Friday, November 30, 2012

Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V Books

With System Center 2012 becoming more and more like one product, consisting out of many components, like OM12, VMM, SCOrch, SCSM and the lot, it’s hard to ignore the underlying platform as well.

In my line of work I see a shift taking place. Even though in real life the SC 2012 product and it’s related components might be challenging and not always working seamlessly together as the marketing machine of Microsoft wants us to believe, the foundation is good and with SP1 for SC 2012 getting better.

For a long time I tried to focus myself on some of the SC 2012 components. However, when touching VMM it’s a bit harder since the very product manages hypervisors (XenServer, VMware and Hyper-V of course).

I am a Microsoft man so soon I found myself digging through whitepapers, blogs and free e-books all about Hyper-V. And to my surprise, loving it.

No I am not aiming to become a Hyper-V specialist but I want to know the basics and how to integrate and manage it with VMM. With Windows Server 2012 Microsoft has made a huge leap with Hyper-V and brought it to a whole new level where it can really compete with VMware.

So it’s important for me to learn about Hyper-V version 3 by buying the right books. Even though there are already some out there, two of them really stand out since they’re written by people who work with it on a daily basis. So they know it, inside and out. One of these books is already available and another will be published soon.

  1. Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V Cookbook
    Written by Leandro Carvalho a virtualization MVP. Book is already available in paperback and Kindle edition (a one-click Buy & Read experience!).

  2. Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V Installation and Configuration Guide
    Written by Patrick Lownds, Michel Luescher, Damian Flynn AND the man who’s feared (and perhaps even hated? Glimlach) by VMware. The man who speaks his mind and LOVES Hyper-V, Aidan Finn. I am a regular visitor of his blog. His postings are fun to read since he mixes technology with his open and direct approach to it all. Resulting in a unique style of blogging.

    This book isn’t available yet but will be soon. For now in paperback format. Hopefully a Kindle edition will become available as well since I really love that format for e-books.

Any one involved with Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V version 3 should buy these books since they’ll teach you a lot and even more since these books are written by the Hyper-V mechanics themselves, standing knee deep in the grease, oil and boiler rooms of Hyper-V, the modern datacenters . No marketing bullshit crap but the real deal.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Cisco UCS MP Download & Information Links

Whenever you need the Cisco Unified Computing System (UCS) MP here are some useful download and information links:
  • Plug-in Cisco webpage
    • SCOM 2012 – Management Pack v2.5 Downloads
      • Quick Start Guide
      • Release Notes
      • MSI file containing the MP itself
    • SCOM 2007R2 – Management Pack v2.4 Downloads
      • Quick Start Guide
      • Release Notes
      • MSI file containing the MP itself
    • System Center Orchestrator (SCO) Integration Pack Downloads
      • Quick Start Guide
      • IP
    • Archive: SCOM 2007R2 – Management Pack v2.1.0 Download
      • ZIP archive
  • Three blog postings from, all about the latest MP with running the Cisco UCS Emulator

A real matryoshka doll:
One thing to keep in mind: The MP ( is like a matryoshka doll: It doesn’t contain any any Discoveries, nor any Unit Monitor only one Rule and two basic Views. But don’t let that fool you.

The real magic happens when the newly added Management Pack Template Cisco Unified Computing Systems is successfully run: many Discoveries, Rules, (Unit) Monitors, (Diagram/State/Performance/Alert) Views are created afterwards, so be patient.

So make sure to create a dedicated unsealed MP when you run this MP Template because all of those objects will be saved into that MP…

Cross Post: OpsMgr 2012 – Agents Across Slow WAN Links Are Unable To Communicate

This is a very important posting even though it dates from the 26th of October 2012.

Fellow MVP Daniele Grandini writes about an issue where SCOM R2/OM12 Agents and Gateways across slow WAN links are unable to communicate.

Back in 2010 I bumped into a similar situation which took me many days to crack. And somehow I solved it but it never felt OK. Like the situation had solved itself and that my actions were of no influence what so ever. They simply coincided with the other real remediation. Now I know why.

So anyone using Agents/Gateways on remote locations connected by slow WAN links and without a DC on that location, might bump into this issue as well.

Even though the ‘solution’ mentioned in this posting isn’t very solid, at least I know now what really caused the issue back in 2010. And on top of it all, Daniele has provided a PowerShell scripts which mimics the call made by the Management Server. When it takes about one second or more to complete changes are you have the same issues…

New OM12 MP: Monitoring Windows Server 2012 Remote Desktop Services

Yesterday Microsoft released a new MP (OM12 only!) for monitoring Windows Server 2012 Remote Desktop Services, version 7.0.8560.0.

MP and its related guide can be downloaded from here.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

System Center Blog App For iPhone, Android & Windows Phone

An employer of Microsoft created an app which aggregates the official blogs related to news and support for various Microsoft System Center and MDOP products (App-V, AVIcode, Configuration Manager, SMS 2003, Data Protection Manager, MED-V, Opalis, Orchestrator, Operations Manager, MOM 2005, Server App-V, Service Manager, VMM and WSUS).

For any one working with System Center products this app is a must have. Go here for more information about this app and where to get it.

Microsoft Private Cloud Fast Track Guidance Set

Recently Microsoft released a set of documents assisting you to implement a private cloud solution.

As Microsoft states: ‘…Customers can use this guidance to implement a private cloud solution with hardware they already own or purchase…’.

The guidance set consists out of these documents:

  • Reference Architecture Guide:
    This guide details a reference architecture that incorporates many Microsoft product and consulting team best practices.  The architecture is the foundation for a highly available, scalable, secure, and manageable private cloud with high performance.  While all organizations will find it of value, it will prove most useful to medium through large enterprise environments.
  • Reference Deployment Guide:
    This guide provides detailed installation and configuration steps to deploy the physical architecture detailed in the reference architecture guide.
  • Reference Operations Guide:
    This guide includes many of the operational tasks that are often executed in a private cloud environment

The whole set can be downloaded from this location.

Orchestrator Survival Guide

For some months now Microsoft has published a Wiki all about System Center 2012 – Orchestrator.

It covers all aspects of Orchestrator and provides many resources for any one working with this product:

Want to know more? Go here.

Cross Post: SCOM & Excel

Michel Kamp is a fellow MVP and has written an excellent posting about how to use Excel to retrieve data from the OpsMgr database. He’s even sharing his Excel sheet when you drop him a note!

Michel’s approach to SCOM is from the angle of a programmer so his postings on his blog have a totally different point of view which makes his blog even more interesting.

Thanks for sharing Michel!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Dell MP Suite, version 5.0.1. Part III: Server Monitoring

Postings in the same series:
Part  I Let’s Start
Part IIKnow What’s In Place
Part IVThe Verdict

This is the third posting of a series about the Dell MP Suite, version 5.0.1 When you haven’t read the previous postings you’re advised to do so before reading this posting.

Purpose of this posting
In this posting I’ll tell you about the monitoring of Dell servers, also referred to as (what else?) Server Monitoring. When the Dell MP Suite is installed three Dell MPs are imported into your SCOM R2/OM12 MG. As stated before, these MPs serve as the foundation for the rest of the Dell MPs you’re going to import.

The same installer also places an impressive amount of MPs on the hard drive of that computer (by default in C:\Program Files\Dell Management Packs\Server Mgmt Suite\5.0.1). Gladly Dell helps us a bit here and groups these MPs in folders so you’ll know what they’re meant for:

The folder Server Monitoring contains 8 MPs in total, all aimed at monitoring the Dell Server hardware:

Even though you might be tempted to import every single one of them, please don’t! Only import the MPs your organization really requires and nothing more. It keeps the monitoring environment lean & mean and far more easier to manage compared to a situation where you have an overkill of information (Alerts for instance) while no one deems them really important which is bad since it creates an environment where really important Alerts are easily overlooked…

And please don’t go to the organization asking them what they want to have monitored. They want it all just because they can and don’t understand the impact of it.

It’s better to ask what ICT components the organization deems really critical for their business and map those requirements yourself. After all, you’re the SCOM/OM12 expert and knows best how to translate the organizational requirements to the monitoring technologies you run. And when you think the mappings are OK, check them with some colleagues who have a good understanding of the organization as well, for instance a service manager. This way you know you’re in the clear and have a solid foundation to build on.

There is enough to tell so let’s start.

The Server Monitoring MPs
So there are eight MPs for only monitoring Dell server hardware, which is a lot. Let’s differentiate them so you know what these MPs are meant for.

Library MPs
These MPs deliver the basis for the monitoring of the Dell server hardware and are referenced by all other Dell Server Monitoring MPs. These MPs themselves refer to two of the three Dell MPs which were imported when the setup file of the Dell MP Suite was run.

    Library file for Server monitoring
    Library file for Server monitoring
    Library file for Server monitoring

This how these MPs refer to the other Dell MPs:
Dell MPs on the right (dark blue) are the three MPs imported when the setup file of the Dell MP Suite was run.
Dell MPs in light blue are the 3 library MPs used as the foundation for Dell Server Monitoring.
The arrows show how they reference each other.

These 3 library Dell MPs are required when you want to run any level of Dell server hardware.

Basic/Extended MPs
These MPs deliver the real monitoring of the Dell server hardware. One of them is an OOB (Out-Of-Band) MP which only works in OM12 and when the MP for WS-Management and SMASH Device Discovery is imported. So when you run SCOM R2, only import the first one as listed below.

    Dell Windows Server Scalable Management Pack for agent-based (in-band) lightweight, scalable server discovery and monitoring of Dell Systems.
    Dell Server (Out Of Band) Management Pack for agentless server discovery and monitoring of Dell Systems on SCOM 2012.

These MPs refer to the three library MPs mentioned before and to two of the three Dell MPs which were imported when the setup file of the Dell MP Suite was run:
Dell MPs on the right (dark blue) are the three MPs imported when the setup file of the Dell MP Suite was run.
Dell MPs on the left (green) are the 2 library MPs used for Dell Server Monitoring.
The arrows show how they reference each other.

The ‘You-Want-To-Know-It-All-And-To-Get-All-Alerts’ Dell MPs
These MPs are really something special and to be reckoned with. When imported blindly (just because you can), changes are you’ll be flooded by information. Whether it enhances the overall quality of the monitoring experience is something else though. So be carefull and ONLY import them when you think they’re required. Otherwise let them be or even better, delete them from the servers so no one can import them by accident…

    Dell Windows Server Detailed Management Pack for agent-based Systems Management(in-band) detailed discovery and monitoring of Dell Servers and its components.
    Dell Overrides utility for turning ON the Informational Alerts provided in the Dell Windows Server Scalable Management Pack.
    Dell Server Out-Of-Band Detailed Monitoring On - Overrides MP enable detailed component-level monitoring for the Dell Server (Out Of Band) Management Pack.

These MPs refer to the Dell MPs used for basic/extended monitoring of Dell based hardware, to the library Dell MPs and to one Dell MPs which were imported when the setup file of the Dell MP Suite was run.
Dell MPs on the right (dark blue) are the three MPs imported when the setup file of the Dell MP Suite was run.
Dell MPs on the left (orange) are the 3 extension MPs used for Dell Server Monitoring.
The arrows show how they reference each other.

Bringing it all together
As you already see, there are many references between these MPs. When lighting everything up in a single picture, the references look like this:

Personally I would start with these MPs:

  1. The three library MPs;
  2. The MP which enables basic monitoring, the

And only when some Dell servers require monitoring but an Agent isn’t an option AND it’s an OM12 environment were talking about, I would take the into consideration. But I would want to test it first before putting it into production.

A server can only be monitored once by a single Management Group, whether it’s agentless or with an Agent. So when a server is covered by agentless monitoring an Agent can’t be installed anymore. Besides that, Agentless monitoring creates a bigger load on a server compared to monitoring running an Agent simply because the Agent decided what’s happens and when. When the load becomes too heavy it will throttle it or even shut down itself.

How about the quality of three library and basic monitoring MPs?
What better tool to use than MPBA (Management Pack Best Practices Analyzer)?

    Nothing really bad to mention here.
    Would like to see this screen more often. But for this MP I didn’t expect less since it’s an almost empty MP.
    A nuisance: The newest Alerts won’t be shown first because the sorting isn’t correct. Even though minor it’s no fun.
    OUCH!!! This is one of the MPs it’s all about and this is where Dell starts dropping the ball!!!

    Way too many Criticals and Warnings. Violations? Plenty!
    - Core MP Functionality: Elements in an expression must be explicitly defined when doing comparisons;
    - Core MP Functionality: Rules and monitors that are not enabled by default should be documented;
    - Core MP Functionality: All scripts should include the US locale;
    - Core MP Functionality: Performance collection rules should be categorized correctly;
    - Core MP Functionality: Unit monitor AlertOnState should correspond to a valid unhealthy state;
    - Core MP Functionality: AlertSeverity should correspond to the severity of this monitor's unhealthy state;
    - Localization: Alerts should not use hardcoded names or descriptions;
    - Knowledge and Documentation: Knowledge articles should have valid section names;
    - Usability: Management pack elements should have display names;
    - Extensibility & Compability: Monitor should have public accessibility.

    Time for a deeper dive into this MP. Lets run MPViewer against it.
    Hmm, the Dell Server Discovery runs against every Windows Computer once per 24 hours. Way too much when you ask me, I would change that to once a week (604800 seconds).

    Also good to know this Discovery only runs successfully on Windows Server running OMSA 6.2 or higher:
    A quick count:
    - 7 Discoveries, 4 of them are enabled by default (run once per 24 hours);
    - 456 Rules, 206 of them are enabled by default (all event driven!);
    - 38 Unit Monitors, 33 are enabled by default.

    As you can see a LOT of things happen in your SCOM R2/OM12 environment when this MP is imported!

When you want to monitor your Windows servers based on Dell hardware a lot of the monitoring is already delivered by only importing the three library MPs and the MP for ‘basic’ monitoring. When these MPs are in place start tuning right away since the Discovery runs way too often and 206 Rules are collecting events, which is a bit too much for ‘basic’ monitoring.

And go from there. Only import the OOB MPs when required AND tested thoroughly. Even though Dell has done a lot to improve them (remember the old days when the Dell MPs could wreck your SCOM RTM environment?) it still makes me a bit sad that the MP which is so important ( contains so many issues…

So be careful here and start light. The OOB MPs are using SNMP to a great extend so make sure your SCOM R2/OM12 Management Servers can handle the additional load. Also take a good look at the sizing of your databases since a LOT of additional information will be flowing in.

One of the three MPs which is imported when the Dell Suite MP installer is run (Dell Feature Management) only introduces a way to import the Dell MPs from the Monitoring pane.

Which is a BAD idea for some reasons:

  1. You don’t want to expose this kind of features to a SCOM R2/OM12 Operator. Even though those actions will be blocked, it doesn’t need exposure there;
  2. Last but not least, as you can see the Dell MPs introduce many many things into your SCOM R2/OM12 environment. It’s better for you to stay in control and to import the required, tested and allowed Dell MPs by yourself and not to have a process like this one do it for you where you loose another level of control…

Since this MP isn’t referenced by any other MP at all, simply remove it and be done with it.


That’s way much better!

Cross Post: MSMQ MP Misconfiguration

Last week I got an e-mail from Vedran Matica, from Zagreb, Croatia. He’s a systems architect and runs a blog on System Center. Even though he doesn’t post on a regular basis, there is some good content to be found there.

His last posting is about the MSMQ MP which seems to collect way too many events, resulting in a bloated OpsMgr database…

So for anyone running this MP, go here in order to know what’s happening and how to tune it properly.

All credits go to Vedran Matica for sharing his knowlegde and experience. Thanks for sharing!

Friday, November 23, 2012

Veeam MP For VMware Report Issue SOLVED: ‘Query execution failed for dataset 'AnalysisDS'. Error converting data type varchar to numeric’

Bumped into this issue on a customers location. OM12 in place and a VMware production environment. Of course the Veeam MP for VMware was installed, imported and configured. Soon the information started to flow into OM12. Nice!

The issue
Time for some demonstrations in order to show the power of the Veeam MP for VMware!

Everything went just fine. But when I tried to ran the report Virtual Machines. Right-sizing – VMs Oversized for Memory and CPU, I got this error (with remote errors on the related SSRS instance enabled):

This puzzled me since the Collation setting is 100% OK. But as the last sentence of the error states (Error converting data type varchar to numeric) changes are something else is at play here, the (in)famous location issues we IT people living outside the US/UK do experience many times…

The cause
One of the reasons I am a BIG fan of Veeam is not only the quality of its products but also the high level of support one gets. Within a minute I located this issue in their KB library, article KB1565.

And indeed, the location issue is at play here. Have bumped into it many times before with other software as well. In western Europe many countries use the comma (,) as decimal separator format whereas the US uses the dot (.) instead. And this is why the report fails. It expects a dot (.) and gets a comma (,) instead.

So there is nothing wrong with the dataset of that report, it’s just the location setting which is haunting me from day one I became an IT geek…

Taken directly from KB1565:

‘…To resolve the issue, either set the English System Locale in Region and Language options or change the decimal separator setting in Region and Language> Formats> Additional settings> Decimal symbol (for Win 2k3: Region and Language OptionsRegional Options> Customize> Decimal Symbol). Make sure you change the decimal symbol for nworks collector service account…’

After these steps I did a rebuild of the full topology ‘…Next, trigger full topology rebuild in nworks UI> Enterprise Manager> Rebuild Full Topology (available, when the Enterprise Manager node is selected in the left pane)…’ and soon afterwards the report worked like a charm!

When using OpsMgr 2012 and other software in area’s where a comma (,) is used as decimal separator, make sure you run your servers in the English system locale OR change the decimal symbol to a dot (.) instead.

And last but not least, the customer was even more impressed about Veeam because the time to fix (time measured from the moment the problem was found, the cause isolated and a solution applied), took less then half an hour simply because Veeam has a good relevant and up to date KB library in place. Awesome!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Cross Post: The Road to SCOM 2012

My fellow MVP Cameron Fuller (and much respected friend) will soon present a webinar for Savision on called “The Road to SCOM 2012”. He will be discussing the top 10+ things to consider when moving to Operations Manager 2012.

The times for these are listed below:

Since I came to know Cameron as a person who knows really much about OM12 and shares his experiences and knowledge openly, I am sure the webinar will be very interesting. So any one planning to move to OM12, join this free webinar and learn.

KB2573329: Troubleshooting Empty Reports

Some time ago Microsoft updated KB2573329 all about troubleshooting empty Reports in SCOM R2/OM12.

It contains besides a series of symptoms also a walkthrough (resolution) how to pinpoint the causes of your issue. In the resolution five different steps are identified and described in detail along with the required SQL queries you’ll need to run against the Data Warehouse database.

This KB article is really helpful when having issues with empty reports. Want to know more, read KB2573329.

Base OS MP Version 6.0.6989.0 Imported? And Now Some Reports Are Partially Empty?

I have seen this issue on multiple locations: The customer has imported the latest version of the Windows Server OS MP (aka Base OS MP) version 6.0.6989.0 and after some time these Reports (found under Reports > Windows Server Operating System Reports) Performance By System and Performance By Utilization fail to show the data related to the Processor performance, like this for instance:

First of all the good news. When your Reports did show data related to the Processor before you updated the Base OS MP to version 6.0.6989.0 changes are your SCOM R2/OM12 environment isn’t having issues at all. So before the Base OS MP was updated the Performance By System Report looked like this (based on the Base OS MP version 6.0.6958.0):

With the latest version of the Base OS MP, Microsoft has changed some Rules for Performance Collection, among them the Rule which collects the Total Percentage Processor Time. Kevin Holman already blogged about it: ‘…Several monitoring workflows were change from Processor, to “Processor Information” perf object.  This change was made because a new perf counter/object (Processor Information) was added to the OS to support more than 64 logical processors.  The old perf counter object (Processor) was limited to 64 CPU’s.  As physical hardware is starting to ship 6+ core systems, with HT, and multiple sockets, this was a problem for measuring utilization for VERY large boxes…’

And he continues to explain it further: ‘…NOTE:  This might BREAK your existing reports and dashboard views that are expecting “Processor” object, as we no longer collect that.…. so be prepared to make some changes there…’

And guess what? The two mentioned Reports aren’t adjusted to reflect this change. So the Reports want to show performance data which isn’t longer collected.

Old situation (Base OS MP before version 6.0.6989.0)
Let’s check the performance collection Rule Processor % Processor Time 2008:

As you can see, the Object is Processor and the Counter is % Processor Time, which matches 1:1 with the related Reports, for instance the Performance By System Report:

New situation (Base OS MP version 6.0.6989.0)
Let’s check the performance collection Rule Processor % Processor Time 2008:

As you can see, the Object is changed to Processor Information with the same counter (% Processor Time). On the other hand, the Report itself is still using the ‘old’ Performance Collection Rule which isn’t used anymore, thus resulting in partially empty Reports Bedroefde emoticon.

There are two solutions: either changing the underlying code of the Reports involved and upload the modified Reports – under a different name – to the SSRS instance being used by SCOM R2/OM12.

The other solution is faster and requires less ‘magic’: rebuilding the old Perfomance Collection Rule and disable the new one. After a couple of days the earlier mentioned Reports will start showing data again. In this posting I’ll give you a quick explanation how to do this.

Creating a new Performance Collection Rule & Disabling the old one
When you have ‘beasts’ of Servers in place where many CPUs are present, it’s better to disable the Performance Collection Rule Processor % Processor Time 2008 using a Group which is dynamically populated with all Windows Servers which has those ‘beasts’ as excluded members. This way this Performance Collection Rule will run against those Windows Servers and will be disabled against all other Windows Servers.

Also it’s a good idea to put these modifications in a dedicated MP. Simply because I expect Microsoft to repair this glitch in a next version of the Base OS MP. When you put all these modifications in a special dedicated MP you only have to delete it and be done with it. Otherwise you have to go through it step by step which is a more time consuming process…

  1. Open the SCOMR2/OM12 Console with an account which has sufficient permissions to create/modify Rules;
  2. Go to Authoring > Authoring > Management Pack Objects;
  3. Hit ‘Change Scope’ and type Windows Server 2008 Processor;
  4. Select the Rule Processor % Processor Time 2008 and disable it through an override (put it in a dedicated MP like Temporary MP for Processor Performance);
  5. Right click Type: Windows Server 2008 Processor (3) and select Create a new Rule;
  6. As stated before put this Rule in a dedicated MP (example: Temporary MP for Processor Performance);
  7. Select the correct type of Rule to create (Collection Rules > Performance Based > Windows Performance);
    > Next
  8. Give it a proper name, like Processor % Processor Time 2008 – TEMPORARY and a proper description:
    Because of Step 4 and 5 the Rule Category and Rule Target are set correctly. Double check them though. > Next;
  9. In this screen, hit the Select button. Select a server which is running Windows Server 2008 R2 and select the correct items according the screen dump. Hit the OK button and the fields Object (Processor), Counter (% Processor Time) and Instance (_Total) will be filled with the correct information.
    Set the interval to 5 minutes > Next
  10. Place a checkmark for Use Optimization, select the option Absolute number and set it to 5;
    > Create. The temporary new Performance Collection Rule will be created now.

Within a few days the earlier mentioned Reports will show data again for the processor object Glimlach.

New MP: Monitoring SharePoint Server 2013

Some weeks ago Microsoft released a new MP for monitoring SharePoint Server 2013, version 15.0.4425.1000.

Taken directly from the website:

Feature Summary
The Microsoft SharePoint Server 2013 Management Pack is designed to be used for monitoring SharePoint 2013 Products events, collecting SharePoint component-specific performance counters in one central location, and for raising alerts for operator intervention as necessary. By detecting, sending alerts, and automatically correlating critical events, this management pack helps indicate, correct, and prevent possible service outages or configuration problems, allowing you to proactively manage SharePoint servers and identify issues before they become critical. The management pack monitors and provides alerts for automatic notification of events indicating service outages, performance degradation, and health monitoring.

  • Health monitoring of SharePoint Server 2013
  • Monitors Events and Services and alerts when service outages are detected
  • Monitors Performance and warns users when SharePoint performance is at risk
  • Forwards users to up-to-date TechNet knowledge articles

MP can be downloaded from here.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Dell MP Suite, version 5.0.1. Part II: Know What’s In Place.

Postings in the same series:
Part  I Let’s Start
Part IIIServer Monitoring
Part IVThe Verdict

This is the second posting of a series all about the Dell MP Suite version 5.0.1. When you haven’t read the first posting of this series I’ll advise you to do so before reading this one.

A small recap of the first posting. Here I installed the file and as we saw, the installer did three things:

  • It unpacked all contained MP files and the related guides in the folder C:\Dell Management Packs\Server Management Pack\5.0.1;
  • It installed, configured and started this COM+ application:Dell Device Helper;
  • And finally, imported three MPs into your SCOM/OM12 Management Group.

    Purpose of this posting & some useful tools
    This posting will be about these three MPs since they are the very foundation of all the other Dell MPs you’re going to import. For this purpose I used the tool MPViewer 2.2.1, to be found here and the MPBA (Management Pack Best Practices Analyzer). These tools should be part the toolbox of any one working with SCOM/OM12 on a daily basis.

    With a BIG word of thanks to Boris Yanushpolsky who wrote the original set of these tools for SCOM and Daniele Muscetta who updated these tools for OM12. Thank you guys!

    MPViewer enables you to take a quick look into any MP in order to see what it does and how. No, it won’t protect you totally from nasty and unwanted surprises but it will rule out the most nasty ones, like Discoveries which run way too often for instance. When such a thing is at hand you know exactly what overrides to make and when overrides can’t be set, you simply don’t import that MP.

    Another nice thing of this tool is you’re able to export the view dump to an Excel XML file (makes it more easy to filter, count and to sort everything since per topic a tab is created) or as an HTML file making it easier to get a quick overview with the underlying code, thus revealing more information compared to the Excel XML file which doesn’t show the underlying code.

    MPBA is the tool which checks to what extend any given MP adheres to a set of Best Practices for MP Authoring. It’s part of the MP Authoring Console used for MP development in the days of SCOM 2007. Even though it’s a bit outdated it’s still a good tool to give you an insight into the overall build quality of any given MP.

    This way you’re in control and know far more better what a MP does and doesn’t do in your environment.

    In order to demonstrate the power of these tools I have uploaded the MPBA Reports and the related MPViewer exports (in HTML and Excel XML formats) to my SkyDrive. This way you can see what these tools can do for you as well.

    The 3 Dell MPs

    1. Dell Feature Management
      (ID: Dell.FeatureManagement.Pack)
      This MP is one of the three MPs which is imported into your SCOM/OM12 Management Group when the setup file Dell_Server_Management_Pack_Suite_x86_x64.exe is run.

      As the description of this MP states: ‘…Dell Feature Management Utility facilitates to monitor installed Management pack features, indicate available feature version and perform feature management actions such as import, set management modes and remove features by the administrator…’

      When opening this MP in the tool MPViewer you’ll see this MP is a foundation indeed. There aren’t any kind of Monitors, Recoveries or Reports to be found. Only one (discovery) Rule is defined (MonitoringFeature Discovery Periodic Trigger Rule), enabled by default which runs once per 24 hours. This discovery interval is OK and won’t cause too much of a burden on your environment.
      And when you want to change this interval (bump it up, not down please) the good news is it can be done through an override on the Rule ‘MonitoringFeature Discovery Periodic Trigger Rule’. Also the Timeout (default 180 seconds) can be modified.

      This MP contains three basic Discoveries, four Views, a couple of Dependencies and defines 19 Classes, depicted here:
      These Classes will be used by all the other Dell MPs you’ll import later on.

      On top of it all, this MP also defines a bunch of Tasks (24 in total), all of them related to other Dell MPs:

      When running MPBA it’s output isn’t too bad actually, with only one critical item (a workflow using the wrong scheduler module). Have seen other MPs being in a far worse state.

      So now we know what this one does. Let’s move on to the second MP which is imported while running setup.

    2. Dell Base Hardware Library
      (ID: Dell.Connections.HardwareLibrary)

      This MP is the second of the three MPs which is imported into your SCOM/OM12 Management Group when the setup file Dell_Server_Management_Pack_Suite_x86_x64.exe is run.

      As the description of this MP states: ‘…Dell Base Hardware Library MP v4.0. The Dell Base Hardware Library Management Pack provides the high level hierarchy of view folder structure and root group for the Dell Management Packs to rollup hierarchy and health…’

      Basically meaning this MP should only contain one or more Views. Let’s check it out. And indeed, besides the ‘usual suspects’ (2 Dependencies, 1 Class and 1 Group) it contains 1 View only ‘Complete Diagram View’.

      MPBA tells us all is clear. Would have been bad when it wasn’t since this MP is almost empty.

    3. Dell OperationsLibrary Common
      (ID: Dell.OperationsLibrary.Common)

      This MP is the last one of the three MPs which is imported into your SCOM/OM12 Management Group when the setup file Dell_Server_Management_Pack_Suite_x86_x64.exe is run.

      As the description of this MP states: ‘…Dell Common Operations Library Management Pack for Microsoft SCOM/SCE…’.

      Basically meaning this is foundation MP for the other Dell MPs as well. So it won’t contain any Rule or Monitor for that matter. Let’s check it out with the two earlier mentioned tools.

      The MP is almost empty since it contains 3 Classes, 2 Discoveries, both running once per 24 hrs (86400 seconds). Only one Discovery can be modified for it’s discovery & timeout-intervals (Dell License Configuration Discovery) whereas the other (Dell Registry Discovery) can’t be modified for it’s interval. In this case however not a big deal since it’s targeted against the Management Servers only so it won’t create any load on the monitored Windows Servers.

      MPBA however isn’t really happy and shows many times the same warning: ‘Management Pack elements should have display names’:

      Unfortunately I see this warning way too many times in many other MPs from other vendors as well. Seems to me people are under tight schedules and cut corners short by not adding names for MP elements. Which makes such an element hard to track since it has no name Sad smile.

      Not a showstopper but neither a showcase of good and solid MP authoring.

    As stated before I don’t like installers which – without telling - import MPs into any SCOM/OM12 environment. But sometimes there is no way to get around that for which a test lab comes in handy. But when the installer is finished I want to know what MPs are imported and even more important what they do and how they function. The two earlier mentioned tools are a great help in order to gain that knowledge.

    The three Dell MPs aren’t bad nor 100% OK. But on a scale of 0 (really bad) to 100 (a shiny example for any other MP out there) I rate these three MPs with an overall score of 80

    So these MPs are welcome into my environment, allowing me to start monitoring Dell based hardware because without them the other Dell MPs simply won’t import.

    Homework and next posting
    For any one who hasn’t imported the Dell MPs just yet, it’s a good time now to wait in order to collect the requirements of your organization for monitoring Dell hardware. This way you can map those same requirements to the MPs delivered by Dell.

    In the next posting of this (small Smile with tongue out?) series I will zoom in the other Dell MPs. See you all next time.

  • Webinar: Monitoring VMware & Private Clouds With System Center 2012

    Veeam is a company which has the true community spirit. They invest a lot of time, resources and budget in order to support the community and to bring it to the next level.

    The latest contribution of Veeam to the community is a recorded webinar all about Monitoring VMware & Private Clouds With System Center 2012 (and Veeam software of course Smile).

    One of the featured speakers is much respected fellow MVP Pete Zerger. He is one of the MVPs who’s around for many years and operates on a real high level. So when he has something to say it’s worth listening to.

    Taken directly from the related web page: ‘...Watch this recorded webinar and learn how to get the most out of your VMware vSphere, Microsoft System Center 2012 Operations Manager and private cloud deployments. During this one hour webinar, Pete will share monitoring best practices to help you:

    • Monitor with the "Virtualization Stack" in mind
    • Use the Veeam Management Pack to gain visibility into the cloud
    • Get new reports for trending, capacity planning and forecasting

    Want to see it yourself? Go here.

    OM12 Visio Stencils - Cross Post

    Got this one from Dieter Wijckmans. He posted about it. Taken directly from his blog posting:

    ‘…Larry Rayl a senior consultant at Catapult Systems has created and posted a nice set of SCOM 2012 Visio Stencils creating the possibility to even further customize your SCOM 2012 Visio designs.There are some really specific Visio stencils in there which were not available out of the box in Visio or in the old Scom 2007 visio stencils. A pretty cool addition to your standard toolkit if you ask me!

    The blog posting from Catapult Systems can be found here. The Visio stencils can be downloaded from System Center Central.

    Thanks for sharing Larry! Awesome!

    Free E-book: Introducing Windows 8: An Overview For IT Professionals (Final Edition)

    Yesterday Microsoft released the final edition of a FREE e-book, all about Windows 8 with the title: Introducing Windows 8: An Overview for IT Professionals.

    For anyone preferring a hardcopy, it can be ordered here for $14,99 from O’Reilly Media.

    • Topics found in this book:
    • Performance, reliability, and security features
    • Deployment options
    • Windows Assessment and Deployment Kit
    • Windows PowerShell™ 3.0 and Group Policy
    • Managing and sideloading apps
    • Internet Explorer® 10
    • Virtualization, Client Hyper-V, and Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack
    • Recovery features

    You can download your FREE e-book here.

    Tuesday, November 13, 2012

    IPD Guide For OM12 Is Available

    The Infrastructure Planning and Design Guide for OM12 is available for download now.

    As the team who wrote this guide states: ‘…This guide outlines the infrastructure design elements that are crucial to a successful implementation of Operations Manager. It guides you through the process of designing components, layout, and connectivity in a logical, sequential order. You’ll find easy-to-follow steps on identification and design of the required management groups, helping you to optimize the management infrastructure...’

    The downloadable zip file contains 3 files, a Visio file, Word document and a PDF file. Very good information it is.

    IPD for OM12 can be downloaded from here.

    Monday, November 12, 2012

    Dell MP Suite, version 5.0.1. Part I: Let’s Start

    Postings in the same series:
    Part II - Know What’s In Place
    Part IIIServer Monitoring
    Part IVThe Verdict

    Since August the 21st a new MP for monitoring all kinds of Dell hardware has been released, version 5.0.1, the Dell Server Management Pack Suite. Since there aren’t many postings to be found on this latest release of this MP suite, I have decided to add my own two cents here. Let’s start since there is much to tell.

    Too much actually so I have decided to write a small series of postings about this MP.

    The name of the MP contains the word ‘suite’ and indeed it is since it covers many different kinds of hardware manufactured by Dell:

    1. MPs for monitoring Dell server hardware
      (PowerEdge series: 9G, 10G, 11G and 12G with Server Out-of band monitoring and chassis blade correlation. PowerVault series: 9G, 10G and 11G);
    2. MPs for monitoring the Chassis Management Controller
      (CMC, DRAC,/MC);
    3. MPs for monitoring the Remote Access Controllers
      (DRAC 5, iDRAC 6 & 7);
    4. MPs for monitoring and inventory of the blade servers within a chassis.

    Per hardware item to be monitored there are multiple MPs to be imported. Some of them are required where as others are adding more monitoring ‘power’ to the mix. Even though many of this MPs are compatible with SCOM R2 (and even SCE which is understandable since it runs the SCOM R2 engine), for additional monitoring power OM12 is required.

    Out-Of Band Monitoring & OM12
    Dell refers to this additional monitoring power as ‘Out-Of-Band-Monitoring’ for which an additional Microsoft MP is required, the MP for WS-Management and SMASH Device Discovery, to be found here. This MP adds a new template to OM12, which enables discovery and management of WS-Management/SMASH compliant devices.

    Basically meaning without OM12 and the additional MP delivered by Microsoft, Out-Of-Band-Monitoring’  won’t fly. Only import this MP when you run OM12 and your organization requires the Out-Of-Band Monitoring as offered by Dell. Otherwise leave that MP for what it is.

    RTFM & Only Import What Your Organization Requires
    As goes for any MP, the Dell MP Suite comes with a detailed technical guide (Installation_Guide.pdf) which might be a challenge to read and comprehend. None the less, Read The Friendly Manual and only start importing and tuning the MPs contained in this suite when you know what you’re doing and what MPs you really require.

    Don’t import all the MPs but map them according the requirements of your business. This way you keep your OM12/SCOM R2 environment clean and sharp without collecting (tons) of information no one ever looks into…

    Another must-read is the text file with the name Readme.txt. As the name of the file implies please read it since the file contains the latest info before this MP was made publicly available. Especially the section ‘Open Issues and Resolutions’ is good to read, since it might save you a lot of work before or after you have imported MPs of this suite.

    Installation & What Actually Happens Under The Hood
    The Dell MP Suite can be downloaded from here. It’s a single exe file (Dell_Server_Management_Pack_Suite_v5.0.1_A00.exe) which unpacks itself in the default folder C:\Dell Management Packs\Server Management Pack\5.0.1.

    It puts these three files there:

    1. Installation_Guide.pdf (RTFM Smile with tongue out);
    2. Readme.txt (RTFM as well);
    3. Dell_Server_Management_Pack_Suite_x86_x64.exe (the file containing all the MPs and related Dell framework).

    On purpose I have put the file containing the MPs as the last one in this list since RTFM of those two files is really crucial here…

    When the guides are read the installation file can be run on a Management Server, in my case an OM12 MS. Run the file with an account which has OM12/SCOM R2 Admin permissions. Just go through the wizard and follow the instructions. This screen might seem a bit strange but all you need is a valid account which will be granted access to the Dell Device Helper COM+ application:

    After some time (it might take a few minutes, be patient) the Dell MPs are unpacked in the folder C:\Program Files\Dell Management Packs\Server Mgmt Suite\5.0.1:
    As you can see, there is a lot to monitor. Perhaps too much? Smile

    And not just that. While the setup was running, three Dell MPs were imported into your OM12/SCOM R2 environment as well:

    In your Monitoring View you’ll see this:

    So these three MPs are the real foundation for many of the other MPs to be imported. And on top of it all, here is the Dell Device Helper COM+ application (run DCOMCNFG.EXE from the start menu):

    And here is the account you added during setup (right click the Dell Device Helper COM+ application and select Properties > go to tab Identity):

    Oh, and the COM+ application is running:

    As you can see a lot of stuff happens when double clicking the file Dell_Server_Management_Pack_Suite_x86_x64.exe and we haven’t even started with importing the Dell MPs yet!

    In the next posting of this new series I’ll tell more about the MPs which can be imported and introduce a phased approach in the monitoring of your Dell hardware. So stay tuned and see you all next time.