Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Tweak IIS for Service Manager 2012 Self Service Portal

It's been known for some time that the Self Service Portal in Service Manager can sometimes be rather slow.

This is usually when a user hasn't used it for a while (Usually seen in demo environments) and periodically it will grind for a while.

Travis blogged about some tweaks to IIS centred around the Application Pool and recycling timeouts some time back.

With the amount of scripting I've been doing lately, I thought I'd share a little snippet of PowerShell that can be used to set IIS on your SSP to tweak these settings for a bit more performance.

 NAME: Tune-SCSMPortal.ps1
 AUTHOR: Steve Beaumont
 Website: http://systemscentre.blogspot.com
 Twitter: http://twitter.com/stevybsc
 Version: 1.0
 CREATED: 03/06/2014
 03/06/2014 1.0
 Initial Release

 Tweaks IIS settings for better performance of the System Center 2012 R2 Service Manager Self Service Portal

 Alters the configuration settings for the System Center 2012 R2 Service Manager Self Service Portal App Pool to disable periodic recycling and increase the number of worker processes

 .Parameter SCSMPortalServer
 Specify a remote server to connect to and run the tweaks.  If not specified the script will run on the local host.

 .Parameter AppPoolName
 Specify a different App Pool name to tweak. If not specified the default SCSM app name of "Service Manager Portal" will be used.

 .Parameter SiteName
 Specify a different IIS Site name to tweak. If not specified the default SCSM site name of "Service Manager Portal" will be used.


 .\Tune-SCSPortal.ps1 -SCSMPortalServer PONSCSM05

 .\Tune-SCSPortal.ps1 -SCSMPortalServer PONSCSM05 -AppPoolName "SCSM Pool"

 .\Tune-SCSPortal.ps1 -SCSMPortalServer PONSCSM05 -SiteName "Service Desk"

 .\Tune-SCSPortal.ps1 -SCSMPortalServer PONSCSM05 -AppPoolName "SCSM Pool" -SiteName "Service Desk"


Param (   
    [String]$AppPoolName="Service Manager Portal",
    [String]$SiteName="Service Manager Portal"

Invoke-Command -ComputerName $SCSMPortalServer -ScriptBlock {
 If (!(Get-Module WebAdministration)) {Import-Module WebAdministration}
    Write-Output "*Current App Pool settings*"
    Write-Output "---------------------------"
    Write-Output "Periodic Restart:"
    Get-ItemProperty -Path "IIS:\AppPools\$Using:AppPoolName" -Name Recycling.periodicRestart.time.value
    Write-Output "Idle Timeout:"
 Get-ItemProperty -Path "IIS:\AppPools\$Using:AppPoolName" -Name processModel.idleTimeout.value
    Write-Output "Max Worker Processes:"
 Get-ItemProperty -Path "IIS:\AppPools\$Using:AppPoolName" -Name processModel.maxProcesses.value
    Write-Output ""
 Write-Output "Configuring App Pool settings for better performance..."
    Set-ItemProperty -Path "IIS:\AppPools\$Using:AppPoolName" -Name Recycling.periodicRestart.time -value ([TimeSpan]::FromMinutes(0))
 Set-ItemProperty -Path "IIS:\AppPools\$Using:AppPoolName" -Name processModel.idleTimeout -value ([TimeSpan]::FromMinutes(0))
 [int]$CPU=(Get-WmiObject -namespace "root\CIMV2" -class Win32_Processor -Property NumberOfCores).NumberOfCores
 Set-ItemProperty -Path "IIS:\AppPools\$Using:AppPoolName" -Name processModel.maxProcesses -value $CPU
    Set-WebConfigurationProperty "/system.applicationHost/sites/site[@name=`"$Using:SiteName`"]" -PSPath IIS:\ -Name LogFile -Value (@{enabled=$false})

    Write-Output ""
    Write-Output "Restarting IIS"

Not the easiest to read via this blog, so I've added a more polished version to the TechNet Gallery here:

Saturday, 31 May 2014

Microsoft System Center Advisor - New version heading our way...

At TechEd North America 2014 Microsoft announced the Limited Preview of a new version of System Center Advisor.

Advisor is an online service that can be used standalone, or as an integrated option with System Center Operations Manager.

The new version has a complete overhaul of the UI and the promise of delivering new functionality via "Intelligence Packs" which can be added to your subscription to enable new features and/or display information in new ways.

You can watch the TechEd NA 2014 video on the Channel9 site here: http://aka.ms/Aulpqc

You can signup for the Limited Preview here: http://next.systemcenteradvisor.com/

Before you get started, check out these quick videos from the team at MS:
Advisor Preview 2min Overview Video: http://aka.ms/unrpst
Advisor Preview Onboarding Steps Video: http://aka.ms/Lgt2zu

I'd recommend taking a look at the onboarding process before you go through the process - http://aka.ms/Wrbzug and if you find you're having problems getting started, be sure to checkout this common issues troubleshooting blog post from the team: http://aka.ms/G04tcq

Don't forget to follow the team for news etc on their Twitter handle - @mscAdvisor

Monday, 21 April 2014

Updated 2012 R2 Orchestrator Integration Packs - Fixes ConfigMgr Console Crash

Since the release of System Center 2012 R2 there has been an issue with having the Orchestrator console, with the ConfigMgr integration pack installed, on the same system as the ConfigMgr console.

Having both of them installed would result in the ConfigMgr console crashing when trying to open it with an error similar to this:

Microsoft.ConfigurationManagement has stopped working
Problem signature:
Problem Event Name:          CLR20r3
Problem Signature 01:         LRE420M52QQYT0KWXNWESOVVMQF5I2RH
Problem Signature 02:         5.0.7804.1000
Problem Signature 03:         50adcdf1
Problem Signature 04:         System
Problem Signature 05:         4.0.30319.17929
Problem Signature 06:         4ffa5c88
Problem Signature 07:         5b0
Problem Signature 08:         19
Problem Signature 09:         N3CTRYE2KN3C34SGL4ZQYRBFTE4M13NB
OS Version:                       6.2.9200.
Locale ID:                          1033
Additional Information 1:    5861
Additional Information 2:    5861822e1919d7c014bbb064c64908b2
Additional Information 3:    dac6
Additional Information 4:    dac6c2650fa14dd558bd9f448e23afd1

This was seen previously in the SP1 release - http://support.microsoft.com/kb/2800707

Thankfully the other week an updated version of the integration packs were released.


Note:  Following are the fixes in this release (4/3/2014 - v7.2.167.0):
  • The Configuration Mangager integration pack will cause the Configuration Manager Console to fail when opened.
  • The System Center Operations Manager Monitor Alerts activity can get an out of memory exception when processing a large amount of alerts.
  • The Exchange Administration activities will fail when using Exchange Online with redirection enabled.
  • The Configuration Manager Deploy Task Sequence can incorrectly set the remote client flags if you set the Download locally when needed property. This will cause the client to incorrectly evaluate it and will not run.
  • The Invoke REST Service activity was incorrectly setting the header information when using basic authentication that resulted in a 401 - Unauthorized
  • The SharePoint Integration pack will not connect sucessfully to SharePoint online if it is configured to use Active Directory Federated Services.
  • The SharePoint Integration pack Get List Items will fail to return values for column types of Choice.

Thursday, 3 April 2014

Windows Server 2012 R2 Update (April)

Microsoft announced at //Build a new update for Windows 8.1 that brings new UI features and improvements.

* Updated 08/04/14 - Required Update Changes *

Alongside this is also the fact that the same update is applicable for Windows Server 2012 R2.
The update will be available from the 8th April via Windows Update, is currently available for TechNet and MSDN subscribers and available from the 14th April for Volume Licensing customers as integrated media.

Microsoft have stated that this update will become the new service base for Windows 8.1/2012 R2 moving forwards meaning that all new updates after April will require it to be installed first.

Microsoft have being saying that as part of this update it includes previous update rollups before March, however on first boot I did a scan and found these updates as required:

Doing some further checks also shows (based on MSDN media) these following updates as offline serviced into the image:
  • KB2919442 - March servicing stack update
  • KB2919355 - Windows Update April and top level wrap for the following updates
    • KB2937220
    • KB2938772
    • KB2939471
    • KB2949621

So for a nice clean deployment based on the new Windows Server 2012 R2 Update media we presently only require 2 further updates and these two can be offline service added to the image.
Previously if you ran an update scan before the 8th April (When the April Update went GA on Windows Update) you saw some rollup updates from February and March.  This now isn't the case, but there are some further updates along side the April Update.
So now we have:
Hang on... KB2919355?? This is slightly odd since I deployed this VM using the MSDN media with KB2919355 integrated.  Looks like there must have been some last minute changes since going GA.
This doesn't include .Net 3.5 updates which are shown below but need adding after deployment due to .Net not being able to be offline serviced into an image, best done as part of creating your reference image.
  • KB2898868
  • KB2901125

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

System Center Service Manager - Here to stay!

When talking to customers over the last year or so, it's often been a pointed question that I get asked, "How serious are Microsoft about Service Manager?"

I can sometimes understand why I get asked this.  Since the initial 2012 release, Service Manager has seen relatively little in terms of new features and also very little in terms of performance and bugs fixes.

Well today, Microsoft (in a very pleasant transparent manner) have posted on their Service Manager Engineering blog a statement that shines light on the future approach for SCSM and helps show that Microsoft are not in anyway thinking about abandoning the pivotal component of the System Center stack.

You can read more here:

Thursday, 23 January 2014

Creating Service Connection Point (SCP) for Virtual Machine Manger using PowerShell

After an installation of System Center 2012 R2 Virtual Machine Manager today I was greeted at the end of the Wizard with a message that it couldn't register the SPN or SCP and to manually check them.

It's not the first time I've seen this message and rather helpfully the message directs you to run the ConfigureSCPTool.exe utility This is usually run with syntax similar to this:
"C:\Program Files\Microsoft System Center 2012 R2\Virtual Machine Manager\setup\ConfigureSCPTool.exe"  -install VMMServer.DomainFQDN DomainShort\VMMServer

However when I ran it this time, it didn't create the Service Connection Point (SCP) for me (The SPN's btw were correct already).

The SCP is important as it provides a lookup point in Active Directory for the consoles to connect to the VMM server and I also believe that Bare Metal Deployment of Hyper-V hosts use it in some form.

I could have created the SCP manually using ADSI Edit, but since I'm scripting the installs at the moment, I took 5 minutes to wrap the creation into a script.
The script can be found here: http://sdrv.ms/1ebCofI

The script basically takes an input of your Domain NetBIOS (short) name, your Domain Fully Qualified Domain Name (FQDN), your VMM Server and the service account that your VMM service runs under (I haven't tested with a local system account!).

The script when run will create the SCP object under your server computer object in Active Directory with the required Keywords, Binding Information, Class Name and DNS Info.

Tuesday, 31 December 2013

2013 - A Year in Review

As is the norm with the end of the year I thought I would add my 2 pennies and present my 2013 summary post.

Significant software releases:

Microsoft are in the process of adopting a new development cycle or "Rapid Release Cadence" that we started to hear more about as people talked about the "Windows Blue" project code name.

The first fruits of this saw the following releases this year:
  • January 15th
    General Availability (GA) release of System Center 2012 Service Pack 1 (SP1)
  • August 27th
    Release to Manufacturing (RTM) of Windows 8.1 & Windows Server 2012 R2
  • September 9th
    RTM versions of Windows 8.1 & Windows Server 2012 R2 released to TechNet and MSDN
  • October 18th
    General Availability (GA) of Windows 8.1 & Windows Server 2012 R2 & System Center 2012 R2
    Windows Intune "Wave E"
    Visual Studio 2013 
  • October 22nd
    Just a few Windows Azure Releases...
    General Availability (GA) of Windows Azure Backup Services
    Public preview of Windows Azure Hyper-V Recovery Manager
    Virtual Machines Imporvements (Delete Attached Disks, Availability Set Warnings, SQL AlwaysOn Configuration)
    Windows Azure Active Directory 
    Windows Azure SDK 2.2
  • October 28th
    General Availability (GA) of Windows Azure HDInsight

That's not bad going if you ask me, 7 months between 2 major System Center and Windows releases and a raft of Azure releases.
Not only that but the R2 releases packed in more than a few new features that we have been used to in the past.

However, this new rapid release cycle not been without its problems.
This year has been plagued with problematic software updates, some (KB2887595) with quite disastrous effects (BSOD your Hyper-V cluster anyone?).

There were also numerous problems with the SP1 update for ConfigMgr.

Aidan Finn has a good summary post of Microsoft's new rapid release cadence here:

Addons, Tools and Utils

Over the year there's been some excellent community and partner releases for System Center.  Here's a round-up of some of my personal favourites.

Third Party/Partner Releases
  • Ensight Dashboards and Project Connector from expit
  • Orchestrator End User Portal from ITQ
  • Various Service Manager Utils from SCUtils
  • The ever excellent App Store from Cireson
  • An excellent replacement Service Manager Portal from Syliance
  • Operations Manager Dashboards from Coretech
  • It goes without saying, LiveMaps from Savision
Community Releases


There was a flurry of good books released:

And there's nothing better than some free books!!
The following titles can be found via the summary link below the list.
  • Designing Orchestrator Runbooks
  • Configuration Manager Field Experience
  • Troubleshooting Configuration Manager
  • Cloud Management with App Controller
  • Optimizing Service Manager
  • Network Virtualization and Cloud Computing (Coming Soon)
  • Building a Virtualized Network Solution (Coming Soon)
  • Integrated Cloud Platform (Coming Soon)
  • Introducing Microsoft System Center 2012 R2 Technical Overview


Biggest thing in Private/Hybrid Cloud this year?

Well, I think it has to go jointly to the Windows Azure Pack (WAP) and one of the new components of Orchestrator - Service Management Automation (SMA) that works in conjunction with WAP.

These new additions to System Center 2012 with the R2 release aren't going to jump into place in every datacentre overnight, but they're well worth taking the time to take a look into and start getting your hands dirty with them.

WAP brings the familiar interface of the Public Azure Cloud management portal into your own datacentres bring the ease of management and familiarity to your Private Cloud.

SMA brings the power of PowerShell workflows to enhance your automation in conjunction with WAP to really help drive your Private/Hybrid cloud offerings.

There's an excellent blog series for WAP here along with a "Getting Started" guide for SMA here

If you prefer a more visual/auditory approach, come join us at CloudOS Community for a webinar by Damian Flynn (MVP) who is presenting on WAP on the 8th January 2014.
Tickets are available here from Eventbrite.

So what's happened personally to me in 2013?

Well at the end of August I left my then employer and decided to be brave and setup my own company (PowerONPlatforms) to provide Private/Hybrid Cloud consultancy and also bring a new product to the market, a Cloud Management Appliance based on System Center 2012 R2.  It's almost ready and 2014 should be a great year /fingers crossed.

I got a nice surprise in October when I received the e-mail announcing that I had been awarded the MVP award in System Center Cloud and Datacentre Management!

I became involved in the www.CloudOSCommunity.com community site as a director and we're slowly building up to what should be an amazing community to be a part of.

I was invited to come and do some sessions at the UK Tech Days Online in November, you can watch the on demand stream here and see me floundering about as what should have been a good session on building up networking in VMM went to pot thanks to the demo gods and my Surface struggling to get a network connection /facepalm

As part of the Cloud OS community I jumped on the road, along with a bunch of talented people that we corralled into joining us, where we presented at sessions around the UK as part of our CloudOS Relay event which was a huge success.

In-between the Cloud OS Relay events I managed to skip across the pond to Seattle to join some of the cleverest and most down to earth nice people that I've ever had the pleasure of meeting at my first MVP Summit.

So all in all, I've not really stopped since September (not to say that I wasn't busy before that!)

I'm hoping that I can start hitting the blog posts a bit more in the New Year and that I'll also be out and about doing some more presenting so watch this space...

Happy New Year to you!