Friday 28 October 2011

Service Manager 2012 Beta has been released!!

Again, another System Center product sneaks out without a major announcement from the teams blog :S

At last, the Beta for Service Manager 2012 has been released.

This latest version brings the following additions to the product:
  • Service Requests
  • Release Management
  • Service Catalog
  • Service Level Agreement support for Incident and Service Requests
  • Parent – child support for incident and release management
  • A Dynamic, Super Duper, Share Point based Self Service Portal
  • Parallel Activities
  • Build & Environments
  • Connector Enhancements
  • Orchestrator Runbook Integration
  • Virtual Machine Manager Integration
  • Console Performance Improvements
  • Reporting and Data Warehouse improvements (OLAP Cubes, Excel Pivot Tables, Sharepoint Dashboards)
  • Service Manager 2010 can be upgraded to SCSM 2012 Beta
Installation hasn't changed that much from 2010, other than it explains the pre-requisites a bit better and Share Point Foundation or above is now required for the Self Service Portal.

You can find the download link here:

The hardware requirements for the servers hasn't changed, but some of the software requirements have.

  • Windows XP and Server 2003 is no longer supported for the console, time to migrate if you haven't already!
  • Microsoft Report Viewer Redistributable
  • Windows PowerShell 1.0 or Windows PowerShell 2.0
  • ADO.NET Data Services Update for .NET Framework 3.5 SP1
  • Microsoft Analysis Management Objects (AMOs)
  • Microsoft .NET Framework 3.5 with SP1
Management Servers:
  • Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1
  • SQL Native Client
  • SQL Server 2008 Analysis Management Objects
  • SQL Server 2008 Analysis Data Objects
  • PowerShell 2.0
For the Self Service Portal:
  • SharePoint 2010 (Foundation or above)
  • .Net 4.0
  • Silverlight 4.0 (Client side)
  • IE 8 or 9 (Client side)
  • Firefox is not (presently) a supported browser for the Self Service Portal.
  • SQL Server 2008 Analysis Services

Installing/upgrading the Beta edition will provide a time limited 180 day version, even for fully licenced 2010 installs.  However, the ability to upgrade to RTM, and the non-time limited select version is expected to be possible.  The upgrade from Beta to RTM is NOT supported by Microsoft, other than for TAP customers so do NOT be upgrading your production systems with the 2012 beta, this is purely available for you to test in a lab environment.

One big change, is the fact that if you intend to monitor your service manager servers with Operations Manager 2012 then it's worth noting that it is only supported with agentless monitoring due to compatibility issues.  Check this link for more details on how to setup agentless monitoring:

System Center Orchestrator 2012 Release Candidate Available

Either I've been sleeping too much or this one didn't get an announcement.

There's been nothing on the Scorch blog or the Server and Cloud blog, but it's been released for a couple of days.  Even more disappointing is there was no mailshot to the CEP participants :(


The download can be found here:

The following features have been added/improved for the RC from Beta:
  • Install Experience
    • Improved prerequisite checks
    • Implementation of Customer Experience Improvement Program (CEIP), error reporting and interface with Microsoft Update
    • Allow user to log on as a service and select different service accounts for each service
    • Design Improvements( Error handling, port # for DB, increased logging, enabling log on as a service automatically)
    • UI Consistency between other System Center components
    • Time bomb(easy conversion from EVAL to licensed SKU)
  • •Security improvements
    • Encryption of DB connection
    • Encryption/decryption of passwords
  • Globalization
    • Unicode capable
    • Convert SSH to Unicode
  • Web service
    • Versioning
  • Orchestration Console
    • Browse events
    • View events
    • UI Updates
  • Bug fixes across all product features
I previously wrote a script that would automate the install of the Beta, but there is no guarantee that will work with the RC, but I will update it once I've installed it in my testlab.

Thursday 27 October 2011

System Center Configuration Manager 2012 Release Candidate now available

Great news, the Release Candidate for System Center Configuration Manager 2012 (SCCM) has been released.

You can download it from here:

A quick run down of some of the new RC features:
  • Improved endpoint protection functionality, with integrated setup, management and reporting for System Center 2012 Endpoint Protection.
  • Improved application catalog design that provides a better, more responsive experience when requesting and downloading applications.
  • New support for Windows Embedded devices, including Windows Embedded 7 SP1, POSReady 7, Windows 7 Think PC, and Windows Embedded Compact 7.
  • Improved client status checks for Configuration Manager services and features.
  • Improved compliance enforcement and tracking, with the ability to create dynamic collections of baseline compliance and the generation of hourly compliance summaries.
  • Platform support for deep mobile device management of Nokia Symbian Belle devices. Pending a platform update by Nokia later this calendar year for these devices, customers will be able to try out the management of these Nokia devices with ConfigMgr.
  • Additional scalability and performance improvements.
One of them points is interesting, the name change from ForeFront Endpoint Protection to System Center 2012 Endpoint Protection, showing the ever growing links between the System Center families and the fact that Endpoint Protection is now more than ever closer to the System Center stack and it's need for SCCM to manage it than a ForeFront product.

It's also worth noting that the installation of ForeFront sorry SC 2012 Endpoint is now integrated into the main SCCM setup.

Wednesday 19 October 2011

Updated Updated Server OS Base MP

I posted a couple of weeks back about an updated Server OS management pack that Microsoft released and how it contained some really good improvements, however it didn't go unnoticed that it also had some annoying bugs in it.

Well thanks to the efforts of the community and spearheaded by Marnix Wolf, Microsoft has listened and corrected them.

Kevin Holman has a post up that lists the fixes and can be sumariesed as:
  • Disabled BPA Rules by default.
  • Added appropriate SQL Stored Procedures credentials
  • Updated Knowledge for Logical Disks
  • Updated Overrides for Logical Disks
  • Fixed %Idle time sorting in the utilization report.

Compared to some management packs and the teams that look after them, like the Print Server MP, this is a brilliant example of Microsoft's commitment to SCOM and what can be achieved.

The new updated MP can be downloaded from here.

Sunday 2 October 2011

Updated Management Packs for SCOM

Well, it looks like my scepticism was uncalled for, as Microsoft have just released an updated Operations Manager MP for Configuration Manager.

The release announcement can be found here:

Changes in this release:
  • Consolidation Event Rules have been disabled to prevent the generation of false alerts.
  • Operating system architecture detection logic was updated to determine 64-bit operating systems.
  • You no longer have to run the SQL Server query to clean up the localizedtext tables as part of the post-installation cleanup
  • Scripts that target site database servers now retrieve time values directly from servers running instances of SQL Server instead of site servers to avoid time-zone discrepancies.
  • Site hierarchy discovery now succeeds even if a site or component server does not have a fully qualified domain name (FQDN) configured.
  • The AlertLevel property can now be overridden, giving you control over the severity level.
  • All monitors and rules are now public.
  • The "ConfigMgr 2007 Collection Evaluations Tasks" script has been updated to let you monitor a collection that has a NULL StartTime value.The "ConfigMgr 2007 Collection Evaluations Tasks" script now uses CollectionID instead of Collection Name to track collection tasks. 
Biggest change is the Consolidation Event Rules change as this should mean a much less noisy MP out of the box, also removing the need for Kevin Holman's SCCM noise reduction MP

It's also great that all monitors and rules are now public, allowing for greater control with overrides.

Although its not exactly a brand new revolutionary MP, its a start.
It does show two things however:
  1. Someone at Microsoft is taking note of feedback
  2. Some changes to MP standards may be on their way
MS have renamed the MP “System Center Monitoring Pack for Configuration Manager 2007 SP2 (Converted)”.   Maybe by adding the (Converted) tag to the end of the name we'll start to see a cleared definition between original reworked MOM 2005 MP's and native 2007 MP's.  This could hopefully give MS more of a push to replace these MP's rather than having "converted" labels scattered around.

Microsoft have also release an updated Base OS MP to version 6.0.6957.0.

Kevin Holman as always was on hand to write up an excellent post about it so I'm not going to re-invent the wheel, check out his post here:

Biggest changes to the base MP include:
  • Adds Cluster Shared Volume discovery and monitoring for free space and availability. This is critical for those Hyper-V clusters on Server 2008 R2.
  • Adds a new monitor to execute the Windows Best Practices Analyzer for different discovered installed Roles, and then generate alerts until these are resolved.
  • Changes to many built in rules/monitors, to reduce noise, database space and I/O, and increase a positive “out of the box” experience. Also added a few new monitors and rules.
  • Changes to the MP Views – removing some old stuff and adding some new
  • Addition of some new reports – way cool
The new reports look very cool: