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.

Updated MPs: SharePoint Server 2013 and SharePoint Foundation 2013

Two SharePoint 2013 MPs are updated and as both have common code the fix is same for both:

  • Fix report not working issue, version 15.0.4557.1000

Download SharePoint Server 2013 MP from here and SharePoint Foundation 2013 from here.

Virtual Machine Manager Service Template Example for SharePoint 2013

A common request to cloud providers is not only to provide individual virtual machines but also to provide a service. Jim Britt from Microsoft provides a service template for SharePoint 2013 that you can customize to fit in your cloud. If you are interested it check it out here.

New MPs: System Center 2012 Management Pack for Windows Server Hyper-V 2012 and two more

It is here. Probably one of the most wanted and waited management packs – Windows Server Hyper-V 2012. On the download page the MP promises the following features:

  • Management of critical Hyper-V services that affect virtual machines and host server functionality
  • Management of host server logical disks that affect virtual machine health
  • Full representation of virtualization in a single Hyper-V host server, including virtual networks, and virtual machines
  • Monitoring of virtual machine hardware components that affect availability


This MP is only supported on SCOM 2012 or later. The documentation can be found in the installation folder after you install the MP. I’ve took a quick look at the documentation it is not long just 20 pages but it is good to read. Let’s hope there are no critical bugs in the MP because of the tight schedule of SC 2012 SP1. Download link is here.

Along with this MP several days ago two more MPs were released


More on Global Service Monitor you can read in this article.

System Center Monitoring Pack for SharePoint Server 2013 and System Center Monitoring Pack for SharePoint Foundation 2013

Microsoft is releasing two management packs for the brand new SharePoint 2013. The first one is for the server version and the second one is for the Foundation.

Health monitoring of SharePoint Server 2013

Monitors Events and Services and alerts when service outages are detected

Monitors Performance and warns users when SharePoint performance is at risk

Forwards users to up-to-date TechNet knowledge articles


Health monitoring of SharePoint Foundation 2013

Monitors Events and Services and alerts when service outages are detected

Monitors Performance and warns users when SharePoint performance is at risk

Forwards users to up-to-date TechNet knowledge articles

Remember to read the manuals before importing.