Azure Zurich User Group – Speaker

I am very happy to have a session at the Azure Zurich user group meetup in Zürich, Switzerland. I will have a session about Microsoft Operations Management Suite (OMS) which will give you an overview how OMS works and what it is capable of in a private, hybrid and public cloud scenario. The session is split into two parts to have enough room for discussions and some drinks. Please join us and share this user group event. You can find all information on their Meetup site here.

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Hope to see you there!

OMS – OMS, is it SCOM in the cloud?

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I can recall many instances whilst attending conferences and talking with customers or colleagues whereby misunderstandings have caused a significant amount of confusion.

“Operations Management Suite is SCOM in the cloud”

This is a one that has been doing the rounds lately, but it is correct? To answer the question we need to do a bit of digging into the past. André Malraux once said,

“Who wants to read in the future, must scroll in the past.”.

System Center Operations Manager (SCOM) was and is the Microsoft monitoring solution for homo- and heterogeneous IT environments. SCOM was originally developed by NetIQ, then purchased in 2000 by Microsoft. It carries with it a 17-year evolution, which started when the product was called Microsoft Operations Manager (MOM). In 2007 «MOM» was completely rewritten on a flexible and extensible framework SCOM was born. The development has continued ever since and the latest available version is SCOM 2016.
About 6 years ago, Microsoft began to experiment with System Center Advisor, an agent-based assessment and best practice analyzer solution based in the cloud. It provided the ability to analyze different workloads such as Windows operating system, SQL Server, Active Directory and Hyper-V components, detect changes to IT infrastructure, and propose Microsoft best practices from in the form of alarms. Between 2012 and 2013 the range of supported technologies was extended to include Exchange, SharePoint and Lync. Initially a separate solution, it quickly became integrated into SCOM 2012 SP1 by means of a connector. The newly generated information retrieved from Azure became available both on-premise within SCOM and in the cloud through System Center Advisor extension. By SCOM 2012 R2, the connector came pre-bundled as part of the suite. In 2014 System Center Advisor was transformed, gone was the Silverlight-based web application and in came a new HTML 5 based web app with a host of new capabilities. This meant that the Best Practice Analyzer System Center Advisor could be integrated into a new product called Azure Operational Insights, the range of capabilities for which could be greatly expanded by the use of so-called Intelligence Packs (IP). The following packs were released as part of the initial deployment:

  • Configuration Assessment
  • Malware Assessment
  • Capacity Planning
  • Change Tracking
  • Log Management
  • SQL Assessment
  • System Update Assessment

A new key feature acted like a cloud-based «data pot» whereby data was collected using an agent and could be analyzed with a PowerShell-like syntax within Azure Operational Insights Search Data Explorer.  A connection to SCOM was also ensured by a SCOM connector. In addition, the Operational Insights product is now the foundation for today’s current Operations Management Suite (OMS). Operational Insights Search Data Explorer is called Azure Log Analytics and Intelligence Packs are called solution (packs).
Since we now know the background of both products, I would like to juxtapose their facts, in order to be able to answer the question objectively.

Concept
SCOM consists of an extensible hierarchical object model. This means that components that are to be monitored in SCOM can be discovered (Discovery) by means of management packs (XML files) and placed into a hierarchy (service model) using relationships. Sensors (monitors) can move a subordinate object, into a healthy state, or into a faulty (unhealthy) state and visually represent it. The health state can be passed to its parent object (rollup). This model is described as a health model and has many advantages as well as certain disadvantages.

OMS works with so-called flat data, this means the data exists as data records in a large data pot. There are no objects or relationships among the collected data. For example, solution 1 collects disk information from computer X. At the same time solution 2 collects information on the same disk, BUT there is no relationship nor knowledge of the status between the disk data from solution 1 and solution 2. OMS does not (yet) have any service model and therefore also no health model.

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Quick Post – Azure Services Overview

There is a saying “Can’t see the forest for the trees” this could also apply to Azure and its provided services. I haven’t seen a good overview of Azure and the offered services until today. While browsing the internet, I bumped into this site here http://azureplatform.azurewebsites.net/en-us/ . image

It is an interactive site which shows the single services in each category and provides links to more information like updates, pricing, SLA, documentation etc. image

I love this page and I highly recommend to explore and bookmarking it! It is even available in German :).

OMS – Error "Run Login-AzureRMAccount to Login" e.g. OMS Cmdlets

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I wanted to play with the OMS cmdlets which are part of the AzureRM modules. The OMS / OperationsInsights module itself is called AzureRM.OperationsalInsights. A good place to start with OMS native PowerShell cmdlets is a blog post on the Building Clouds blog. So what is the exact issue? Well, I tried to query my workspace for installed solutions. First I logged in using the Login-AzureRmAccount  cmdlet which succeeded quite nicely..

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…after I authenticated I ran a cmdlet to get the solutions from OMS…

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..no matter which cmdlet I tried, I always received the error above.

After some time, I tried to update the modules, running Update-Module which ended in this error…

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Next step, I tried to install the entire ARM modules by running Install-Module AzureRM –AllowClobber, which ended in a similar error…

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MS Flow – Trigger Azure Automation Webhook

In one of my previous post I showed you how you could trigger a webhook to trigger an Azure Automation runbook using IFTTT (If This Than That) . Well, the great news are that Microsoft is investing a great deal of money into a similar technology called Microsoft Flow. For a short summary and differences to other task automation engines see this post here. In Microsoft Flow there is also a way to trigger a webhook similar to IFTTT, it works like this…

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…in this template I used Twitter as a starting activity, but you can use any other. I used the Http activity and configured it like this Method => POST and Uri => copy and paste the webhook URI from your Azure Automation runbook. Within the body I used previous data from Twitter like who tweeted and tweet text. If you are new to webhooks, there is an excellent documentation here. 

The webhook data will look something like this…

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As you can see it is very easy to trigger an Azure Automation runbook via MS Flow. The very cool thing of MS Flows is, it’s tight integration into the Microsoft products. Although MS Flow is in preview, there are quite some templates available for automating your daily (business) tasks. Have fun!