4th book published (Service Manager 2016)

On March 2nd I became a 4 time author. With several talented co-authors we published the Microsoft System Center 2016 Service Manager Cookbook. It was great to work with the co-authors and I would like to thank each of them for their hard work. The co-authors are:

 

  • Microsoft MVP Anders Asp
  • Microsoft MVP Andreas Baumgarten
  • Microsoft MVP Steve Beaumont
  • Service Manager/System Center expert Dieter Gasser

It was an honor to work with them. Also a shout out to Microsoft MVP Sam Erskine for writing up the foreword and helping with the technical review. Last I want to thank Rafael Delgado who also was a technical review on the book. This book is an update to the Microsoft System Center 2012 Service Manager Cookbook. In this new book you will read the new updated recipes for 2016, how to upgrade from 2012 R2 to 2016 and about the new HTML 5 portal.

Official book description:

System Center Service Manager (SCSM) is an integrated platform that offers a simplified data center management experience by implementing best practices such as Incident Management, Service Request, and Change control to achieve efficient service delivery across your organization.

This book provides you with real-world recipes that can be used immediately and will show you how to configure and administer SCSM 2016. You’ll also find out how to solve particular problems and scenarios to take this tool further. You’ll start with recipes on implementing ITSM frameworks and processes and configuring Service Level Agreements (SLAs). Then, you’ll work through deploying and configuring the HTML5 Self-Service Portal, configuring Incident and Problem Management, and designing and configuring change and release management. You’ll also learn about security roles and overall Microsoft SCSM 2016 administration.

Toward the end of the book, we’ll look at advanced topics, such as presenting the wealth of information stored within the Service Manager Data Warehouse, standardizing SCSM deployments, and implementing automation.

What you will learn:

  • See a practical implementation of the ITSM framework and processes based on ITIL
  • Deploy and configure the new Service Manager HTML5 Self-Service Portal along with Service Catalog design and configuration
  • Get to know about Incident, Problem, and Change Management processes and configuration
  • Get to grips with performing advanced personalization in Service Manager
  • Discover how to set up and use automation with and within Service Manager 2016
  • Work with Service Manager Data Warehouse
  • Find out what Security Roles are and how to implement them
  • Learn how to upgrade from SCSM 2012 R2 to SCSM 2016

The book can be ordered here:

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01N5FL2SK

I also want to call out this is the 4th book that I have authored or co-authored. Here is a shot of all 4.

I have also been fortunate to be a technical reviewer on 5 other books. Here is a shot of them.

These books have all been on System Center products. I am stepping into a new era. Be on the lookout for more of a focus on cloud based solutions and know there is exciting stuff coming in the near future!

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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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New Productivity Software Suite for Service Manager

Two good friends of mine Microsoft MVP Marcel Zehner and Dieter Gasser‘s company ITnetX has recently released a Productivity Pack for Service Manager. This is great news because these guys and their teams know Service Manager inside and out. They have been building apps for Service Manager for some time and I have even been using some of them.

This new software suite introduces many new components that fill several existing gaps in Service Manager. The suite has a paid version and also offers some components for free. So what’s in this new suite? Let’s break it down.

ITSM Portal – The itnetX ITSM Portal is HTML5 and is a fast and intuitive alternative for the out-of-box SCSM Self-Service Portal. It allows end users to browse your IT Service Catalog, create new requests, view and update open requests, and work on activities as part of ITSM workflows.

The full suite also includes the following components:

  •     Advanced View Editor
  •     BillableTime
  •     Checklist Activity
  •     CMDB Visualizer
  •     Desktop Alert
  •     Power Print
  •     PowerShell Activity
  •     PowerShell Tasks
  •     PowerShell Workflows
  •     Preview Forms
  •     Send Mail
  •     SMA Connector

Here is a list of the free components:

  •     Advanced View Editor for SCSM FREE
  •     Advanced Console Search for SCSM FREE
  •     Billable Time for SCSM FREE
  •     Clone User Role for SCSM FREE
  •     Email Template Tester for SCSM FREE
  •     Entity Explorer for SCSM FREE
  •     MPB Maker for SCSM FREE
  •     Send Mail for SCSM FREE
  •     Update Transfer for SCCM FREE

I use the email template tester and advanced editor, in almost every Service Manager deployment I do. I am especially excited about a few of the components, these are:

CMDB Visualizer for SCSM lets you visualize any object that lives in the CMDB including its relations to other objects.

ITnetX1

PowerShell Activity for SCSM introduces an activity which runs custom PowerShell scripts. Scripts are stored in the CMDB and are triggered from PowerShell Activity within your processes. PowerShell Activities can be used just like you use runbook activities and add them to your Service Request, Change Request, and Release Record templates

ITnetX2

and the suite has an SMA Connector for SCSM!

I recommend you go check out this new software suite. Here is the link:

http://bit.ly/1P27Tlf

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SCSM HTML5 Portal Prereq Script

This has to be the shortest blog post I have ever done. 🙂 Well here it is.

Out on the deployment article for the SCSM HTML 5 portal here https://technet.microsoft.com/en-US/library/mt622142.aspx you will see there are a number of prerequisites that are needed before you can install the portal. A while back I made a simple PowerShell script that can be used to install all of the HTML5 based Self-Service Portal prerequisites. I thought it might be good to share it.

SCSMHTML5SSPPre-reqs

Here is the link to download the script:

https://gallery.technet.microsoft.com/SCSM-HTML5-Portal-Prereq-ddeb504a

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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

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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.

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Patch Management Integration with Service Manager & ConfigMgr

Back in November I presented a session on automation at MMS 2015 with Natascia Heil. The session was “Real world Automation with Service Manager and Azure Automation”.

As a part of this session Natascia Heil demo’d how to patch servers in SCCM via Service Manager! Essentially she was able to create a change request in Service Manager pulling in a software update and device collection into the change request and then Orchestrator talked to SCCM to apply the patch to the server.

This is awesome because it brings ITIL into the patching process and gives you a way to document applied patches and who applied the patch.

As a follow up to our session she has published a step by step post on the solution from the demo, the files used in the demo, and a complete video demoing the solution. This is another example of great community involvement in the System Center space as well as the kind of content you will see at MMS. Thanks Natascia for sharing this with the community.

Watch the video here:

Visit her blog post here:
https://systemcentertipps.wordpress.com/2015/12/18/orchestrator-2012-start-server-patching-from-service-manager/

Download the solution files here:
https://gallery.technet.microsoft.com/Patch-servers-with-SCSM-20ff1c66?tduid=%281b41a0287eb092bdef4fbcdd40d042b0%29%28256380%29%282459594%29%28TnL5HPStwNw-P.Z5y4TYC73yMs5ovpkyAA%29%28%29

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SCSM HTML 5 Portal Hotfix (KB3124091)

On December 11th 2015 Microsoft released a hotfix for a bunch of issues with the new SCSM HTML 5 portal along with some new features. Here is the link to this: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=50362

In this post I will explore some of the new features in PART 1 and describe my experience applying the hotfix in PART 2.

PART 1

New features include:

Nested enumeration lists are now supported inside the Request offering forms

NOTE: This was a feature I asked for and I am very happy to see this. When I setup Service Manager notifications I typically pull in the portal URL for certain things such as request offerings or work items. This makes it really easy for the end user to reach what they need right from an email. Below I will show some examples of what the direct links look like.

Portal now allows you to share and access different objects inside the portal with direct URLs. You can refer individual items inside the portal with following URL formats –

Request Offerings:
https://[website_name]/Home/Makeform?BMEID=[bme_id]

NOTE: Notice in the screenshot I am linked directly to http://scsmportal.buchatech.com/Home/Makeform?BMEID=41778bb9-78f9-c21d-6fcc-000069f87c13 vs the default http://scsmportal.buchatech.com/Home/Makeform. I could send someone this link and bring them directly to the RO.

Without Direct Link Direct Link
 SCSMSSPHF1  SCSMSSPHF2

NOTE: Notice the two following screenshots show a direct link for an Incident and Service Request. These do not contain the side navigation of the portal.

Incident type requests:
https://[website_name]/MyRequests/RequestDetails?type=IncidentRequest&id=[incident_id]

SCSMSSPHF3

Service Request type requests:
https://[website_name]/MyRequests/RequestDetails?type=ServiceRequest&id=[service_request_id]

SCSMSSPHF4

Manual Activities:
https://[website_name]/ MyActivities/ActivityDetails?type=ManualActivity&id=[manual_activity_id]

Review Activities:
https://[website_name]/ MyActivities/ActivityDetails?type=ReviewActivity&id=[review_activity_id]

Help Articles:
https://[website_name]/KnowledgeBase/article/[id_of_knowledge_article]

Fixes include:

  • Affected user and Created by user is getting set to the service account
  • Query type form element is not working for the Incident and User classes
  • Request Offering forms are failing to load if a Query type form element is part of the form
  • Username token is not passing values to the mapped field
  • Cancelling request form does not work
  • Text is overlapping for long strings inside the list in the middle pane
  • Related activities inside My Requests always show state as active
  • Filters inside My Requests and My Activities is not working for some languages
  • Announcement is showing “Invalid Date” in Expired Date column for some languages
  • Comments in the request are using incorrect class
  • Required (mandatory) restriction is not working on query type form element
  • Query form element allows multiple selection even when it is configured for single item selection
  • Scroll bar does not work on some lower screen resolutions
  • Double scroll bar appears while browsing Help Articles
  • Some areas of portal are not rendering in Mozilla Firefox web browser
  • My Activities shows 0 instead of removing the notification sticker when no activity is in progress
  • With SSL enabled, the browser regularly prompts the message “Only secure content is displayed” with a button to “Show all content” while browsing the portal
  • “Added by” inside the action logs show domain\username instead of the display name of the user

NOTE: There are some outstanding issues. The Service Manager team is going to have the remaining issues fixed with the next Update Rollup release.

 

PART 2

My Experience:

In this post I will describe my experience applying the SCSM HTML 5 Portal (KB3124091) Hotfix.

I first took a complete backup of my SelfServicePortal directory and stored this somewhere safe. This directory can be found in <DRIVE>\inetpub\wwwroot\SelfServicePortal\.

Downloaded the hotfix and ran the executable on my portal server. This was an easy click through of a wizard. There was no errors with this.

After this completed I verified that the hotfix was applied by checking for Hotfix for Microsoft System Center Service Manager R2 Self Service Portal (KB3124091) in Programs and Features>Installed Updates in Control Panel.

NOTE: I noticed that when the hotfix was highlighted it did not have an option to uninstall.

SCSMSSPHF10

I then restarted my portal server.

When the server came backup I went to access my portal and was receiving the following error.

SCSMSSPHF5

From the image you can see that it was basically telling me I did not have any Service Offerings. This was not true. I went to my Service Manager to double check and make sure that my Service Offerings were still intact and they were. I saw it was looking for the Service Offerings in the Offerings.cshtml file.

Next I went to my backup in SelfServicePortal\Views\Home and copied the Offerings.cshtml file to SelfServicePortal\Views\Home on the portal server. I ran an iisreset from an elevated command prompt after that my portal was working again.

First thing I did was check my navigation as I had a custom navigation link and it was still there along with my custom look and feel. See the following screenshot.

SCSMSSPHF6

Even though the home page of my Service Catalog was working when I clicked on anything such as My Requests, Help Articles, my Service Offerings I received messages that these things were missing. See the following screenshots with the errors I received.

My Requests erroring out:

SCSMSSPHF7

Help Articles erroring out:

SCSMSSPHF8

I started fixing these one by one by copying in the source files from my backup. Everything was broken so I decided to copy in all the folders from backup in the SelfServicePortal\Views folder to the portal server. I then ran an iisreset checked the portal and everything was working.

SCSMSSPHF9

NOTE: I did not copy over _ViewStart.cshtml or Web.Config.

So the point of this post is backup your old SelfServicePortal directory before you apply the hotfix. And after you apply the hotfix you may need to copy the subfolders from the SelfServicePortal\Views folder if you run into errors.

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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.

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/

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Update: Custom Service Request Area (CSRA) v3

Back in 2014 I published a management pack (MP) named Custom Service Request Area (CSRA) v2 for Service Manager. The CSRA MP gives you a custom Area list for Service Requests. Here is a link to the original post: http://www.buchatech.com/2013/10/custom-service-request-area/.

I recently updated this management pack. I reduced it from two MP files down to one MP file and added 15 generic user inputs to this. With the v2 version of the CSRA MP admins had to customize the Service Request form to add their own generic user inputs. This required modifying the CSRA MP to modify the form. I added these user inputs so that admins will no longer need to do that.

15UserInput

Here is the link for the updated MP. CSRA is now v3.

http://gallery.technet.microsoft.com/Custom-Service-Request-e4d40738

Also in this blog I want to call out the process I commonly use to build the request area list. I use a tool from a talented colleague of mine Rob Plank named the Enum Builder. This is a GUI based tool that can be used to create a list in an MP file that can be imported into Service Manager. It creates the MP file from a CSV file that you populate. This makes building lists in Service Manager very easy.

The Enum Builder can be downloaded here:

https://gallery.technet.microsoft.com/Service-Manager-Enum-43e30552#content

Here is a blog on how to use the tool:

http://www.concurrency.com/infrastructure/service-manager-create-list-items-using-enum-builder/

Ok now onto using Enum Builder with the CSRA management pack. So building the list for the CSRA is slightly different compared to other MP’s. With the CSRA MP you need to know some key pieces of information. These are:

Enum MP ID: ServiceRequestAreaOverwrite

Version: 1.0.0.10

PublicKeyToken: b0ee85f41e7f3f91

These are highlighted below in a screenshot of the Enum Builder tool.

EnumBuilderScreenshotforCSRA

You also need to make sure you have the correct value for EnumerationValue ID in your CSV file. You will want to use “RequestAreaCustom” for this. Here is a screenshot of an example CSV file.

CSRA-CSV

So to sum this up. Build your CSV, fill out the fields in the Enum Builder tool, create your list MP file, import into Service Manager and you will have your own custom area list for Service Requests.

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