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

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.

SDTicker4

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

SDTicker5

SDTicker6

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.

SDTicker7

SDTicker8

SDTicker9

And the install should finish successfully.

SDTicker10

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.

SDTicker11

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.

SDTicker15
Well I hope you enjoyed this post.

You can download the free Service Desk Ticker App here:

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

Read More

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.).

Read More

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.

Read More

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.

clip_image001

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.

clip_image002

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/

Read More

4th time System Center MVP

This morning I received an email from Microsoft that I am awarded System Center Cloud and Datacenter Management MVP for the 4th year. Here is the email I received:

image

The System Center Cloud and Datacenter Management MVP’s are a great lively bunch of folks. It is an honor to still be a part of this group. I have made many friends at Microsoft, with other MVP’s and in the community during my time as an MVP...

Read More

Featured on Techguy Blog

Today Michael Seidl published an interview he did with me on his blog!

TechGuy

Check it out:

German: http://www.techguy.at/interview-mit-steve-buchanan/

English: http://bit.ly/1xcM9bg

Follow Michael on Twitter @TechGuyAT for System Center related content.

Thanks Michael!

Read More

Speaking @ MMS as one of the 3 International System Center Chefs

I am excited to be co-presenting a Service Manager session at MMS 2014 on November 10th. 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 topics and more.

Areas the speakers will be presenting on are Operations Manager, Configuration Manager, Orchestrator, Service Management Automation, Service Manager, Data Protection Manager, Azure Pack, PowerShell, Desired State Configuration and more.

The session I will be co-presenting in is titled: 900 Degrees of Service Manager with 3 International System Center Chefs. I am lucky to be co-presenting with:

image

image

Here is what you can expect from the session:

“In this demo-packed session, you explore the depths of customizing Service Manager with Samuel Erskine, Dieter Gasser and Steve Buchanan (MVP). We will walk you through real-world scenarios of using advanced customization techniques such as the Authoring Tool, PowerShell, and Visual Studio to build and customize classes, forms, workflows and console tasks in Service Manager. We also discuss best practices, recommendations and processes you follow when customizing Service Manager. You will learn how to plan for customizing Service Manager for business processes. Transform your plans into custom solutions using the advance authoring tools. Finally the session is delivered by 3 deep experts with vast real world deployment and authoring experience.”

Here is a video from the MMS site with us talking about the session:

image

About me:

image

Full details about this session can be found here: 900 Degrees of Service Manager with 3 International System Center Chefs

UPDATE:

MMS has extended reduced conference registration until Friday, October 17th. So go and register today to keep from paying the higher conference and hotel rates!

Read More

Online Orchestrator Clinic

The Windows Management User Group (WMUG.co.uk) – @WMUG presents the August 2014 Clinic in which System Center Orchestrator will be discussed with Sam Erskine (@samerskine) and a team of Orchestrator Guru’s. The team includes:

Steve Beaumont (MVP) – @StevybSC
Dieter Gasser@DiGaBlog
Steve Buchanan (MVP) – @Buchatech
Andreas Baumgarten (MVP) – @ABaumgarten

Sam Erskine has co-authored books on the subject as well as consul...

Read More

MVP Award 3rd year

Today I received an email from Microsoft that I was awarded System Center Cloud and Datacenter Management MVP for the 3rd year.

Here is the email I received:

image

Another huge thanks to everyone in the community and Microsoft. It is an honor to continue to be a part of System Center MVP’s! I look forward to another year with the greats I have made in this community.

Congrats to all the other new and renewed MVP’s! I hope to keep addi...

Read More