Thursday, October 29, 2015

UR#8 SCOM 2012 R2 Is Available

Yesterday Microsoft released UR#8 for SCOM 2012 R2.

Fixes in this UR:

  • Slow load of alert view when it is opened by an operator
  • SCOMpercentageCPUTimeCounter.vbs causes enterprise wide performance issue
  • System Center Operations Manager Event ID 33333 Message: The statement has been terminated.
  • System Center 2012 R2 Operations Manager: Report event 21404 occurs with error '0x80070057'
  • SDK service crashes because of Callback exceptions from event handlers being NULL
  • Run As Account(s) Expiring Soon -- Alert does not raise early enough
  • Network Device Certification
  • French translation of APM abbreviation is misleading
  • p_HealthServiceRouteForTaskByManagedEntityId does not account for deleted resource pool members in System Center 2012 R2 Operations Manager
  • Exception in the 'Managed Computer' view when you select Properties of a managed server in Operations Manager Console
  • Duplicate entries for devices when network discovery runs
  • Preferred Partner Program in Administration Pane

Again my advise to test this UR in your SCOM test environment before applying it in production.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Issue With SQL Server MP Version Log File DW Fills Up…

Update October 23th:
Microsoft has pulled this MP and is working hard to solve it. When your SCOM environment is affected by it, go
here in order to fix it.

As it turns out, the SQL Server MP version has a ‘known issue’.

Because of this issue the log file of the Data Warehouse database starts to fill up, causing these errors to pop up:

  1. ‘…Data Warehouse failed to deploy database component. Failed to deploy Data Warehouse component. The operation will be retried…’
  2. ‘…Exception 'DeploymentException': Failed to perform Data Warehouse component deployment operation: Install; Component: Script, Id: ‘[GUID]', Management Pack Version-dependent Id: '[GUID]'; Target: Database, Server name: '[DW Server Name]', Database name: 'OperationsManagerDW'. Batch ordinal: 39; Exception: Sql execution failed. Error 9002, Level 17, State 4, Procedure Microsoft_SQLServer_Visualization_Library_UpdateHierarchy, Line 192, Message: The transaction log for database 'OperationsManagerDW' is full due to 'ACTIVE_TRANSACTION'…’

Cause & Workaround
The suspected culprit is the SQL Server Visualization Management Pack. Remove it and all it’s dependencies.

I notice that some people already complained about this issue with the SQL Server MP version Until now I haven’t seen it for myself. But be careful here.

A BIG thanks to a regular reader of my blog, John Bradshaw. He pointed this issue out to me. Thanks John!

Friday, October 16, 2015

MP Authoring: What Toolset To Use & Why

When authoring MPs one can choose from multiple tools, where every tool has some advantages and disadvantages. This posting sums up the tools available and the reasons why (or why not) to use them and in what circumstances.
One thing to keep in mind…
When I talk about MP Authoring I don’t mean creating a couple of Rules, Monitors or Views. That’s just extending the existing monitoring footprint. With MP Authoring I mean creating multiple Classes, Relationships, Discoveries, Monitors, Rules, Views and the lot.
  1. SCOM 2012x Console > Authoring
    Yikes! This IS NOT a MP Authoring tool at all actually. Sure, you can create Monitors/Rules, some of them by the help of a wizard, found under Management Pack Templates. However, in general it will create XML code loaded with GUIDs instead human readable and understandable names. And when one of the MP Templates is used, a whole sh#!t load of additional XML bloat code is generated, making it even harder to maintain a MP like that.

    On top of it all, you can’t create a new Class here nor any related Discovery. Sure, you can extend an existing Class with a related registry Discovery, but that creates a whole new ‘pain’ in your SCOM environment, so my advice is to stay away from that option all together.

    Conclusion: Use the SCOM 2012x Console > Authoring option only for creating some basic Monitors, Rules or Groups in order to  streamline your notifications, overrides, views and so on. But don’t use it for serious MP authoring since it’s falling short for it.

  2. SCOM 2007 R2 Authoring Resource Kit > Authoring Console
    Before SCOM 2012x became GA, this was for a long time to author MPs. Even though it can be still downloaded, it’s discontinued by Microsoft. Sure, you can still author MPs with it but since it’s targeted at SCOM 2007, it doesn’t support the new XMP MP schema used by SCOM 2012x. I know, when importing a MP like that in SCOM 2012x, it will work. And when exporting it, the XML schema will be set to SCOM 2012x. Still, it’s usability is limited.

    Also it doesn’t support the new dashboards present in SCOM 2012x, limiting it’s usability even further.

    Conclusion: It has been for some time the MP Authoring tool, but it’s outdated by now. The only use case scenario is when authoring MPs for SCOM 2007x environments. But in a situation like this one has to start migrating away from it, to a brand new SCOM 2012 R2 MG. In all other cases, don’t use it. Instead, take a serious look at Silect MP Author, as discussed below.

  3. Silect MP Author
    This is the new MP authoring tool, targeted at the IT Pro. This tool is available for free. Even though Silect has built it (and maintains it as well), Microsoft has paid Silect some money which is reasonable. The tool itself is mainly wizard driven, making it easier for the user to author a MP. While going through the wizard many comments containing Silect’s name are added. And even when removing or modifying those, a few more are added as well which can only be removed by using Notepad++ for instance.

    None the less, this tool allows you to author good MPs with relatively clean XML code, which makes maintenance a better job. Because of the wizards one doesn’t require a real deep understanding while authoring a MP. Also the sealing of the MP is made easy. With nothing but a simple mouse click it’s sealed. Silect delivers the MP Author key for it but you’re free to use the key used by your company, which is a better choice.

    As a downside, the same wizards used to create Classes and related Discoveries (aka Registry/WMI/Script Targets), Rules, Monitors, Views and Folders, are a ‘one-way street’ only. Meaning that when something is created and it must be modified, it can’t be edited easily anymore without modifying the underlying XML code, requiring deeper knowledge and experience with the MP XML code, tags and construction.

    Also some options are greyed out like authoring Classes, Rollup Monitors, Process Monitors and Relationships, limiting the kind of MPs one can author. These options are available in the paid version of MP Author which is part of MP Studio.

    But there are also MANY plusses. Like postings written by Kevin Holman how to build quickly and efficiently your own MPs with their own Classes, Discoveries, Monitors and Views. So creating a new MP of your own is really like a walk in the park. These are his postings: Using MPAuthor to create a class, discover and monitor a service, MPAuthor - Using a PowerShell script to collect performance data in a SCOM rule – 101, MPAuthor – A more advanced PowerShell Performance Collection Rule.

    Conclusion: This tool is value for money and the tool for the IT pro who want’s to build MPs based on relatively clean XML code, without requiring a deep understanding of it. With the postings from Kevin one is quick on track, capable of building far more better MPs without deep understanding of the underlying XML. These MPs are also far more better than the ones build in the SCOM Console itself.

    However, since the capabilities of the free version are limited, it’s not the tool to build real complex MPs, requiring additional relationships, rollup monitors and so on. Also maintenance on previous built targets, Rules, Monitors, Views isn’t done easy because the GUI doesn’t expose it all. Instead one has to work directly in the XML code itself. None the less, it’s far more better than the previous mentioned tools and has an easy access level for the IT Pro requiring customized monitoring in their SCOM environment.

  4. Silect – MP Studio
    This is the flagship product of Silect. It enables one to have a repository of all the MPs imported in the SCOM environment, complete with advanced version control and management (and much more). On top of it all MP Author is included in MP Studio WITH all options available. So with this version of MP Author it’s easier to build more complex and advanced MPs, again without requiring the knowledge of the underlying XML code.

    Conclusion: When you require a tool to maintain your MPs in an advanced way, this is the tool to use. As an added bonus it contains the full blown version of MP Author, allowing for authoring more complex MPs. Still the same disadvantages as mentioned before with MP Author are at play here. So maintaining a MP requires many times to edit the XML code directly, which is only feasible when one has a thorough understanding of it all. And yet, for many IT Pro’s it’s a seriously good tool for MP authoring.

  5. Visual Studio with Authoring Extensions (VSAE)This is the MP Authoring tool targeted at developers, allowing to build the most advanced and complex MPs. With the Authoring Extensions Visual Studio ‘gains’ a deep understanding of the XML code used by MPs. Combined with snippets, templates and IntelliSense, one can build kick ass MPs.

    The price of this package is between zero euro’s/dollars up to many hundreds, depending on the version of Visual Studio you’re using. When running the Community version this whole package (AE included) comes for free.

    And even though it’s primarily aimed at developers, it can be used by IT Pro’s as well, thanks to the help of Graham Davies who has written a series of low level entry postings about how to build some good MPs with VSAE, aimed at the IT Pro. Combined with the MVA training – written by Brian Wren – about VSAE, there is enough material going around for the interested IT Pro about how to use VSAE.

    Still, a good understanding of the underlying XML code is required. Without it you can’t create a Class, nor a related Discovery for instance. And this is where it all starts. Maintenance here is relatively easy since the wizards are two-way streets here, GUI driven. Also copying code, Rules, Discoveries and Monitors for instance, is super easy, enabling you to author a MP super fast. Also the error check when building the MP saves a lot of time. The error codes help you to solve issues rather easy, compared to the errors thrown by SCOM itself when importing a MP derails.

    On top of it, VSAE enables you to test drive specific workflows of your MPs. This way you can see whether it works as intended.

    Conclusion: VSAE is the next level of MP Authoring. When being a MP pro and not feeling comfortable with XML code, used by MPs, stay with Silect MP Author. When hungry for more knowledge, understanding of MP XML coding, flexibility in authoring your own MPs and easier maintenance, this is the tool to use. Also with the previous mentioned postings written by Graham, one can built SUPER fast a Distributed Application, diagram view included.
IMHO it comes basically down to two MP authoring tools: MP Author (free or paid version) and VSAE. Both tools have their advantages and downsides. MP Author has a low level entrance, enabling fast MP development. However, serious MPs have a life cycle, requiring maintenance. And the maintenance in MP Author is mostly done by editing the XML directly since one can’t edit much of it anymore in the GUI.
So in the long run VSAE is the winner for me personally. And yes, it takes more time to learn it and to maintain that experience and knowledge (only doable when authoring MPs on a regular basis), but when you get the hang of it, you’ll love it.
Still I see serious use cases for MP Author since you can’t expect from all IT Pro’s to run VSAE. There is already enough on their regular to do list . It comes down to your own time, schedule, eagerness to learn some (or more when using VSAE) new stuff.
Since both are available for free, test drive them and decide it for yourself. Feel free to comment on this posting.

Updated MP: SQL Server Version

A few days ago Microsoft released updates for the SQL Server MPs, version This update contains fixes and new features.

Available updated SQL MPs:

MP University EMEA Cohosted By Brian Wren & Kevin Holman

On October 28th Silect Software & Infront Consulting Group organize the first virtual MP University about authoring MPs.

Besides the pro’s from Silect and Infront Consulting Group this university will be cohosted by Kevin Holman and Brian Wren. Even though they don’t need a introduction, I’ll do so anyhow.

They both work for Microsoft, Kevin in the role as Technical Solution Professional (TSP) and well known for his blog all about SCOM with in-depth articles. Brian on the other hand ‘…owns knowledge for management pack authoring and automation technologies for System Center, Windows Azure Pack, and Azure…’. He’s also the author of the MP Authoring with VSAE series on MVA.

Therefore, when you work with SCOM and are interested in MP Authoring with MP Author, this is the event to attend! Since it’s a virtual event, you can join in from anywhere with your computer.

Ignite 2016: Relocated & Shifted From Spring To Fall

The moment I published the posting about Ignite 2016 being cancelled I got many tweets about the shift to another date and another location.

The Official Microsoft Blog recently published a posting about all the events planned for 2016, among them Ignite 2016. It’s schedule is set from September 26-30.

I don’t have any idea why Microsoft has relocated and shifted Ignite 2016. Aidan Finn has his own ideas and theories, so go check for yourself.

All I know is that I sure want to go to Ignite 2016 and experience it all by myself.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Ignite 2016 Cancelled?

Aidan Finn just posted an article about the possibility that Microsoft Ignite 2016 is cancelled. Read his posting for more information on this topic.

Monday, October 5, 2015

OM12 DW Database Error. EventID 31553: ‘Arithmetic overflow error converting IDENTITY to data type int’

An OM12 environment had some MPs updated, including the core MPs based on UR#9 AFTER the required SQL scripts were applied. So far so good.

Out of the blue, the OpsMgr event log on the MS servers started to log EventID 31533 with the message  ‘…Data was written to the Data Warehouse staging area but processing failed on one of the subsequent operations. Exception 'SqlException': Sql execution failed. Error 8115, Level 16, State 1, Procedure ManagedEntityChange, Line 237, Message: Arithmetic overflow error converting IDENTITY to data type int…’

I’ve seen a lot 31533 events but never before I saw the message Arithmetic overflow error converting IDENTITY to data type int.

So I reached out to some people I know. And gladly I got a response.

As it turns out, the  related table ran out of ID’s. This can be checked by running this query against the Data Warehouse database: DBCC CHECKIDENT ("Managedentity"). The value should be lower than 2147483647.

Before I start: Microsoft PFE recommends to open a case with Microsoft Customer Support Services, so think TWICE before running this fix.

Be sure you know what you do. When possible, do this with a SQL DBA so you have additional SQL knowledge and experience available. Also know that fixing this issue for a certain table can’t be enough and that other tables will suffer from the issue as well. In cases like these it’s better to open a case with Microsoft Customer Support Services.

Reseed the related table when the value is 2147483647 or higher.

  1. First and foremost, BACKUP both SCOM databases, and ascertain yourself the backups are in working order (aka: they can be 100% restored). Also, BEFORE running the backup, STOP all SCOM related services on ALL SCOM Management Servers so new data will be processed by the SCOM databases. Enable these services AFTER this procedure has been run;
  2. Find the current number of rows in the table. This number will be used in Step 3 as value n: select count(*) from managedentity;
  3. Reseed the identity of this table with this query: DBCC CHECKIDENT ("Managedentity",RESEED, n+1). Again: n is the value found in Step 2. Also: there should be no spaces between the , and RESEED;
  4. Check and confirm that the value was changed: DBCC CHECKIDENT ("Managedentity");
  5. Enable the SCOM related services on the Management Servers;
  6. Confirm that EventID 31553 is gone.

Changes are however, other tables will show up in the OpsMgr event log with the same error. Run Steps 2 to 6 in order to remedy it. And again STOP the SCOM related services on the Management Servers before going through these steps and enable them afterwards.