Fun @ the MVP Summit 2016

This year at the MVP Summit was a great one.

I learned a lot of stuff mostly about OMS, System Center, and Azure Stack.

I cannot talk about any of it. 🙂

I can however talk about some of the fun times we had and share some pictures.

 

First picture….a warm welcome to MVP’s from around the world.

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Here is a picture of the US MVPs at the summit!

all-us-mvps

Me at the Microsoft Enterprise Engineering Center in Redmond.

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Breakout of the Cold & into MN tech

Minnesota has been a hotbed of tech for a long time. In 2015 Minnesota was named one of The Fastest-Growing States For Tech Jobs In 2015 by Forbes. Link here:

http://www.forbes.com/sites/susanadams/2015/08/18/the-fastest-growing-states-for-tech-jobs-in-2015

Also in 2015 Minnesota landed #1 on Dice.com’s Fastest-Growing States for Tech Jobs. Link here:

http://media.dice.com/report/august-2015-fastest-growing-states-for-tech-jobs

Most recently within the past few Months Amazon has opened an office in Downtown Minneapolis with 100 full time tech positions giving the local tech community another boost on the national scale. Here is an article that covers the topic of companies such as Amazon expanding into this market to tap into the rich technical talent pool. Article: High-tech talent grab Link: http://www.bizjournals.com/twincities/news/2016/09/30/high-tech-talent-grab.html

Back in the 1960’s Control Data Corporation one of the nine original major computer companies in the US was headquartered in Minnesota and later in the 1970’s Cray super computer also came out of Minnesota. In recent years it’s been heating up even more and the word has been getting out.  Minnesota’s tech scene is stronger than ever with a number of high profile startups as well as many well established tech based organizations. Some of the hot tech startups include:

Code42

JAMF Software

The Nerdery

Leadpages

Upsie

Vidku

Field Nation

And other notable tech organizations are:

SPS Commerce

Stratasys

Optum

Lawson Software

Compellent (Acquired by Dell some years back)

Digital River

The list of startups and other large tech organizations could fill up an entire blog post itself so I had to limit the list.

I am from Minnesota and proud to be a part of this thriving tech community. Recently a documentary about the tech scene in Minnesota was released named DocuMNtary.

documntary

This film was produced by a techie named Nick Roseth, music done by the MN super hip hop collective Doomtree, and narrated by legendary MN hip hop emcee Dessa also of Doomtree. I was impressed that Nick pulled in Doomtree and Dessa to help with the film. A great move in my opinion. They help bring an artistic and authentic MN feel to the film’s creative side.

They kick off the film by getting the obvious out of the way….Minnesota’s cold weather. Once we break out from the cold it is time to focus on the culture and tech. Next they examine what makes Minnesota great, why people stay when they come to MN and the great things about the culture. They also touch on why MN tends to be a collaborative culture. The film then moves into the history of tech in MN and establishes the roots.

They continue through the film showcasing several startups, how the tech ecosystem is supportive, tech training, associations/government agencies that help facilitate tech in MN, events such as MN Cup, Startup week, and more. The film calls out a Minnesota focused website named Tech{dot}MN http://tech.mn. Tech{dot}MN is the go to for all things MN tech such as events, user groups, startup and other tech news. They even address the issue of diversity in tech and what is happening in MN to help bridge this gap.

In the film they interviewed 50 players in the tech scene from a variety of companies and organizations. Here is a screenshot of all the featured people.

50people

Towards the end of the film it was admitted that Minnesotans are not the best at telling our story due to our Midwestern and humble nature. There was a call to action for viewers that are in tech and from Minnesota to do some bragging and get the word out about the magic happening in tech. This prompted me to write this blog post! I hope you enjoyed this breakdown about the DocuMNtary film. The film website is: http://www.documntary.com

You can watch it here:

I also want to call out some things that were not covered in this film that are happening in Minnesota tech. We have a thriving community in the Microsoft space. In fact Minnesota is 1 of 20 locations in North America that Microsoft has chosen to place one of their Microsoft Technology Centers (MTC). You can learn more about the MTC here: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/mtc/locations/minneapolis.aspx

Minnesota is home to 24 Microsoft MVP’s including myself. Here are some of the names of our local Microsoft MVP’s.

Brian Mason

Nash Pherson

Tim Curwick

Ryan Ephgrave

Tim Star

Paul Timmerman

ASP.NET MVP: Robert Boedigheimer – Blog: http://weblogs.asp.net/boedie

Data Platform MVP: Dan English

Will Smith

Scott Hamilton

Wes Preston

Cloud and Data Center Management MVP: Greg Shulz – Blog: http://storageioblog.com

Each of these Microsoft MVP’s are highly talented in their respective areas of technological expertise and Microsoft has selected them for this. I am proud to have such a high concentration of MVP’s in Minnesota. Learn more about the MVP program here: https://mvp.microsoft.com/en-us/overview

Minnesota can boasts about some of the highest turnouts for our user groups and events.

SharePoint Saturday Twin Cities is the biggest one in the US with attendance often reaching 800+. More about this event here: www.spstc.com

MN SQL Saturday is an annual event that has been around for some time. This event typically attracts 450+ attendee’s with many MVP’s coming out to present. http://www.sqlsaturday.com/557/EventHome.aspx

Midwest Management Summit (MMS) has been around for 4 years. It is held at the Radisson Blue Mall of America and has sold out every year.  Experts and attendee’s come from all of the US and the world to be a part of this magical event around Microsoft management technologies on premises and cloud. MMS has experts come in from Ireland, Denmark, Sweden, United Kingdom, Canada and more. Here is an old Microsoft blog post from Microsoft on MMS https://blogs.msdn.microsoft.com/mvpawardprogram/2015/11/16/mvps-from-around-the-world-come-together-again-for-mms-2015-in-minnesota and the offical website here: https://mmsmoa.com.

Some of the MMS folks also are involved in the MN System Center User Group (MNSCUG) https://mnscug.org and Minnesota Azure User Group http://www.mnazureusergroup.com. It is not uncommon for MNSCUG to host full day events with 100+ attendee’s and the MN Azure UG to get 50+ attendee’s.

DevOps Days Minneapolis is another event held in Minnesota that attracts a large crowd and speakers from all over! More about this event here: https://www.devopsdays.org/events/2016-minneapolis

On top of that Minnesota has SQL Pass, IoT UG’s, Twin Cities MAC Admins Meetup, Amazon AWS UG’s and more. A full list of user groups and events can be found on Tech{dot}MN.

Beyond the just the tech community eco-system If you want to launch a startup, work in corporate tech, work for a partner company to one of the big tech companies (Microsoft, Google, Amazon, IBM), work in open source, work as a developer, or even freelance Minnesota has a place for you.

So to wrap up this post the next time you think of MN go beyond the perception of the cold, our numerous sports teams, and the 10k lakes remember this is a tech hot bed and its only getting hotter all the time!

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5th Year Microsoft MVP!

Today was a special day as I received an email from Microsoft stating I was awarded as an MVP for the 5th year! Here is the email:

5th Year Microsoft MVP

This marks a special year. Microsoft awards you the special 5 year chip to add to your award. Here is a picture of the chip:

5th Year Microsoft MVP Chip

I am humbled to make it this long in the MVP program. A huge thanks goes out to everyone in the community and Microsoft. And as always I am honored to still be a part of such a great group of people. I have made many friends all over the world with other MVP’s, community, and Microsoft. I am looking forward to another exciting year of contributing to the community.

I will continue to do all that I can in the System Center community this year. Something new you will see from me this year is I will be contributing as much as I can also in the OMS and Azure Stack space. I am very excited about the new opportunities that are coming out of the growth of cloud.

My Microsoft MVP Profile: http://mvp.microsoft.com/en-us/mvp/Steve%20Buchanan-4039736

Congrats to all the other new and renewed MVP’s!

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Tool for Logging outgoing SCSM email issues

Recently I was working on a Service Manager project and outgoing email was not working properly.

The SMTP channel was setup properly. I ran a telnet session and attempted to send an email via telnet. Well the telnet session would connect just fine to the Exchange server but then would disconnect as soon as I tried to run some telnet commands.

I knew this was odd as I have never seen this before. There must have been an issue on the Exchange  server or a policy to disconnect telnet sessions.

I needed a better way to troubleshoot this issue before I went back to the Exchange admin.

I ran across a freeware tool called SendSMTP that was a huge help.

The tool can run somewhere and send emails via a GUI or even via command line.

This tool also does not install the .exe just runs right from a folder on the server so it is portable and can be removed easily after you are done testing/troubleshooting.

It also lets you specify many settings such as host, authentication, timeout and more.

The reason this tool is super helpful is because it has some built in logging.

As you can see in the following screenshots you can set the logging levels you want.

SendSMTP1
After you test sending an email you can either view either of the two log files
by clicking on View Log or by clicking on the Log tab.

SendSMTP2

I loaded this tool on the SCSM server and then tested sending an email both anonymously and using authentication. Both failed.

Because of the logging I was able to determine that the connection keeps being reset by the Exchange server as there are some access denied issues.

You can see the log as shown on the tools Log tab in the following screenshot.

SendSMTP3

I was able to give this directly to the Exchange admin for further troubleshooting. 🙂

I wanted to share this on my blog as this tool might come in useful for someone else as well.

You can download SendSMTP here:

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SQL Transaction Log for Database is Full Due to Log Backup

For this post we have a guest contributor with some SQL goodness. This will definitely come in handy for us System Center folks as all of the System Center components use SQL. This guest post was written by: Andrew Jackson a SQL expert in the SQL community check him out on the following sites: LinkedIn , google+, his blog. Here is the actual blog post:

Overview

In SQL Server, Every database file is associated with a transaction log that contains all the records of transactions and modifications made by each transaction. The log file plays a very important part as it helps in disaster recovery. The transaction log should be truncated or cleared regularly to keep the size of log file from filling up. One of the common error encountered by the users of the SQL Server is when the transaction log is full, which is possible by various reasons. This blog will be discussing about the Transaction Log Full due to Log Backup.

Problem Statement

The following error message will be displayed like this “The transaction log for database is full due to Log Backup.” It happens when the user is unable to make data entry due to insufficient space. The transaction log file grows very large and consumes too much space over server restricting addition of any data into SQL Tables. The error message is not because of log backup but it actually means the virtual files with the transaction log could not be reused, as it requires log backup. User need to make sure that Log file growth is unrestricted, Storage of log file should have enough space, and regular log backups should be taken.

Possible Solution

There may be several solutions for the situation when the Transaction log file is full such as creating backup or truncate the transaction logs, making the log space available, moving file to another disk drive, increase the log file size or add another log file on different disk.

Since we are talking about the Transaction Log Full Due to Log Backup, we will be performing truncate operation on the transaction log file. Steps that need to be followed to sort the issue are:

  • Open Microsoft SQL Server Management Studio in order to connect to the desired SQL server database.
  • Select the database, which transaction file needs to be truncated
  • Type the T-SQL script below

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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

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Service Manager Service Desk Ticker

Have you ever wanted a way with Service Manager to send out a notification to end users? Yes you can do this via email or some other method but how about displaying the notification directly on their computer so that they cannot ignore it. Well Cireson has created a Service Desk Ticker app that does this. Here is the official description of the app from their site:

Out of the box, Service Manager allows you to create announcements, such as “Email is down, Internet is not working, maintenance in Building 2, Floor 4”, but doesn’t actually let you communicate those announcements to your organization in any way. The Service Desk Ticker app enables an analyst to create an announcement within Service Manager and communicate those announcements directly to an employee’s computer in real-time.

This is pretty cool and the best part is that this app is free. One of my recent clients needed such a tool so I try out this app. The app consists of three files and a very easy install process:

Cireson.Ticker.App.Setup.msi – A client MSI that needs to be installed on end user computers. This is what displays the notification to the end users.
Cireson.Ticker.App.Admin.mpb – Is the management pack that needs to be imported into your Service Manager.
Cireson.Ticker.App.Workflows.dll – This needs to be copied to your Service Manager server.

You can even do a silent install of the client MSI file using a tool such as SCCM. Here is the syntax for that:

Cireson.Ticker.App.Setup.msi CONFIGPATH=”\\yourserver\yourshare\your folder” CHECKINTERVAL=60 /q

Here is my install experience:

I created a share for the SD Ticker app like \\ServerName\SDTicker and gave it the following permissions I gave domain users read access and the SCSM Workflow account full rights on the share.

SDTicker1

I imported the (Management Pack) MPB file into my Service Manager.

SDTicker2
I copied the Cireson.Ticker.App.Workflows.dll to C:\Program Files\Microsoft System Center 2012 R2\Service Manager on my Service Manager management server.
I closed the SCSM console and launched it again.
I then went to Administration>Settings and opened Cireson Ticker App Settings.

SDTicker3

The following screenshot is what the Cireson Ticker App Settings look like. Be sure to put in your share path here and tick the Enable Announcement Processing as this is what makes your Service Manager announcements show up on the end users’ desktop. Also check the Include Announcement Priority if you want to include the priority level with announcements.

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Now on a client computer I went and installed the Cireson.Ticker.App.Setup.msi. Here is what this looked like:

SDTicker5

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On this next screen I had to put in the path to the share I setup earlier. This is where it will definitely be faster and more efficient to deploy the client using the silent install.

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And the install should finish successfully.

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Testing the App:

Then I went back to Service Manager and created a new announcement to test the ticker app. To do this from the SCSM console go to Administration>Announcements>Active Announcements and click on Create Announcement.

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After the announcement is created it will display on the end users computer when the workflow runs on the next 60 second interval.

To check the workflow go to SCSM Console>Administration>Workflows>Status. Filter on “Cireson Ticker App Announcement Create Workflow“. In the bottom of the workflow pane click on All Instances and then click on View log. This will open up the status about the workflow so you can make sure it is running. You will be able to see the last time it ran.

SDTicker12

Boom there it is, the announcement on my client.

SDTicker13

In case this is not working for you here are some troubleshooting steps:

  • Make sure you are seeing this “Cireson.Ticker.App.Announcements.xml” file in your share.
  • Double check your permissions are correct on the file share.
  • Double check the share path is correct both in Service Manager in the Cireson App Ticker Settings and in your client.
  • Make sure the client app is running on the client computer and monitoring for announcements. You should see Cireson Ticker App Client running as a process in Task Manager in the task bar.

SDTicker14

  • If it is not running you can click on the app’s .exe here: C:\Program Files (x86)\Cireson\Cireson Ticker App to launch it. NOTE: It does automatically start at Windows logon.

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Well I hope you enjoyed this post.

You can download the free Service Desk Ticker App here:

http://cireson.com/apps/service-desk-ticker/

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Surviving the Future of IT as an IT Pro

At MMS 2015 we had some interesting discussions in the Ask the Data center experts session. One of the discussions was centered around how IT is changing and how to adapt. For a while there has been a paradigm shift happening in IT. It is hard hitting for those on the front line especially IT Pro’s.

With the advent of many technologies moving to XaaS (x as a Service) based and the challenges for IT pro’s to move from strictly the ops side of IT to more of a DevOps model as well as becoming an internal technology consultant to the business IT Pros can feel lost in the paradigm shift.

The goal of this blog post is twofold. 1. I want to expand on this discussion with my opinion of how an IT Pro can remain relevant in the future of IT. 2. My friends over at Savision asked me to write a blog post and I thought this would be a great topic for it because they have some tools that can help with this transition.

Here are key points and additionally skills/mindset needed as an IT Pro moving into the future of IT:

  • Accepting Shadow IT….. Ability to manage anyway.

Shadow IT is the practice of business units spinning up their own IT solutions without organizational approval. With the expansion of cloud Shadow IT is becoming easier for business units to undertake.

  • Technology Budgets are no longer 100% controlled within IT anymore. Many departments own their own technology budget.
  • For so long IT has had the reputation of being “No People” and a dinosaur that takes forever to get things done. Embracing Shadow IT is about enabling the business, moving faster from conception to solution. Embracing Shadow IT will also change the reputation IT to “Yes People”.
  • This will cause the business to come back to IT first as internal SME’s to help them select the right outside solutions bringing internal IT Pros back into the loop.
  • Instead of focusing on how to stop business units for spinning up the technology solutions they need, help them. At the same time look for solutions that can help put governance and management around Shadow IT. A good example of this are three solutions from Microsoft such as Cloud App discovery (Discovery of cloud applications used in an organization), Azure Active Directory (Single Sign On, Centralized log on to cloud based applications and much more), and OMS (Management of cross platform clouds i.e. Amazon, Azure, Rackspace etc.).

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2015 MVP Summit and MMS 2015

The past two weeks have been full of tech awesomeness. The first week was the 2015 MVP Summit and the second week was MMS 2015. I will recap both of these in this post. Well for the MVP Summit I can’t actually say anything about it but I can post a couple of cool pictures from it. 🙂 Here are some pics from the Summit.

With PowerShell MVP Trevor Sullivan and my roommate/friend CDM MVP Jakob Svendsen during breakfast.

With the man! Mr. OMS/System Center Jeremy Winter.

Good discussion with a bunch of smart guys. CDM MVP Stanislav Zhelyazkov (Stan the man), CDM MVP legend Cameron Fuller, and CDM MVP Jedi Dieter Wijckmans.

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2 Sessions at MMS 2015

I am late posting this but better late than not at all. Next week I will be presenting at MMS 2015 on November 9th and 11th. In this post I will break down what each session is about. This is the second year of the community powered MMS event. The Midwest Management Summit is a 3-day conference purposely capped to just 500 attendees so that nobody gets lost in the crowd. Almost 60 Microsoft MVP’s will be presenting on System Center, cloud, PowerShell topics and more.

Areas the speakers will be presenting on are Operations Management Suite (OMS), Enterprise Mobility Suite (EMS), Operations Manager, Configuration Manager, Orchestrator, Service Management Automation, Azure Automation, Service Manager, Data Protection Manager, Azure Backup, Azure Pack, Azure Stack, Hyper-V, Nano server, PowerShell, Desired State Configuration and more. I am lucky to be co-presenting with two awesome System Center experts Natascia Heil @NatasciaHeil and Chiyo Odika @mrchiyo. The first session I will be presenting is:

-Real world automation with Service Manager and Azure Automation-

Here is what to expect from this session:

Automation is not only requesting and building virtual machines through Service Manager and Orchestrator. Automation can do much more and Service Manager can be combined with Microsoft’s other automation tools such as SMA, Azure Automation, and DSC. This session will teach you how to identify areas of automation in your company. It will cover automation fits in the ITIL story. It will also show some real life automation examples utilizing Microsoft newest automation tool (Azure Automation) and Service Manager.

We have two demo’s planned for this session. The first demo will show how to use Service Manager and Azure Automation. The second demo will show automating patch management using SCCM, Orchestrator, and Service Manager’s change management.

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Link to this session:

http://mms2015.sched.org/event/bc3ffcd6aaaaef9a5e765493a0e6527f?iframe=no#.VjsTBeJcxps

The second session I will be presenting is:

-OMS Strategies and Notes from the Field-

Here is what to expect from this session:

OMS is a comprehensive web-based cloud IT Management solution with monitoring, automation and other features and solutions that will provide you with greater control and new capabilities across your hybrid cloud.

In this session, you will learn about strategies for getting the most out of OMS, best-practices, and learn from our extensive experiences in the field, deploying, configuring, and troubleshooting OMS.

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Link to this session:

http://mms2015.sched.org/event/a4fb2e8bd31e7cab0de55695f9ec48a1#.VjsTCOJcxps

For more information on MMS 2015 and a full list of speakers and sessions visit:

http://mmsmoa.com/

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