OMS – Where Can I Find the Sealed OMS MPs / Intelligence Packs?

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Sometimes you need to have the sealed version of management packs / intelligence packs which get’s downloaded from OMS. You might need them as reference in your custom management pack solutions or maybe just to explore it. You can find the management packs in your C:\Windows\Temp folder on your SCOM server.

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As you can see the name of the files corresponds to the solutions in OMS.

I hope this quick tip saves you some time.

SCOM 2012 – Meets MS Flow and Service Bus or How to Translate Alerts

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Everything is going international and everything is interconnected. Microsoft is providing many technologies to build bridges between different technologies and systems. I like the idea to build connectors to have a system A talking to system B within a matter of seconds. Microsoft Flow is such a technology which will interconnect systems with each other. Although the idea behind Microsoft Flow is not new, there are other providers like IFTTT or Zapier which are much longer on the market. The differences lie in connecting to endpoints, transforming data and sending to a target. Depending on your needs you will use one or the other or you might want to interconnect one task automation engine with the other. Lifehacker.com gives a short comparison:

  • IFTTT: IFTTT is super easy to use. As the name suggests, you set up a trigger: that’s the “if.” Then you pick a reaction, that’s the “that.” IFTTT supports 320 popular services, including Dropbox, Drive, WordPress, Twitter, and plenty of others. IFTTT calls these “recipes,” and you can browse recipes made by other people, which makes it easy to come up with ideas for how you can use the service on your own. On top of the web site, IFTTT also has Android and iOS apps so you can take the experience on the go. IFTTT is free. On Android, IFTTT and Tasker work very similarly.
  • Zapier: Zapier works just like IFTTT, but instead of “recipes” the service calls your actions “zaps.” Zapier focuses more on business app integration, so it supports niche corporate apps, like Recurly, HelloSign, and MySQL. Zapier is also more customizable. Where IFTTT limits itself to two steps (this happens, then that happens), Zapier supports multi-step zaps (this happens, then that, that, and that). That said, Zapier doesn’t have mobile apps. It’s also not free. While Zapier has a free plan, it limits you to five zaps at once, locks off access to certain apps, and can only make two-step zaps (just like IFTTT). For $20/month, you unlock Zapier’s real power, including access to all 500+ app integrations and multi-step zaps.
  • Microsoft Flow: Flow is the newest automation tool on the block and it’s the most limited. As you’d expect, Flow’s strength is its integration with Microsoft apps and services. Flow works like IFTTT, with two-step automation recipes called “templates.” Also like IFTTT, you can browse other people’s templates or share your own. Currently, Flow is a “preview” build on the web, which aside from being a bit limited in scope, also limits it to work or school email accounts. Chances are, that doesn’t include you, unless your company is deep in the Microsoft ecosystem or you’re a student. But hey, at least there’s also an iPhone version. For now, Flow is free as long as it’s in preview.

In our example I will use Microsoft Azure Service Bus, PowerShell, Microsoft Flow, Office 365 to help my old friend SCOM to translate alerts in many languages. Sounds cool? Yes it really is!

First we need to setup Microsoft Azure Service Bus Queue. So what is Service Bus (Source)?

Service Bus is a multi-tenant cloud service, which means that the service is shared by multiple users. Each user, such as an application developer, creates a namespace, then defines the communication mechanisms she needs within that namespace. shows how this looks.

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Within a namespace, you can use one or more instances of four different communication mechanisms, each of which connects applications in a different way. The choices are:

  • Queues, which allow one-directional communication. Each queue acts as an intermediary (sometimes called a broker) that stores sent messages until they are received. Each message is received by a single recipient.
  • Topics, which provide one-directional communication using subscriptions-a single topic can have multiple subscriptions. Like a queue, a topic acts as a broker, but each subscription can optionally use a filter to receive only messages that match specific criteria.
  • Relays, which provide bi-directional communication. Unlike queues and topics, a relay doesn’t store in-flight messages-it’s not a broker. Instead, it just passes them on to the destination application.
  • Event Hubs, which provide event and telemetry ingress to the cloud at massive scale, with low latency and high reliability.

As you can see a queue is the simplest part to use in Service Bus, it reminds me a bit like a printer queue, instead of sending documents, you are able to send messages. Ok so let’s install a queue…

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SCOM 2016 – Network Monitoring MP Generator Tool

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In one of my previous posts, I covered SCOM 2016 TP5 – What’s New and one of the topics mentioned was, that Microsoft will provide a tool to generate SNMP management packs. A what? Ok, let me explain. You are able to monitor network devices via SNMP. Well this is no magic and pretty common these days. SCOM 2012 provided a new rebuild SNMP stack for monitoring network devices. The magic was / is, that you just need to discover the device and SCOM will take care of the rest, meaning it will discover model, type, cpu, memory, network traffic and a lot more. There is just one problem, because there are so many devices available, SCOM cannot support all devices to the same level. What does that mean? There are “Certified” devices for SCOM which will be monitored very deeply and there are “Generic” devices which are just monitored in a less deep way.

  1. Basic Monitoring – This includes “Availability Monitoring” and “Port/Interface monitoring” for all network devices that have implemented the interface MIB (RFC 2863) and MIB-II (RFC 1213) standards.
  2. Extended Monitoring – This includes monitoring Processor and Memory components of the network device. This level of monitoring is currently available only for network devices certified by Microsoft, as those components could be discovered and monitored mostly through private MIBs.

As you can see there will be missing information depending on the device support. To close this gap, Microsoft created a command line tool to generate a management pack which will monitor these missing things.In this example here, I will kind “abuse” this tool to monitor a Windows Server via SNMP. Because I don’t have a network device and I want to do a bit more advanced stuff we will create a SNMP MP for a Windows Server 2012 R2. Some of you SCOM guys will now yell at me – “That is not possible, because you cannot discover Windows Servers via SNMP in SCOM!”. Of course it is!

How does this Network Monitoring MP Generator Tool work at a high level view? Well, basically you provide an OID (Object Identifier) for the target, an OID for the value you want to monitor and then you need to set thresholds for triggering alerts. That’s it, the tool itself will create all necessary information in the background. So let’s start, first we prepare our target server for monitoring…

Step 1 – Install SNMP service

On your Windows Server go to Add Roles and Features wizard and select SNMP Service in the Feature section, it will look like this…

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After you installed the SNMP service, open the Services MMC and open the SNMP service, select the Security tab and configure the SNMP settings like below, in this example I will provide a read-only community string public

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So, now we are able to query our Windows Server with the “password” / community string public and getting all the SNMP information.

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SCOM – Comtrade Nutanix MP Beta Release Overview

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Last week Comtrade invited me to a demo on their latest management pack product for monitoring Nutanix.  Comtrade is / was known for their outstanding Citrix management packs. These management packs cover, the entire monitoring experience from end-to-end and I mean in a real end-to-end experience. At the beginning of this year Citrix bought all the Citrix management packs from Comtrade and offer them now as part of their Platinum license, get more information about this deal here.

Maybe because of that, Comtrade decided to build another management pack for another flourishing technology called Nutanix. Nutanix offers a hyperconverged solution that has compute power (CPU and RAM) and software defined storage packed into so called nodes,1 to 4 of these nodes form a “block”. If you need more computing or storage power you just can add other blocks to run more workloads. It is supposed to be very easy to add other blocks to the Nutanix cluster and there are nifty logics for placing the workloads on proper storage as also replicating the VMs to another node for backup purposes. This means you can scale your computing needs and these blocks or boxes will just collaborate with each other. If you want to know more about this technology visit their website. Here just a picture for a better understanding…

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As I said Comtrade, is currently working on their first beta release for monitoring Nutanix. As we are used to get high-quality management packs from Comtrade, so I was very interested in seeing what they come up with for their beta release. The first thing I wanted to know what is the architecture of the management pack. In SCOM we create a dedicated resource pool and add either gateway servers or management servers into this resource pool. On any of these members (gateway and/ or management servers) you need to install a piece of software called Nutanix data collector, which runs as a Windows Service in the background. This data collector will talk to the Nutanix cluster using the Nutanix REST API for gathering all monitoring data (pull requests). The port which is used is Nutanix Prism port 9440 by default. If the port is changed, then an override can be used to instruct the MP to send requests to a non-default port.

The data collector will also do data aggregation and preparation consumed by the SCOM management pack. Additionally it is used to discover applications on VMs using WinRM or SSH protocols on Nutanix clusters. Talking about permission requirements, the management pack requires a basic (read only) Nutanix Prism account to access the Nutanix REST interface for monitoring the Nutanix environment. For the Application Awareness functionality (which we will explain a bit later) the requirements are an account with local admin rights on desired VMs for a connection to be established. Additionally for discovering Citrix Applications another account with Citrix Administrator rights and permissions to establish a remote management connection is needed.

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SCOM – Authoring History and System Center Visual Studio Authoring Extensions 2015

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I usually don’t blog about new releases of management packs or similar things, but this time I feel I have to do so. If you have been working for some time with SCOM, you know there is a (long) history behind authoring MOM/SCOM management packs. Back in the days where MOM 2005 used to rule the monitoring world, you had these AKM management pack files which could not be changed or authored outside of MOM. In 2007 when SCOM 2007 was released, Microsoft changed that concept to the sealed (MP extension) / unsealed (XML extension) management pack concept which is still valid up to this point. In the same wave Microsoft released the widely loved Authoring Console which was a GUI driven approach and more or less intuitive to work with for an IT Pro.

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SCOM 2012 R2 TP3 – Monitoring Apache Web Server

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Few month ago, Microsoft released management packs for monitoring open source software like Apache HTTP Server or MySQL databases. In this post I would like to have an overview of monitoring Apache web server. So far there have not been many free options to actually monitor this web server, although it is a very common candidate out in the field. This management pack shows clearly Microsoft’s commitment to support open-source software in the SCOM world.

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This  current management pack supports version Apache HTTP Server version 2.2 and 2.4 if you install Apache from one of the SCOM supported Linux distributions. Find all supported *nix versions  here https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/hh212713.aspx . In SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 11 there is Apache version 2.2 and in SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 12 there is Apache version 2.4 included. In this example I installed SUSE Enterprise Server 11 SP3.

The Apache management pack is part of the System Center 2016 Technical Preview 2 Management Packs for Open Source Software found here http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=46924 . Required is at least SCOM 2016 TP2, but SCOM TP2 has already expired few month ago, I will use SCOM 2016 TP3, which also works perfectly fine and can be found here https://technet.microsoft.com/en-gb/evalcenter/dn781241 .

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VMM 2012 R2 – Remove Corrupted SCOM Connector

Yet another interesting SCOM problem. Today I was at a customer for fixing some SCOM issues, respectively to reinstall SCOM. The problem was, that there was a SCOM incl. VMM integration in place. Because of many issues SCOM was removed without properly removing the VMM integration. So if you tried to remove the SCOM connector in VMM 2012 R2 an error appeared…

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