Disaster Recovery in System Center 2012 Operations Manager

We had the opportunity to test the new SC 2012 OpsMgr feature of RMS promotion in a real scenario this week. While experimenting with VMM and Microsoft iSCSI Target, the virtual hard drives of three VMs in the System Center 2012 OpsMgr lab were lost (oops, but it’s a lab folks!). The VMs that were lost included the RMS emulator, a gateway, and one node of the SQL cluster. We were able to recover full function of the management group fairly quickly, and wanted to share the step-by-step recovery experience here.

RMS Emulator

  1. The management server running the RMS emulator role was lost. (Since no agents report directly to the RMS, there was no loss of monitoring availability.)
  2. Another management server was promoted to the RMS emulator role using PowerShell. Figure 1 shows the RMS emulator role being moved from server ‘helios.odyssey.com’ to ‘hannibal.odyssey.com’.
  3. A new VM with the same name and IP address as the original RMS emulator was spun up.
  4. The failed management server name was deleted from the Management Servers list in the OpsMgr console Administration space. (You can’t join the rebuilt management server to the management group without performing this step.)
  5. The OpsMgr management server role was installed on the rebuilt VM, following the procedure to install an additional management server to the management group.
  6. The original RMS emulator was promoted back into that role using PowerShell.


Figure 1 – OpsMgr PowerShell: Lost RMS emulator (Helios), promoting surviving management server to RMS role (Hannibal), and confirming.


  1. A gateway server monitoring Internet-based computers was lost. (Downstream agents and gateways with failover gateway assignments will resume reporting to the failover gateway(s).)
  2. A new gateway with the same name and IP address as the original was spun up. (The failed gateway is not deleted in the OpsMgr console.)
  3. OpsMgr gateway server role was installed on the rebuilt VM, pointing the gateway to the same management server the original gateway was assigned to.
  4. Ran MOMCertImport.exe on the gateway to import a trusted OpsMgr management certificate.
  5. All downstream gateways and agents started to report into the rebuilt gateway without further action.

SQL Server Cluster Node

  1. A node in a SQL cluster hosting an OpsMgr database was lost (the clustered SQL instance automatically failed over to the surviving cluster node).
  2. A new SQL cluster node with the same name and IP address as the original was spun up.
  3. The lost cluster node was evicted from the cluster.
  4. The new VM was configured with the same storage and networking as the original cluster node.
  5. The Failover Cluster feature was installed and the node joined to the cluster.
  6. SQL Server install was completed for each clustered SQL instance by using the installation option to add a node to a SQL server failover cluster.
  7. A replacement OpsMgr agent was pushed to the rebuilt database cluster node by running the repair agent task in the OpsMgr console Administration space, agent-managed computers node.
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MMS 2012: Sold Out!

That’s right. As of yesterday (February 27), MMS 2012 is sold out with 5500 attendees. Not only is that the earliest sell out date we remember hearing, its also the highest number of registered attendees yet. Hope you’re one of those registered! Look forward to lots of System Center 2012 coverage!

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Microsoft’s System Center 2012 Operations Manager Survival Guide

Microsoft has just created a TechNet wiki pointing to recommended information on the web for helping with your Operations Manager deployment. The System Center 2012 Operations Manager Survival Guide is located at http://social.technet.microsoft.com/wiki/contents/articles/7809.system-center-2012-operations-manager-survival-guide.aspx, and lists this blog as a go-to place for information.

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Enabling Instant Messaging Notifications in System Center 2012 Operations Manager

Wondering how to enable instant message (IM) notifications in System Center 2012 Operations Manager? Here’s how:

1. Install the Unified Communications Managed API 3.0 (UCMA) Runtime on all management servers in the Notifications Resource Pool. By default, this pool contains the first and all additional management servers in the management group (gateway servers are not included).

  • Download the UCMA runtime at http://www.microsoft.com/download/en/details.aspx?id=20958.
  • After installation, visit Microsoft Updates several times as needed. Updates for Unified Communications Managed API 3.0 include KB2500448, KB2500449, and KB2568557; these should be detected by Microsoft Updates.

2. If you do not have an OpsMgr notification action account (NAA), create one using a domain user account. The NAA does not require an Exchange mailbox, but does require a regular Active Directory (AD) user account.

3. Log on to the Lync server, as a user that has the right to Lync-enable domain users, and run the Lync Control Panel to enable the NAA AD user account for Lync. To enable the NAA account, perform the following steps:

  • Click on the Users button in the left navigation panel.
  • Click the Enable users task just below the search panel.
  • Click the Add button on the right side of the Users list.
  • Using the search and find commands, locate and select the user to enable. Click OK.
  • In the Assign users to a pool field, click the drop-down arrow on the right and select the name of a Lync standard server or Lync enterprise front end pool. The Lync server(s) must be in the same domain, or a trusted domain, of the OpsMgr management servers.
  • Click the Enable button at the top of the form.


As an alternative to using the Lync Control panel, consider the following command line for use in the Lync Server Management Shell:

Enable-CsUser –Identity “<NAA AD account name>” –RegistrarPool <Lync server or pool FQDN> -SipAddress “sip:<NAA sip address>”

4. Log on to the computer running the OpsMgr console with a user account that is a member of the Operations Manager Administrator role.

5. Create a Run As account in OpsMgr that contains the AD account of the NAA. Follow these steps:

  • Navigate in the OpsMgr console to the Administration –> Run As Configuration -> Run As Account, right-click, and select Create Run As Account.
  • Select the default Run As type of Windows, type the name Notification Action Account for the Display name, and click Next.
  • Enter the credential information for the NAA domain account, and click Next.
  • At the Select a distribution security option, select the default More Secure and push Create.

6. Distribute the Run As Account credentials to your management servers:

  • Select the Run As Account you just created in the Account -> Windows list, right-click, and select Properties.
  • On the Distribution tab, push the Add button.
  • Locate and add the Windows computer object of each of the management servers. When all management servers are listed, push the Add button.

7. Associate the Run As Account with the Notification Account Profile:

  • Navigate in the OpsMgr console to the Administration –> Run As Configuration -> Profiles, and double-click on the Notification Account.
  • Advance through the wizard to the Add Run As Accounts page, and push the Add button.
  • Locate and select the NAA Run As Account by the name you previously typed, such as Notification Action Account.
  • Leave the default All targeted objects setting and click OK.

8. In the Operations console, click Administration. In the navigation pane, under Notifications, right-click Channels. Click New channel, and then point to Instant Message (IM).

9. Type a name for the channel, such as IM channel and optionally provide a description. Click Next.

10. In the IM server box, type the FQDN of a Lync 2010 Standard server or a Lync 2010 Enterprise Front End Pool. The Lync server(s) must be in the same domain, or a trusted domain, of the OpsMgr management servers.

11. Type the Return Address that should appear on instant message notifications. Preface the address with sip:. In the Protocol option list, select TLS (Transport Layer Security) as the protocol used to send the instant messages. In the Authentication method list, select NTLM as the authentication method for users. In the IM port box, the instant messaging port of 5061 is entered. Click Next.


The return address should be a dedicated address that is used only for Operations Manager notifications, such as the Notification Action Account (NAA).

12. In the Default instant messaging notification format area, in the IM message box, specify the text that is sent to notification subscribers. The IM message box contains a default message that includes text and variables. You can edit the default message or delete it and replace it with another message.


The right arrow next to the IM message box displays a list of variables that you can add to the message. If you select a variable, it is appended to the end of your current IM message with no spaces or explanatory text. Consider including the Source and Web Console Link variables to your IM text to increase the actionable IM content.

13. In the Encoding box, select the text format that your IM server and notification subscribers use for transmission. By default, Unicode (UTF-8) is used. Click the arrow to view the entire list of available formatting.

14. Click Finish and then click Close to return to the Operations console.

Here are the final activities that cause alerts to be delivered as IMs to selected recipients :

  • Create a Notification Subscriber of the Instant Message (IM) type.
  • Create a Notification Subscription that associates a subscriber with some or all alerts to be relayed as IMs.
  • An alert condition occurs that is in scope for an IM-enabled Notification Subscription.
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Talk TechNet May 6: The Operations Manager Unleashed Authors Discuss Operations Manager 2012

Talk TechNet is about discussing topics and trends in the world of IT Professionals.  Episode 28, on May 6, 2011, will have guests Kerrie Meyler, Cameron Fuller, and John Joyner. Kerrie, Cameron, and John are Operations Manager MVPs and the authors of the System Center Operations Manager Unleashed series.

The topic will be the upcoming release of System Center Operations Manager 2012.

See https://msevents.microsoft.com/CUI/WebCastEventDetails.aspx?EventID=1032484791&EventCategory=4&culture=en-US&CountryCode=US to register for the event.

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The Case of the Disappearing RMS

In Operations Manager 2007, Microsoft introduced the concept of the root management server, also known as the RMS. The RMS had a unique role among management servers, as it was the only one running the System Center Data Access Service and System Center Management Configuration services.

The Data Access Service provides database access for the console, enables viewing the current state of a monitored object, importing management packs, storing management packs, and storing management group configuration information. It also writes event, state, and performance counter information to the database. The Management Configuration service manages relationships and topology of the OpsMgr environment. In addition, the RMS is responsible for dependency monitors, availability calculations, notifications, and group calculations.

Basically, if the RMS is down, your management group isn’t very functional. The RMS is a single point of failure. This can be alleviated by clustering it or promoting another management server to the RMS should the RMS be unavailable,  but it is not an optimal architecture.

Microsoft takes a different approach in Operations Manager 2012, and removes the
RMS role. Instead, there is a pool of management servers. The work previously performed by the RMS is managed by this pool, which is a logical grouping of multiple health services instances. In this peer-to-peer topology, all management servers act as equals. The workload is distributed across multiple management services. Should a management server in the pool become unavailable, its workload is moved elsewhere in the pool. This gives automatic fault tolerance and load balancing.

Operations Manager 2012 provides topology simplification by removing the RMS and introducing of the All Management Servers Pool. We look forward to its release!

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System Center Virtual Machine Manager (SCVMM) 2008 R2 Service Pack 1


Who doesn’t like something for nothing? Step right up and enjoy Dynamic Memory! A free upgrade on your Hyper-V host computers and some updating of your guest Windows operating systems can yield over a 50% increase in the number of VMs you can run per Hyper-V host computer. Microsoft released Windows 2008 R2 SP1 (the first service pack for Windows Server 2008 R2), adding the Dynamic Memory feature on March 15, 2011.

Here’s a chart of what Dynamic Memory is doing for us on two Hyper-V hosts in our Odyssey Lab. Notice we have about a 40% “boost” in effective memory capacity on these hosts, and memory is money folks!

Table 1 – Dynamic Memory with VMM 2008 R2 SP1

Quantity of Virtual Machines Used Physical Memory Host Physical Memory Maximum Allocated Memory “Dynamic Memory Capacity Boost”
6 12.79-GB 14-GB 20-GB 34%
10 13.57-GB 16-GB 24-GB 44%

Dynamic Memory is an extreme value-add for current Hyper-V owners, who until now were limited by Window’s ‘share nothing’ approach to VM memory management. VMware ESX owners have had a memory overcommit feature for some time. Microsoft threw futile darts at the VMware approach, and after years of wait, adds a similar feature that lets virtualized Windows guests ‘see’ more total memory than is present on the physical host. Install Windows 2008 R2 SP1 using Windows Update or manually download the appropriate Windows 2008 R2 SP1 package at this link:


A must-read before deploying Windows 2008 R2 SP1 on Hyper-V hosts is the “Hyper-V Dynamic Memory Configuration Guide” at http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ff817651(WS.10).aspx. That reference includes these important tables:

  • Support for dynamic memory by guest OS: this usually requires updating the guest Windows OS to the latest service pack as well as updating the Hyper-V guest integration tools.
  • Recommended startup memory by guest OS: rule of thumb: 128-MB for 32-bit OS and 512-MB for 64-bit OS.

Managing Dynamic Memory with Virtual Machine Manager

You cannot use the original version of SCVMM 2008 R2 to manage Dynamic Memory on Windows 2008 R2 SP1 Hyper-V hosts. It is necessary to update SCVMM 2008 R2 to its own new service pack, SCVMM 2008 R2 SP1 released March 24, 2011. Once SCVMM 2008 R2 is updated to SP1 along with Windows 2008 R2 updated to SP1 on your Hyper-V hosts, you gain a powerful consolidated view of the Dynamic Memory status of all your VMs. Figure 1 shows a screenshot of the manageable attributes involving Dynamic Memory added by SP1 to SCVMM 2008 R2.

fig 1

Figure 1 – New Dynamic Memory Settings

Notice that Startup Memory, Maximum Memory, Assigned Memory, Memory Demand, and Memory Status are displayed in the SCVMM console.

SCVMM 2008 R2 SP1 allows you to create and deploy VMs onto Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1 Hyper-V hosts, and will report on the memory currently in use for these VMs where Dynamic Memory is enabled. Using Dynamic Memory for supported VMs allows for more efficient utilization of memory, with consistent performance, and higher consolidation ratios.

Now, with SCVMM you can specify whether to use Dynamic Memory or not on a VM, and if dynamic, what the startup, maximum and buffer settings should be. Figure 2 displays where the Dynamic Memory feature is supported inside the New Hardware Profile wizard in SCVMM.

fig 2

Figure 2 – Changing the Dynamic Memory Settings

After fully deploying SCVMM 2008 R2 SP1, and all necessary OS and integration updates, we have a full-up view in the Odyssey domain of all five of our current Hyper-V hosts and the 24 VMs running on them, merged into a single pane of glass—our private System Center development cloud, now more optimized than ever! This is displayed in Figure 3.

fig 3

Figure 3 – The SCVMM Console showing all Hyper-V hosts and VMs

How to get SCVMM 2008 R2 SP1

There is no stand-alone upgrade package or Microsoft Update package for SCVMM 2008 R2 SP1. The only distribution vehicle for the service pack is in an integrated SP1 install of the complete SCVMM product, in licensed or evaluation editions. You can still do an in-place upgrade to SP1, but the download package is large—the whole, updated VMM product. The service pack is not available through Microsoft Update because there is an installer task that asks for DB credentials in order to update the VMM DB to contain the new settings for Dynamic Memory.

The release notes for SCVMM 2008 R2 SP1 cover several minor issues, you can obtain them at http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/en/details.aspx?FamilyID=14a0de11-cfa3-48d1-9dda-0a57b3408aa2&displaylang=en

Integration of SCVMM 2008 R2 SP1 with SCOM 2007 R2

There is no change from SCVMM 2008 R2 and SP1 in terms of the integration experience. Run the SCVMM 2008 R2 SP1 setup, Operations Manager integration portion, just like a new install. The SP1 integrated installer detects the upgrade environment and imports the updated SCVMM management packs.

The SCVMM 2008 R2 management packs are updated to version 2.0.4521.0, although the console views don’t expose any new Dynamic Memory features. For example, the Total RAM value in the SCVMM Virtual Machine view will always list the startup memory assigned to the VM and ignore any other Dynamic Memory related-values. (Also, for VMs with Dynamic Memory, the web-based SCVMM 2008 R2 SP1 self-service portal only displays the amount of memory assigned for startup memory.)

Tip: After performing SCVMM to SCOM integration, remember to enable PRO Tip generation in the SCVMM console at Administration -> General -> PRO Settings, as well as at the Host Group level in SCVMM. Failure to enable PRO tips in both places will prevent receipt of those PRO notifications!

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