MMS 2011: Day Three

Posted On 2011-03-23 by FortyPoundHead
Keywords: MMS 2011 Microsoft Management Summit SCCM SCOM AVIcode
Tags: MMS 2011 Blog General 
Views: 1388

Lots of great monitoring and management topics were covered today at MMS 2011. It's a beautiful, sunny day in Las Vegas today, and I write this as I am looking out a giant window with a view of the desert. A perfectly relaxing time to write down my experience of day 3.

The second keynote address took place this morning, entitled "You. Empowered to Embrace Consumerization". Consumerization is driving profound changes in how businesses think about IT.

Keynote #2

Several important announcements were made during this key note. For example. With SCCM 2012, you'll be able to manage all kinds of devices, such as:

  • Windows Phone 7
  • iOS (iPad/iPhone)
  • Android
  • Symbian (Nokia)

What? Symbian? Yep, Symbian. Administrators will be able to manage all these devices as they normally would any other device. Software can be distributed, policies enforced, and remote wiping of lost/stolen devices. There was quite a bit of applause for this last bit, especially around Symbian. There are apparently tons of Nokia phones being used out there. This may have something to do with the next point.

Another topic that was mentioned numerous times was the blurring of work and life. To me, this means that users are never off the clock. The constant connectivity from a multitude of different devices and types allows people to not just work at work, but work at home, or where ever they have connectivity. In the past, IT professionals have strived to be the invisible man behind the curtain, keeping things running smoothly, with little or no interaction with end users.

This is changing. Increasingly, consumers of IT resources are partnering with their IT departments, and the level of productivity has increased steadily with this trend.

Another interesting thing that came out of this address, Microsoft Forefront Endpoint Protection. According to Mr. Anderson, the licensing has been changed from Enterprise CAL to Core CAL. So if you already own SCCM, you also now own Forefront. Nifty, eh? A brief demo of the product, with the ability to monitor all your clients, devices, etc., showed how easy it is to monitor, update, and protect all your machines. Reporting is a big plus, giving you the ability to watch trends and see who is getting infected with what. Not just machine names, mind you, but the actual user who got caught with the malware. Very cool stuff.

VMM 2012: Deployment, Planning and Upgrade

The first breakout on my schedule today was for VMM 2012, deployment, planning and upgrade. Greg Cusanza gave a great talk and demo on deploying multi-node clusters of SCVMM, with special emphasis on upgrades from current installations of VMM. The key thing to remember when performing an upgrade is the minimum suppported upgrade path. Your current installation must be SCVMM 2008 R2 SP1 or greater.

AVIcode: Diagnosing Application Problems

Microsofts recent (2010) acquisition of AVIcode has got a lot of folks excited. In my own position, the company I work for is in the process of writing a point of sale application. As you may know, strange things can happen within applications as they are being developed. As I mentioned previously, AVIcode has the ability to chase down where a multi-tier app is having problems. You can chase it down to a particular module, or even a specific SQL query. Very cool stuff.

Today, I attended a talk by Shawn Gibbs and Chris Childers which focused on intepreting the AVIcode diagnostics through event analysis and trend reporting. Leveraging the power of Ops Manager, we are able see specific problem areas, with no modification to the application being monitored. That is, as long as the applicaton is instrumented correctly in the first place.

In most environments, developers point at the ops folks, shouting "It's your infrastructure!" Meanwwhile, the ops folks shout "It's your code!"

Working with this tool, the operations folks and the developer folks can stop pointing their fingers at each other, and work together to resolve the issue.

There is only one sticky point with AVIcode, at least for me. Although AVIcode is very tighly integrated with SCOM, technically it is a standalone application, and requires a seperate agent to be installed on the server to be monitored. I can't speak for most system administrators, but I try to keep my servers lean and mean, and not install a lot of extra agents. But you may say, "two agents is not a lot." True, it's not. But think about how many agents you may already have running on the machine:
  • Antivirus
  • Backup
  • SCCM
  • SCOM
  • VMware tools
  • plus others

If you're an IT guy, you know that individually, these agents might not take a whole lot of resources to run, and some are more well-behaved than others. However, collectively, you may have the possibility of higher CPU or memory utilization.

But then again, maybe I am being a bit too old school.

Config Manager and PowerShell - Better Together

Another winner here. Donnie Taylor and Greg Ramsey, both with Dell, teamed up to give us a great demo of how to automate processes with PowerShell that used to be a manual process.

Together, they covered modification of site settings, managing advertisements, collections, packages, programs, and even software updates. They even covered how to use PowerShell to investigate your existing SCCM 2007 environment in preparation for upgrade to 2012.

Here are two of the gems they shared. The first will list the collections from your SCCM site, while the second will generate a list of packages.
#List Collections
get-wmiobject -class SMS_Collection -Namespace ` Root\SMS\Site_LAB -ComputerName MyCMServer

#List Packages
get-wmiobject -class SMS_Package -Namespace ` Root\SMS\Site_LAB -ComputerName MyCMServer

Ops Manager 2012: Network device monitoring

One of the most exciting aspects of Operations Manager 2012 is the monitoring of network devices.

Instead of just monitoring each server with OpsMgr it is now possible to look at the underlying network topology which connects the servers. OpsMgr 2012 brings you a single view to help you understand how your server and network infrastructure is working as a whole to provide you a complete end-to-end view from node to network to server(s) to applications and services. Come learn about this new feature set , available in the OpsMgr 2012 public beta which is almost here.

Vishnu Nath, a Microsoft Program Manager, gave some excellent demos here, with some good lecture material to back it up.

And that wraps day three. Now, back to the room to recuperate, and prepare for day four!

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