Microsoft News Summary – 30 July 2014

The big news here for MSFT techies are the releases of update rollups for SysCtr 2012 SP1 and SysCtr 2012 R2. Please wait 1 month before deploying to avoid the inevitable issues (history indicates that I am probably right) and use that time to carefully review the installation instructions.

TechCamp 2013 Wrap Up

Yesterday we ran TechCamp 2013, the Irish community launch of Windows 8.1, Windows Server 2012 R2, System Center 2012 R2, and Windows Intune.  All the feedback I have heard has been positive – thankfully!  🙂

We kicked off with Dave Northey (Microsoft CAT Program Manager).  Dave was the IT Pro DPE in Ireland for quite some time and has spoken at every launch event since Windows NT.  It would have been wrong not to have Dave in to do the keynote.


After that we broke into two tracks.  I did the WS2012 R2 session and next door, Damian Flynn (MVP) did the Windows 8.1 in the enterprise session.  I wanted to attend Damian’s session – I hear it was excellent, covering the BYOD and mobile worker scenarios.


In the desktop track, some speakers from Microsoft introduced the new generation of devices that the various OEMs are bringing to market for Windows 8.1 and Windows RT 8.1, and what Windows Intune now offers for distributed end users, mobile workers, and BYOD device/app management.

Back in the server & cloud track, Paul Keely (MVP) did a session on service automation.


Damian was back on stage in the server & cloud track talking about using SCVMM 2012 R2 and Windows Azure Pack to build a hybrid cloud on Azure and Windows Server 2012 R2.  Kevin Greene (MVP) wrapped up the track explaining how System Center can be used to manage service availability and quality.


Niall Brady (MVP), an Irish man living and working in Sweden, wrapped up the desktop & devices track by talking about System Center Configuration Manager 2012 R2.


We asked for a small registration fee to encourage legitimate registrations and to get a higher turn-up rate.  That fee went to a good cause, an NGO called Camara.  We had Mark Fox in from Camara.  This gave Mark a chance to tell the audience (after the keynote) about the good work that Camara does.  They take unwanted PCs from businesses, securely wipe the PCs, track them, and reuse those machines to provide a digital education to needy kids.  Education is the best weapon against poverty and war, and Camara is on the frontline. Mark also staffed a stand in the exhibition room, and hopefully businesses found a way to get rid of machines in their drive to rid themselves of Windows XP, and make a difference in the world while doing it.


We have a whole bunch of sponsors to thank:

  • MicroWarehouse: My employers were the primary sponsor.  This event would not have happened without the huge effort by John Moran.  I would have been happy with a projector in a shed (with VPN access to my lab) but John made this a professional event.
  • Microsoft: Thanks for the support from Ciaran Keohane, the help from Michael Meagher.
  • Ergo: One of the leading Microsoft partners in Ireland, regularly winning Server partner of the year.
  • DataOn Storage: One of the manufacturers of certified Storage Spaces hardware
  • Savision: Creating dashboards for System Center that aid IT operations.
  • Toshiba: who had some devices on hand (including their new 8” Windows 8.1 tablet), most of which aren’t even on sale yet!

A big thank you goes out to each speaker who prepared 75 minute sessions (two of them in the case of Damian).  In case you don’t know, that’s probably a couple of days work in preparing slides, demos, and rehearsing, sometimes into the wee hours of the morning.

And finally, thanks to everyone who helped us communicate the event, and of course, came to the event to hear about these new solutions.  I hope the day proved valuable.

We had a number of people ask if we’ll run more events like this next year.  I believe that this is something that we will strongly consider.  There won’t be any launch stuff for us to cover for a while, so maybe we’d look at doing more “here’s how” content.  We’ll have to review and consider our options before we make any decisions.

Dell Management Packs Now Support Microsoft System Center 2012 R2

Thanks Florian Klaffenbach for the heads up on this.  Dell have announced that they support System Center 2012 R2:

  • Dell Server Management Pack Suite ― Discover, inventory and monitor Dell PowerEdge servers (agent-based option with Windows/OpenManage Server Administrator and agent-free option using WSMAN for 12th Generation of Dell PowerEdge Servers), Chassis Management Controllers using SNMP &  iDRACs using SNMP.   Download: version 5.1 , Documentation
  • Dell Client Management Pack –Discover, inventory and monitor Dell Client PCs running Windows and OpenManage Client Instrumentation (OMCI) ― Download: Dell Client Management Pack version 5.0 , Documentation
  • Dell Printer Management Pack –Discover, inventory and monitor Dell Printers using SNMP ― Download version 5.0, Documentation
  • •Dell MD Storage Array Management Pack Suite –Discover, inventory and monitor Dell PowerVault MD Storage arrays ― Download version 5.0, Documentation
  • Dell EqualLogic Management Pack Suite–Inventory and monitor Dell EqualLogic storage arrays using SNMP― Download version 5.0, Documentation
  • The latest releases of all the listed Dell Management Packs will work as-is for System Center 2012 R2 Operations Manager; the only exception is that the Chassis Modular Server Correlation feature of the Server MP Suite is not supported on R2 (110032 in the online Release Notes).
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Event: TechCamp2013 – Learn About Windows Server & System Center 2012 R2 And Windows 8.1 (Dublin)

I’m delighted to announce that on November 28th in City West Hotel (just outside the M50 in Dublin), there will be a community launch of:

  • Windows Server 2012 R2
  • System Center 2012 R2
  • Windows 8.1 (in the business)

For all intents and purposes, this is the launch of the next generation of infrastructure products in Ireland.  Community launch means that you’re getting independent experts telling you the facts about these products.  The experts are Microsoft Most Valuable Professionals (MVPs), including:

  • Myself
  • Damian Flynn
  • Paul Keely
  • Kevin Greene
  • Niall Brady

All the details can be found on the event website at  The site isn’t finished yet, but I was keen to get information out to you ASAP.  More event, speaker and sponsor information will be added in the coming days. 

You can also follow @techcamp2013 on Twitter to keep up with the latest news.

We’re really excited to present this event to you.  We really hope to see you there!


  • There is a small registration fee but all proceeds are going to a worthy tech-related charity
  • The event will be held once in Dublin and will not be repeated or travel.  This is too big of an event to take on the road.
  • We’ve deliberately selected a location outside of the city to make travel easier for long distance travellers.
  • The location, City West Hotel, has pretty economic accommodation and we’ve listed some nearby hotels that offer good rates on the site.
  • There will be no streaming of the event.


This is a two-track event so I’d strongly recommend that you come in pairs, maybe taking and sharing notes in OneNote or whatever your favourite note-taking tool is.


Windows Server & System Center

Windows 8.1 & Device Management



Speaker: Dave Northey, Microsoft

Learn how the entire package from Microsoft fits together


Windows Server 2012 R2

Speaker: Aidan Finn, MVP

What does WS2012 R2 bring to virtualisation, cloud, storage and networking?

Windows 8.1 in the Business

Speaker: Damian Flynn, MVP

How Windows 8.1 Pro and Enterprise can chance user experience an enable BYOD.



Get a drink/snack & meet the sponsors.


System Center Virtual Manage Manager & Hybrid Cloud

Speaker: Damian Flynn, MVP

Start deploying and taking control of the entire data center with VMM 2012 R2!

Windows 8.1 Devices

Speaker: Microsoft TBA

Devices are a central ingredient to the “Windows 8.1 in the business” story. What are Microsoft and partners doing?



Get something to eat & meet the sponsors


System Center Service manager & Self-Service/Automation

Speaker: Paul Keely, MVP

See how System Center can automate repetitive processes, optimise time planning for IT, and change the business.

Windows Intune

Speakers: Microsoft TBC

Windows Intune is a much bigger solution than you think, including branch offices, BYOD, and covering all kinds of devices (Windows & others).



Refuel for the afternoon push & meet the sponsors.


System Center Operations Manager & Service Management

Speaker: Kevin Greene, MVP

It delivers a service, but just how is that service performing?

System Center Configuration Manager

Speaker: Niall Brady, MVP

Take control of every device in your enterprise like you’ve always dreamed, but keep the users happy with self-service? That’s not possible, right? Wrong!

Event: Sept 10th, London –Transform The Data Centre

A number of MVPs will be talking about Windows Server and System Center 2012 R2, and how these technologies really can transform designing, deploying, configuring, and managing the cloud in the data centre.

Respond to changing business needs with the power of a hybrid cloud from Microsoft.

Today’s business runs on IT. Every department, every function, needs technology to stay productive and help your business compete. And that means a wave of new demands for applications and resources.

The datacenter is the hub for everything you offer the business, all the storage, networking and computing capacity. To ride the wave of demand, you need a datacenter that isn’t limited by the restrictions of the past. You need to be able to take everything you know and own today and transform those resources into a datacenter that is capable of handling changing needs and unexpected opportunities.

With Microsoft, you can transform the datacenter. You can take the big, complicated, heterogeneous infrastructure you have today and bring it forward into the new world of cloud. You can take advantage of the boundless capacity the cloud offers, while still meeting requirements for security and compliance. You can reduce cost and complexity with technology innovation in areas like storage and networking. And you can deliver services to the business faster with a platform that makes you more agile and more productive.

This free event (registration required) is on Tuesday 10th September at Microsoft Cardinal Place, SW1E 5JL London, United Kingdom.

  • 8:45am: Key Note.
  • 9:00am: Savision
  • 9:45am: Licensing and what is supported when virtualized with Windows 2012 and System Center? MVP David Allen explains licensing of Windows Server & System Center as well as what is supported when virtualized. This will be a great way to start the day and information that is often sort after by many customers.
  • 10:15am: Virtualization is the key element to your success and it starts with Networking. MVP Aidan Finn makes sense around Hyper-V networking including the new features in Windows 2012 R2 Hyper-V. Aidan will also clarify best practices for hardware that hosts your Virtual Machines and why Windows 2012 R2 Hyper-V will be the best Hyper Visor platform yet.
  • 11:15am: Break
  • 11:30am: How to manage your Virtual Environments effectively with System Center Virtual Machine Manager. MVP Damian Flynn will demonstrate the improved SCVMM 2012 R2 and how with the growing demand on Virtual servers SCVMM is a must in any data center or private cloud. Bring your level 400 tech guys for this one.
  • 12:45: Lunch
  • 1:45pm: Managing any size data centers is by no means an easy task. MVP Gordon McKenna will take us through will take us through SCOM 2012 R2. And how we can monitor any part of our environment effectively, including how System Center is with Microsoft Gold Partner Veeam the best tool for monitoring VMware.
  • 14:45pm: Break
  • 15:00pm: Let’s not forget the applications! MVP Simon Skinner will demonstrate how using System Center 2012 with service templates can get our clients to deploy complex solutions like SharePoint or SQL Server. Here we will see where automation becomes the norm.
  • 16:10pm: Where next? The future is already here today! MVP Gordon McKenna and MVP David Allen presents Windows Azure Pack which delivers Windows Azure technologies for you to run inside your datacenter, enabling you to offer rich, self-service, multi-tenant services that are consistent with Windows Azure. The Microsoft Cloud OS: One Consistent Platform. The Cloud OS is Microsoft’s vision of a consistent, modern platform for the world’s apps running across multiple clouds; enterprise datacenters, hosting service provider datacenters and Windows Azure. The Windows Azure Pack helps to deliver on this vision by bringing consistent Windows Azure experiences and services to enterprise and hosting service provider datacenters with existing investments in System Center and Windows Server.
  • 17:10: Question time with the UK/IE MVPs.

Don’t be one of those IT Pros that deserves to have their job outsourced or who shames the rest of us; keep up to date and learn what you could be doing for your employers … and your career.

System Center Global Service Monitor Availability

Global Service Monitor for System Center 2012 SP1 Operations Manager is now available.  However, it’s not quite as simple as your normal feature in OpsMgr, because there is a cloud service involved.

Version 1.0.1800.0 of the System Center Global Service Monitor Management Packs can be downloaded and installed freely.  Then you are going to need an account for Global Service Monitor.  On this, Microsoft says:

You can sign up for a free trial account and use Global Service Monitor for free for up to 90 days. Beyond the 90-day free trial period, System Center Global Service Monitor is only available to customers with active Microsoft Software Assurance coverage for their System Center 2012 server management licenses.

This Software Assurance benefit will be available in March 2013 in supporting countries.  At the moment, these are Australia, Austria, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands, Singapore, Spain, Switzerland, United Kingdom, and the United States.

So, if you want to use GSM long term, you will need to be (a) in one of the participating countries, and (b) have current Software Assurance on your System Center licensing.  Beyond that, there is no additional cost that I can see.

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What Impresses Me Most About the Veeam nworks Management Pack for System Center …

… is the sheer amount of information that it provides.  I previously talked about the monitoring.  That’s great for the reactive side of things.  When I managed infrastructures, I like to take some some to see who things were trending so I could plan.  That’s where reports come in handy, and there’s no shortage of those in this management pack:


On my client’s site, we had an alert about latency on a HBA in one of the hosts.  I wanted to give the client some useful information to plan VM placement using affinity rules to avoid this from happening again.  One of the cool reports allows you to create a top-bottom chart of VMs based on a specific performance metric.  The below report was created with with the VMGUEST IOPS metric and shows the top 25 disk activity VMs.


As usual with OpsMgr, the report could be scheduled for a time period, and/or saved as a web archive, PDF, word file, etc.  I like this management pack.  Sure, it is pricey (I was told over EUR400/host socket being monitored), but it’s good.  BTW, Veeam did release a 10 socket (enough for 5 hosts with 2 CPUs each) management pack for free, which is available to you under two conditions:

  1. Be a new customer to Veeam AND
    2. Be a SCOM 2012 customer (not SCOM 2007)

Yesterday’s Fun In OpsMgr: Failed to store data in the Data Warehouse

Actually, the full error in the alert in this System Center Operations Manager 2007 R2 install was:

Failed to store data in the Data Warehouse.Failed to store data in the Data Warehouse. Cannot resolve the collation conflict between "SQL_Latin1_General_CP1_CI_AS" and "Latin1_General_CI_AS" in the equal to operation.

A bit of quick checking and I found that the SQL server instance had the default and incorrect collation of Latin1_General_CI_AS while the OpsMgr databases had the correct collation of SQL_Latin1_General_CP1_CI_AS (check the properties of SQL Server and the databases in SQL Management Studio to verify).

And this pretty much explained why reports from new management packs weren’t appearing in OpsMgr.  The odd thing is that this problem went unnoticed for over 6 months and many management packs functioned perfectly well.

I knew what was ahead of me: a SQL rebuild.  So that’s what I did, with some guidance from a blog post by Marnix Wolf, MVP.  I veered a little from the guidance he gave.  I opted to start with a new SQL Reporting DB because it was easier to do this and I had no customisations to rescue.  So I didn’t restore it, I didn’t run ResetSRS, and I just needed to reinstall OpsMgr Reporting and supply the details.

Interestingly, the OpsMgr Reporting installed froze about half way through.  There were no visible issues, no performance bottlenecks, no clues, nothing to explain the setup hang … except for the Application Log in Event Viewer.  There McAfee reported that it was preventing lots of .Net stuff.  Uh oh!  I temporarily disabled the McAfee protection and the installer wrapped up almost immediately.

Once everything was back I verified that monitoring worked, that the datawarehouse was still OK, and that reports were repopulating and working.  But then a flood of alerts came in:

Microsoft.EnterpriseManagement.Common.UnknownServiceException: The service threw an unknown exception. See inner exception for details. —> System.ServiceModel.FaultException`1[System.ServiceModel.ExceptionDetail]: Execution of user code in the .NET Framework is disabled. Enable "clr enabled" configuration option. (Fault Detail is equal to An ExceptionDetail, likely created by IncludeExceptionDetailInFaults=true, whose value is: …

That looked nasty but the fix was easy enough.  As Alexy Zhuravlev said, run this on the SQL server against the OperationsManager database:

sp_configure @configname=clr_enabled, @configvalue=1

After that, everything was okey dokely and the SQL 2008 R2 DB was updated to get it OpsMgr 2012 ready Smile

Deployed Veeam nworks Management Pack For vSphere

I deployed the Veeam management pack for System Center Operations Manager with a client on their site site yesterday to monitor VMware vSphere.  It was my first production deployment of the solution.  It was pretty simple:

  • Deploy collectors
  • Discover vCenter servers/hosts
  • Monitor
  • Run reports

Oh and the reports!  There’s so many of them with lots of information.  It’s a very nice management pack.  And it accomplishes what the client wanted: they have visibility into VMware from System Center.

Does it work?  Yeap; it detected read latency on a HBA, an oversubscribed VMFS volume (based on potential growth of thin VMDKs), and a full VMFS.

Citrix XenApp Monitoring Management Pack For System Center Operations Manager – Import Fails

I’ve been doing some on-site work this week with System Center Operations Manager.  The customer has some XenApp servers they wanted to monitor them.  Due to lockdowns, we had to do manual agent installations (with approval done in the OpsMgr console).  The management pack is a free download from Citrix via the MyCitrix site.  We also found the management pack files in a subfolder on the root of ISO.  The import failed with this error:

Citrix Presentation Server Management Pack could not be imported.

If any management packs in the import list are dependent on this management pack, the installation of the dependant management packs will fail.

The requested management pack was invalid. See inner exception for details. Parameter name: managementPack.

The solution is simple enough.  Increase the size of the OperationsManager database transaction log file from 100MB to 1,000MB, and then reattempt the import.  It worked for me.

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