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Most systems administrators have the same enthusiasm for scripting that my nine-year-old son has for a tetanus injection. Q: How do I upgrade from System Center Orchestrator 2012 to System Center Orchestrator 2012 SP1? This fully-updated master class gives you 12 hours of detailed instruction on all aspects of a Hyper-V based virtualization environment. You'll explore current capabilities in Windows Server 2012 R2 and look to the future with Windows Server 2016.
A lot of differences in both products were not discussed, and would take a lot more time than 75 minutes.
Speaker acknowledges this is not a perfect comparison, as some products from each vendors package up features differently. The speaker didn’t mention the Microsoft ECI license (enrollment for core infrastructure). Hinted at in this session, and other sessions, is a possible roadmap feature where Microsoft would provide pre-configured gallery templates for certain Microsoft products like System Center and SQL. Vision (not 100% delivered in R2): A consistent service model amongst Windows Server, System Center and Windows Azure for composing, deploying and scaling virtualized applications and workloads. The Gallery wizard prompts for a number of service properties (website name, admin names, VM sizes, etc.). I didn’t get a screenshot, but the presenter had a slide showing the storage features in every version of VMM dating back to 2007.
This session was supposed to be heavy on demos, but the speaker’s VPN connection back to the mother ship was not behaving.
Infrastructure – VMs not designed to handle failures, HA at server level, failover clustering as another layer of protection. Demo showed a new feature where you can console connect to any running VM, even if the OS is not running or it’s a non-Windows OS like Linux.
If you are using SCCM 2007 or older with multiple primary sites, they should all be collapsed down to a single site. Use a third-party program to scan for and patch non-MS updates, such as Java and Adobe products. Hydration Kit for ConfigMgr 2012 SP1 is here: Automates provisioning AD, SCCM deployment via scripts.
You can now pre-provision BitLocker with SCCM 2012 SP1, so it starts encryption prior to OS deployment. Define the update process: pilots, servers with auto restart, servers with manual restart, logically grouped servers, workstations in prod, excluded devices. The biggest news for SP1 is full support for Windows Server 2012, Hyper-V 3.0, Windows 8, Azure VM management, and SQL 2012. Refer to the massive amount of documentation in the System Center 2012 Service Manager Survival Guide, found here. I would strongly suggest you review the Service Manager 2012 Planning Guide for additional details, as your environment will be different.
I've used Opalis robot (the third party version pre-microsoft) and this looks like a fantastic addition to the SC suite. But it’s clear with Windows Server 2012 R2 and System Center 2012 R2 that they are making rapid and big strides in the private cloud and virtualization arena. You can buy some VMware products a la carte, and some lesser known products aren’t included in the vCloud Suite. Defines resources, networks, load balancers, VIP templates, Port classifications (NIC), Storage, library, define capacity quotas (vCPUs, memory, storage, VMs, etc.). This combines the operating system and system center stack licenses into a single SKU, licensed by the socket. The session was more developer oriented than I thought from the description, so I ended up leaving a bit early since I’m not a developer. You would then be able to tweak the config, and easily built up a service catalog, and deploy MS services on Hyper-V in a highly controlled, standardized, and automated way. Lists various services (SQL srever, IIS web server, SharePoint, etc.) that the admin has configured and curated. Also lists instances, IP address, disks, subscription, VM operations (power, stop, reset, etc.). Microsoft was very up front that the 2012 release baked in a huge amount of technology into the platform (OS), but not all of it was exposed through VMM 2012 and even in SP1.
Starting with 2012 there was an explosion in features, with more added in SP1 (shipped in January 2013) and a lot more in R2.
For his storage demos he was going to use a 3PAR to demonstrate the fibre channel LUN provisioning features in VMM 2012 R2, and NetApp for the SMB 3.0 file share demo. There are ton of new features in WS2012 and R2, so this was a high level roadmap on how to figure out what you want to implement. By using VMM, Operations Manager, and other SC components, you can automate, monitor, and easily deploy new SQL instances in a cookie cutter manner. Right on the heels of System Center 2012 SP1, which was a major update, R2 is right around the corner coming out later this year. I started off the conference by attending the all-day Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager 2012 SP1 session. You can’t just do a click next install of SQL server and expect SCCM to perform within your expectations.


The resulting WIM file can then be used by any deployment tool on the market, including SCCM or third-party tools.
Create an OSD security role, and limit the permissions to the OSD pacakges to the OSD team. Lots of other goodies as well, which you can check out in this MS blog about the beta here. It has built-in processes for incident and problem management, change management, service request fulfillment, release management, service level management and configuration management. Suffice it to say, to implement SM properly is no small task and the product should be well understood and processes mapped out prior to installing the product.
On the Product Registration screen enter your name, organization, product key, and accept the license terms.
Change the installation location, if desired, then wait for the requirements check to complete.
If you acknowledge the error but still can’t proceed with the install, you probably overlooked the pre-req I pointed out at the beginning of this post, SQL Full Text search.
Next you need to name your management group, and select a group that will be the Management Group administrators. The datacenter edition of ECI allows unlimited VM deployment and management using all cloud features. However, in the beginning the speaker did several demos of what the Azure pack does, which I found very useful.
The R2 Windows Server and System Center release have a lot of the building blocks to enable those features in the future.
In the R2 release both the platform and VMM have been more fully integrated and a lot of new features added. The pace at which Microsoft is enhancing the hypervisor and management stack is pretty astounding.
Bottom line is that with WS2012 R2 and System Center 2012 R2, you have a full Cloud stack available. You need to have a detailed understanding of SQL server best practices, including TempDB settings.
As part of the System Center suite it has connectors available for Virtual Machine Manager, Orchestrator, Operations Manager and Configuration Manager.
The remainder of this article will just show you how to get the basics installed and launch the Administrator console. If all goes well, you should see no red errors, but possibly a couple of yellow warnings depending on how you configured your CPUs and RAM. Should a collation warning pop up, like the one below, pause for a minute and contemplate the implications. Create the first service account in Active Directory, then add it to the local administrator’s group on the Service Manager server.
But combine the entire stack from each vendor to really see how they shape up instead of doing per-product comparisons. Not in the cost calculation is the cost of the guest operating systems, since it was assumed both used the same OSes so the cost was a wash. Even if you are a 100% VMware shop for the hypervisor,  you may still have the ECI license if you use system center components (such as SCCM or SCOM).
He then dove into the back-end details on how it all worked and what you have to do to build your own on-prem Azure VM gallery.
Given the accelerated release cadence of MS’s cloud platform, customers will get new features much faster than they historically have. Much of the session was live demos, so I don’t have extensive notes from the session.
Do not build your OS images in SCCM, or you won’t be able to use them with other deployment solutions.
So if you aren’t properly patching third party software, you are just asking to get hacked. Configuring a high availability instance with SQL mirroring, load balancers, and other features is far beyond the scope of this article.
If you will only be installing Service Manager for English language users, then you can safely ignore the error. After you complete that operation, and you select the SQL instance, the window will populate with additional options.
I only captured 25% of the slide content below, so be sure to check out the Channel 9 video and slide deck when they get posed, for all the goodies. VMware has a leg up in areas, while other areas Microsoft has a leg up or a longer track record (such as Operations and Configuration manager). So you may already be fully licensed from the MS perspective and incur no additional software costs for the MS cloud stack.
The R2 release rounds out those holes, and unifies the release schedule and simplifies the experience. But it was a good eye opening experience on how well the System Center stack plays together, and can orchestrate your datacenter. Yes, let me state that again, don’t use a remote SQL instance that is hosting other databases. Great for creating labs, then deploying in production exactly like the lab. Works on Hyper-V, VMware and physical servers.


However, if you will be using Service Manager in a multi-lingual environment then consult the Service Manager Planning Guide for what to do. Just like VMware ships the hypervisor and the mangement suite at the same time, Microsoft is now on the same cadence. Both were excellent, and presented a lot of real-world deployment information and lessons learned. You can copy the admin default profile, easy to delegate, and you can suspend deployment if needed. Originally a third-party product named Opalis, which Microsoft acquired in 2009, Orchestrator provides a simplified way of building complex automation.
Rather than writing several lines of PowerShell code to determine whether a specific alert has popped up in the Windows event log, you use Orchestrator's canvas, on which you can drop an item that relates to event monitoring, configure that item to flag a specific alert, and then connect the item to another item that takes a specific action in relation to that work.
Instead of several lines of what sometimes seems to be arcane PowerShell code, you can accomplish the same tasks by using a drag-and-drop process that might take you all of 30 seconds. It you can come up with a procedure to resolve a specific known problem, then you can come up with a way to automate that resolution. You use the runbook designer to drag and arrange activities, linking them together in a logical order, letting them branch by using decision logic.
The two basic types of activities are monitoring activities and action activities: A monitoring activity is invoked from an external source and used to start runbooks. The runbook that Figure 1 shows uses System Center Data Protection Manager (DPM) to add all protectable data sources on a specified server, including volumes, system state data, and databases, to a DPM protection group. After these data sources have been added to the group, the runbook triggers the creation of a recovery point. In the sample runbook, the only inputs that you need to specify are the target server and the target protection group.
Runbooks can be executed from the Orchestration console, a Microsoft Silverlight-based web application that runs on the Orchestrator Runbook server.
Although this task is relatively simple, manually configuring this type of DPM protection would involve using Remote Desktop Connection to connect to a specific DPM server, running the DPM console (which cannot be run remotely in DPM 2010), and then stepping through a wizard to configure protection.
But after you have the runbook configured, you can accomplish the same task simply by entering the server name and the data protection group name into a single web dialog box. A task that would take an IT pro 5 minutes or more to complete manually can now be completed automatically, in the time it takes to load the Orchestration console. For example, your first activity might be to monitor an Ops Manager alert that is based on the failure of a particular service. The information about which service has failed is put on the bus so that later tasks, such as checking the service status and then triggering a service restart, can use that information. Later in this article, you'll learn how to use the data bus to take output from a command-line utility and append it to the end of a text file. For example, in Orchestrator 2012, the integration packs for all of the other System Center 2012 products will be released. The QIK is an SDK that allows you to create your own activities and integration packs, using a product's own command-line utilities or PowerShell cmdlets. The idea behind this basic runbook is to give you an idea of the actual process and simplicity that are involved in automating this task. Drag the Append Line task onto the Runbook Designer workspace, next to the Run Program item. Click the arrow that appears on the right-hand side of the item and drag it on top of the Append Line item. Verify that the Append Line Properties dialog box looks like the one in Figure 3, and then click Finish. Open the tasks.txt file to verify that the task list information has been appended to that file.
Although you can resolve basic alerts by using Ops Manager's existing functionality, you can configure Orchestrator runbooks as a more sophisticated way of resolving Ops Manager alerts. Figure 4 shows a runbook that automatically remediates service-related problems, logging steps as necessary within SCSM. For example, by leveraging the DPM integration pack, you can have SCSM trigger an automatic backup snapshot when an IT pro begins to implement a change request. Similarly, you can use integration between SCSM, SCCM, and Orchestrator to simplify the provisioning of new user desktops. Just set things up so that the requirements for the new desktops are placed into the system through an SCSM web form, with Orchestrator operationalizing those requirements into the appropriate OS and application deployment tasks in SCCM.
Orchestrator excels at taking information from one part of the System Center suite and allowing you to act on that information in another part. Orchestrator is important to IT pros because it provides a simpler way of automating common systems administration tasks that need to be performed against Microsoft and third-party products. The key to your future as a systems administration is ensuring that you can manage and maintain an increasing number of systems.
The more straightforward the tasks that you can automate, the more time that you can spend on problem-solving and troubleshooting complex issues that don't easily lend themselves to automation.



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