SMA – Database Grooming Some Things You Should Know

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SMA is Microsoft’s on-premise automation engine and the successor of Opalis / Orchestrator. We have utilized this engine quite a lot and have lots of experience developing PowerShell workflows for SMA. But as every system your need to maintain and pamper it, otherwise it will strike back at some point. We recently experienced such an issue, which also could happen in your environment.

When a runbook is executed it generates a job, see more details here. A job can have different status either be failed, stopped, suspended or running. So, if you decide you want to debug a runbook because it fails all the time, you can turn on different log levels or also known as runbook streams. There is an excellent post on System Center: Orchestrator Engineering Blog explaining how you turn on one of the six different streams like Output, Progress, Warning, Error, Verbose, and Debug. Depending on the type you receive different information levels.

What happens is, as soon you turn on e.g. verbose stream you will see it in the job output like this…

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A best practice is to keep these streams turned off and only enabling it if you really need them. But why is that? Well, this output has to stay “somewhere” otherwise it would not be “persistent”. In SMA this output gets stored in the Stream.JobStreams table. If you run a select query against this table you will see something like this…

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If you have a closer look at the Stream TypeName column you figure out the stream type like Verbose, Output, Progress etc. If you see Output, this does not mean it is only data from Write-Output, instead it is also data returned by a runbook for passing as input for the next runbook. As a side note, you should never use Write-Output in your runbooks instead use Write-Verbose. Write-Output is only meant for output objects and consuming by other runbooks.

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SCOM – Database Performance & Configuration Sources

Most customers who are using SCOM need sooner or later tips and resources to check if their SCOM databases are in proper condition and might want to check if there are some performance issues. The Operations Manager team has just published a very useful post for troubleshooting database performance issues.

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In addition there is a post, which I have written some time ago, that also discusses solutions to avoid the mentioned problems in Operations Manager team post.

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Another excellent guide for setting up and configuring SQL Server for System Center products including SCOM I highly recommend reading the SQL Server Guide from MVP Paul Keely which is an awesome companion! You can download the guide from TechNet Gallery.

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The last very good source is the recently published e-book “Operations Manager Field Experience” which also covers the SQL database performance and configuration topic for SCOM.

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Go and check them out and I am sure you will be able to speed up or fix your SCOM DB performance (issues)!

SCOM – Global Service Monitor Using Visual Studio Web Test

Global Service Monitor has been around for quite some time now. If you never heard of Global Service Monitor then I would like to give you a short description by Microsoft.

System Center Global Service Monitor is a cloud service that addresses this problem by extending the application monitoring capabilities in System Center 2012 beyond your organization’s own network boundary. Global Service Monitor uses Windows Azure points of presence to help give you a true reflection of an end-users’ experience of a web application.

System Center Global Service Monitor helps achieve a 360-degree view of the health of web applications. It uses Windows Azure points of presence across the globe, monitored alongside existing data found within the familiar System Center 2012 Operations Manager console. Global Service Monitor reports on availability, performance, and function of web applications by scheduling and executing synthetic transactions against the application from Windows Azure. (Source: Microsoft)

This pretty much explains it well enough. If you need some more info check out the GSM site.

On the http://www.vnext.be blog Christopher Keyaert has a pretty long blog post written to get you up and running with Global Service Monitor and provides all the necessary links for prerequisites and downloads. He explains also how to setup a Web Application Availability Monitor which uses the GSM locations.

One feature that I haven’t seen people using a lot are web tests to get detailed application information from outside their networks.

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SCOM 2012 R2 – PowerShell To Determine Agent Required Disk Space

Do you use any of the System Center products which use an agent? SCOM is one of these products which needs to have an agent installed on the monitored systems. But do you know how much space an agent really uses? Why is this important? Well, let’s assume you have to monitor an older operating system like Windows Server 2003 SP2 (sorry yeah I know, I wrote in my last post, that I will blog about future technologies…) which by the way SCOM 2012 R2 is capable of. In that case, older servers running these legacy operating systems are mostly on their limit, especially if those server are physical and not virtualized. Another example why it is important to know how match space the agent requires, you might have a virtual machine in the cloud and because storage is expensive, you need to size your disks properly so you don’t waste any money. If you try to find any accurate values in the documentation from Microsoft you will be lost. Because of all that I decided to make a small test, which you also could reproduce in your lab.

If you have already played with SCOM 2012 R2 you know that the agents are located in C:\Program Files\Microsoft System Center 2012 R2\Operations Manager\Server\AgentManagement and if you look at the size of the directory e.g. amd64 agent directory you will see that the agent is approx. 34 MB. There are some transform files included which not all apply but for our test it is accurate enough…

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For our test I have a plain SCOM 2012 R2 management server scom2012R2.contoso.com  up and running WITHOUT any additional management packs installed. What happens if I just deploy the plain SCOM 2012 R2 agent to a server? How much space will the agent require?

Good question, so let’s see…

Update 04.01.2014: I ran the test multiple times trying to get the most accurate values possible. I think I have now a pretty good test result. I updated the screenshots and results in this post accordingly. If you want to reproduce these tests, make sure you turn off automatic updates, if it is a virtual machine set the memory to fixed and turn off all other things which could influence the disk space!

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SCOM 2012 – Monitoring Oracle Database OLE DB Management Pack Template

As you know there are different ways to achieve certain things. It always depends on your requirements. In my latest blog post I would like to show how relatively easy it is to monitor an OLE DB connection to an Oracle database and also get some performance data.

My well-respected fellow SCSM Guru  and MVP Marcel Zehner (http://blog.scsmfaq.ch) provided me with this solution here, all credits to him.

The screenshots are in German but I will try to translate the options to English where necessary. It could be that my translation does not exactly match your setup in English but I do my best.

We have multiple steps to take in order to make the monitor function properly…

  • Step 1 – Install OLE DB provider
  • Step 2 – Configure database configuration file TNSNAMES.ora
  • Step 3 – Configure OLE DB Management Pack Template
  • Step 4 – Configure RunAs accounts

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System Center – SQL Server 2008 R2 Performance Tuning

In this article I would like to share some SQL Server performance tuning tricks which will give an extra boost to your System Center infrastructure.

I will focus on SQL Server 2008 R2 as this is the latest SQL Server edition. My attempt was to create a generic tuning guide for System Center but because I am a SCOM guy some topics are just about SCOM.

I would like to thank Roger Breu, Data Warehouse Solutions Specialist  from Microsoft Western Europe for his valuable input and review. Thanks Roger Smiley!

This article is divided into seven sections:

  1. Choose SQL Server Edition
  2. Install SQL Server
  3. Configure SQL Server
  4. SQL Server Properties
  5. Install Databases
  6. Database Properties
  7. Optimizing Performance

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