visio drawing depicting Terminator III and its post-nuclear landscape, which is linked to your IT environment, I am not sure whether the management of your company can appreciate it…

Time to get serious again! So lets start.

In order to create Visio based Dashboards, there are multiple scenario’s possible here:

  1. Exporting a Diagram View of any Object, like a Distributed Application or a Computer to Visio and use that as as Dashboard;
  2. Create a Visio Drawing and connect the Shapes with Objects present in SCOM R2;
  3. Create a Visio Drawing based on the Objects present in SCOM R2.

Even though scenarios 2 and 3 might seem to be same there is a significant difference. With scenario 2 one can use any Shape available in Visio and link it to an Object in SCOM R2, with scenario 3 the Objects (and their related Shapes) present in SCOM R2 will be used. Of course, one can mix scenarios 1,2 and 3 as required. And one can use Visio Drawings which were already present as well of course and use scenario 2 in order to connect the Shapes to SCOM R2 Objects.

In this posting I will demonstrate some nice Dashboards. In a later posting I will demonstrate how to integrate it into SharePoint 2010.

  1. Export of a Diagram View from SCOM R2
    Here I have Exported a Diagram View of a Computer Object from SCOM R2 to a Visio drawing. There are some things to reckon with though but first I tell you how to export any Diagram from SCOM R2 to a Visio Drawing.

    Right click on the Object you want to export to Visio > Open > Diagram View.
    Normally when a Diagram View is shown of an Object, like a Computer, only the first two layers are shown. When this View is exported to Visio, the drawing itself will also contain only two layers:

    Advice #1: It is important to open just as many layers as required in the Diagram View before you export it to Visio. So WYSIWYG is the credo here.

    Advice # 2: Beware however not to open too many layers because before you know it, the Visio drawing becomes a collection of all kind of Objects where one easily overlooks the consistency of it all, like this:
    (Mind you, this is still the same Computer Object as the previous picture…)

    Advice #3: As a rule of thumb do not display not more than 4 layers. This way you will keep a clear View with enough detail:

    How the export to Visio is done? Easy! Whenever a Diagram View is opened, a button is displayed which enables you to export it to Visio (To Visio):
    Click it and follow the instructions (nothing more but a location and a file name).

    The strength of such an Export is that the connection between the Shapes present in that Visio Drawing and the SCOM R2 Objects they represent, will be automatically made. So no hassle there! Nice!

    Advice #4: Another thing to reckon with are the Health State icons. These are shown by default in the Visio Drawing based on an exported Diagram View. However, these are looked upon by Visio as additional Shapes for which cpu and ram are required as well when the Health State is recalculated. When one has large Visio Drawing it is better to change those icons into colors (green: all is OK, yellow: warning, red: critical error) which will have a much lower performance hit on the system displaying that Visio Drawing. Besides that, a color code is much more easier to be noted, compared to a small icon turning from green to yellow or red.

    How this is done? Easy again! Select all Shapes present in the Visio drawing (CTRLA works here as well, I love these shortcuts) go to Data > Data Graphics and select the second option from the left. When the Visio Drawing contains a lot of Shapes it might take some seconds before the change has taken place.

    Now the Visio Drawing looks like this:

    Advice #5: Keep the Visio Drawing sharp by removing unmonitored Objects like the folder ‘Not monitored’ on the left (second layer) shown in the picture above. A Dashboard will only function correctly when it shows just enough and not too much. So now the Visio Drawing looks like this:

    Save the changes to the file or export it as a webpage. This way it can be used on any server with IE and SilverLight installed. So no need to have a full blown installation of Visio in place in order to display the Visio Drawing:

    These steps can used for any Diagram View in SCOM R2. So you can create your own Distributed Application, adjust it as required, open it in Diagram View and export it to Visio.

  2. Creating a Visio Drawing (or using an existing one) and connecting it to SCOM R2 Objects
    This scenario offers many opportunities since one is able to use Visio based Shapes, thus not being limited to the Objects and their shapes present in SCOM R2. When the names are set correctly the Shapes are easily connected to the correct Objects in SCOM R2 by using the Reconcile Shapes button:

    Another approach here is to use the button Add Data Links. This option is to be preferred when an existing Visio Drawing is being used which contains many different Shapes which need to be connected to many different types of SCOM R2 Objects. Here one opens the Visio Drawing, hit the button Add Data Links and start to add all the required SCOM Objects:

    Repeat this for all the required SCOM R2 Objects.  All these Objects will be displayed in the bottom of the screen:
    Notice the yellow highlighted area. As you can see, these Managed Objects aren’t associated with any Visio Shape yet:

    Now it is time to drag the Managed Object to the correct Shape. Repeat this for every Shape present in the Visio drawing. Now the Drawing will look like this:

    Of course, the Health State icons can be used as well here. The file can be saved or exported to a HTML file and opened in IE with SilverLight installed:

    Above example looks a bit dull. And to be frankly it is. So what about creating a traffic light as a Dashboard, depicting the State of a business critical application? When something goes wrong, the ‘light’ will turn yellow or red! Take a look at this example which depicts the SCOM R2 WebConsole (the server hosting the website, the OpsMgr DB and the website itself) :
    All is well here.

    I have stopped the website and now the traffic light reflects that change within a minute:
    Oops! Something wrong here. Time for some action!

    So try to think outside the box. The possibilities are ‘endless’! However, KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid) is key here.

  3. Creating a new Visio Drawing based on SCOM R2 Objects
    The latter is a Drawing based on the Objects present in SCOM R2. Again, try to think outside the box and remember KISS. Many times I hear customers about the Distributed Applications which are present by default in SCOM R2 (when some MPs are loaded that is) not to be very complete or – the opposite – to be too complex.

    So now one can build a Visio Drawing of a DA. However, remember that a DA and a Visio Drawing are two totally different things. A DA is a chain of monitors which reflects an application with monitoring logic applied to it. Not only the components are covered for but the whole DA  and its relationships are monitored as well. With a Visio Drawing only the Objects/Shapes are being monitored. Thus the monitoring logic is not applied to the Visio drawing as a whole.

    The best way to go about it is to recreate the DA yourself, configure and test it. And when all is well, export it to Visio. This way you have covered both ends.

    With this scenario you could create something like this:

    When using this approach one might bump into this issue about which I recently blogged.

The Visio 2010 Add-In for SCOM R2 offers much asked for extensibility in order to bring monitoring outside the SCOM R2 Console. With Visio 2010 the possibilities were already endless. Combined with SCOM R2, the world is yours. But remember KISS and know that every separate Visio Drawing – in conjunction with SCOM R2 – creates an additional SDK connection. So use it wisely and do not use it because you simply can.

In the next posting of this series I will show some examples for Dashboards created with Savision LiveMaps. This tool starts where the Visio 2010 Add-In for SCOM R2 ends. When you are impressed by this posting: hold your breath and wait and see. Savision LiveMaps ROCKS!!!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

SCOM R2 Supports SQL Server 2008 R2

Microsoft has released a KB article describing to what extend SCOM R2 supports SQL Server 2008 R2.

The support is divided into two phases. Phase One supports new installations of SCOM R2. Phase Two supports upgrading an existing SCOM R2 deployment to run on a SQL Server 2008 R2 database.

KB2425714 describes the support for Phase One. The support for Phase Two will be announced separately as a part of a future cumulative update of SCOM R2.

Want to know more? Go here.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Generic Trouble Shooting Guide for SCOM

Installing SCOM R2 can be a challenge. However, Microsoft has provided many good guides how to go about it and – even more important – what things to reckon with when designing a SCOM R2 environment. When your design is right and the preparations are done properly, the installation should be straight forward without any surprises.

On top of it all, the installation of a SCOM R2 environment happens only once or twice (when you need a test environment as well for instance). After that it is time to start using the SCOM R2 environment which starts with these Steps:

  1. Configuring the Core MP of SCOM R2 (many times people tend to forget that but it is really important so RTFM is the magic word here);
  2. Configuring SCOM R2 (Resolution States, DB Grooming and the lot);
  3. Deploy the SCOM R2 Agents to the servers which need to be monitored;
  4. Import the MPs (RTFM before, during and after!) as needed and start with the Server OS MP;
  5. Tune the MP as required by the business, based on RTFM the related guide of the Server OS MP;
  6. When all is well and the Alerts coming in are relevant (no noise) import the next MP;
  7. Repeat Steps 4 to 6 per MP to be imported.

At a certain point in time your IT organization has a fully operational SCOM R2 environment. All goes well. Tuning and tweaking takes place while using SCOM R2 and the connection to the organization is being tuned as well. The latter is always work in progress because every organization is dynamic so changes are more than likely to occur and SCOM R2 needs to adapt itself as well in order to reflect the current situation.

But then something happens and the SCOM R2 environment turns sour. A set of disks might stop functioning, a bad MP is being imported, some one erases the SCOM R2 service-accounts (had this issue once!), the RMS stops running, the related SQL server suffers a hardware failure. Or everything seems to be just fine but ‘only’ the HealthService on the RMS stalls every hour or so…

So now the SCOM R2 environment becomes very silent and instead of being the looking glass for the IT shop on all IT servers and services, SCOM R2 needs some serious attention. But where to start? And what to do and more important what NOT to do?

With this posting I hope to help you with how to troubleshoot a (partially) failed SCOM R2 environment in order to get things working again, or – when you think it is way over your head -  to set out a call to Microsoft CSS and provide them with some good information.

But before I start I want to emphasize on two very important things here:

  • Know what you know, know what you don’t know, and NEVER mix the two
    So whenever you bump into something which you do NOT totally understand, leave it. Do not alter anything without having a full understanding of the consequences. And even when you do, backup the OpsMgr R2 DBs in order to have a way back. And check the validity of those backups. Otherwise you could end up in a situation where SCOM R2 gets in an unsupported state or that Microsoft CSS has to trouble shoot an extra complex issue: the first one which caused an error state in SCOM R2 and your ‘repairs’ afterwards. Microsoft knows much and has a lot of experience but they can’t perform magic…

  • Backup, backup and backup AND VALIDATE
    Be sure to have a valid backup mechanism in place which runs on a regular scheduled basis. Besides that some validation is required as well in order to know for sure that the disks/tapes containing the backup are really valid and do not contain some blob of code without any real value. Check it when all is well and not after SCOM R2 has become (partially) dysfunctional. It will save you and your colleagues a lot of frustration and perhaps even your job…

    Only a backup of the SCOM R2 servers will NOT suffice. Backup the DBs as well (use a ‘connector’ for it) and the Unsealed MPs as well. Also a backup of the EncryptionKey (with a VALID password) is a requirement. This way you have covered the SCOM R2 environment from end-to-end.

Having said that, its time to move on. This is what I do when SCOM R2 is experiencing some issues which need attention:

  1. What is exactly happening and since when?
    Find out what is exactly happening and since when. Try to describe it as briefly as possible and attach a date and time to it. This is not only important when you want to call in Microsoft CSS but also for yourself. This way you do not start a goose chase. Also be aware that there is a uge difference when the problem was detected and when the problem started. Try to get to the bottom of it all.

  2. Can it be reproduced?
    Sometimes network errors occur which can have its impact on SCOM R2. When all is well again, SCOM R2 should be fine as well. So try to see whether you can reproduce the error. If not, it is back to business. When it comes back, it is time to take a deeper dive.

  3. Ask questions
    Did anything took place before the SCOM R2 environment started to fail? Like importing a MP for instance (Many times poorly written MPs can wreck havoc…), AD changes, migrations, failovers or network changes? Did any one perform any task on the SQL server(s) hosting the SCOM R2 DBs and SSRS instance? So inform your self thoroughly and communicate with your colleagues and team members.

  4. Differentiate between main issues and secondary ones
    When a SCOM R2 environment is experiencing issues, many things can happen. Try to differentiate between the main issue(s) and the less important ones. Target your troubleshooting efforts at the main issues. Mostly are the less important ones caused by the main issue(s).

  5. Check out the SCOM R2 services on the RMS
    Are the three SCOM R2 services still operational on the SCOM R2 RMS? Nothing stopped? Nothing stalled?

  6. Check out the SCOM R2 DBs
    Are the DBs still OK? Can you access them from SQL Server Management Studio? Are the DBs still healthy? Can you query these DBs? Can you connect to the SQL server from all SCOM R2 Management Servers? (Telnet is required for it).

  7. Is the SCOM R2 Console still operational?
    When you’re able to access the SCOM R2 Console and navigate through it and the Views are refreshed, you know the SDK service is still running and the OpsMgr DB is still accessible and operational. So by a simple check much is to be found out.

  8. Check out the OpsMgr event logs on the RMS and Management Servers
    These logs are really great and tell you so much. These are the first location to go to in order to get a better understanding what is happening and why. Of course, the SCOM R2 Core MP picks up a lot of these events and raises one or more Alerts in the SCOM R2 Console, but still it is wise to checkout the logs as well since not all Events are covered for by the Core MP.

  9. OpsMgr event log on the RMS
    First look on the RMS since that server is the top level server of the SCOM R2 hierarchy. Stop the HealthService (System Center Management) on the RMS and start it again. This forces the RMS to reprocess its configuration like the SCOM R2 service accounts. When anything is wrong there many errors will be shown in the log file. Keep a watchful eye on and refresh it many times. When something serious is at hand mostly within ten minutes it will be displayed in the event log.

  10. OpsMgr event log on the MS servers
    These servers are used by the monitored servers (aka Managed servers) to report to. The SCOM R2 Management Servers write directly to the SCOM R2 DBs. So when anything goes wrong, these servers should report on it in the OpsMgr event log. Same procedure here as well: Restart the HealthService and check out the logs. Keep a watchful eye on it for the first ten minutes after the HealthService has been restarted. When something goes wrong it should be shown in that timeframe.

  11. Bounce the RMS related SCOM R2 Services
    When nothing strange comes out in Steps 1 to 3 it is time to restart the SCOM R2 services on the RMS (NOT ON THE SCOM R2 MANAGEMENT SERVERS!): restart the Config Service (System Center Management Configuration) first and check out the Ops Mgr event log in order to see what comes out. Do the same for the SDK Service (System Center Data Access). Keep a watchful eye on the OpsMgr event log.

Wow! Stop! I have found some or many serious errors! What’s next? Good question.

Start at the bottom of it
Even when many errors/warnings are shown in the OpsMgr event log, the first one or the first series of three up to to five events are mostly the real cause. The other ones are many times failing workflows BECAUSE some required basic processes are failing. So take a good look at the first errors and warnings.

A good internet connection is important now. Use your favorite search engine and query the internet where you use this format: SCOM <eventid> and the most important piece of the information which is displayed in the general part of the Event, like ‘Failed to store data in the Data Warehouse. Exception 'SqlException': Timeout expired.’ for instance. Leave out the specific details like server names, GUIDs and SCOM R2 Management Group names.

Also details displayed in things like Workflow names can give one a good clue what is causing the issue. So always read the full event and not only the headers.

Some tricks to get things going again:

  • Remove the latest imported MP
    Only when its relevant of course. When on the 1st of October 2010 your SCOM R2 environment starts having issues and the last MP you imported/changed was two months ago changes are that the cause of this issue is to be found some where else.

  • Clear the HealthService State on the (R)MS server experiencing the issues
    On the SCOM R2 (R)MS server which is experiencing the issues, stop the HealthService, rename the folder ‘~:\Program Files\System Center Operations Manager 2007\Health Service State’ to ‘~:\Program Files\System Center Operations Manager 2007\Health Service State_OLD’ and start the HealthService again.

  • Clear the HealthService State on the Agent(s) causing the issues
    When you have pinpointed the issues and suspect one or more SCOM R2 Agents to be the culprit(s), stop the HealthService, rename the folder ‘~:\Program Files\System Center Operations Manager 2007\Health Service State’ to ‘~:\Program Files\System Center Operations Manager 2007\Health Service State_OLD’ and start the HealthService again.

Here is a list of EventIDs which I have seen sometimes and need some attention. Some are very serious and some are easily fixed:

  • EventID 33333
    Data Access Layer rejected retry on SqlError
    . This is a serious one and needs real attention. Sometimes it is an easy one. An Agent has been partially reinstalled but its ID ('BaseManagedEntityId') doesn’t match anymore with the one present in the SCOM R2 DB. By recycling its HealthState all is well again.

  • EventID 33333
    Health service <GUID> should not generate data about this managed object. Easy one. Proxying needs to be enabled on the SCOM R2 Agent generating this event.

  • EventID 10850
    A performance signature couldn't be inserted to the database. A tricky one. Many times it happens when a MP has recently been deleted. More serious is an issue where the OpsMgr DB is running out of space. But when this event also contains this message ‘The INSERT statement conflicted with the FOREIGN KEY constraint’ there is a real challenge to be met. When you are lucky it is happening because of a corrupt Agent. If so, a HealthServiceId is displayed in the same Event. Run this PS script in order to obtain its friendly name (Get-MonitoringObject -id: 'HealthServiceId' | ft DisplayName). Recycle the HealthService State of that Agent and most of the times all is well again.

    Otherwise check this out. If that isn’t the case either contact Microsoft PS.

  • EventID 5300 and or 5304
    On a RMS it means the Health Service is stalled. Serious attention required. Check this out.

Of course there are lot more of EventIDs which need attention. A good approach here is the Excel sheet made by Daniele Muscetta containing all SCOM R2 EventIDs. I hope this posting aided in some targeted trouble shooting.

Of course I know about the tracing tools which are available by default in SCOM R2 (~:\Program Files\System Center Operations Manager 2007\Tools). However, be careful when using them since you really must have a thorough understanding of what you are doing. Taken directly from the file ‘TracingReadMe.txt’ residing in the same folder: ‘…The files in this folder are for use in diagnostic tracing in conjunction with Microsoft Customer Support Services (CSS) only. Do not enable Operations Manager tracing without prior consultation with CSS through a support engagement. Doing so could have an adverse effect on system performance. Operations Manager diagnostic tracing is not customer consumable…’.

When you’re not sure, note down all your findings and contact Microsoft CSS. Do not do anything which you might regret afterwards.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

The Curious Case of The Empty Reports

Had an interesting (and not so nice) issue at a customers site: a SCOM R2 environment was in place for some months and fully operational. Also SCOM R2 Reporting was in place for which many customized Reports were made. Many servers were being monitored by SCOM R2 and the Reports were just fine.

The Case
But after a couple of months I was told the Reports, which showed data before, turned up empty. Only a header was shown, but NO data!

First I expected that wrong targeting was being used or that an object was selected which was new in SCOM so there wasn’t that much data to be shown. But soon it turned out that it wasn’t the case. No.

Time to Investigate

EVERY Report worked just fine, but NO data! The RMS and MS servers showed no errors what so ever about the DW. The Events told that all SCOM R2 Management Servers succeeded successfully with storing data in the DW! Also SCOM R2 itself – in the Console that is – showed no errors what so ever. The graphs under Data Warehouse showed that indeed data was being put into the DW.

So time to check out the SQL side of it all. The SSRS instance worked just fine. The ReportServer loaded neatly in IE. So no errors there. When SQL Profiler was started it was clearly that data was pouring into the DW. The Reports, contained by the MPs, were uploaded to SSRS as well.

Also the logs on the SQL server revealed NOTHING! The DW db itself was healthy as well. I could connect to it, query it all the way down, check out its tables and it had more than 95% free space. Which was to be expected because I prefer to oversize the DW just a little bit so the customer can use that DB to its fullest extend without having to resize it first.

Case is Clear
Now I had the case where data was pouring into the DW, the Reports itself were in place AND functional but somehow the data – present in the DW I knew that for sure – wasn’t shown.

Time to put the finger on the problem

So time for a deeper dive. I ran some easy Reports, showing the availability of a server, based on the HealthService Watcher. Targeted it against the RMS so I knew for sure I targeted a server which was present when SCOM R2 came to be. And run the Report multiple times, every time selecting a timeframe going back further in time.

And suddenly the Report contained data! So now it was important to get the exact time frame where no more data was shown. It took me some Reports but finally I had pinpointed the date where no more data was shown.

When did it go wrong?
Time to note that date and check out SCOM R2 itself and in particular, to see whether some new MPs had been loaded on the same date. There weren’t but a day before that some MPs were loaded. The SCVMM MP, an adjusted one which enables the discovery of VMs based on VMWare (which is being used by the customer as virtualization platform) and a MP containing the overrides for the Exchange 2010 MP.

Making the Reports work again
So these are steps I took in order to get it working again:

  1. Removed the customized MP which depends on the SCVMM MP;
  2. Removed the SCVMM MP;
  3. Checked the OpsMgr event log of the RMS. Now it threw every 10 seconds an error about writing data to the DW. It told a dataset coming from the Exchange 2010 MP caused some serious issues;
  4. Removed the Ex2010 MPs all together, including the MP containing the overrides. Exported that MP first of course;
  5. Bummer! The OpsMgr even log of the RMS still threw the same error;
  6. Made a backup of the DW db and checked it on its validity;
  7. Closed ALL SCOM R2 Consoles;
  8. Stopped all SCOM R2 related services on the RMS and MS servers;
  10. SP ran for ten minutes but ended successfully;
  11. Removed the cache files of ALL Consoles, RMS and MS servers;
  12. Cleared the OpsMgr logs on RMS and MS servers;
  13. Rebooted the SQL, RMS and MS servers;
  14. Checked out the OpsMgr logs of RMS and MS servers;
  15. No more errors to be seen, dataset error is gone as well;
  16. Checked out the SQL server, which was rather high on its CPU, RAM and disk. Much IO going on there but the server is a beast so no worries there;
  17. Ran the same Report and now, hour by hour more data was coming in. Per 15 minutes another day was added to the Report!
  18. Kept an eye on SCOM R2 itself and the OpsMgr event log. Nothing wrong there. SQL was pumping data like crazy!
  19. Kept on running the Report every ten minutes and every time more data was shown, more days were coming in;
  20. Went outside for a walk in order to breath some fresh air.

I have imported the Exchange 2010 MP in many environments already without having this issue. So the Exchange MP is not to blame. Same goes for the SCVMM MP. This MP isn’t a beauty I must add, but never ever I experienced this issue before as well. The adjusted MP in order to discover non-Hyper-V based VMs isn’t shocking either.

But somehow, somewhere things turned sour. Which resulted in data being collected into the DW but never being aggregated so the Reports stayed empty. After having removed the MPs which I expected to causing this issue, the blockade inside the DW was removed as well, and the Beast (the SQL Server) started to aggregate the data. And the Reports started to show data again.

Next week I will import the Exchange MP and its overrides MP as well. A day or so later the MP containing the Exchange 2010 Reports will follow. And of course, I will keep a watchful eye on it all now. But personally I believe all will be just fine and that I bumped into a rare situation. Which is good because I wasn’t happy when all these Reports were EMPTY….

Thursday, September 23, 2010

New MP released: BizTalk Server 2010

Today Microsoft released the MP for monitoring BizTalk Server 2010.

Taken directly from the website:

Want to know more? Go here.


I know. There is still a series about SCOM R2 Dashboards in the pipeline. But I had some issues with a tooth for which the aid of some professional surgeons was required. So the tooth got removed last week but somehow it kept on nagging me.

All this kind of stuff kept me away from real blogging. So the series of the SCOM R2 Dashboards was set on hold for some days since I only want to publish good and well thought over (and thoroughly tested!) postings, especially when it comes down to a series which I look upon as a Special.

So hopefully I will restart this series in the week to come. So stay tuned and thanks for your patience.

Bridging The Gap

As many of us do know, with some ‘help’ SCOM R2 can forward Alerts to remote systems, such as an Enterprise Management System (EMS) or a service desk system.

On itself not very exciting but the best part is about to be revealed: ‘…After Operations Manager 2007 R2 forwards an alert to a remote system, that alert data is synchronized throughout the lifetime of the alert…’.

In order to achieve this a Connector has to be installed and configured. Which can be a challenge. Of course, there is documentation which describes how to go about it, but still it can be a challenge. Besides that, one can’t expect Microsoft to write a Connector for every Management System (EMS) or a service desk system.

So there are two types of Connectors available: the ones targeted at a specific Management System (EMS) or a service desk system and one which has a more open architecture and can be used to bridge the gap between SCOM R2 and the ‘other’, aka The Universal Connector.

These are the available Connectors targeted at a specific Management System (EMS) or a service desk system:

This is the Universal Connector:

Since the latter has a more open architecture it can be a bit more challenging to configure it properly. So how to go about it? Gladly Kevin Holman has written a good posting about it. Feel free to check it out! Go here.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Community Strength: 1 plus 1 is sometimes 3 or more…

About 18 months ago Tim Helton introduced the Green Machine, a command line tool for resetting the health of all monitors for a single agent or all agents. This tool got some revisions and in April 2010 version 1.04 was introduced, based on input from the community, among them PFE’s. This version is fully SCOM R2 compatible.

Cameron Fuller has taken this to the next level: now the functionality of this tool is integrated into the SCOM (R2) Console as a Task. Cameron and I run a company known as Crappy MP Inc. Cameron takes care of the American continent and I cover the European part of it all. To use Cameron’s own words, ‘…this is not a pretty management pack however it is a functional management pack…’.

Want to know more? Go here.

Thanks Cameron for sharing. Perhaps we should talk about licensing MPs like these?

Everything You Always Wanted To Know About Opalis But Where Afraid To Ask

Hopefully Woody Allen forgives me, (ab)using a title of one of his movies but I couldn’t think up a better title for this posting.
Everything you wanted to know about sex but were afraid to ask

On the System Center Team Blog an article has been posted containing links to the ten most popular Opalis “8-Minute-Demo Video Series” videos.

Ever wanted to know more about Opalis? It costs only 80 minutes of your life and you get a good in-depth view of Opalis and its strength. So get some popcorn and a soda and tune in. Go here and have a good time!

Hyper-V MP Alert: ‘Workflow Runtime: Failed to run a process or script’

Bumped into this issue at a customers site. Here multiple Hyper-V cluster nodes are in place and some of them showed this Alert in the SCOM R2 Console: ‘Workflow Runtime: Failed to run a process or script. GetDiskPartitionSpace.vbs(136, 2) Microsoft VBScript runtime error: Invalid procedure call or argument Command executed’.

This script comes from the Hyper-V MP.

But when I took a deeper look at it, this Alert occurred only on the Hyper-V cluster nodes which did not host any VM at that moment. The other Hyper-V cluster nodes, hosting multiple VMs, did not experience this issue. Somehow this script flunks when it runs on ‘empty’ Hyper-V cluster nodes.

So this particular Alert can be safely ignored. Hopefully the future edition of the Hyper-V MP will contain a script which is a bit ‘smarter’.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Visio 2010 Add-in for SCOM R2 and the SCOM Visio Stencils

Bumped into this issue while writing my blog posting about the Visio 2010 Add-in.

For SCOM designs one can download a very nice set of Visio stencils, targeted at SCOM to be found here. However, these shapes do have some issues when these are used together with the Visio Add-in.

Normally any shape in a Visio drawing can be linked to an object from the SCOM R2 Management Group. When this is done, a Health State icon is neatly displayed in the upper right corner of that same shape:

But with a shape coming from the Visio Stencils made for SCOM this Health State icon isn’t displayed at all when it is linked to an object from the SCOM R2 Management Group:

It took me some time to get it solved, but this is the way to go about it:

  1. Insert a shape from the SCOM Visio Stencils and select it;

  2. Go to the Home tab of Visio 2010;

  3. Select Group > Group;

  4. Go to the Operations Manager tab and link the shape to the required SCOM R2 object by using the Link Shape option. Follow the Wizard and link the required Object from SCOM R2 to the shape;

  5. Now a Health State icon will be shown in Visio:

All is well now.

One other thing to reckon with though: With the original Visio shapes one might choose another display of the Health State with the Visio Add-in for SCOM R2 as well. How ever these settings do not work well with the shapes coming from the SCOM stencils. The red highlighted Data Graphics are (partially) broken. Only the Health State icon works properly as shown in Step 5, which is highlighted in yellow.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Override Creator

Got a good comment on my previous posting about setting many overrides for a certain MP. When I got this comment I had a moment like: ‘Doh! I know about that tool but totally forgot about it!’. So I felt a bit stupid… Like having a good toolbox but hammering the nails into the wall with your hands without holding the hammer…

So back home I started my SCOM R2 test environment, imported the Ex2010 MP and used the Override Creator tool. It works great AND fast:

  1. Override Creator is started and connected to my test Management Group:

    On the left in the Override Creator window is the tree of loaded MPs in this MG:

    When opening the Exchange Server 2010 MP all components are shown. Quickly the IMAP component is located. When selected all Monitors and Rules related to that component are shown and easily selected (one, some or all):

  2. Selection is made, all Monitors will be overridden:

    Click right and a context menu is shown. Select the option Create override to disable workflow(s)

  3. Select Override Target and target Management Pack:

    Select where the overrides have to be applied to and what MP has to be used (create a MP in advance).
    Click OK and all is well.

Time to check it out in OpsMgr itself: Console > Authoring > Authoring > Management Pack Objects > Override Target Management Pack: Exchange Server 2010:

So next time I will first take a dive into my toolbox before I start clicking again…

Override Creator tool to be found here.

All credits go to Boris Yanushpolsky who created this tool.

Configuring a MP: disabling all Monitors for a certain class

Update 15-09-2010: Got a comment on this posting, refering to the Override Creator Tool… Want to know more about that SUPER tool? Go here.

For a customer I had to disable all POP3 and IMAP4 Monitors available in the Exchange 2010 MP.

Since it is a lot of Monitors which needed to be disabled, I wanted to create a PS script. But unfortunately there is no cmdlet available for that. So the search stopped right there and the overrides were set manually.

But what I did find was a blog posting of Marc Klaver and his colleague. They have deep knowledge about SCOM and bumped some months ago into the same issue. So they started to develop their own(!) cmdlets:
The yellow highlighted box is the one they have already developed. The red highlighted box are the ones which they are planning to write.

Blog postings in this series they have written:

  1. Setting an override on a rule with PowerShell (OpsMgr snapin part 1: Set-OverrideRule)
  2. Setting an override on a rule with PowerShell (OpsMgr snapin part 2)
  3. Setting an override on a rule with PowerShell (OpsMgr snapin part 3)

So keep a watchful eye on their blog in order to see when the next cmdlet is being published. Thanks guys, great work!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Reports for the xSNMP Suite 1.1.1 available

Taken directly from the website:

This suite of management pack adds value to the xSNMP suite by implementing OpsMgr reports for data collected by performance rules in the xSNMP management packs.   Reporting management packs included are:

  • xSNMP for APC Reports
  • xSNMP for APC NetBotz Reports
  • xSNMP for Brocade Reports
  • xsNMP for Check Point Secure Platform Reports
  • xSNMP for Cisco Reports
  • xSNMP for Data Domain Reports
  • xSNMP for Dell PowerEdge Reports
  • xSNMP for HP ProCurve Reports
  • xSNMP for IBM AIX Reports
  • xSNMP for Juniper Networks Reports
  • xSNMP for Juniper-NetScreen Reports
  • xSNMP for NetApp Reports
  • xSNMP for Net-SNMP Reports
  • xSNMP for SonicWALL Reports

Requirements are:   OpsMgr 2007 R2, xSNMP suite, OpsMgr reporting implementation.   Like the xSNMP suite, the reports MP’s are licensed with the GNU-GPL and unsealed versions are provided.

Suite of MPs to be downloaded from here.

Linked Reports: Some new resources

Brian Wren has written a new posting about Linked Reports. Even though it is a short posting it contains a video describing the basics of how linked reports work and walkthroughs of how to create two of them. Also a sample MP is available for download with the two reports Brian created in the video.

Want to know more? Go here.

Monday, September 13, 2010

SCOM R2: MP Catalog, the MPs and the related Guides

When one tries to download a MP directly from the SCOM R2 Console it is strongly advised to do that AFTER the related guide of the MP to be downloaded and installed has been read thoroughly.

But where to get that guide from? What is the url of the guide for the SQL Server 2008 MP for instance?

Good to know that the SCOM R2 Console also offers some help here. How?

  1. Open the SCOM R2 Console with SCOM Admin permissions;

  2. Go to the Administration Wunderbar, right click on any spot in the tree and select the option Import Management Packs;

  3. Select the option Add from catalog;

  4. In the Find box type the MP you are looking for (in this example the SQL 2008 MPs) and hit the Search button;

  5. In the Management packs in the catalog part of the screen are the found MPs shown. Select the NAME of the MP you are looking for (again in this example the SQL Server 2008 MP). Hit the Properties link;

  6. And a Details window is shown, showing a clickable link to the related MP guide for the SQL Server 2008 MP;

  7. Download and READ the guide. When you understand how the MP operates and you can use the MP, download AND configure it according to the earlier downloaded guide :).

So now you can download the MP Guides as well by using the SCOM R2 Console. Nice!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Updated SQL Server DB Mirroring MP released

As stated before, Raphael Burri wrote an extension to the SQL MP which enables the monitoring of SQL DB Monitoring.

The first version of this MP only supported SQL Server 2008. But he promised to add support for SQL 2005 Server as well if there was enough demand for it. Apparently there was, because Raphael released the newest version of this MP today which adds support for SQL 2005 Server.

MP to be found here. Thanks Raphael for your efforts.

DNS 2008 Monitor Zone Resolution Alert. Source: TrustAnchors

Bumped into this Alert where DNS is in place, based on Windows Server 2008 R2. Never saw this error before.

So I Googled a bit and bumped into this posting of Ian Blyth. Finally I ended up disabling the monitor targeted against the TrustAnchors of the two DNS servers.

Thanks Ian!

Visio Stencils for Hyper-V and Virtualization

Got this one from System Center Central, so all credits go to them for mentioning these Visio Stencils.

In today's world virtualization is commonly used. So when one designs a SCOM (R2) environment many or all SCOM server roles are virtualized. These Visio stencils assist you in making good Visio drawings.

Stencils to be downloaded from here.

Special thanks to Jonathan Cusson who created and shares these Visio Stencils.