SMA – Runbooks Not Showing Up (e.g. Cireson SMA Connector)

My colleague and I have been developing runbooks for the past couple of month for automating business services. During this time we have written close to two hundred runbooks. Key application in triggering the runbooks is System Center Service Manager (SCSM) in conjunction with Cireson’s SMA Connector. This works great up to the past month when we discovered that not all runbooks were showing up when we were creating SMA runbook templates in SCSM.

The problem looked like this…

Create a template in the SCSM console under Library/Templates

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Next, in the dialog select the Runbook tab and select the SMA connector in this example SMACon01….

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Another dialog pops up and you need to select a runbook. The problem was that the runbook was not visible in this list.

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A possible problem could be that the runbook is not published in SMA, which was not the case. One workaround was, that we deleted the runbook in SMA and re-created it. After a while the runbook would appear some times and some times not.

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SMA – SMA Runbook Toolkit (SMART) Watch The Encoding

Recently while building some serious SMA runbooks I bumped in an issue. We usually develop the SMA runbooks in different editors like PowerShell ISE / SMA GUI / Notepad++ and keep them saved in TFS online, which we managed through Visual Studio. After we finished developing the runbook, which would update the runbook activity in Service Manager, I discovered some strange characters in the description field.

The description of the review activity looked like this…

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Our development process works like this. First we write a runbook in our favorite editor and if we have a working release we copy the script to the SMA development environment (DEV) and see how it goes. If everything works as expected we use the SMART toolkit to export and import the runbooks into the integration environment (INT). This process worked great so far and we have been doing this for dozens of runbooks without an issue. At one point there was a need to write some German text in a description field of a review activity in Service Manager. In the screenshot above you can see that Service Manager could not display certain characters properly.

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System Center – RSS Feeds Collection

It doesn’t matter If you are new to the System Center stack or if you have been working many years in the System Center field, we all share the same problem. How are we keeping up with this massive amount of information dropping in every single day? There are so many excellent sources out there but you have to find it and get informed if there is a new article or blog post.

I think staying up-to-date is essential for must of us, especially if you are working as a consultant. So, how are we staying ahead? Well, I like Twitter very much when it comes to interact with the community and getting information immediately. In my opinion Twitter is the fastest source for getting information almost in real-time.

One other source which everyone knows about, but somehow not a lot of people are using are RSS feeds. This technology started about 15 years ago and was developed further up to now. RSS feeds are based on XML and publish the blog or website in a structured way. Almost any blog / website has such a functionality and if enabled it lets you collect all the published content in a very comfortable way. You can use many applications for displaying RSS feeds like Internet Explorer, Outlook or dedicated applications like Feedreader . You can use Feedreader online or install it on your Windows box.

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Feedreader (Online)

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Feedreader (Client)

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I would like to share my (personal) feeds which I collected and tried to categorize by topic and / or technology (download the OPML file at the end of the post). I tried to collect as many good and reliable sources for staying up-to-date in the System Center field. If I missed any valuable source it was not my intention, let me know and I will add it.

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NiCE Datacenter Tag 2015 – Session “Operations Manager Dashboards – Neue Widgets und Möglichkeiten”

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This blog title looks probably a bit strange to you because it is in German. The company NiCE is organizing a “Datacenter Day” in Munich and there will be all kind of topics presented by Microsoft, partners and people from the community. I will be having a session about the new widgets and its capabilities in SCOM called “Operations Manager Dashboards – Neue Widgets und Möglichkeiten”.

According to Microsoft, 60% of System Center customers are actively using System Center Operations Manager (SCOM) today. While there are many different System Center events available, only a handful of them focus predominantly on SCOM and new products like Azure Operational Insights (OpInsights) for big data analytics. As a leading System Center ISV in Germany, NiCE will be hosting an event in conjunction with Microsoft to address the above mentioned gap. The objectives of the event include:

  • Present and discuss the latest developments and news on SCOM and OpInsights
  • Hands-on tips and tricks for using SCOM in large environments
  • Illustration and recount of the common System Center integration scenarios
  • Present partner extensions for System Center
  • Provide top content in German for the DACH region

The detailed agenda looks like this (subject to change):

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If you are interested in attending this event it will held on:

February 17th 2015 at Microsoft München,Konrad-Zuse-Straße185716 Unterschleißheim.

SCSM – Get Service Request Object From Any Nested Child Runbook Activity

When you are starting to automate stuff in your cloud environment you probably use SMA for automation and Service Manager to trigger the necessary runbooks in SMA. As this is really great stuff you will start facing many new challenges because you have to script in PowerShell to achieve your goals. Depending on your architecture and your strategy and how you plan your runbooks you will end up with more or the far better way is – less problems.

One strategy I follow is to have just one parameter which is the runbook ID to pass from the runbook activity template to the SMA runbook in Service Manager.  So imagine, you pass the runbook activity ID to your SMA runbook and you want to get some information from the parent work item like the service request. If you have the runbook activity placed directly on the service request itself it is not a problem like in this example…

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You can write a few lines of code like this….

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…and the result will look like this…

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As you can see you will get the ID from the parent work item. In this case the service request SR2067.

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Microsoft Azure Operational Insights – Mobile App Available

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I have blogged previously about Microsoft Azure Operational Insights which is still in a preview stage and you can test it free of charge. Microsoft did already a great job visualizing all the data collected by the Intelligence Packs. At this moment you are also able to have all this information on your Windows Phone. The release of the Microsoft Azure Operational Insights Mobile App allows you to look at all the available information on your mobile device.

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SCSM – SMLets “The criteria could not be parsed. See inner exception for details.”

If you are using the SMLets from codeplex in combination with PowerShell remoting to retrieve information from Service Manager it could well be that you hit this error:

The criteria could not be parsed. See inner exception for details.

    + CategoryInfo          : OperationStopped: (:) [], InvalidCriteriaException

    + FullyQualifiedErrorId : The criteria could not be parsed. See inner exception for details.

+ PSComputerName        : Computer1

In my case the setup consisted out of 2 infrastructures like a TEST and an INTEGRATION which were supposed to be identical. In both environment we had SMA and Service Manager installed. I wanted to run a PowerShell workflow in SMA to retrieve the service request id from a newly generated service request. The fun part was that executing the code within the INTEGRATION environment did not cause any problem but if I executed the code in the TEST environment I faced the error above. The code part which generated the error was:

 

$SRID = “SR445”

$SRClass = Get-SCSMClass –Name “System.WorkItem.ServiceRequest$”

$SRObject = Get-SCSMObject -Class $SRClass -Filter “ID -eq $SRID”

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