Posts Tagged System Center

T-180 and counting Heathrow (and that’s not a terminal or gate number)

So, travelling to Seattle today I got the joy of using London Heathrow’s new Terminal 5 for the first time.  Normally I fly with Virgin, so I’m usually flying from Gatwick or the posh terminal 3.  However today saw me seeing this:

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I must say, two thumbs up to the architects.  Clean, airy, light, fancy.  However, beauty is only skin deep right?  Let’s look at the monitors:

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Oh, well done.  Nothing on them but an XP task bar.  First off guys, you do know that XP support ends soon?

Good news is though, they didn’t reveal too much in the task bar.  There’s sound on these machines and one other small applet, but aside of that, there’s nothing revealing security wise like the folks in Las Vegas have.

What is more worrying though is that I think they need a System Management Package (have you guys heard of System Center), because it seems they knew about these problems, but had to record it manually.  What do I mean…Well, covert ops photos show us the following:

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See the bloke in the two photos above staring at the two “broken” monitors (revealing the XP task bar)?  Yep, he’s one of the IT guys at Heathrow doing asset control and what does he have?  You guessed it, pen and paper!

I guess looks can be deceiving.  Beautiful airport strung together with IT that is powered and audited by sneaker net.

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Office 2010 – Deployment Options

As Office 2010 gets nearer RTM (another phase of releases went out the other day to TAP customers) many of us need to begin to think about how we’re going to deploy it.  Good news is that Microsoft has taken the thought out of the what’s and how’s and put it all together for us in a simple document.  Even better, they’ve given us three options – a PDF, an XPS or even a Visio (what the PDF and XPS were made from, no doubt).

In short, there are five ways to deploy Office 2010:

As with anything, each has its advantages and disadvantages, all outlined for you and downloadable from here:

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Deploying Office 2010 with Manageability Tools

image (Source: Deployment Options for Microsoft Office 2010)


Administrators can use change and configuration management software, such as Microsoft System Center Essentials and Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager, to deploy Office 2010 applications. The choice of System Center Essentials or Configuration Manager depends in part on the size of your organization.

  • Applications are deployed to thousands of workstations in a short period of time. Managed deployment systems can first push the installation bits to the targeted workstations over a specified period of time (such as over a week), which helps distribute the load to the network and allows for a quick deployment once the installation bits are on the targeted workstations.
  • Makes network bandwidth management easier.
  • Centralizes control, monitoring, reporting, and issue resolution of deployment.
  • Reduces the need of sending helpdesk personnel to workstations for troubleshooting.
  • Requires supporting infrastructure.
  • Expertise is required to manage the change and configuration management software.
  • Use managed deployment systems when applications are deployed to thousands of workstations in a short period of time.
  • Put change and configuration management policies in place.
  • Plan, test, and validate before rolling out to production.
  • Roll out in a phased manner. This is especially true for unattended installs — the most common issue is people not creating/configuring a valid unattended install experience.
  • Schedule deployments for minimum network utilization times, such as evenings and weekends.
Deployment Help &Tools

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SCVMM 2008 R2 Beta

System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2008 R2 Beta is now available!

Visit the Connect Website and find it in the Server Category

New features in R2 include:

· Support for Live Migration: With Windows 2008 R2 adding support for Live migration, it’s now added as a new migration option in VMM R2. Live migration requires the source and destination host to be part of a failover cluster and that the VM is on a shared storage. Live migration means that there is no user perceived downtime; since the VM’s memory pages are being transferred, the hosts’ processors need to be the same (manufacturer and processor architecture). Our competition claims that Vmotion doesn’t require clustering but this only works for planned downtime and not for unplanned downtime. By combining Live migration and clustering, Hyper-V addresses both planned and unplanned downtime.

· Multiple VMs per LUN: VMM 2008 didn’t allow placing multiple VMs per LUN even though Hyper-V allowed it and the reason was that the LUN ownership was on a per host basis. This meant that migrating any VM on that shared LUN would result in all other VMs being migrated as well which can result in a confusing user experience (I’ve blogged about this at length). With CSV (Clustered Shared Volumes) in Windows 2008 R2, a single LUN is accessible by all hosts within a cluster. This enables a VM that’s on a shared LUN to be migrated without affecting other VMs on that LUN. As a result, with VMM R2, we’ll allow multiple VMs to be placed on the same LUN if CSV is enabled on the cluster.

· SAN related enhancements: We’ve done a number of SAN related enhancements in VMM R2.

o SAN migration in and out of clusters: With VMM R2, you can migrate a VM from one cluster to another or from a standalone host into a cluster or vice versa. Especially useful when you are deploying a VM from a test cluster to a production one.

o Multiple LUNs per single iSCSI target: VMM 2008 supported only initiator-based iSCSI target connection, which allows only one LUN per iSCSI target. VMM 2008 R2 adds support for masking-based target connections, which allows multiple LUNs per iSCSI target and expands VMM support for iSCSI SAN providers. This implies that we have better support for iSCSI products from Network Appliance and EMC for example.

· Network related enhancements:

o Network Optimization

§ Win2k8 R2 supports 2 types of network optimizations: VMQ & Chimney

§ During VM creation you can enable/disable network optimization

§ If enabled, VMM will configure the VM to use VMQ or Chimney, if available on the host

§ During placement, VMM R2 detects and shows availability of Network optimization on the host

o Some workloads such as Network load balancers need to be able to spoof MACs: There’s a new setting that allows admin to enable/Disable MAC spoofing on a per VM basis

o Ability to reuse port groups defined in VMWare VirtualCenter

§ In VMM 2008, port groups were always created even if the admin had already created them on the host.

§ In VMM R2, the admin is allowed to pick an available port group that’s already defined.

· Maintenance mode

o For servicing a host, VMM R2 allows host to be put in maintenance mode: When you do this, all VMs on that host that are running are live migrated off the host to avoid downtime.

§ Admin can choose to save state VMs if host is not part of a cluster

o During placement, a Host that’s in maintenance mode gets zero star ratings. This also p-prevents PRO from picking this host when migrating VMs.

o Maintenance mode is supported for Hyper-V, VS and VMWare ESX hosts

· Support for Disjoint domains: When a host has different FQDN in AD and DNS, it’s said to be in a disjoint domain. For example: server name is foo and FQDN in AD is and FQDN in DNS is For Kerberos authentication to work, SPN needs to be created for DNS Name

o VMM 2008 required custom SPN to be manually configured in AD

o VMM 2008 R2 automatically creates custom SPN for DNS name. (AD needs to be configured to give permissions to VMM for SPN read/write permissions)

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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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Data Protection Manager 2007 SP1 Released!

syscnt-dpm_h_rgb_3Today sees the release of DPM 2007 SP1.  This adds some pretty slick new features for MOSS, SQL 2008 and Hyper-V, but the only draw back is full Hyper-V isn’t actually coming until January when another patch is released…KB 959962 gives more info on that “coming soon” patch.  Some other interesting/useful links:


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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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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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System Center Essentials

Right, so see the main theme?  Monitoring, management, and keeping the network patched and up.  Just did a lab on System Center Essentials and its quite cool.  Comes packaged with Essential Business Server and allows you to monitor, manage, patch and deploy things to your environment.  Definitely worth a look if you want a management tool to help you take control of the environment.  Again, similar to SCVMM, same look and feel and works pretty well overall once you get the hang of it.

Microsoft management tools – one stop shop for all management, that’s System Center.

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SCVMM 2008 – Definitely Cool

So as everything goes virtual these days, Microsoft have created SCVMM – System Center (yes that’s the American Spelling) Virtual Machine Manager.  They have recently released SCVMM 2008 and there is a HOL here at TechEd that goes in to detail about it which is really cool.  You can manage HyperV, VMware, Virtual Server and even regular old servers.  Very easy and simple to use and follows the same look and feel of the rest of the System Center family.  Oh yeah, you can do your provisioning and remote control from here too so no need to interact directly with the VM Host machines any more…

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