Friday, 12 July 2013

Using O365 without On-Premise Exchange with System Center 2012 Orchestrator

I was checking over some Runbooks today in my lab and one failed when it hit the send e-mail activity.  Odd I thought and then it dawned on me that when I re-installed the lab a month or so back I didn't re-implement exchange as I went for a full Office 365 play.

Great, here comes the task of setting up SMTP e-mail relays, unless... will Orchestrator work directly with O365 using just the Send Email Activity?

It turns out it does and really simply too.

On the Send Email activity properties, fill out the information on the Details tab.

N.B. Make sure you untick the Task fails if an attachment is missing option if you're not putting an attachment on the mail.

On the Advanced tab enter the email username and password for the account you created in Office 365 that will be used for sending e-mail from Orchestrator.

You can leave the Domain field blank

Logon to Office 365/OWA as the Orchestrator e-mail account, click on the Options button and then About.

Make a note of the Server name and Port as highlighted in the screen shot below ( in this example)

Enter this information into the Connect tab, along with the e-mail account you've setup for Orchestrator to send from

Make sure the Enable SSL option is ticked, otherwise you will get an error in Orchestrator informing you that the SMTP server requires a secure connection.

Check your Runbook in and give it a test run.
If it's setup correctly then this time you should see it succeed.

And voilĂ , you should end up with e-mails being sent to/from Office 365 without the need for any on-premise Exchange or SMTP relay.

Another, simpler method, is to use the Exchange User Integration Pack.

With this IP installed, you can configure the server to use (again the details from OWA) along with the e-mail and password by going to the Options menu and choosing Exchange User.

Then drag a Create and Send E-Mail activity to your runbook and provide at least the e-mail address to send a mail to, the subject and the body.  Other options are available such as priority and attachments via the Optional Properties... button.

Again, another successful e-mail can now be sent.

Thursday, 11 July 2013

Windows Server 2012 Server Manager "Red Services"

I've been using Server 2012 heavily now since release and in particular the new Server Manager that's thrown in your face whenever you log into a server I've come to find very useful.

However... One thing that always niggled me is by default it alerts you to EVERY service known to man that is stopped.  This is brilliant for alerting you to services that really should be running but it also catches one service in particular that will 99% of the time always be stopped but is set to a startup type of Automatic, the Shell Hardware Detection Service.

The behaviour of this service was modified in Server 2008 to stop when a user logs off to reduce the attack surface.

This results however in a default sea of red for your console.

The fix for this is very simple really.
Click the Services link in the offending dashboard box, usually the All Servers one.
Drop the list of Services down and look for Shell Hardware Detection and untick it.
And there we go, a nice filtered display, hopefully green.  At least now when it goes red you know there is actually something that needs attention!

This setting will also be saved so you don't have to do this every time you open Server Manager.

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Adding an Azure subscription to App Controller - Service Unavailable

I noticed today that I hadn't re-added my Windows Azure subscription to my App Controller deployment in my testlab and so clicked the link on the overview page to add it back.
After entering the relevant details such as Subscription ID, Certificate pfx file and password, I was greeted by a not too helpful error message of "Service Unavailable" with no further details.

After scratching my head and trying several things such as deleting the certificate and re-adding it to Azure, checking firewalls etc I remembered this server had just had a restart.
I checked the services to make sure everything had started up ok and noticed that the App Controller Windows Azure Provider service wasn't started.
I started the service, tried adding the subscription again and voilĂ ! It works.

I hope this helps someone else if they get this generic undetailed message.