Posts Tagged SCOM

Getting Started with Intune

Earlier this week Microsoft announced a new program called Windows Intune:

intune logo

The concept behind it is simple…Management via the cloud – including licensing. Now, that simple sentence means a lot more under the hood.  Let’s take a look at what Intune is and what it has to offer.


One of the more difficult things SME (small / medium enterprise) customers have is getting the right software licensing.  Intune helps address this by giving you a license to Windows 7 Enterprise and also includes in it the rights to Software Assurance. Right away you should be jumping up and down…Why?  Because SA includes MDOP, a small set of tools that have more bang for their buck than you know.  If you’ve not heard of MDOP before, check it out and if you’ve got SA, try and get your hands on it to learn more about it (you can also test the bits via MSDN and TechNet).


Ok, so we now know what the licensing is like, how does it work? As with more and more tools these days, Intune is a cloud based service.  Simply navigate to a URL and you’ve got your management console in one location.  The biggest benefits to this are Anywhere access and the lack of need for a complex back end infrastructure (you don’t need your own SQL server, you don’t need your own SCOM server, you don’t need your own…). So, you want to know what it looks like?

intune console

Simply login using your LiveID and away you go…More in to management with LiveID’s later…

It runs entirely on Silverlight so no need for ActiveX components of old (yay), which also means for those of you who prefer to use something other than Internet Explorer, yep, it works in Firefox (p.s. say hello to cookie monster there 😉 :

console firefox

What’s Included
software reporting

So, you now know about the licensing and the console, what is it that’s under the hood that Intune can do for you? First off, it does Inventory…For those of you familiar with MDOP you’ll recognise some of the screens to be similar to the AIS (Asset Inventory Service). It tells us the software title, publisher and a category as well as the count of computers it’s installed on:

intune software listing

Further, we can drill down on the software title and get more information on it if the software title offers it up to the agent/console.

licensing amalgamation

Wow, Microsoft teams are starting to collaborate (joke). No, really though, for years we’ve had eOpen, we’ve had tool B and then we’ve had the different licensing agreements from here there and everywhere…Well now with Intune, there is a licensing module that will bring all of that mess tidily (is that a word?) under one roof. Simply import a .csv file with the agreement and license numbers or if you don’t have that, manually add them and watch your licenses appear magically in the same console that manages the software (woo hoo!!):

intune licensing

software update management

As noted above, one of the biggest challenges for smaller organisations is infrastructure. To get the functionality of what Intune offers, you’d need SQL, SCOM, SCCM, WSUS and a full time position (benefits, health care, pension, vacation pay, agro)…Intune takes care of that and software management is no exception. With Intune you can manage software updates with a simple click, no need for the infrastructure and even better yet, no need for the disk storage to hold all of the potential updates!

intune updates

and again, as integration is key, simply click on any update to get further information about it:

update drilled down

You can also approve and decline updates on a one-by-one basis this way too (don’t worry you can globally manage multiple updates too).


So, all of the above is great (as an IT person) however what about the people in management who want pretty reports? Yep, Intune has those as well. Three basic categories:

  • Update reports
  • Software reports
  • License reports

As they allude to, the first one tells which machines (based on your filtering criteria) meet or don’t meet specifications of a certain classification, status or grouping.

The software report does what it says on the tin – reports on the software you’ve got installed. Again, filter on the publisher, category or specific computer groups/departments.

software reporting

And then the licensing reporting, the most critical to the number crunchers…Installation report and puchase report – again filtered against all agreements or selected agreements, depending on what is entered in to the licensing module (explained above).


Ok, so there is loads included above but what determines how this information gets to Intune and how exactly does it get there? Well, similar to GPO’s, Intune has policies that are controlled by it’s agent. Simply download the x86 or x64 client from the administration area and install it (from what I can tell it embeds your Intune information in to the .msi installer). No questions, simply double click the installer, reboot and let a few more updates trickle down and presto, you’re Intune. All traffic to and from Intune is encrypted over an HTTPS tunnel to keep it secure, and once an agent checks in, it can, like GPO’s be assigned policies, when to update, what to include and what software/patches to send to the machine.

Further one cool thing is the agent allows the user to request remote control from the administrator over this SSL connection. They simply open their Intune agent locally (on the desktop by default) and click on Microsoft Easy Assist:

intune agent launch 

This triggers an email to whomever is set up in the console (in their language even), with detailed information about the remote control request and includes a link to directly remote control the user:

intune error


So, to wrap it all up, Intune is the remote system admin toolkit without the need for local infrastructure and expertise.  It gives you:

  • Windows 7 Enterprise Licensing
  • MDOP
  • Software Assurance
  • Inventory
  • Patch Management
  • Reporting
  • Remote Control
  • Monitoring & Alerting
  • Malware Protection
  • Licensing Control

…all in one simple location for one simple price.

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System Center Ops Manager R2 RC


The Release Candidate of System Center Operations Manager (SCOM) 2007 R2 is now available for public consumption:

Visit the TechNet site to get it

Operations Manager 2007 R2 introduces key new and enhanced functionality, including:

Enhanced application performance and availability across heterogeneous platforms

Delivers monitoring across Windows, Linux and Unix servers-all through a single console
Extends end to end monitoring of distributed applications to any workload running on Windows, Unix and Linux platforms
Maximize availability of virtual workloads with integration with System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2008

Improved management of applications in the data center

Delivers on the scale requirements of URL monitoring of your business
Meet agreed service levels with enhanced reporting showing application performance and availability
More efficient problem identification and action to resolve issues

Increased speed of access to information and functionality to drive management

Faster load times for views and results
Improved and simplified management pack authoring experience

For those who are evaluating the Beta release, this Release Candidate offers a number of enhancements over the Operations Manager R2 Beta, including:

-New Power Management MP template (Monitored system must be Windows Server 2008 R2 or Win7)
-Updated branding across all User Interfaces
-Improved trace configuration tools on the CD to help support issues escalated to Customer Support (where applicable)
-Improved Run As Account Distribution Configuration
-Ability to run inline tasks for non-Microsoft servers
-Support for upgrade from Beta deployments to the Release Candidate
-New and updated documentation, including the Usage Guide, Design Guide, Deployment Guide, Upgrade Guide, Security Guide and Operations Guide

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Hot off the VPC press…SCE 2007 SP1


For those of you in the SME market, if you’ve never had a look at System Center Essentials, you ought to, and what better time than now? 

What is SCE you ask?  Well, it’s a bit of SCOM and a bit of SCCM bundled up in a neat little package for those companies with less than 500 machines and 30 servers.  It was updated to SP1 to fix a few bugs, massively increase speed and just make things work better. It’s such a cool tool that Microsoft ship it with Essential Business Server 2008 now to help you manage the environment. 

At any rate, the point of this posting is to let you know not only is there a virtual on-line lab, but now Microsoft have produced a demo VHD you can download to give SCE 2007 SP1 your own test drive…Definitely cool and something you ought to consider if you manage a SME environment.

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Stystem Center in a week!

system-center-alone So, I’ve had a systems management backround for a while now and have worked in system management and it’s hard to ignore the momentum Microsoft System Center and its suite is gaining, so I figured I’d set myself a challenge…System Center in a week. Yup, try to learn the bulk of the products, how to install them and how they work – ALL in one week!

So far, I’ve done SCVMM 2008 (pretty cool and definitely useful) and I’ve also done SCDPM 2007 (not yet with SP1 though I’ve read a bit up on it). If you don’t have DPM installed in your environment and you use Windows Server – either 2003 or 2008 – I would definnitely suggest you try this software. Cheaper than BackUp Exec and much more friendly and works more streamlined and efficiently and effectively.

I digress, at any rate, time to learn SCOM and SCCM now…See ya later!

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Want to ensure your MOM/SCOM Reporting Goes Well?

The MOMTeam has posted just how to ensure your reporting goes over with flying colours.  Check it out:

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Ops Manager R2 Beta!!

It was discussed at TechEd to be one of the next biggest things since sliced bread and they’ve now delivered.  Operations Manager 2007 R2 Beta 1 has been released to the wild.

Register on Connect to get it and try it out

If you want more information on what it is and the cool things around it, visit the System Center blog and they’ll tell you all about it (as well as give you the above link!)

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The future of Network Monitoring!

System Center is really a suite of products, but one of them is Operations Manager and the new R2 version, which is set to be released to beta later this month (fingers crossed), quite literally is going to take network monitoring by storm.

Out of the box, System Center Operations Manager (SCOM) in the past used to really only work well with Microsoft products and had a quirky way, at best, to add, alter and update management packs.  Well, that’s all about to change.  With the R2 release, System Center will (in-built) reliably monitor:

SUSE 9 & 10
RHEL 4 & 5
Solaris SPARC 8, 9, 10
HP UX 11iv2 and iv3
AIX 5.3 and 6.1

Also, there are many other add ons and features which will add to the overall capabilities of System Center.  Watch this space and be prepared to be taken by storm, the System Center storm!

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