What Does it Takes to be System Center Specialist These Days

Back in the days the System Center family consisted only of MOM and SMS and a lot has changed in the last years and more changes to come as we are reaching the GA date of the R2 wave. Also I am not saying it was easier back in the days to be System Center Specialist, in fact I think it was harder as the information about the products was more scarce. Anyway the idea of this blog post is to recite what knowledge and skills are needed for our activities as System Center Specialist. Keep in mind that these knowledge and skills cover all System Center components and even Windows Azure Pack but it is not mandatory to have them all and the level of knowledge can differ. So here we go:

  • Networking – Networking knowledge is helpful in all products but especially in components as SCVMM and SCOM. SCOM now has network monitoring, it is not the advanced network monitoring solution but some knowledge is needed to implement it and maintain it. SCVMM is now deep into networking and I won’t go into details. And here I am even not touching subtopics like SNMP, Network Virtualization, VLANs, PVLANs, IP address management and etc.
  • Storage – As with networking basic storage knowledge is needed for all components. You need to know on what storage you will run the components, how many IOPS are needed in order to run them and etc. Also in SCVMM 2012 R2 you now have more features that are related with storage like crating  SOFS with Storage spaces, managing virtual fiber channel support, managing of zones and etc. Subtopic knowledge can include ISCSI, Storage Spaces, SMB, Fiber Channel and etc.
  • Cross-Platform – Believe it or not but Microsoft is embracing Cross-Platform and this is visible in System Center. SCCM can now manage client devices with iOS or Android, on the server side SCOM is adopting the OMI standard which allows monitoring Unix/Linux servers and even more, SCVMM supports and can deploy Unix/Linux operating systems and I bet more will come. Orchestrator can also be used in managing Cross-Platform systems.
  • SQL – No System Center component works without an SQL Server. Any knowledge you can gain on SQL is very beneficial for you as specialist. In SCVMM you can even deploy SQL servers with templates.
  • Applications – It is all about the app. SCOM can monitor various applications by Microsoft or third party. Most distinctive examples are monitoring of .NET and J2EE applications. With Orchestrator often task is to develop runbooks that interact with other applications and even other management software which is of course also application.
  • Scripting – Scripting is the beginning of automating and orchestrating your datacenter. All System Center components have PowerShell cmdlets, Orchestrator can execute PowerShell scripts and the new component Service Management Automation is basically more mature engine to execute PowerShell scripts.
  • Development -  Some advanced functionalities can be achieved only when some development is involved. With SCOM, SCSM and Orchestrator development of custom solutions is often involved. As specialist you may not be the person who will develop the solution but you can be involved for some part. We can also look that every new System Center component now gets a web service and knowing standard like OData can be very helpful.
  • ITIL (MOF)  – You may not like the processes but they help us preventing of setting the Datacenter on fire Smile. All System Center components take part in ITIL but SCSM is tightly integrated with the framework and having knowledge of the framework can only help you with SCSM.
  • Security – Security is a job for all employees in a company. Security not only exists in System Center components but can also be applied by some of them. SCCM allows you to manage Endpoint Protection, you can also apply policies with Desired Configuration Management and of course apply patches which can also be done trough SCVMM for some servers.

Let me know what you think? Am I right or am I wrong? Did I’ve missed something? Write them all in the comment section.

Lync Server 2013 Monitoring Management Pack

Microsoft has released a management pack for Lync Server 2013. The new management pack is compatible with SCOM 2007 R2 and SCOM 2012. The MP can coexist with the MP for Lync Server 2010. There is guidance how to configure that coexistence. This new management pack introduces some additional features compared to the previous version for Lync Server 2010. Now you can assign computers to be watcher nodes. What is watcher node:

Watcher nodes are computers that periodically run Lync Server synthetic transactions. Synthetic transactions are Windows PowerShell cmdlets that verify that key user scenarios, such as the ability to sign in or to exchange instant messages, are working as expected.

The new mp, the installation files for watcher nodes and the guide you can find here.

Remember to read the guide first.

Lync Server 2010 Monitoring Management Pack updated

New version 4.0.7577.203 of the MP for Lync Server 2010. There are not so many changes:

  • Added functionality to support co-existence of management packs during migration from Lync Server 2010 to Lync Server 2013. For more information, see Coexistence with Lync Server 2013 Management Packs.
  • Fixed an issue that caused alerts from non-Windows computers that were not used by Lync.


You can download the MP and its guide from here.

In addition to this new version I’ve spotted this new knowledge base article:

Description of the cumulative update for Lync Server 2010 Monitoring Management Pack: December 2012

Remember to read the guide before importing as it is 43 pages long and contains vital information for configuring the management pack.

Designing Lync Jump Start

After Deploying Lync Jump Start series were released now it is time for Designing Lync Jump Start Series:

  • Modules 1-4 focus on Lync Server 2010 Topology Design
  • Modules 5-8 focus on Lync Server 2010 Infrastructure & Network Design
  • Modules 8-13 focus on Lync Server 2010 Services & Maintenance Design

Here are all the modules:

Deploying Lync Jump Start

I am just an user when we talk about Lync, but Microsoft released the videos of their Deploying Lync Jump Start course. I must say that Jump Start courses are very helpful as during the sessions experts answer questions from the audience and are free. If you want to be an expert in Lync this is from where you have to start: