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:

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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. I look forward to making many more!

I am also looking forward to another year of fun MVP activities. A huge thanks goes out to everyone in the community and Microsoft.

Congrats to all the other new and renewed MVP’s! I hope to keep adding value to the System Center community!

MVP Profile: http://mvp.microsoft.com/en-us/mvp/Steve%20Buchanan-4039736

Last week I was able to attend the first ever Microsoft Ignite conference in Chicago. There was a lot of exciting news announced at this conference around the many Microsoft products and technologies. Everything was covered from SharePoint, Exchange, Unified Communications, Office, Windows server, Windows 10, all things Azure and more. This post is focused for any System Center professional that was unable to attend the MS Ignite 2015 conference but what’s to know what’s up with System Center. If you had any concern about System Center going away or just want to know about the future of System Center in general this post is for you.

During conference there were many sessions related to the various System Center components however there were a couple of critical sessions that covered the future of System Center. These are the Platform Vision & Strategy sessions. These are titled:

Windows Server & System Center Futures—Bring Azure to your Datacenter (Platform Vision & Strategy)

And

Platform Vision & Strategy (6 of 7): What’s New in System Center for Management

These sessions are important because they featured System Centers top guy Jeremy Winter and he talked about future direction of the management solutions. In this post I will sum up key information from each of these sessions.

NOTE: This post is my perspective on the Platform Vision & Strategy sessions from Ignite and do not represent the opinions of Microsoft.

Traditionally System Center has been a complete management stack for IT Operations. This is not going to change but will continue to get better. The stack consists of: Managing endpoints (PC’s/Mobile device/servers) – *SCCM/Intune* | Monitor – *SCOM* | Automation – *Orchestrator (SMA)* | Provision – *VMM* | Service Management – *SCSM* | Protection – *Data Protection Manager* | Self-service – *Azure Pack* also represented in the following screenshot from one of the session slides.

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So we are now in the year 2015 and have not had a new major version of the entire stack since 2012. However since the release of System Center 2012 we have seen a steady progression of enhancement to the stack. We have seen it move from SP1 to R2 and now updates and new features through update rollups.

These update rollups have been released on a faster cadence at a speed we have not seen from Microsoft before. In fact we have recently seen a round of new features in update rollup 6 and more announced at Ignite. Below is a list of key features that stuck out to me along with slides from one of the Platform Vision & Strategy sessions giving insight into where the System Center components are headed next.

 

SCCM: Support for Windows 10 and a plethora new MDM features.

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Automation: Graphical authoring. How cool is this!, DSC Push/Pull servers now in SMA and you can manage DSC in SMA, Role Based Access Control.

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DPM: Backup as a Service in Azure Pack powered by DPM, VMWare Backup, Azure Backup offline seeding.

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SCOM: LAMP Stack monitoring, Scheduled Maintenance Mode.

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VMM: Ability to manage Azure IaaS VM’s in VMM. :-)

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SCSM: Workflow server scale-out, Azure Stack IT Marketplace

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All of those enhancements are exciting for System Center as it appears to be leading up to a major release soon. As you can see from the following slide from one of the sessions we can be on the lookout for an all new version of System Center in 2016. Whew……development of System Center is not slowing down…..and yes Microsoft is committed to future development of on-prem System Center technologies many of use today.

Now with that being said take a close look at the following screenshot and notice cloud technologies that have been introduced into this story. We will discuss this more later in the post.

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The world of business has been transforming with the explosion of mobile devices, cloud technology and the workforce becoming more tech savvy. In this new world IT is forced to keep up and move at a faster pace than ever before. This is touching all facets of IT included the management layer. Microsoft knows this and is ahead of the curve being committed to help us IT pro’s stay at the forefront of this shift. You can see this happening across all of Microsoft’s technologies and System Center is no exception.

We are seeing a shift of Traditional IT management to Modern IT management. The System Center stack also needs to make this shift enabling us to effectively manage IT operations regardless if they are Microsoft, Linux, Unix, Mac, on-prem, or in the cloud. Microsoft is making that shift with the stack and helping us to stay ahead of the curve. The following screenshot represents how Microsoft is making that transition for and with us. We can be confident to invest in System Center at an organizational level and a personal career level knowing Microsoft will continue to evolve the toolset.

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The Microsoft Operations Management Suite (OMS) was announced at Ignite 2015. OMS helps us progress even further towards Modern Management. OMS is essentially IT Operations Management from the cloud as a SaaS offering. OMS consists of:

      • Operational Insights
      • Azure Backup
      • Azure Site Recovery
      • Azure Automation

The OMS components span on-prem and cloud so regardless of where your infrastructure is you will be able to manage it.

For example Operational Insights collects and stores data from your on-prem servers and gives you an easy interface for organizing and visualizing all of the data collected. Azure Backup can protect on-prem servers and back that data up to Azure it also has the ability to integrate with DPM. Azure Site Recovery is disaster recovery protection for virtual machines and has some integration with VMM. And Azure Automation is PowerShell workflow that can be used to automate on-prem or Azure IaaS.

OMS is true unified IT operations management across on-prem datacenters and public clouds because it touches on-prem or cloud and integrates with the System Center stack. For an overview of OMS visit:

https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/server-cloud/operations-management-suite/overview.aspx

The following slide is from one of the Platform Vision & Strategy Ignite sessions and gives you an idea of where OMS is headed. The future direction of OMS is to give us the ability to manage any cloud offering regardless if this is Azure, AWS, VMWare’s private cloud, OpenStack’s private cloud and of course Microsoft’s private cloud.

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The following two slides display the journey and different management workloads that will flow into OMS. Take note as this gives a lot of insight into the direction of OMS, System Center, and where you should start to focus your time to stay competitive from a skills standpoint.

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This next slide represents Microsoft’s commitment to continue development for System Center. At the same time Microsoft will also continue to develop OMS and give us a way to transition to OMS at our own pace and at the pace of our customers.

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The writing is on the wall more and more management of IT is moving to the cloud and who knows maybe someday it will all be out there. For now continue to invest time into System Center but also transition to OMS in areas that make sense for you to do so.

For the full channel 9 videos on the two Platform Vision & Strategy sessions I referenced throughout this post visit:

Windows Server & System Center Futures—Bring Azure to your Datacenter (Platform Vision & Strategy)

https://channel9.msdn.com/Events/Ignite/2015/FND1451

Platform Vision & Strategy (6 of 7): What’s New in System Center for Management

https://channel9.msdn.com/Events/Ignite/2015/BRK2459

My Enterprise Backup session with Microsoft PFE Islam Gomaa and System Center MVP Robert Hedblom from Microsoft Ignite is now on Channel 9. Here is what we covered in the session:

  • Offline seeding to Azure Backup
  • Monitoring and the new enhanced reporting
  • Custom reporting
  • Real-world deployment best practices

and

  • The all new Backup as a Service in Azure Pack powered by DPM

You can watch it here:


I am very excited about something new with Data Protection Manager (DPM) that I was able to announce during my Enterprise Backup session @ Microsoft Ignite (http://meme.ms/d5gpbrq). It is DPM Backup As A Service (BaaS). I wanted to blog about it with even more information about this new functionality in DPM.

Well what is DPM BaaS? In a nutshell it is Backup as a Service in Azure Pack powered by Data Protection Manager. This is a new resource provider built by the DPM team. It lights up the functionality for tenants to protect VM’s in Azure Pack. Here is a screenshot of what the new BaaS in Azure Pack looks like for a tenant:

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DPM has always had a role in the Microsoft Private Cloud story. This role has been on the backend through backing up the Private Cloud fabric components that power Private Cloud (Windows Server, Hyper-V, System Center). The following image is the framework of Microsoft Private Cloud:

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DPM has also been used for protection of front end tenant workloads such as websites, SQL databases and virtual machines. However protecting tenant workloads had no visibility or control by the tenants themselves. This story changes with the introduction of BaaS for Azure Pack giving the control for tenants to choose if they want to protect their virtual machines from their cloud!

NOTE: As of now BaaS for Azure Pack can only protect virtual machines in tenant clouds. If you would like to see BaaS extended to protect other areas of the Private Cloud such as SQL databases or websites feel free to reach out to me.

Now let’s pick apart this new DPM BaaS to gain a better understanding of it in the rest of this post.

DPM BaaS in Azure Pack Architecture

So what do you need for this new BaaS? The following components make up BaaS:

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You can deploy many DPM servers for scale as your Private Cloud grows. The rest of the components are standard with a Private Cloud so if you already have Azure Pack running you simply need to add DPM and the DPM BaaS Resource Provider.

As previously stated BaaS only protects virtual machines. A DPM agent needs to be installed to Hyper-V hosts. The BaaS in Azure Pack does not do this for you. The DPM agent will not be required inside VM’s. The agent will be installed on Hyper-V hosts only.

Admin Perspective

Now let’s take a look at what can and admin do with BaaS. NOTE: The BaaS is still under development so some of these features may change. If you have any feedback about the features and functionality you would like to see feel free to contact me. Let’s explore the BaaS admin perspective through a series of screenshots.

Here is a shot of the VM Backup within the Azure Pack admin site. Here is where you would register the resource provider with SPF, you could also add a DPM server, or create a server group. Note that you still need to deploy your DPM servers before you can add them to BaaS. BaaS will not deploy the DPM servers for you.

A server group allows you to logically group DPM servers and then add DPM servers to the group and you can set settings based on a group and then add this to a plan for a tenant. An admin of the Resource Provider will set the Protection Group policy settings that will be used for all subscriptions to a particular plan.

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The next two screenshots show creating a new group.

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This screenshot shows the registration of a DPM server. Notice you have the ability to add the DPM server to a group. Adding the DPM server to a group is optional.

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The next three screenshots give you an idea of what settings you can set for a group. These settings will help you apply limits to the tenant that will be assigned this group via a plan. Notice that some of the settings will look familiar to what you see in DPM when setting up a Protection Group.

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This final screenshot is of the Usage & Metering within for the Resource Provider. The cool thing about this is we do not have a dashboard like this in DPM. This monitoring can be scoped per VM or All Up of the BaaS Resource Provider. Here is what you can see as the part of this monitoring:

  • Retention Days
  • Number of Restore Points
  • Size used

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Tenant Perspective

So we walked through what and administrator can do in the BaaS let’s look at the tenants perspective. Here is what a tenant can do with BaaS?

Ability to add a VM under protection. This essentially adds the VM to a DPM protection group on the backend. If a Protection Group does not exist for this tenant’s subscription yet one will be created.

Ability to back up a protected VM. This creates a Recovery Point in DPM on the backend. An admin of the BaaS resource provider has the option to allow this or not allow this to tenants.

Ability to restore a protected VM. This will restore a VM from a Recovery Point in DPM on the backend. Self-service restore of a deleted VM that is protected is out of scope as DPM doesn’t have VMM information (cloud, etc.) to correctly reassign it to a tenant. However an administrator with direct access to DPM could still go and restore the VM.

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Ability to remove a VM’s protection. The protection group for the tenant subscription will be created when the first VM is protected and destroyed when the last VM is removed.

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For more information:

My Microsoft Ignite session on this:

http://meme.ms/d5gpbrq

Download the DPM BaaS Resource Provider:

Coming Soon!!!

 

reportin

A while back I posted about the enhanced reporting for DPM here: http://www.buchatech.com/2014/11/dpm-2012-r2-reporting-improvements/ I wanted to create another blog post on how to deploy and configure the new enhanced reporting for Data Protection Manager (DPM) 2012 R2 and as a follow up to my Enterprise Backup session @ Microsoft Ignite (http://meme.ms/d5gpbrq). Here is a diagram of the new DPM reporting framework:

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This new reporting for DPM is a part of Operations Manager (SCOM). SCOM can monitor your DPM server/s so it only made sense to build this new reporting framework in SCOM. Data from your DPM server/s is brought over to SCOM through the monitoring and placed in SCOM’s data ware house database. This data is then accessed via a new set of DPM SQL views and served up to the reports.

Following is a breakdown of what you need to get the new reporting framework put in place and configured.

What do you need?

  • Need SCOM 2012 R2 deployed w/ DW working.
  • DPM management packs must be imported to SCOM and central console must be deployed.
  • DPM 2012 R2 and Central console must be on UR5.
  • Must configure SLA’s on your DPM servers using Set-DPMProtectionGroupSLA CMDLet to get SLA data in reports. More on this later.
  • The FileServices MP is a pre-req of the DedupReporter MP.

You must be careful about how you install/upgrade the DPM central console and management packs on SCOM as you can run into problems if you do not pay attention. I have had to re-deploy a SCOM server once in a lab to get this to work. Here is the order I follow and have had the best success with:

How to deploy the reporting?

1st: Import RTM 4.2.1126 MP’s in SCOM (You may already have these loaded. They are DPM 2012 R2 RTM MP’s and are named:

         – Microsoft.SystemCenter.DataProtectionManager.2012.Discovery.MP

         – Microsoft.SystemCenter.DataProtectionManager.2012.Library.MP

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2nd: Install Central console (This is DPM 2012 R2 RTM)

You will find this on the DPM media

 

3rd: Apply UR5 to your DPM server/s.

For a list of DPM version build numbers and download links visit:

         – http://social.technet.microsoft.com/wiki/contents/articles/4058.list-of-build-numbers-for-system-center-data-protection-manager-dpm.aspx

          – UR5 is version 4.2.1292.0. UR5 with the latest hotfix is version 4.2.1297.0.

4th: Apply UR5 to Central console.

NOTE: When updating the DPM Central Console be sure to run the correct .exe.

See the following screenshot that highlights the correct one for the Central Console.

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5th: On your SCOM server import the new DPM management packs version 4.2.1276 MP’s. These will automatically upgraded the RTM DPM 4.2.1126 MPs.

         – The System Center Management Packs for Data Protection Manager 2012 R2 Reporting, DedupReporter, Discovery and Monitoring can be downloaded from here: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=45525.

           NOTE: With the new DPM MP’s there are two additional MP’s that were not part of the DPM RTM MP’s. There is the    Microsoft.SystemCenter.DataProtectionManager.2012.Reporting.mp which is required for the new reporting and there is the Microsoft.SystemCenter.DataProtectionManager.DedupReporter.mp that is optional if you want to get reporting around de-duplication on your DPM servers.Here is a screenshot of importing the new DPM MP’s and the File Services MP:

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After you import the new DPM MP’s you should have the following management packs loaded in your SCOM:

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In SCOM if you navigate to the Reporting workspace you will have System Center 2012 R2 Data Protection Manager Reporting. Here you will find the DPM Executive Summary Report.

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The following screenshot is what the DPM Executive Summary Report looks like.

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6th (Optional): Configure SLA’s on your DPM server/s using Set-DPMProtectionGroupSLA CMDLet to get SLA data in reports. This has to be done on each DPM server per each protection group that you want to receive SLA reporting on. The steps to do this are:

Launch the DPM Management Shell. Run Get-ProtectionGroup -DPMServerName YOURDPMSERVERNAMEHERE to get a list of Protection Groups.

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Run Get-DPMProtectionGroup | where {$_.Name –ieq ‘Exchange Mailbox Databases’} | Set-DPMProtectionGroupSLA –SLAInHours 24 to set the SLA on a protection group.

That is it. Now you have set an SLA for your protection group. The SLA is defined in hours. DPM will check the SLA once a day and an event is written to the DPM backup event in the event log.

That’s all for the setup and configuration. Stay tuned for a post on how to build out custom reporting in the enhanced reporting framework in the near future.

 

I will be presenting with some good friends Microsoft PFE Islam Gomaa and System Center MVP Robert Hedblom @ Microsoft Ignite next Tuesday, May 5th 05:00PM – 06:15PM.

The session is Enterprise Backup: Custom Reporting, BAAS and Real-World Deployments in Data Protection Manager. Here is what we will cover in the session:

This session covers the recently released enterprise-grade reporting framework in Microsoft System Center Data Protection Manager for IT admins to build custom reports and dashboards for monitoring and managing their entire backup operation. It also will cover offline backup to Azure and will highlight real-world deployment best practices for protecting applications in a hybrid environment using Microsoft Azure Backup.

Enterprise Backup Event

We also will have announcement about something new with DPM in the Microsoft Private cloud story!

For more info on the session check out:

http://meme.ms/d5gpbrq

rtools

Wow what an exciting week in the System Center space! Lately there has been several free tools released for various System Center products in the community. I wanted to mention them here in one blog.

Service Manager: Advanced Send Mail

This one is very cool and something that has been needed for some time. Big thanks to the teams at Cireson and itnetx for releasing this to the community for free! This gives you a full email client experience from the Service Manager console. Benefits of this are:

  • Simplicity in deployment and configuration, without any requirement of XML editing.
  • Analysts can attach files to the outbound email.
  • The analyst can choose a notification template, see the content of the message body based on the template and change the text before sending the email.
  • The analyst can optionally add the message body to the action log of the incident automatically.
  • The analyst can add additional recipients to the To or CC before sending the email.
  • The admin can configure an SMTP server to use to send the email.
  • The admin can filter the list of available notification templates based on a naming convention.

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Download it here: http://www.cireson.com/app-store/scsm-advanced-send-email/

Operations Manager: MP Author

This one is a free management pack authoring tool released to the community by Silect Software. This free tool lets you design, develop and customize management packs for SCOM. You can also configure discoveries, targets, rules and monitors with it. This tool is wizard driven and is pre-populated. It is a scaled back version of their MP studio but will still get you on your way for authoring your own management packs for SCOM.

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Download it here: https://bridgeways.com/mp-author-landing-page

Data Protection Manager/Operations Manager: SCOM DPM Dashboard

This one is a dashboard that gives you a bird’s eye view of your DPM environment from within SCOM. I could see this being very handy if you have more multiple DPM servers in your environment. I could also see this being useful to help you determine if DPM is in an error state because of protected data or a problem with a DPM server or any of its hardware such as tape library or disks etc. This one is made available to the community from AIO Technology.

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It can be downloaded here: http://www.aiotechnology.com/scom-dpm-dashboard/

It is great to see companies also supporting the community with free tools like these. As always there is a lot going on in the community all the time. I found the best way to keep up with everything is through following the right people on twitter. This will lead you to blogs, whitepapers, articles, free tools, videos and more. Speaking of videos another good way to get a weekly summary on what is happening in the community is a two part video series by Lee Berg of Concurrency. He has a You Tube channel with a series on This Week in Service Manager and Private Cloud Weekly RoundUp. You can find it on You Tube here:

http://www.youtube.com/user/LeeAlanBerg/videos