SCOM / OMS – MP University 2017 Recording

Sielct

Yes, Silect did it again! Few days ago Silect Software provided MP University 2017, an online event packed with sessions from well known names like Kevin Holman, Brian Wren and Aditya Goda from Microsoft, Marnix Wolf from Didacticum and Mike Sargent from Silect. What I like about this event is, that it is not marketing instead the sessions are packed with very deep content of MP authoring and as it seems to start touching OMS as well Smile. If you missed this event I encourage you to watch the recordings online on Youtube.

MP Authoring Basics and Silect MP Author

 

MP Authoring using Fragments

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OMS – OMS, is it SCOM in the cloud?

on-premise-vs.-cloud

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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SCOM / SCSM – Retrieve Decrypted RunAs Account Credentials

password-ftr

I am not sure if you have seen it, but Richard Warren from nccgroup has figured out, how to decrypt the RunAs account credentials in SCOM. The problem up to now was, that there was no official way to retrieve the encrypted credentials from SCOM. There is just one DLL to use, which offers the decrypt method. He has written a EXE and a PowerShell script on Github . I know there are always two sides of the medal. In this case an evil and a good way of using this knowledge. I think I don’t have to talk about the evil way, instead I would like to talk about its benefit.

Richard Warren has used it for SCOM RunAs accounts, but if you think about it Service Manager (SCSM), which is based on the same framework, therefore I was curious if this approach also works for SCSM. In fact it did! Why is this awesome? Well, think about it. We are able to “securely” store credentials in SCSM (or SCOM) using RunAs accounts. Now we are able to retrieve those credentials easily. Because I do a lot of automation in SCSM using service requests and itnetX PowerShell activities I always had some trouble to store credentials in a save manner. There are many ways to do so, like exporting the credentials into XML (Export-CliXML) , using certificates , encrypting the credentials using a key and store it somewhere like here or maybe you could store the credentials in SMA and retrieve it using PowerShell. Whatever method you are going to use, you will end up with more or less problems. The best approach would be, to store the credentials on the system where you need it (SCSM) and the SCSM administrator can manage these accounts without to dig into PowerShell code or certificates etc. Therefore RunAs accounts are a perfect way for storing credentials.

Because of that, I have used Richard’s sample, modified the code a bit to be able to use it on SCOM and SCSM and also return proper output. The PowerShell module will return the a credential hash table. You need to execute the module on the SCOM or SCSM management server and the only parameter you need to provide is the SCOM RunAs account display name like in this example.

In SCOM the RunAs account looks like this…

image

…and if you use the PowerShell module it works like this…

image

You can download the module from PowerShell Gallery . Be aware of the fact, that you need permission to access the database and management server.

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SCSM 2016 / SCOM 2016 – SCOM 2016 Console Crashes After SCSM 2016 Console Installation

boom

Have you ever installed System Center Service Manager 2016 and System Center Operations Manager 2016 console on the same system? Depending on the installation order, the SCOM console will crash with multiple errors like this…

image

…and the console will appear empty or crash totally. We had the case, that the SCOM console was installed first and the SCSM console afterwards. It is a known issue and MVP Eric Berg as blogged about it in German, check his post here.

Because this error has massive impact and I was also affected by this nasty bug I will re-write it in English and pimp this post with some nice screenshots :).

The problem is the Analysis Management Objects (AMO) 2014 package which is being installed by the SCSM 2016 console installation. What you could do, is uninstalling the Analysis Management Objects (AMO) 2014 package and run a repair installation of the SCOM console.

image

A better workaround is the following (taken from Eric Berg’s blog)…

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