CCMEXEC.COM – System Center blog

CCMEXEC.COM – by Jörgen Nilsson

Today I got the MVP Award mail! It was a long day of waiting, checking the junk mail filter, checking that the mailbox wasn’t full and then finally the mail arrived. :D

“Dear Jorgen Nilsson,

Congratulations! We are pleased to present you with the 2012 Microsoft® MVP Award! This award is given to exceptional technical community leaders who actively share their high quality, real world expertise with others. We appreciate your outstanding contributions in System Center Configuration Manager technical communities during the past year.

Thank you Microsoft for presenting me with this award, it is a true honor! Thanks to all of you who inspired me with interesting scenarios and challenging questions!

/Jörgen

I finally got around testing the new Orchestrator Task in MDT 2012 Update 1 and wow is the word that comes into mind!

I thought well I will do two simple tests to see how it works, now I am hooked. I added two Orchestrator tasks in my OS Deployment Task Sequence the first step will remove the computer from the OSD Collection when it is completed and the other step will send an E-Mail if the OS deployment fails.

Two fairly simple tasks but think about the possibilities, updating the Service Request for re-installing a computer in Service Manager with status on where the installation is, adding a computer dynamically to a asset system or counting the number of time a computer is being re-installed which can be useful for seeing trends and identifying problems with models e.t.c.

Here is how to create a Runbook to remove the computer from a Collection after a successful OS deployment, which is something fairly often scripted today:

Environment prerequisites:

  • Configuration Manager 2012 site configured for OSD
  • MDT 2012 Update 1
  • The Network Access account need to be a Orchestrator User

1. In the Orchestrator Runbook designer I created a Runbook with the two following steps:

MDT_Orch22. Add a variable to the Initialize Data step like this:

MDT_Orch33. Create  a new step using the Delete Collection Rule activity from the System Center 2012 Configuration Manager Integration Pack. It defaults to “Direct” instead of “Direct Rule” so remember to change that. When creating the Membership rule right-click and select Subscribe / Published Data and select “Computername” in the list.

MDT_Orch44. Test the Runbook and Check it in after testing it successfully.

5.Create a new step in the SCCM/MDT Task Sequence like the one below, it is really simple type in the name if the Orchestrator server and press Browse then you will be able to browse all runbooks available on the Orchestrator server. The UI will find that the Runbook requires input, in this case in the form of Computername so you can select to pass a variable along.

MDT_Orch1That is it, incredibly easy!
You are now ready to test out your Runbook integration. Don’t forget to configure security in Orchestrator so you have permission to execute the Runbook

Here is a another example on how to use the Orchestrator integration from Peter van der Woude, which display how to move the computer to the correct OU after deployment, which is another popular thing to script. http://www.petervanderwoude.nl/post/using-the-power-of-orchestrator-to-move-a-computer-to-a-different-ou-via-configmgr-2012/

So now we can use Runbooks instead of doing a lot of scripting in our deployment solutions!! However when you want to do more advanced things you will need sooner or later write your own Powershell script to achieve this, so scripting is still needed don’t worry ;-)

An update to MDT 2012 Update 1 is released! Which solves an issue when used together with System Center 2012 Configuration Manager 2012 Cumulative Update 1 where you get an error when creating a new MDT Task Sequence.

For more information about the update see Michael Niehaus’s blog post:

http://blogs.technet.com/b/mniehaus/archive/2012/09/19/mdt-2012-update-1-has-been-updated.aspx

Download is available here: http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=25175

Yesterday Sp1 beta was made available for download! A very interesting blog post was also published on the System Center Configuration Manager Team Blog regarding which versions of Configuration Manager will support Windows 8 and Server 2012.

It also contains information that Sp1 will be released early 2013!!!

Here is the support matrix:

System Center 2012 Configuration Manager Service Pack 1:

We will add the following operating systems to our client support matrix with the release of Service Pack 1:

  • Windows 8 Pro
  • Windows 8 Enterprise
  • Windows Server 2012 Standard
  • Windows Server 2012 Datacenter

Note: Systems with these operating systems will also be able to host a distribution point.

All site server roles – including site servers, sms providers, and management points – can be deployed to servers with the following operating system editions:

  • Windows Server 2012 Standard
  • Windows Server 2012 Datacenter

Configuration Manager 2007 Service Pack 2

As with System Center 2012 Configuration Manager Service Pack 1, we are adding the following operating systems to our client support matrix in Configuration Manager 2007 with SP2 (includes Configuration Manager 2007 R2 and Configuration Manager 2007 R3):

  • Windows 8 Pro
  • Windows 8 Enterprise
  • Windows Server 2012 Standard
  • Windows Server 2012 Datacenter

Note: Though these will be fully supported as clients, there is no plan to add support for deploying these as operating systems by using the Configuration Manager 2007 operating system deployment feature. Also, no site servers or site systems will be supported on any SKU of Windows Server 2012.

For the complete post you can find it here: http://blogs.technet.com/b/configmgrteam/archive/2012/09/10/support-questions-about-windows-8-and-windows-server-2012.aspx

System Center 2012 Sp1 beta is available for download! :D

Some of the news from the blog post from the Microsoft Server and Cloud Platform Team

Configuration Manager SP1 enhancements include:

  • Deployment and management of Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012
  • Distribution point for Windows Azure to help reduce infrastructure costs
  • Automation of administrative tasks through PowerShell support
  • Management of Mac OS X clients and Linux and UNIX servers

System Center 2012 Configuration Manager SP1 Beta is now available for download here: http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=34607

More information in what is included in System Center 2012 Configuration Manager SP1 can be found on Technet Library: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/jj591552.aspx

For the whole blog post: http://blogs.technet.com/b/server-cloud/archive/2012/09/10/system-center-2012-configuration-manager-sp1-beta-and-windows-intune-update.aspx

Download it and try it out with Server 2012 and Windows 8!

CMTrace.exe (former Trace32.exe) is a must have and probably one of the tools you use most as a Configuration Manager Administrator if you don’t count the Admin Console it self of course.  CMTrace is a fantastic tool to view Configuration Manager log files, it is truly a life saver.
In Configuration Manager 2012 it is included in the actual installation of Configuration Manager instead of beeing and additional download.

You find CMTrace.exe in <ConfigMgr install folder>\Tools on the Primary Site server, it is also included by default in the Boot Images, thank you for that! I always copy it to all computers in my environment during OSD so I have it everywhere where I might need it.

One feature that I find extremely useful but still not known/used by that many is the possibility to merge log files in one view. It is really great as it will provide a simple overview of for instance all log files involved in Software Update Management sorted by timestamp so you can see exactly when different steps are completed or what happend just before an error.

You can choose to open multiple log file as the same time and select to merge them.

cmtrace_1

Then you can follow all events related in the same view, great!!

cmtrace_2

While writing this I found that Rob Marshall – ConfigMgr MVP put together even more information about CMTrace features, it is a really good article which I recommend reading:

http://wmug.co.uk/wmug/b/r0b/archive/2013/10/27/lab-system-center-2012-configuration-manager-6-cmtrace.aspx

A question I am getting a lot and which has been discussed many times is: ”why should we use Configuration Manager for deploying Software Updates instead of WSUS?” or “I use WSUS today and it works fine, why should I switch?”

I put together this list with some of the strongest arguments why you should move to the Configuration Manager 2012 for managing Software Updates.

  1. One Client:
    The ConfigMgr client controlling all installations on a computer, both software updates and application installations. No more “Another installation is already running errors”. When ConfigMgr installs a software update to a c client Software distribution is paused to avoid these situations. When using a standalone WSUS the ConfigMgr client and WSUS client often tries to install software updates at the same time, which results in an error which is a hazard both for the end user and to the IT department. This is the one thing that many don’t think about but I think is one of the most important once.
  2. Reporting:
    There are many built-in reports for Software Update Compliance, troubleshooting and details. The reports combined with all the other information ConfigMgr holds about your clients in your environment you can easily create really powerful and customized reports that you need in your environment.
  3. Unified Management / One console to rule them all:
    When using Configuration Manager 2012 for Software Updates as well as all other features in Configuration Manager 2012 like Application Management, OSD, Settings Management, inventory and now also Endpoint Protection you will have a single management console for you environment.
  4. Maintenance Windows:
    Maintenance Windows can be used to control when changes are allowed to be made to a specific systems. This means that you deploy the update once and then based on Maintenance Windows the updates are installed and the servers are rebooted according to the deployment. More information about Maintenance Windows: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/hh508762
  5. Scheduling:
    In Configuration Manager 2012 we have much more available options when it comes to scheduling an update and in combination with Maintenance Windows it is truly powerful.
  6. One Infrastructure:
    The actual software update files are downloaded from the local DP and not the WSUS/SUP server. This means that you will not need a separate WSUS infrastructure and the updates are downloaded from the DP which minimizes the WAN impact for remote sites.
  7. Automatic deployment rules:
    This isn’t really a benefit compared to WSUS, but as it is a new feature of Configuration Manager 2012 I will still add it to the list. It is possible to automatically approve updates, download them and distribute them to the DP’s automatically, just as you would in WSUS. More Information: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/gg682168
  8. System Center Updates Publisher:
    You can use System Center Updates Publisher to both download vendors catalog’s with updates like Adobe, HP and Dell and to publish your own updates into the WSUS DB and deploy them as updates in Configuration Manager 2012. More Information: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/hh134742.aspx
  9. OS deployment integration:
    A built-in task is available and can be used to deploy software updates from Configuration Manager during the OS deployment in the Task Sequence.
  10. End user experience:
    Software center is used for all end-user interaction, dialogs shown to the user all have the same look, making it easier for end user to understand what is happening.
  11. Targeting:
    Using query based collections we get really powerful options for targeting. We can dynamically create a collection based on any value that exists in the database for instance divide all clients based on the last number in the computer name, and deploy software updates to computers with odd computers on one day and all with even numbers the day after. Spreading the load and the risk automatically.
  12. Offline Servicing of Images:
    If you use ConfigMgr 2012 for managing your Software Updates you can use the built in feature to do offline servicing on you OS Images,  which means that you can install OS related Software Updates in the image without rebuilding the image. This will reduce the number of times you have to rebuild the image. More information: http://blogs.technet.com/b/inside_osd/archive/2011/04/18/configuration-manager-2012-offline-servicing-for-operating-system-images.aspx

If you haven’t made the switch already, what are you waiting for?

Thanks to Jason Sandys for reviewing the content and providing feedback, Thanks!

Cumulative Update 1 for System Center 2012 Configuration Manager is now released! A list of fixed issues as well as the download for the CU1 Update can be found here: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/2717295

The move to a Cumulative Update model is great news for all of us that work with Configuration Manager as it will be much easier to manage compared to how hotfixes are released and handled  in previous versions! Exiting news!