Presenting at MMS 2016 – Azure Stack, Backup, & OMS

It’s almost time for MMS 2016. By the end of Friday 4-22-16 MMS registration will be closed as the event has sold out! This year I have the opportunity to present twice and help facilitate one of the pre-con sessions. Here is a breakdown of my sessions.

Session #1: My first session is on Azure Stack the new Hybrid solution from Microsoft! This session will include me, fellow MVP Kerrie Meyler, and exited to also be presenting with Daniel Savage an Azure Stack program manager from Microsoft! You never know what new never heard before stuff you might learn about in this session. I recommend you sign up. Here is the title, description, and link for this session:

TITLE: – Future-proof your Career with AzureStack in the New Hybrid Cloud World! –

DESCRIPTION: “Write once, deploy anywhere”, “extension of Azure”, “cloud agility”, “Cloud in your data center” What do all these buzz words mean to you and your career? How does Azure Stack Microsoft’s Hybrid solution apply to you as an IT Pro? Does Hybrid Cloud really have a place in the enterprise?

Come to this session and let Azure Stack Program Manager Daniel Savage, MVP Steve Buchanan, and MVP Kerrie Meyler unpack it for you.

SPEAKER BIOS:

Future-proof your Career with AzureStack

LINK: http://sched.co/6Xjn

Session #2: In my second session I will be presenting with my good friend and fellow MVP Robert Hedblom. He is making the trip all the way across the pond from Sweden for this event. Our goal for this session is to save jobs! hahaha…. You don’t want to miss this session as we take you through the steps of designing your backup and restore strategies. Here is the title, description, and link.

TITLE: – Be a Hero or be Fired. Backup and Restore Strategy –

DESCRIPTION: Did you skip planning the backup strategy? If a disaster occurred could you restore or would you get fired?

Come see System Center MVP’s Steve Buchanan and Robert Hedblom walk you through building a bullet proof backup and restore strategy of your business services. These strategies can be used with Microsoft business continuity tools. Learn how to be a restore hero in the event of a disaster and keep your JOB!

SPEAKER BIOS:

Be a Hero or be Fired. Backup and Restor

LINK: http://sched.co/68×3

Session #3: The third session is actually a 4 hour pre-con session about Operations Management Suite (OMS). This is a session you don’t want to miss. This session will be jam packed with MVP and Microsoft rock-stars! It will be jam packed with deep knowledge and again you never know what new never heard before stuff you might learn about in here. In this session you will have direct access to the Microsoft product team that is behind OMS. I am honored to be a part of this session. I have the opportunity to help facilitate it. Here is the title, description, speaker bio’s and link for this session.

TITLE: OMS from “What is this?” to “Wow, it can do that?!” –

DESCRIPTION: This is a pre-con session where emcee’s Steve Buchanan and Cameron Fuller will facilitate a four hour session designed to explain what OMS is and what it can do for your organization.

In the first hour Bob Cornelissen (SCOMBob) and Cameron Fuller will provide an introduction to what OMS is and what benefits it can provide your organization.

In the second 1.5 hour session, join the Microsoft product team members as they dig in deep on IT automation within OMS.

In the final 1.5 hour session, join the Microsoft product team members as they dig in deep on Log Analytics & Security / Compliance.  

SPEAKER BIOS:

OMS Pre-con

LINK: http://sched.co/6MtU

See you at MMS 2016!

MMS

http://mmsmoa.com

Read More

Free Cloud Resources for IT Pro’s

A couple of years ago Microsoft ended TechNet. A lot of IT Pro’s were unhappy with that decision. IT Pro’s used TechNet to practice in their own labs and get up to speed on new technologies. Well on April 20th, 2016 Microsoft has an answer for this (NOTE: this is my opinion not any official statement from Microsoft).

2016-04-21 01_58_40-Microsoft IT Pro Cloud Essentials

Microsoft has launched the “Microsoft IT Pro Career Center” and the the free “Microsoft IT Pro Cloud Essentials“.

The Microsoft IT Pro Career Center is a free online resource to help map your cloud career path. Learn what industry experts suggest for your cloud role and the skills to get you there. Follow a learning curriculum at your own pace to build the skills you need most to stay relevant.
Microsoft IT Pro Cloud Essentials is a free annual subscription for IT Pro’s that basically gives you Azure, EMS, O365 resources to practice and learn with. It even comes with a Pluralsight account. It includes:

Free Azure credits to try cloud scenarios like backup, disaster recovery, security & dev/test.
Free Pluralsight subscription for on-line training.
Free Priority support in the TechNet forums.
A free phone support incident for Azure or on-premises products.
A free certification exam voucher. [2]
Extended trials of Enterprise Mobility Suite and Office 365.

This is huge. Many of my IT buddies have said they want to jump in on cloud but could not afford to pay for the accounts out of pocket. Well this is no longer an excuse.

Recently Dice published a report that Azure was #2 on the list of the fastest-growing tech skills. Here is the link:

http://insights.dice.com/2016/04/12/dice-report-fastest-growing-tech-skills-2 . I would bet that with the pace Microsoft is moving with Azure this will become the #1 tech skill in the near future. As an IT Pro Azure is something you definitely want to be looking into.

If you are an IT Pro and you want to get started with cloud jump out there and get started today.

Microsoft IT Pro Career Center:

https://www.itprocloudessentials.com

Microsoft IT Pro Cloud Essentials:

https://www.itprocareercenter.com

Read More

In this blog post I am going to walk through the steps to create a storage account and connect an Azure Explorer tool to that Azure Stack storage account.

Create the storage account in Azure Stack

AS-Stor-Post-1

AS-Stor-Post-2

On your Azure Stack Dashboard you will have:

AS-Stor-Post-3

And you will have a notification that the new storage account is being provisioned and when it completes.

In Progress  Deployed
 AS-Stor-Post-4  AS-Stor-Post-5

The new storage account blade will appear. If you were to click on Blob service right now you would notice that it does not contain any yet. This is what we will create with the explorer tool.

For now copy the Blob Service Endpoint URL:

https://hybridstorage.blob.azurestack.local/

AS-Stor-Post-6

Click on Access Keys. We will need this information for connecting from the explorer tool.

AS-Stor-Post-7

We will need:

Access Keys | KEY1:

bEWQQIa2i6a6ADOPPE+iygbCGEYcK8pjd4EOzeqh+VURSWC0ErVYp119pAKPnx015s9WLwKa4d8JdMl5FzM8Tw==

AS-Stor-Post-8

NOTE: I used KEY1. You could use KEY2 if you want. Either key will work.

Install Azure Explorer tool

I used the free tool named “Azure Explorer” by Redgate. Here is the link to download:  http://www.red-gate.com/products/azure-development/azure-explorer. I tried some of the other explorer tools out there but they did not work for me. They seem to be setup to only connect to storage accounts on Azure. The Azure Explorer tool by Redgate does the following:

  • Manage all your Microsoft Azure blobs in one place
  • Create and delete blob containers
  • Rename, move and delete blobs
  • Quickly view and edit blob metadata
  • Create and delete blob snapshots
  • Reliably upload and download blobs with a responsive UI
  • Transfer blobs between your storage accounts
  • Easily search and filter your blobs
  • Support for copy and paste
  • Search across storage accounts using wildcards
  • Filter blobs using regular expressions
  • Bookmark locations for quick access
  • Quickly access specific containers by name

Download and install the Redgate Azure Explorer tool on your Azure Stack client VM or host.

The Azure Explorer tool will be in the start menu.

AS-Stor-Post-9

Connect the Azure Explorer tool to the Azure Stack storage account

Launch the tool. Right click on Azure Storage Accounts and select Add Connection to Azure Storage.

AS-Stor-Post-10

Select the first connection option and click next.

AS-Stor-Post-11

Now give this a name and copy in your access key. Click on Advanced Settings.

AS-Stor-Post-12

In Advanced Settings you need to add the Blob Service Endpoint URL.

AS-Stor-Post-13

Now you will be back at the previous screen. Click on the Test Connection button.

AS-Stor-Post-14

Now you should see the storage account added in the tool. Note that you can add many accounts in the tool.

AS-Stor-Post-15

I went ahead and created a new blob called blob1. Notice in the following screenshot that you can select the access level.

AS-Stor-Post-16

Next you can copy data directly into the blob or you can create folders and put data in the folders.

AS-Stor-Post-17

You also can right click in the blob...

Read More

How to add SUSE Linux image to Azure Stack

In Azure Stack you can publish your own images essentially virtual machines that can be used when deploying a new virtual machine. This is handy for publishing servers that need to be pre-configured in a certain way for consumers of your cloud. In order for your published images to show up as an option in compute within Azure Stack the images need to be added to the Platform Image Repository (PIR) within the Compute Resource Provider (CRP).

SUSE has recently published a pre-built SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 12 SP1 image that has been prepped specifically for Azure Stack. This image is ready to go and can be published to the CRP’s PIR without any needed prep of the virtual machine. In this blog post I am going to walk through the steps I took to add this image to my Azure Stack.

SUSE already has an image out there for Azure. The SUSE image used on Azure does not work right now on Azure Stack. As of right now Azure and Azure Stack have different “initialization code”. In the future I would expect these to be the same. The SUSE image also includes SUSE/azurectl a command line tool that helps you manage SUSE updates from a Linux VM hosted on Azure. More info on this here: https://github.com/SUSE/azurectl. To download the SUSE Azure Stack image go to https://download.suse.com and complete the fields as show in the following screenshot.

AS-Suse-1

You will be brought to a login page to access the download. If you do not have a SUSE account sign up for one and login. You will see the actual download at that point. Go ahead and download it onto your Azure Stack Host.

AS-Suse-2

Extract the SLE-12-SP1-Server-Azure-Stack-x86_64.vhd and copy it to C:\ClusterStorage\Volume1\Share\VM.

AS-Suse-3

Microsoft has the steps for adding images to Azure Stack’s Platform Image Repository (PIR). The process is essentially running a PowerShell script. The script is included with Azure Stack. The script creates the image directory needed in C:\ClusterStorage\Volume1\Share\CRP\PlatformImages, the JSON file in that directory, and makes a copy of the VHD in that directory. The JSON file contains the meta data about the image that shows in the Azure Stack Portal. Here is the link to the Microsoft document: https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/documentation/articles/azure-stack-add-image-pir/

Here are the steps for running the script:

In PowerShell navigate to:

D:\CRP\VM\Microsoft.AzureStack.Compute.Installer\content\Scripts

Run this script in PowerShell:

.\CopyImageToPlatformImageRepository.ps1

NOTE: My DATAIMAGE drive letter was D. You may have a different letter.

You will be prompted for the following:

  • PlatformImageRepositoryPath use this \\SOFS\Share\CRP\PlatformImages\
  • ImagePath I put C:\ClusterStorage\Volume1\Share\VM\SLE-12-SP1-Server-Azure-Stack-x86_64.vhd
  • Publisher I put SUSE
  • Offer I put LinuxServer
  • Sku I put SUSE-Linux-Ent-12-SP1
  • Version I put 12.0.0
  • OsType I put Linux

AS-Suse-4

NOTE: These prompts are used to populate the JSON file for the image. Here is an example of the JSON file:

{

“Publisher”:”SUSE”,

“Offer”:”LinuxServer”,

“Sku”:”SUSE-Linux-Ent-12-SP1″,

“Version”:”12.0.0″,

“PlatformImage” :{

“OsDisk” : {

“OsType”:”Linux”,

“FileName”:”SLE-12-SP1-Server-Azure-Stack-x86_64″

}

}

}

Alternatively you could run the script as:

.\CopyImageToPlatformImageRepository.ps1 -PlatformImageRespositoryPath ‘\\SOFS\Share\CRP\PlatformImages’ -ImagePath ‘C:\ClusterStorage\Volume1\Share\VM\SLE-12-SP1-Server-Azure-Stack-x86_64.vhd’ -Publisher ‘SUSE’ -Offer ‘LinuxServer’ -Sku ‘SUSE-Linux-Ent-12-SP1’ -OsType ‘Linux’

As long as the script worked you should have the following as an end result in C:\ClusterStorage\Volume1\Share\CRP\PlatformImages:

AS-Suse-5

AS-Suse-6

If you have the Azure Stack portal open close out of the browser and go back in. It should be listed as an available image in Compute as shown in the following screenshot.

AS-Suse-7

Notice the difference between a Windows image and a Linux image. The Linux image gives you an authentication option of Password or SSH Key.

Windows Linux
 AS-Suse-8  AS-Suse-9

Read More

Azure Stack Deployment Issues

I recently deployed the Azure Stack POC TP1 bits on a Lenovo ThinkPad W530. The W530 has 32GB of ram, 2 x 500GB SSD’s and 8 cores. I deployed Azure Stack to a VM using nested virtualization. The VM only had 27GB of ram. It surprisingly is fast with the TP1 bits and works well as a small lab for testing. There are several blogs out there that detail deploying Azure Stack on lower hardware specs and with nested virtualization. Here is one of the posts: http://www.jofe.ch/install-azure-stack-poc-into-a-vm/

Also there is an issue with nested virtualization. The issue is the AS host VM crashes when you RDP into any of the AS fabric virtual machines. So if you deploy the lab this way it will be limited.

I did run into some issues during the deployment and will cover these in this post. They are:

#1

Enable Remote Management. If you do not you will get a CredSSP failed error during the Azure Stack deployment. To check this and or set this type sconfig in PowerShell. The following menu will be loaded and you can select option #4.

AS-Issues-Post1

#2

Configure the timezone and time on the Azure Stack VM host. If you do not you will get an error like this “time and/or date difference between the client and server” during the Azure Stack deployment. I only had to do this on the VM host. I did not need to change this on any of the fabric VM’s.

On Server 2016 for me when I tried to change the timezone and or date and tim...

Read More

All Work Item Assigned/Reassigned Notification

A few years ago I posted a blog about work item assignment/reassignment notification options in Service Manager. Here is the link to that previous post:

SCSM Assignment/Re-Assignment Notify Options

Recently I modified the management pack for the last option #4 “Community Work Item Assignment/Reassignment Notifications”. The Community Work Item Assignment/Reassignment Notifications management pack is originally from here: http://scsmsource.blogspot.com/2011/04/work-item-assignmentreassignment.html.

The management pack has been modified to include more work items and a notification template was created. This management pack now has one notification template to modify and will send out notifications on assignment and re-assignment for all work items. Work items it includes are:

  • Activity Assignments
  • Change Request Assignments
  • Incident Assignments
  • Problem Assignments
  • Release Record Assignments
  • Service Request Assignments

The notification template is generic so that it will fit all cases. The web link that is referenced in the notification template should be modified depending on the portal used in your Service Manager deployment.

Verified Service Manager Versions:

  • Service Manager 2012 SP1
  • Service Manager 2012 R2 (tested up to UR9)

Management Pack Name:

All.WorkItem.Assignment.Workflow.Library.xml

Version:

7.0.6555.1

Notification Template File Name:

All Work Item Assigned To Notification Template.html

Description:

Importing this Management Pack, will create 6 custom workflows:

6 workflows

The workflows cannot be modified in the Service Manager console. They can only be modified in XML in the management pack. They can be viewed in Service Manager at Administration\Workflows\Status.

And 1 new notification template:

  • All Work Item Assigned To Notification Template

Every time a work item gets assigned or re-assigned to someone, it will send the “assigned to” person an e-mail. The notification template looks like this:

all work items notification template

Feel free to modify the notification templates as you see fit after you have imported the management pack. The .html file for the notification template is also included for easy editing outside of Service Manager.

You can download this solution here:

https://gallery.technet.microsoft.com/All-Work-Item-AssignedReass-96fe40c7

Read More

Customizations in the Service Manager HTML 5 SSP

Microsoft has released a great blog post about customizations that can be done to the Service Manager HTML 5 self-service portal. This article covers the following areas:

  • Title
  • Logo
  • Colors and Tiles
  • Icons
  • New sidebar link

In the article they talk about what is supported and what is not for customizations. They key is that if you make unsupported customizations be sure to back up your customizations. This is because they might be overwritten when an update rollup is applied and Microsoft will not guarantee those customizations will stay intact. This is no big deal if you back your customizations up as you could simply reapply them after an update rollup.

Here is the link to Microsoft’s blog post on this:

https://blogs.technet.microsoft.com/servicemanager/2016/03/15/basic-ui-customization-in-new-self-service-portal-html5/

Now I am writing this blog post for few reasons. #1 There are other customizations that have been blogged about by the community that are not included in Microsoft’s article. #2 I want a central location to document all of the customization articles out there. #3 I am using this as a way to document some of the customizations that I have made for later reference.  Here is the list:

Customising the Service Manager HTML5 Portal

This a blog post on general customizations of the HTMK5 portal.

By System Center MVP Steve Beaumont: http://www.systemcenter.ninja/2015/12/customising-service-manager-html5-portal.html

HTML5 Portal: Search Query!

This covers changing the Refresh box to Search and adding text to the search input box.

By Ryan Ephgrave:

http://www.ephingadmin.com/service-manager-html5-portal-search-query/

HTML5 Portal: Larger Description Text Box

This covers making the text box on forms larger. I know this is a common ask. This is a great blog post to bookmark.

By Ryan Ephgrave:

http://www.ephingadmin.com/service-manager-html5-portal-larger-description-text-box/

Display “Must Vote” by the side of the user name on Change Request Activity in the portal

This can be done by doing following changes in Views\MyActvities\ActtvitiyDetails.cshtml (addition & removal) –

<div class=”name col span_6″ style=”padding:1px;”>@Resources.SelfServicePortalResources.Name</div>

<div class=”name col span_6″ style=”padding:1px;”>Must Vote</div>

<div class=”status col span_6″>@Resources.SelfServicePortalResources.Status</div>

<div class=”comment col span_7″>@Resources.SelfServicePortalResources.Comment</div>

<div class=”voted col span_6 grey-text”>@Resources.SelfServicePortalResources.VotedBy</div>

————————–

<div class=”name col span_6″ style=”padding:1px;”>@reviewerItem.Item1</div>

<div class=”name col span_6″ style=”padding:1px;”>@reviewerDetails[“MustVote”]</div>

<div class=”status col span_6″>@decision</div>

<div class=”comment col span_7″ style=”padding:1px;”>@reviewerDetails[“Comments”]</div>

@if (!reviewerItem.Item2.IsEmpty())

{

<div class=”voted col span_6 grey-text”>@reviewerItem.Item2</div>

}

https://social.technet.microsoft.com/Forums/systemcenter/en-US/8c3af275-820d-4663-8165-46364d6e0040/new-html-5-portal-change-control-user-to-approve-info?forum=portals&tduid=(bbc82b3a96d3ba9c69f8efad24f74430)(256380)(2459594)(TnL5HPStwNw-5ocTrJtqN7jv7JWlYxWHgQ)()

NOTE: When looking for the code to change search for:

@foreach (var item in formData)

Customizations By System Center MVP Steve Buchanan:

GENERAL

clip_image001.png

In the Web.config file change

<!– Customizable fields starts here –>

FOR TITLE CHANGE:<add key=”CompanyName” value=”Buchatech Self-Service Portal”/>

FOR PORTAL LOGO (COMPANY LOGO) CHANGE: <add key=”CompanyLogoLocation” value=”../Content/images/System Center_Cloud_Logo_Transparent.png”/>

FOR NUMBER CHANGE:<add key=”ITPhone” value=”562-309-4042″/>

FOR EMAIL CHANGE:<add key=”ITEmail” value=”support@buchatech.com”/>

You will notice on my side menu I do not have email address and instead of an IT phone number I have “Service Desk Contact Info:” and my Powered By logo and text are custom.

clip_image002.png

To change these go to:

C:\inetpub\wwwroot\SelfServicePortal\Views\Shared

And modify the Sidebar.cshtml file.

Find “<div class=”side_nav_bottom”>” and modify:

<div class=”side_nav_report”>

<div>@Resources.SelfServicePortalResources.PoweredBy :</div>

<img src=”~/Content/images/PrivateCloud_logo1.png” alt=”Private Cloud” style=”max-width: 12em;” />

<br /><br />

I COMMENTED OUT THE DEFAULT TEXT HERE:    <!–<div>@Resources.SelfServicePortalResources.CantFindSolution</div>–>

<!–<div>@Resources.SelfServicePortalResources.ContactUs</div>–>

I ADDED MY OWN TEXT HERE:     <div>Service Desk Contact Info:</div>

</div>

<div class=”row side_nav_phone”>

<span class=”icon-Phone icon-pos icon icon-medium”></span>

<span class=”icon-text icon-text-pos”>@System.Web.Configuration.WebConfigurationManager.AppSettings[“ITPhone”]</span>

</div>

<div class=”row side_nav_mail”>

<span class=”icon-Mail icon-pos icon icon-medium”></span>

<span class=”icon-text icon-text-pos”>@System.Web.Configuration.WebConfigurationManager.AppSettings[“ITEmail”]</span>

</div>

NOTE: Company logo image works best as 32×32.

NOTE: Powered by logo image works best as 36×26.

All images should be stored in: C:\inetpub\wwwroot\SelfServicePortal\Content\images

SIDE BAR LINKS

In my portal I added some custom sidebar links.

clip_image003.png

In C:\inetpub\wwwroot\SelfServicePortal\Views\Shared

Modify the Sidebar.cshtml file.

In the file under “<div class=”side_nav_bar col side_menu”>”

I added the following:

<!– Custom IT Portal Link Begin –>

<div class=”row side_nav_IT Portal” accesskey=”I” tabindex=”4″ data-toggle=”tooltip” title=”IT Portal”>

<a href=”http://portal.buchatech.com” target=”_blank”>

<font color=”white”>

<span class=”icon-Home icon icon-pos icon-medium”></span>

</font>

</a>

</div>

<!– Custom IT Portal Link End –>

And

<!– Custom Change Calendar Link Begin –>

<div class=”row side_Change Calendar” accesskey=”C” tabindex=”9″ data-toggle=”tooltip” title=”Change Calendar”>

<a href=”http://portal.buchatech.com/_layouts/15/start.aspx#/Lists/Change%20Calendar/calendar.aspx” target=”_blank”>

<font color=”white”>

<span class=”icon-MultiSelectMirrored icon icon-pos icon-medium”></span>

</font>

</a>

</div>

<!– Custom Change Calendar Link End –>

In the file under “<div class=”side_nav_bar_expand col side_menu”>”

I added the following:

<!– Custom IT Portal Link Begin –>

<div class=”row side_nav_IT Portal”>

<span class=”icon-Home icon-medium icon icon-pos”></span>

<span class=”icon-text icon-text-pos”><a href=”http://portal.buchatech.com” target=”_blank”><font color=”white”>IT Portal</font></a></span>

</div>

<!– Custom IT Portal Link End –>

And

<!– Steve Change Calendar Link Begin –>

<div class=”row side_nav_Change Calendar”>

<span class=”icon-MultiSelectMirrored icon-medium icon icon-pos”></span>

<span class=”icon-text icon-text-pos”><a href=”http://portal.buchatech.com/_layouts/15/start.aspx#/Lists/Change%20Calendar/calendar.aspx” target=”_blank”><font color=”white”>Change Calendar</font></a></span>

</div>

<!– Steve Change Calendar Link End –>

Here is the Microsoft link for adding sidebar links:

https://blogs.technet.microsoft.com/techlazy/2016/03/13/service-manager-new-html5-portal-basic-customizations-55-new-sidebar-link/

COLORS LOOK AND FEEL

Custom Buchatech look and feel:

clip_image004.png

Default look and feel:

clip_image005.png

For colors of the portal you can use the Microsoft method the main.css. Link here for this: https://blogs.technet.microsoft.com/techlazy/2016/03/13/service-manager-new-html5-portal-basic-customizations-35-colors-and-tiles/

For me I created a file named custom.css here C:\inetpub\wwwroot\SelfServicePortal\Content\CSS and placed my custom CSS in this for the colors. The portal will see there is a custom.css file and apply whatever is in it. If you do the same be sure to back it up. Here is the CSS I put in the custom.css file:

.top_bar {

background :black

}

.top_bar .anouncement_count {

width: 1.5em;

background-color: #d2d2d2;

height: 1.5em;

border-radius: 50%;

position: absolute;

top: 5px;

right: 6px;

text-align: center;

}

.btn:hover {

background-color: green;

cursor: pointer;

}

/*media all*/

.btn {

background-color: black;

border: none;

color: white;

padding: 0.625em 2em;

margin-right: 1.5em;

font-size: 1.25em;

}

/*media all*/

[class^=’icon-‘].icon-fill {

color: #f00;

}

.vertical_list .list_header, .my_reg_container .list_header{

background: black;

}

/*@media screen and (min-width:1024px)*/

/*.main_body .side_nav_bar .row, .main_body .side_nav_bar_expand .row {

height: 4em;

position: relative;

background-color: red !important;

}*/

/*@media screen and (min-width:1024px)*/

.main_body .side_nav_bar .row:hover, .main_body .side_nav_bar_expand .row:hover {

cursor: pointer;

background-color: #777!important;

}

div[style*=”background-color: rgb(37, 95, 133)”]

{

background-color : blue !important;

}

CUSTOM ERROR MESSAGE

You can have the portal give a custom error message when an error occurs. You need to modify the Error.cshtml file in \inetpub\wwwroot\SelfServicePortal\Views\Shared.

<hgroup>

<h1>Error.</h1>

<h2>An error occurred while processing your request.</h2>

</hgroup>

Here is an example :

clip_image006.png

Read More

Cannot Edit SCSM 2012 R2 UR9 Exported Management Pack in Authoring Tool

I recently ran into a problem where I could not edit a SCSM 2012 R2 UR9 Exported Management Pack in the Service Manager Authoring tool.

When I tried to open my exported MP in the authoring tool it is looking for this file:

Microsoft.EnterpriseManagement.ServiceManager.UI.Authoring.mp

version:

7.5.3079.442

I got this error:

clip_image001.png

Click to enlarge image

The Microsoft.EnterpriseManagement.ServiceManager.UI.Authoring.mp file

does exist in the authoring tool directory here:

C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft System Center 2012\Service Manager Authoring\Library

but it is an old version of the Microsoft.EnterpriseManagement.ServiceManager.UI.Authoring.mp file.

The authoring tool has not been updated with the newer management pack files yet. To work around this I opened the exported management pack in Notepad ++ and I searched for the referenced MP “Microsoft.EnterpriseManagement.ServiceManager.UI.Authoring”.

It should find a section like this:

<Reference Alias=”UIAuthoring”>
<ID>Microsoft.EnterpriseManagement.ServiceManager.UI.Authoring</ID>
<Version>7.5.3079.442</Version>

Here I changed <Version>7.5.3079.442</Version> to <Version>7.5.1561.0</Version> and saved the MP.

7.5.1561.0 is an old version that is what the authoring tool is using.

After that I was able to open the MP in the authoring tool.

Read More

Service Manager vs. ServiceNow

I am often asked how does Service Manager compare to ServiceNow. I don’t have a solid canned response for this. I often respond that you really have to compare System Center to ServiceNow because you get the entire suite when you buy System Center not just Service Manager. Also it would be a bad decision to not consider using the other components such as Operations Manager, Orchestrator, and Configuration Manager given the tight out of the box integration with Service Manager and these components.

With ServiceNow you get an ITSM solution but have to pay additional monthly fee’s when you want to add on other functionality such as automation, event management (monitoring), CMDB, or asset management. With System Center you get all of this for the price of System Center and you simply have to turn and configure the additional functionality you want. One more point is that many organizations own and utilize Configuration Manager and or Operations Manager and will often already own the licensing they need to deploy Service Manager.

On December 9th 2015 System Center MVP’s Chris Ross and Pete Zerger held an awesome webinar on System Center + Cireson vs ServiceNow. This was a must see webinar. It covered the often asked about topic of “Service Manager vs ServiceNow“.

These guys did a great job covering the topic. One of the most important areas they covered was Real-world Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) Comparison. TCO is one of the top data points that matter to businesses when they are considering a new ITSM solution.

In this blog post I am going to look at some of the key topics that stuck out to me from the webinar in regards to Service Manager vs ServiceNow. Keep in mind that these comparisons also include Cireson’s software.

One of the setbacks for some organizations on going with Service Manager is that they believe there is no cloud option for it. That is wrong Service Manager can be deployed in Azure cloud. Also there are a couple of companies that have a SaaS offering for Service Manager. The following graphic looks at the different types of Service Manager deployments and their options.

clip_image001

This first chart looks the numbers of the TCO of Service Manager vs ServiceNow if you don’t already own the System Center ECAL licensing.

clip_image002

You will notice that over a 5 year period System Center including Cireson and Azure is lower TCO over ServiceNow. Wow. If this did not include Cireson or Azure the TCO of System Center would be even lower compared to ServiceNow.

This next chart looks at the TCO of System Center vs ServiceNow if your organization already owns the ECAL licenses or has an Enterprise Agreement (EA) with Microsoft.

clip_image003

This has even deeper savings compared to the first chart. Now remember this includes Cireson software and having Service Manager deployed in Azure.

This chart looks at the TCO of System Center vs ServiceNow with System Center being deployed on-premises.

clip_image004

Again the TCO savings with System Center goes even lower. This chart still includes Cireson with System Center. This does not include the cost of the data center fabric storage, VM’s etc… which would typically already be in place before deploying System Center.

The following table compares feature sets of System Center and ServiceNow.

clip_image005

Notice ServiceNow does offer features such as automation and system management but they come at an additional monthly cost. One more item to point out from this slide is that System Center offers functionality that ServiceNow does not such as enterprise and cloud backup through Data Protection Manager and Virtualization and Private cloud Management through Virtual Machine Manager and Azure Pack. ServiceNow does offer Event Management it requires an additional purchase and plugin install.

So I pulled out information from the webinar that stuck out to me. There is much more information in the webinar and context behind each of the charts I included in this blog post. I recommend you watch the full webinar. You can watch the entire webinar right here:

System Center + Cireson versus ServiceNow: A Head-to-Head Comparison from Team Cireson on Vimeo.

NOTE: Below is a link to another blog that covers Service Manager vs ServiceNow.

http://blog.navantis.com/reduce-it-spend-and-increase-performance-choosing-the-right-it-service-desk-tool/

Read More

What is Microsoft Azure Backup Server?

Want to have DPM without having to buy System Center? Now you can. It is called Microsoft Azure Backup Server (MABS). Well MABS is not really a full DPM but a scaled back DPM. Microsoft released Microsoft Azure Backup Server on October 7th, 2015. In this post I am going to break down what Microsoft Azure Backup Server is.

clip_image001

Microsoft Azure Backup Server’s goal is to solve some problems that have existed with Azure backup for a while. These problems are:

  • -No centralization of protected servers with Azure Backup. Historically if you did not have DPM and you only had Azure Backup but needed to protect on premises server you would install the Microsoft Azure Recovery Services Agent (MARS) agent on your on premises servers. They would then be protected up to Azure.
  • -Without DPM Azure Backup can only backup files and folders. To protect workloads like SQL, Exchange up to Azure you needed to protect with DPM first and then send the data up to Azure.
  • -Purchasing a System Center license is not economical for some organizations.

Microsoft Azure Backup Server solves these issues because it is an on premises backup server. Under the hood it is a scaled back DPM so it gives you similar functionality. It lets you protect the same workloads as DPM to disk on premises first and then up to Azure or you can backup directly to Azure. Essentially it gives you two types of protection:

  • – Disk (D2D), giving high RTOs for tier 1 workloads
  • – Azure (D2D2C) for long term retention

Tape protection with Microsoft Azure Backup Server is not possible. This is not included in the product.

MABS also gives you a centralized location on premises to backup your on prem servers to, manage the backup agent of your on prem servers and see the status of their protection. MABS does this without the cost of a System Center license. It can be used when you subscribe to Azure Backup. MABS will require you to provide backup vault credentials during the setup.

From the Microsoft site on MABS pricing: “Microsoft Azure Backup Server will continue to bill customers as per their existing Azure offers (e.g. Pay-as-you-go, EA, Open).” You can learn about Azure Backup pricing here: https://azure.microsoft.com/en-in/pricing/details/backup/

Now to get Microsoft Azure Backup Server you can either go download it directly here:

https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=49170

Or you can download from the Azure portal. Go to:

clip_image002

Then click on the “Download Microsoft Azure Backup Server for Applications” link as shown in the following screenshot.

clip_image003

Microsoft Azure Backup Server is great for organizations that need a backup solution without the cost of the entire System Center suite. Keep in mind this does not provide tape backup. However backup up to Azure for offsite is a cost effective solution and also now gives you on premises backup to disk as well.

Here is an official blog post on Microsoft Azure Backup Server along with “how to” videos. These videos will help you install and configure Microsoft Azure Backup Server. https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/blog/announcing-microsoft-azure-backup-server/

Read More