Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Cross Post: Understanding Resource Pools

I thought I understood already all there was to know about Resource Pools. But heck no! Wished I knew what Kevin has just posted when I wrote the chapter ‘Complex Configurations’ for the SCOM 2012 Unleashed book Smile.

But back then I didn’t know. But now I do. And there is much more to Resource Pools than I thought possible. And it can be modified as well!

Totally awesome! Want to know more? Read Kevin’s posting and be amazed, just like me!

All credits go to Kevin Holman for sharing AND his colleague Mihai Sarbulescu turns out to be the SCOM Resource Pool guru! Changes are this man knows a lot more SCOM stuff as well, so perhaps other mind blowing postings are to be expected in the near future?

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

BlueStripe FactFinder Goes Cloud: Say Hello To Service Map

Some background information
In June 2015 Microsoft completed the acquisition of BlueStripe Software. Their flagship product being BlueStripe FactFinder, a dynamic monitoring solution which maps, monitors and troubleshoots distributed applications across heterogeneous operating systems and multiple datacenter and cloud environments.

On itself very impressive and when combined with SCOM it got even more impressive since it extended SCOM to an unprecedented level. It enabled SCOM to dynamically discover multi layered applications, build DA’s on the fly and show real time performance monitoring in the SCOM Console as well.

Sadly, when BlueStripe Software was acquired by Microsoft, the flagship product was pulled. Only updates for existing customers were available but that was just about it.

OMS it is…
Until now that is. Microsoft and the former BlueStripe people have worked hard in order to fold the BlueStripe FactFinder functionality into OMS as a Solution, branded Service Map, previously called Application Dependency Monitor.

It’s in Public Preview, so you can test drive it for free.

When you want to know more about this new OMS Solution go here and read the whole article all about Service Map, it’s capabilities and possibilities, written by Nick Burling, Principal Program Manager on the Enterprise Cloud Management Team.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Is SCCM Current Branch Successful? The Numbers Say YES!!!

As stated earlier, SCCM uses a new approach for it’s updates. Almost three to four times per year an update for SCCM becomes available. As a result, Microsoft speaks now of CaaS, ConfigMgr-as-a-Service.

IMHO, it’s a success. But who am I at the end of the day? Only one man with a blog that’s all. And sure, I get positive feedback from my customers when I ask them about their (update) experiences with CaaS.

But still, it only represents a small number of it all. Especially when we talk about SCCM/ConfigMgr.

So gladly Microsoft has published some numbers which are impressive:

  1. 50 million+ devices are managed by CaaS (1511 or later);
  2. 25 thousand+ organizations are using CaaS.

Want to know more? Read this posting by Brad Anderson and be – just like me – amazed & impressed.

System Center & Update Mechanism SCCM

Since SCCM 1511 a whole new update mechanism is introduced. In this new approach the Windows 10 update mechanism - where updates are pushed out in so called ‘rings’ - is used by SCCM 1511 and later as well.

As such SCCM is growing into a Software-as-a-Service model, titled CaaS, ConfigMgr-as-a-Service. As a result the latest & greatest version of SCCM is dubbed ConfigMgr Current Branch.

For all of my customers this approach works great. No more Googling required in order to see whether their SCCM environment is up to date. Instead the SCCM Console itself, tells the admins when an update is available.

And it doesn’t end there. SCCM also aids in rolling out the upgrade! Of course, a backup of the related VMs and SQL database is always advised, but still SCCM itself aids you in upgrading to the Current Branch, by:

  1. Notifying you when an update is available;
  2. Downloading it;
  3. Packaging it and upload it to the DPs;
  4. Running the Prerequisite Check in order to see the current environment is ‘upgrade ready’;
  5. Rolling out the upgrade;
  6. Upgrading all the related components;
  7. Warning you when something goes wrong (haven’t heard about this at all yet Smile);
  8. Finishing up and cleaning up all the ‘mess’ which is normal after any upgrade.

As such, rolling out an upgrade of SCCM/ConfigMgr has evolved from a tedious and sometimes even hideous task, in a controlled workflow which is pretty solid.

This results in faster adoption of the Current Branch. So in order ‘to keep up’ one has to invest less more time, resources and budget.

System Center-as-a-Service?
Therefore I am hoping that one day the rest of the System Center 2016 stack will adopt the same approach as used by SCCM today.

It would lessen the administration burden significantly and help companies to grow into the idea that System Center-as-a-Service (SCaaS?) is good, helping them to adopt Azure based workloads and services even faster.

Hopefully Microsoft will choose for this approach one day. Please let me know how YOU think & feel about such an approach.

OMS Experience Center

Ever wanted to test drive OMS without having to connect your own environment to it? So you can see what it does, how it works and what kind of services OMS can deliver for your organization?

Especially for this kind of scenario Microsoft has made the Operations Management Suite Experience Center.

What it offers/does? As Microsoft states: ‘…You will log-in as an administrator for an enterprise organization, Contoso. The environment has 500 servers, running on-premises as well as the cloud – in both Azure and AWS. The on-premises system is managed by System Center, and the key workloads being monitoring include; Exchange, SharePoint, SQL, and even MySQL running on Linux…’

With the OMS Experience Center you can test OMS without uploading a single bit of data from your servers. This will help you to build a proper business case for our organization starting to use OMS with their own servers.

Want to test drive OMS? Go to the Operations Management Suite Experience Center and sign up!

I Want ConfigMgr 1610 And I Want It NOW!!!

Suppose you’ve got a ConfigMgr 1606 (or older) environment and have heard about the Current Branch 1610 being available. How ever, as it’s globally rolled out, it might take some time before it’s available in your region.

As such it might not show up yet in your ConfigMgr environment:

Now there are two things you can do: WAIT, until it’s available and ConfigMgr will let you know when it’s there, OR run a PS script which puts you in the first wave of customers getting the update, AKA Early Update Ring.

This PS script is made by the The Configuration Manager Team, so you know it’s good Smile. Script can be downloaded from here.

How it works
Easy job!

  1. Download the script which is packed as a signed executable so the code can’t be tampered with;
  2. Unpack the executable. By default it unpacks the PS script in the folder C:\EnableFastRing;
  3. Run the PS script EnableFastUpdateRing1610.ps1 and enter the name of your Site Server and hit <enter>;
  4. The PS script will run and report the status back when done:
  5. Open the ConfigMgr Console with admin permissions and go to \Administration\Overview\Cloud Services\Updates and Servicing. Hit the Check for Updates button and wait.
    > !!!When upgrading from 1511, you must restart the SMS_Executive service first!!!<
  6. Hit the Refresh button after a few minutes, and now the 1610 update will be shown:
  7. Happy upgrading!

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Azure Stack Technical Preview 2 November Refresh Available!

Last Friday Microsoft released the November Refresh for Azure Stack. Many deployment fixes and Azure PaaS services are added!

You can download it from here.

As an added bonus the tip from Charles Joy on Twitter: Increase your MaxPasswordAge. Your Azure Stack POC environment will last a lot longer now!