System Center 2012 SP1 Update Series – Part 4

In the last part of the series we are going to focus on Configuration Manager 2012. The guys in the Configuration Manager side of the house have been busy working on addition features for Service Pack 1. When Configuration Manager 2012 was originally released back in April 2012 there were rumblings of the new Windows 8 platform but support was not originally available. Since then the up-take of Windows 8 has increased and BYOD has become the latest must have feature of any IT department. Allowing Configuration Manager to support the changes in Intune licensing is going to assist greatly in the BYOD sphere.

Some of the new features of Configuration Manager SP1 are:

  • Deployment and management of Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012
  • Distribution point for Windows Azure to help reduce infrastructure costs
  • Automation of administrative tasks through PowerShell support
  • Management of Mac OS X clients and Linux and Unix Servers
  • Management of Windows 8 Phone and Windows RT devices
  • Support for Windows Intune Licensing Changes
  • Support for Windows Embedded Devices – Embedded thin clients, Point-of-Sale (POS) terminals, digital signage, kiosks, and ThinPC
  • Real-time administrative actions for Endpoint Protection related tasks

Now that service pack 1 is available for System Center we believe that the growth of both System Center, Server 2012 and Windows 8 will begin to increase. A lot of administrators and decision makers will normally wait until a service pack has been released on a Microsoft product before make the move. We can see great growth over the coming year for Microsoft, and it will be really interesting to see what will happen in the virtualization sphere with Hyper-V as it now takes the battle to VMware. Will 2013 be Microsoft’s year?

System Center 2012 SP1 Update Series – Part 3

Operations Manager is one of the most important but quite often overlooked elements of System Center. We will go through the latest enhancements that come with Service Pack 1 and information regarding the upgrade process can be found over on Kevin Greene’s blog in his two part series, Part 1 and Part 2, which details the process substantially. Once again it’s a must read before any upgrade takes place. There are new features within Operations Manager that are only available if the underlying operating system is Windows Server 2012. Microsoft recommend on their Technet site to install the upgrades for System Center SP1 first and then implement the upgrades for the operating system to Server 2012.

Some of the new enhancements for Operations Manager are:

  • Support for IIS 8 & Server 2012 Management Packs
  • Improved support for heartbeat monitoring of Linux and Unix agents
  • CentOS, Debian, Oracle and Ubuntu Linux are now supported
  • Monitoring of ASP .Net web service, WCF service, MVC and .Net NT Service
  • Integration with development tools such as Team Foundation Server (TFS) and Visual Studio
  • Windows Azure SDK support
  • Monitoring of Sharepoint 2010 with APM
  • ACS support for Dynamic Access Control in Server 2012
  • Global Service Monitoring support – monitoring of websites from outside locations, includes 360 .Net Application Monitoring Dashboards
  • Support of more network device models

Many of the new enhancements are geared towards developers and monitoring of applications. The inclusion of support for Windows 8 and Server 2012 should now make the decision to upgrade to those platforms easier for administrators as they now have the comfort of knowing that the can monitor them successfully. In the next part of the series we’ll look at the new enhancements to Configuration Manager 2012.

System Center 2012 SP1 Update Series – Part 2

The upgrade process should begin with Orchestrator 2012. We’re not going to cover the installation process as this has been very well covered by System Center MVP Kevin Greene over on his blog which can be found here. Kevin’s blog is a must read for any administrator or operator that is considering installing Service Pack 1. In this part of the series we’re just going to quickly look at the enhancements that come as part of the new Service Pack and we’ll begin this by looking at Orchestrator.

On the whole the Service Pack 1 now allows for support of the following:

  • Windows 8
  • Windows Server 2012
  • SQL Server 2012

When System Center was launched in April 2012 the support for the newest versions of Windows operating systems were not available. This was largely due to the sequence of product release dates. For Orchestrator the list of enhancements includes the following:

  • Support for Windows Server 2012
  • Support for SQL Server 2012
  • Update Active Directory Integration Pack for System Center 2012
  • Update Integration Pack for Operations Manager
  • Updated Integration Pack for Virtual Machine Manager
  • Update VMware vSphere Integration Pack for Orchestrator
  • New Exchange Administrator Integration Pack

As mentioned earlier, more details on these enhancements can be found over at Kevin covered the upgrade process in detail as well. In the next part of the series we’ll look at the enhancements to Operations Manger

System Center 2012 SP1 Update Series – Part 1

Microsoft have just released SP1 for System Center 2012. Unlike previous version of System Center, 2012 is a cumulative update for all products under the System Center umbrella. The upside to this is that all products are kept on the same version which makes the updates easier to rollout and keep track of. The downside is that products need to be updated in a specific order.

In the next part of the series we will cover the enhanced features that have been upgraded as part of the new service pack, and also take a more in-depth look at the upgrade process. To begin with we will look at the order for upgrading the products within System Center. If you are using two or more of the System Center products you will need to follow up upgrade sequence otherwise you may experience issues with integration and communication between the various components in System Center. If there is only one product installed then you can proceed to upgrade that product without following the upgrade sequence.

  1. Orchestrator
  2. Service Manager (SCSM)
  3. Data Protection Manager (DPM)
  4. Operations Manager (SCOM)
  5. Configuration Manager (SCCM)
  6. Virtual Machine Manager (VMM)
  7. App Controller

Technet Excerpt: Except for VMM, which requires Windows Server 2012, it is assumed that no other operating system upgrades have taken place before or during this upgrade. Upgrade the various System Center components before you upgrade the operating system. In addition, we assume that no upgrades to SQL Server have taken place. You can upgrade to SQL Server 2012 after you have upgraded your System Center components.

There are two possible issues to be aware of with the upgrade path. These relate to Orchestrator and Operations Manager. Integration Packs installed in Orchestrator 2012 will no longer function with SP1 components. It is recommended to leave the current Integration Packs installed so that current functionality continues. After you upgrade the subsequent System Center components the Integration Packs will be un-installed and you will need to return to the Orchestrator server and import the upgraded Integration Packs for SP1. Some new features for Operations Manager are only available in Windows Server 2012 so if you need to upgrade to 2012 wait until the SP1 upgrade has been put in place and then upgrade to Server 2012.

In the next part in the series we will look at the new enhanced feature for Service Pack 1

Windows 8 Support in SCCM

So it looks like Windows 8 is beginning to get some traction in the Enterprise market with a number of clients that we work with looking at rolling out Proof of Concepts with their users. Some are doing this via dual-boot options, other through VDI and some more are testing using bootable USB keys. All of these methods are really just to see how easily the users can interact with the new Windows 8 interface and if they would be happy with a move from Windows 7, which now has a really strong following.

As we have told most of our client, the biggest issue with Windows 8 will be getting their users familiar with the interface as Microsoft have moved away from the traditional Start menu. Their primary reason for testing is due to BYOD and having to support only one O/S. So the question begs to be asked, does my version of SCCM support Windows 8? Can I only support Windows 8 through SCCM 2012 or can I hold off on an upgrade from SCCM 2007 to 2012 for a while longer?

Until recently no version of SCCM was able to manage Windows 8 machines. There is a new SP1 update for SCCM 2012 due in January which will include this functionality. SCCM 2007 will require a hotfix to allow management of Windows 8 clients, but not O/S deployment. The information is available from Microsoft here.

System Center 2012 Configuration Manager Service Pack 1:

We will add the following operating systems to our client support matrix with the release of Service Pack 1:

  • Windows 8 Pro
  • Windows 8 Enterprise
  • Windows Server 2012 Standard
  • Windows Server 2012 Datacenter

Note: Systems with these operating systems will also be able to host a distribution point

  • Windows Server 2012 Standard
  • Windows Server 2012 Datacenter

Note: Systems with these operating systems will also be able to host a distribution point

All site server roles – including site server, SMS providers, and management points – can be deployed to servers with the following operating system editions:

  • Windows Server 2012 Standard
  • Windows Server 2012 Datacenter

Configuration Manager 2007 Service Pack 2

As with System Center 2012 Configuration Manager Service Pack 1, we are adding the following operating systems to our client support matrix in Configuration Manager 2007 with SP2 (includes Configuration Manager 2007 R2 and Configuration Manager 2007 R3):

  • Windows 8 Pro
  • Windows 8 Enterprise
  • Windows Server 2012 Standard
  • Windows Server 2012 Datacenter

Note: Though these will be fully supported as clients, there is no plan to add support for deploying these as operating systems by using the Configuration Manager 2007 operating system deployment feature. Also, no site servers or site systems will be support on any SKU of Windows Server 2012.

The hotfix update for SCCM 2007 can be found here

So, this Hotfix only adds limited support for Windows 8. It will allow visibility of Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012 in the supported platforms list for Software Distribution, SUP, and DCM. It doesn’t look like SCCM 2007 will ever support Windows 8 clients in full. SCCM 2012 will however provide full support for Windows 8 and Server 2012 clients.

So if you want to utilise the full functionality of SCCM for Windows 8 deployments you’ll need to look at SCCM 2012 SP1, or upgrade from 2007.

SCOM 2012 Cumulative Update 2 Released

SCOM 2012 Cumulative Update 2 Released

Even though it has only been released officially for just over 4 months SCOM 2012 is already due for it’s second cumulative update. This update is part of the cumulative updates for the wider range of System Center 2012 products. Other updates are available for DPM, Orchestrator and Virtual Machine Manager (VMM). Unlike the previous cumulative update, CU1, this new update only addresses five issues within SCOM 2012, and three of these are Cross-platform/Unix/Linux related.

The issues addressed as per KB2731874 are:

Issue 1- The Windows PowerShell module runspace configuration cache grows indefinitely. This causes memory usage to increase.

Issue 2 – The Set-SCOMLicense cmdlet fails if the management group evaluation expiration time-out has expired.

Issue 3 – The System Center Operations Manager agent may crash on Oracle Solaris root zones that are configured to use a range of dedicated CPUs.

Issue 4 – The UNIX/Linux agent process provider may not enumerate running processes if a process has arguments that include non-ASCII characters. This prevents process/daemon monitoring.

Issue 5 – The .rpm specification file for the agent for Red Hat Enterprise Linux does not specify the distribution.

The cumulative update for SCOM 2012 can be downloaded from here.

Thankfully the cumulative updates in 2012 are far easier to manage than the updates in 2007 R2 and there is now no need to run SQL queries against the database as part of the update.

The recommended update path is as follows:

Server Infrastructure Deployment Order Overview:

  • Management server or server
  • Gateway servers
  • Reporting servers
  • Web console server role computer
  • Operations console role computers

Update Management Packs Overview:

  • Manually import CU2 management packs

Agent Deployment Overview:

  • Apply the agent update to manually installed agents, or push installation from the Pending view in the Operations console.

As always, Kevin Holman has written a brilliant article on installing the upgrade and I would highly recommend following his steps to ensure a successful deployment of CU2. The update article can be found here