Thursday, 20 December 2012

How I passed my Configuring and Deploying a Private Cloud with System Center 2012 70-247 exam.

I recently sat this exam and I wanted to talk a little about how I passed the exam. Basically what you are tested on can be found here: 

Its an exam on almost everything System Center and a little bit of Hyper-V, oh and lets not forget storage. The subject matter is a mile wide and an inch deep (Gregg Shields gave me that quote). Its not an easy exam as you are basically answering a bunch of high level questions "what if" scenarios.

I have put together a little help section below that helped me pass the exam. I used a lab with VMware and some very kind Server 2008 R2 images that my gracious employer gave me. So get a hypervisor and complete the following in your lab the hard way. This isn't easy so therefore is totally and utterly worth doing.

1. Understand the Microsoft Private Cloud Architecture and Components. There are 8 of these that make up the system center suite. You will use 7, SCCM isn't really utilized here.
TIP: Private Cloud is NOT Hyper-V.

2. Install Hyper-V on Windows 2008 R2. System Center products Pre-SP1 aren't supported on Server 2012. So don't waste time installing it.

3. Install VMM2012. Learn VMM, Love VMM, Keep VMM close.

4. Configure Your Logical Networks in VMM and Storage Arrays.

5. From VMM, Create a Hyper-V Cluster (if you have more than 1 host) and Create a Private Cloud. There is a button that says "Create Cloud" so don't stress.

6. Working with the VMM 2012 Library: Profiles and VM Templates. Making a Private Cloud is basically the beginning. Play around with templates and profiles to lay the foundations of automation.

7. Configure VMM User Roles and the Self-Service Portal. The VMMSSP is obsolete come SP1, but its on the exam.

8. Create Virtual Application Packages with the Server App-V Sequencer. This is relatively simple and fun actually.

9. Work with VMM 2012 Services and Service Templates. Play around with these, they offer the capability of automatic VM provisioning

10. Create a 3 Tier Service. This is not easy and it took me 4 days to figure it out properly.

11. WSUS on VMM 2012. Easy to up and important to learn.

12. From VMM figure out how to automate the deployment of Hyper-V Hosts - Again, not simple but a massively valuable skill once you have learned it.

13. Install and play with App Controller.

14. Install SCOM and figure out how to integrate Cloud Monitoring from SCOM via VMM 2012.

15. Service Manager integration with all things system center.  Fairly simple and worth spending the time doing.

16. Install DPM and SCORCH. Play with runbooks, and set up some simple backups via DPM.

17. Azure. Understand what it is, and how to use it via App Controller, that's it.

There is a lot to learn but ensuring that only the minimum requirements are met and they are deployed in their simplest form is the key here. You do not need to have in dept knowledge of all the components.

All the help and support is out there, TechNet, MSDN and blogs, all this achievable in a about 5-10 days.

Good Luck.

Friday, 7 December 2012

SCOM 2012 Simple Dashboard

I had a very surreal chat with a friend of mine who is a small business owner last week. He had a problem that he could have solved ages ago, he just fell into the trap of stereotyping one of my favorite pieces of technology, SCOM.

The situation was simple, he as 3 guys that make up his I.T infrastructure, Mike, Luke and  Shane. Mike and Luke are the hardware/software/1st, 2nd and 3rd line support technical bods that keep his systems running. Shane, has some server experience and is the "Gatekeeper" as they like to call him, he looks after Exchange, AD etc ...

Shane installed SCOM 2012 to play around with and test, and he found it "noisy" naturally this traveled up the ladder and SCOM was left in a dark room and was forgotten about. Until last week that is. You see, Shane has a problematic SQL box, the SQL server needed to die and fall over entirely before the problem was noticed.

So its then when I got the call from my buddy asking for help. The requirement was simple and these are his exact words, he said "H, I need a thing or software or something to help Shane with that SQL thing. Please."

I took up the challenge and gave Shane what he needed in 20 mins over the phone. A Dashboard suited him best due to the way he likes to work. So here is a simple way to view valuable performance data via a very simple Dashboard.

1. Create a New Dashboard

2. Select a Grid Layout

3. Give the Dashboard a name

4. Choose a layout

5. After you have chosen your layout, click next, you will get a summary screen, click create. Once done you should have something that looks like this.

6. Click on add widget, and select state widget

7.  Click Next, give it a name, Click Next, and then click Add to show the Objects.

8. Click Add, and Click Next, choose Criteria

9. Choose Display Parameters

10. Click Next and Fish, and you have part one of your Dashboard in what seems 5 mins.

Play around with some of the basics, the one below was made choosing the Detial, and Performace widgets to show CPU utilization and the I.P's and DNS name etc for quick reference.
So in the space of a coffee break you can now have a very simple platform to view information about your servers, and share on a monitor in the office, or even just a second screen if you please.

It worked for my buddy. Start small with SCOM.