Category Archives: System Center

System Center Operations Manager – Manually remove dependencies from Management Packs

My friend Riccardo Corna wrote an interesting article about how to remove dependencies from Management Packs in Microsoft System Center Operations Manager.

The original article is written in italian so you can read it here:

If you are an English reader, you can read it using the (automatically) translated version:

System Center Universe 2014 Event in Europe

Today I found this interesting community event that takes place in Europe and focused on System Center and Microsoft Virtualization solutions.

Unfortunately, the last event was held in september 2013 so I will need to wait until September 2014 to attend it.

For an overview of this event, take a look at this blog:

High level overview of Microsoft System Center 2012 R2

During my job as Microsoft Consultant/Architect I found several customers that speak about Microsoft System Center as a single product.

They don’t have clear in mind that System Center is a suite of products designed to work together but with different capabilities for each product. So with this post I want to give an high level overview of the products that form the Microsoft System Center 2012 R2 suite (the last version released on September 2013).

I want to write only few words just to provide a quick (but not comprehensive) understanding of the different parts/products of this suite.

System Center 2012 R2 – Virtual Machine Manager

This product (also called SCVMM) is similar to VMware Vcenter and provides an extended and complete management of different hypervisors (Hyper-V, VMware, Xendesktop). You can manage clustered hypervisors, create clouds, virtual machines, virtual networks, deploy VMs templates, define services, use libraries…

In few words: control your On Premise virtualization environment (Private Cloud).

System Center 2012 R2 – App Controller

Honestly, I don’t have experience with this product. It provides a single pane of glass between a Private Cloud managed by SCVMM and a Public Cloud (Azure only).

“App Controller provides a common self-service experience that can help you easily configure, deploy, and manage virtual machines and services across private and public clouds”

System Center 2012 R2 – Data Protection Manager

This is a backup product that uses local storage to store several data snapshots and can be integrated with long term backup systems like tape libraries. With DPM you can backup every kind of data but it’s also optimized to support the protection of several Microsoft services like Hyper-V, Exchange server, SharePoint Server, SQL Server, Microsoft File Servers…

System Center 2012 R2 – Operations Manager

SCOpsMgr is a product that provides monitoring of servers (phisical or virtualized), clients, services, application code, network appliances and can perform log collection, service level Agreement, alerting and more several tasks releted to monitoring and performance.

It’s possible to integrate SCOpsMgr with SCVMM in order to dinamically balance the VMs placement depending on the resource allocation/availability. (something similar to VMware DRS) Personally, I like very much this product due to the good architecture and the availability of several Management Packs.

A Management Pack is a set of pre configurated rules for a given product that Microsoft or other vendors released (for free or for pay) and that provides a very good starting point for monitoring a product/service.

Do you need to monitor an IIS server? Download the IIS Management Pack for free and SCOpsMgr will begin to monitor the IIS server collecting performance counters, monitoring service level, creating alerts… The only thing that you need it’s to tune the Management Pack in order to fit your environment.

Example of useful Management Packs:

Hyper-V Management Pack

VMware Management Pack

System Center 2012 R2 – Configuration Manager

I think that SCCM is the most used product of this suite. It provides Configuration management capabilities like hardware/software inventory, asset inventory, software/update distribution, desired configuration management, software metering, operating system deployment, remote control, wake on lan, management of internet clients and Linux and MacOsX clients (limited) SCCM can also be integrated with Microsoft Intune in order to provide MDM (Mobile Device Management) capabilities.

It’s my favorite system center product because it’s very complete, scalable and reliable.

System Center 2012 R2 – Endpoint protection

This is a classic enterprise class antivirus product integrated with SCCM. It’s not possible to run Endpoint protection without an istallation of SCCM.

I don’t have much experience with this product so I don’t want to write more words…

System Center 2012 R2 – Service Manager

Service Manager (SCSM) provides built-in processes for incident and problem resolution, change control, and asset lifecycle management (it’s built to apply ITSM best practices).

It provides similar capabilities to BMC Remedy.

It’s possible to integrate SCVMM, SCOpsMgr, Orchestrator and SCCM with Service Manager in order to create complete and complex workflows.

System Center 2012 R2 – Orchestrator

Orchestrator (SCOrch) is a powerfull product that provies automation and orchestration. It’s possible to use it to easily create complex workflows that can interact with the other System Center products or with third part products.

Like SCOpsMgr, Microsoft or third part vendors provide some product releted extensions called “Integration Packs” (IP) that can help the administrator to build the workflow.

For example using with the following IP for vSphere it’s possible to use pre configurated actions like “Create VM” or “Attach Network Adapter”.

System Center 2012 Service Pack 1 Integration Pack for VMware vSphere

Here the list of available IPs:

You can define a workflow using both pre configurated actions and classic powershell Scripting.

Let’s start to know Microsoft and Amazon Public Cloud solutions

Since the beginning of my career I used virtualization. As a Microsoft employee I used for my projects Virtual Server 2005, 2005 R2, Hyper-V 2008,

2008 R2, 2012 and now 2012 R2. I also know and respect very much the VMware products/solutions.

Now that the next “big thing” seems to be the cloud computing, I found that I’m a Private

Cloud expert! (thanks to my knowledge of System Center suite that completes the

Microsoft/VMware virtualization platform and achieve the Private Cloud solution) and I also

found that I was not aware about “the other side”: the Public Cloud.

So I started to learn the Microsoft Azure offering that is very interesting due to the tight

integration with the Microsoft On Premise/Private Cloud solution (aka Hyper-V + System Center

+ Azure Pack)

Now it’s turn to take a look to the competitors and due the fact that VMware is still

considering how to enter in the Public Cloud market, the best choice is to learn what Amazon

is doing with Amazon Web Services (that it’s the actual leader for Public Cloud solutions).

I recommend to start reading this short PDF (14 pages) published in 2008. The value of this doc is that shows in a really clear manner an example of how to use cloud

computing to create a reliable, scalable and efficient solution.

I love the fact that this document presents a real example and uses it to talk about every

single component of this solution and leads the reader to think about the technology used and

the best practices taken.

I think that the “GrapTheWeb” solution can also be created with Microsoft Azure with the

following architecture:


Microsoft offers an Hadoop clustered distribution service called Windows Azure HDInsight:

The AWS Hadoop offering is named Amazon Elastic MapReduce:

To have an overview about the Microsoft Azure offering, take a look at this site:

The Amazon Web Service overview can be found at this link: