System Center 2012 Service Manager Unleashed Book

I am excited to be a coauthor of another System Center book. This book is on System Center 2012 Service Manager and is a part of the Unleashed series! The book is set to publish in June.

The authors consist of:

  • Microsoft System Center MVP Kerrie Meyler
  • Microsoft System Center MVP Kurt Van Hoecke
  • Sam Erskine (MCT)
  • Microsoft System Center MVP Steve Buchanan

The book also has several other contributors that are well known in the System Center Service Manager community.

About the book:

System Center 2012 Service Manager Unleashed provides an in-depth reference to Microsoft System Center 2012 Service Manager. It pairs technical information about this system with information on other products and technologies on which System Center Server Manager’s features and components depend.

The content uses an end-to-end feature implementation perspective, facilitating more optimized deployments by covering related topics in a stepwise order for a given feature area. This book begins with an overview, moves into planning, design and implementation, and then covers the most important and significant feature sets of the product. System Center administrators and analysts worldwide will find this book an interesting and complete guide.

Link to the book: http://www.amazon.com/System-Center-Service-Manager-Unleashed/dp/067233707X

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Updated DPM-save-create-Config Script for 2012

I have updated the DPM-save-create-Config to work with DPM 2012 SP1/R2. The script can be used to save your DPM settings to an .xml file and then import the settings in from that .xml file.

This script was originally created by a Microsoft employee Ruud Baars (Rest in Peace). If you don’t know who Ruud Baars is go read about him here: Rest in Peace, Ruud Baars. He is responsible for a lot of the tools and information we have for DPM today.

The DPMsaveConfig.ps1 script has been updated to work with DPM 2012 SP1/R2 and

was renamed to DPMsaveConfig2012.ps1. It still contains DPMcreateConfig and that works with DPM 2012 SP1/R2.

When you run DPMsaveConfig2012.ps1 it creates a DPMsaveConfig.XML in the same folder it was run from. For example if you run it from C:\Tools\DPM-save-create-Config-2012 the .XML file will be created in the C:\Tools\DPM-save-create-Config-2012 directory.

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Then when you run DPMcreateConfig.ps1 it will automatically search for the DPMsaveConfig.XML and import the DPM settings from here.

Run both DPMsaveConfig2012.ps1 and DPMcreateConfig.ps1 from the DPM management shell.

You can download the scripts from TechNet Galley Here:

http://gallery.technet.microsoft.com/DPM-save-create-Config-4579ee92

Thanks to MVP Flemming Riis, Enrique Lima, and John Brodhurst for testing the scripts.

NOTE: These scripts are FREE and un-supported. They should be tested in a lab environment before using in any production environment. Use at your own risk.

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Service Manager R2 Upgrade

Microsoft recently released System Center 2012 R2. I wanted to post about my experience upgrading System Center 2012 Service Manager SP1 to System Center 2012 Service Manager R2.

The official upgrade steps for this can be found here on TechNet:

http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/dn520902.aspx .

Release notes for System Center Service Manager R2 can be found here:

http://technet.microsoft.com/en-US/library/dn299381.aspx.

Before we get into Service Managers upgrade process we need to cover some housekeeping items. First off if you are using multiple System Center components (two or more) you need to upgrade them in a specific order. If you only have a single System Center component in your environment then don’t worry about this order. Here is the upgrade order:

      1. Service Management Automation (SMA)
      2. Orchestrator (SCORCH)
      3. Service Manager (SCSM)
      4. Data Protection Manager (SCDPM)
      5. Operations Manager (SCOM)
      6. Configuration Manager (ConfigMGR)
      7. Virtual Machine Manager (SCVMM)
      8. Service Provider Foundation (SPF)
      9. Windows Azure Pack for Windows Server
      10. Service Bus Clouds
      11. Windows Azure Pack (WAP)
      12. Service Reporting
      13. App Controller

Here are links to upgrading all System Center components except for Service Manager because upgrading SCSM is being covered in this blog post.

NOTE: Some System Center components are not included on that list such as Service Management Automation .

This is because they will typically be new additions to your environment.

The upgrade order also applies if you plan on introducing new System Center components into your environment. For example if you plan to deploy DPM 2012 R2 at some point be sure to deploy this after Service Manager 2012 SP1 has finished being upgraded to R2.

More about this can be found here: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/dn521010.aspx.

Backup of Service Manager

Before any upgrade is started be sure to back up Service Manager and any customizations.

      • Backup encryption keys on the Self-Service Portal and management servers.
      • Export and backup all unsealed management packs these will include any customizations.
      • Backup management server and data warehouse databases. Here are the databases:

Service Manager Databases:

ServiceManager DB

DWStagingAndConfig DB

DWRepository DB

DWDatamart DB

      • Backup the SSRS database & RDL files.
      • Document any security that is setup.
      • Backup and document SharePoint web parts and customizations.

Before upgrading it is recommended to upgrade to the latest UR first… For example from SP1 –> UR4 –> R2 RTM. You need to be up to at least SP1 with UR2 or the upgrade will not run. If you don’t have a minimum of UR2 you will get the following message.

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After the latest UR has been applied this is the order we will upgrade Service Manager in: 

  • Data warehouse server/s first
  • Management server/s second
  • Self-Service Portal server last

There is more detail for each server upgrade that we will go through in the following sections.. Now let’s jump into the Service Manager upgrade process.

Read more: Service Manager R2 Upgrade

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SCSM Assignment/Re-Assignment Notify Options

Service Manager can email analysts when a work item is assigned to them or re-assigned to them. Assignment/re-assignment notification is a common requirement most Service Manager projects. To set this up is not an easy task. This is a topic that has been blogged about already and there are several solutions out for this. Some of the solutions to this are complex and some are simple. I wanted to blog about this covering all the solutions in one place along with the pros and cons of each. The idea is that this will help someone that needs this setup in their Service Manager to make an informed decision on what will work best for them. The solutions are:

1. Custom notification workflow on incident assignment or re-assignment

http://blogs.technet.com/b/servicemanager/archive/2009/12/15/custom-notification-workflow-on-incident-assignement-or-re-assignment.aspx

http://blogs.technet.com/b/servicemanager/archive/2013/05/13/how-to-configure-notifications-for-assignment-re-assignment-as-well-as-action-log-and-user-comment-updates-for-incidents-and-service-requests-in-scsm.aspx

Pro: Works well once put in place.

Con: This one is difficult to for the average user to setup. It also is challenging to customize if you want to do further customization with it. The setup consists of creating a management pack that sends notifications based on the assignment change and configuring that MP with the GUID of the email template that will be used. You have to be comfortable working in XML and able to run SQL queries to complete the setup. Most IT pros just want to install configure and go.

2. Cireson  – free SCSM Notify Analyst app

http://www.cireson.com/app-store/scsm-notify-analyst-free/

Pro: Great free app. Easy to install and configure. Cireson makes great tools so you know it works well.

Con: There is a free version and a paid for version of this app. The free version only works on Incidents and Service Requests. If you need Assignment/Re-Assignment on other work items you can purchase the full version. I don’t really think that having to purchase a paid version is really a con unless there just is no room in the budget. The paid version includes many more features. You can read about it here: http://www.cireson.com/scsm/cireson-notify-analyst-app/ .

3. Using SCOrch to send assignment/re-assignment notifications

http://blog.concurrency.com/infrastructure/scsm-notify-assigned-to-user-on-assignment-change-with-orchestrator/

Pro: Orchestrator is a powerful tool. Configuring the notification workflow in Orchestrator will give you flexibility and run outside of other SCSM workflows.

Con: This requires you to be familiar with Orchestrator and have it deployed in your environment. In most cases Orchestrator should be deployed alongside Service Manager anyway. At some point Orchestrator will be needed to accomplish something that just can’t be done directly in Service Manager. With that being said this gives you something else to maintain and another point of failure. If something happens to the runbook no more assignment/re-assignment notifications until it is fixed.

4. Community Work Item Assignment/Reassignment Notifications

http://scsmsource.blogspot.com/2011/04/work-item-assignmentreassignment.html

Pro: Free. Easy to install. Simply import the management pack. Works well. This covers incident, activity, change request, and activity assignment/re-assignment notifications.

Con: If you need to modify the workflows this has to be done in XML. You have to use the email templates that are loaded with the management pack. If you want to use other email templates with the workflows this has to be done in XML.

Conclusion:

Out of these solutions I lean towards Cireson’s SCSM Notify Analyst app as the first choice and when there is no more room in the budget I opt for the Community Work Item Assignment/Reassignment Notifications as the second choice.

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Display SCSM Management Group Name Script

The Service Manager Management Group name is not shown in the console. The Service Manager Management Group name can be found in the registry on a Service Manager Management Server. This is easy enough to do, but as a consultant working in different SCSM environments I need to get this information all the time for various reasons.

I put together a simple PowerShell script that can be run to display this so you don’t have to jump into the registry. This is what it looks like.

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It can be downloaded here: http://gallery.technet.microsoft.com/Display-Service-Manager-da78e557

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