Three Interesting Session about System Center 2012 SP1 from Microsoft Internal Event TechReady

Internal Microsoft information is always something interesting you would like to get a sneak peak. Microsoft is now offering this sneak peak by publishing three of their Internal Sessions at TechReady:

Some Thoughts on Organizing Service Offerings and Request Offerings in SCSM Self Service Portal

Let me start first that there is no some universal rule that will tell you how to organize your Service Offerings and Request Offerings on your SCSM Self Service Portal. You will ask why? The answer is simple: every organization is different and the users in it are also different. But let me not discourage you because in this blog post I will point out some options that you can use in order to provide the best Self Service Portal experience for your users.

The first and most important prerequisite in order to be able to organize your Service and Request Offerings is to know your organization and the business requirements for your organization very well. Information like what are the most common requests, what are the most important applications, what are the most incidents that occur, how your organization is structured (departments, divisions and etc.), which are the support teams and etc.

Second prerequisite is to know how Service Offering Categories, Service Offerings and Request Offerings depend on each other. Basically you group Service Offerings in Categories and Request Offerings in Service Offerings. In the end you can have the following tree structure:

Category A

     Service Offering A1

          Request Offering A1.1

          Request Offering A1.2

     Service Offering A2

          Request Offering A2.1

          Request Offering A2.2

          Request Offering A2.3

Category B

     Service Offering B1

           Request Offering B1.1

           Request Offering B1.2

           Request Offering B1.3

           Request Offering B1.4

     Service Offering B2

           Request Offering B2.1

           Request Offering B2.2

     Service Offering B3

           Request Offering B3.1

Category C

     Service Offering C1

           Request Offering C1.1

           Request Offering C1.2

           Request Offering C1.3

     Service Offering C2

           Request Offering C2.1

           Request Offering C2.2

           Request Offering C2.3

           Request Offering C2.4

     Service Offering C3

           Request Offering C3.1

           Request Offering C3.2

Another important thing to know is that you can divide your users in different groups and for example particular users can see on the portal only Service Offerings A1,A2,C1,C2 and C3 while other group can see only Service Offerings B1, B2 and B3. You can even have a third group of users who see Service Offerings A1,A2,B1,B2 and B3. More information you can find here.

Now that we have these prerequisites in place let’s see what options we have:

Option 1

You may have noticed but when you open the home page of SSP you are redirected to a view that shows Service Offerings in Category View:


But you have also List View. This view will list all Request Offerings visible to that user. It is visible which Request Offering to which Service Offering and Category belongs and the best part is that you have field you can use to filter the results by keywords:


With the List View you can easily find the Request Offering you are looking for without opening every Service Offering.

Option 2

Second option is to divide your Self Service Portal users to different groups. For example you may have end users which should only see requests that are only suitable for them like requesting restore of a file on desktop machine, increasing mailbox size, reporting incident, request new keyboard and etc. Other group can be with users who are more advanced like raising priority 1 or 2 incidents, requesting new file share and etc. Third user group can consists of application owners. They can request for example new server, opening specific firewall port or changing monitoring. Fourth group can consists of project managers. They can request new services for a new project. Again the groups you can identify by studying your organization and how it operates. Implementing this option you provide role based security and avoid different group of users seeing unnecessary information (request). Keep in mind you can even secure not only Service Offerings but even Request Offerings.

In this example you can see that the Administrator can see all Service Requests:


User1 only sees requests for his group:


User2 only sees requests for his group:


Option 3

Do not try to make every single user request into Request Offering. If you have a request that is requested only two times in the year it doesn’t worth to make separate Request Offering. Making Request Offering for every tiny little request will fill up your portal and in the end your users will not be able to find the request they look for. Such requests that are not requested so often you can create one general Request offering for them. You can create one general Request Offering for all your Service Offerings or separate for each one of them. A general rule is to create Request Offerings only for the most used requested requests and also for those requests that can be automated. This option is also a reminder that SSP does not replace Service/Help Desk. Personal contact is something that should not be neglected.

Option 4

Create Help Articles. If you have articles attached to Service Offerings and Request Offerings with which users can fix their problems without contacting IT. It is great experience for users when they can fix issues with clear instructions. This saves time and increase efficiency because describing an problem is hard for end users and it takes time. On the other hand IT often cannot understand the issue and the request/incident is return to the end user with more questions.

These are the options I’ve managed to figure out so far. If new options appear on the horizon I will try to add them to this post. If any of you have some other options that can propose write me comments and I will try to add them also.

Creating SCOM Monitoring Rules from Self-Service Portal with Orchestrator

Anders Bengtsson shows how a complex task of creating a new monitor in SCOM can be automated with Self-Service Portal and Orchestrator. Read all about this here.

System Center Service Manager free webinar

Cireson is organizing free SCSM webinar titled “Everything you need to know on System Center Service Manager 2012”. The webinar is scheduled for 15th of August. Registration and more information you can find here.

Update Rollup 2 for System Center 2012

This is a big update for System Center 2012 product family. This update rollup includes fixes for all System center components with the exception for Configuration Manager. Here are the fixes provided in this update:

App Controller (KB2721175)

Issue 1
When you view a service on System Center 2012 App Controller as a self-service user, you receive the following warning message:

Retrieved data is incomplete

For more information about this issue, click the following article number to view the article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base: 2709415 Viewing a service on System Center 2012 App Controller as a self-service user may fail with a "Retrieved data is incomplete" warning

Issue 2
When you view a service diagram on System Center 2012 App Controller, you receive the following error message:

Category: Critical
Description: App Controller has encountered an error and needs to restart. App Controller will restart when you click Close.
Details: The given node belongs to different graph and therefore it cannot be added to the collection.

Issue 3

When you try to change a service on Windows Azure, the change is not saved, and you receive the following error message:

The specified configuration settings for Settings are invalid. Verify that the service configuration file is a valid XML file, and that role instance counts are specified as positive integers. (StatusCode: BadRequest)
The remote server returned an error: (400) Bad Request. (Status Code: System.Net.Exception)

Data Protection Manager (KB2706783)

Issue 1
After you upgrade from System Center Data Protection Manager 2010, Microsoft SharePoint backups fail if the SharePoint database has a nondefault collation.
Issue 2
A backup of encrypted files fails silently when the self-signed certificate Group Policy Object is disabled.
Issue 3
In the About Microsoft Data Protection Manager dialog box, the Version label is displayed. However, the version number is not displayed.
Issue 4
On the Action menu, the Help command is displayed two times. This issue occurs because you can now access Help for DPM by using the DPM Help command. The Help item on the Action menu refers to Microsoft Management Console (MMC) help.
Issue 5
In the DPM console view menu, the Expand All and Collapse All menu commands are displayed multiple times.
Issue 6
The Windows PowerShell cmdlet to query licenses that are being used is added.
Issue 7
A DPM backup may fail for a SharePoint farm with a mirrored content database whose mirrored server name starts with the principal server name. For example, this issue may occur when the principal server name is "MachineName," the mirrored server name is "MachineName1," and the content database resides on a nondefault instance of Microsoft SQL Server.
This issue may occur when a consolidated backup failure warning is raised for all the mirrored databases that satisfy the previous conditions.
When this failure occurs, you may receive the following error message:

Prepare for backup operation for SQL Server database CONTENT_DB_NAME (mirrored between – SQL PRINCIPAL and SQL MIRROR ) on SQL-PRINCIPAL.FQDN has been stopped because this operation depended on another backup operation which failed or was cancelled. (ID 30200)

Issue 8
Expiry dates for valid datasets that are already written to tape are changed when the retention range is changed during a protection group modification.
For example, a protection group is configured for long-term tape recovery points with custom long-term recovery goals. Recovery Goal 1 has a smaller retention range than other recovery goals. In this configuration, if a protection group is changed to remove Recovery Goal 1 and to keep other recovery goals, the datasets that were created by using Recovery Goal 1 have their retention range changed to the retention range of the other recovery goals.
To work around this problem, create the IsDatasetExpiryDateChangeInModifyPgAllowed DWORD under the following subkey, and then set its value to 0:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Microsoft Data Protection Manager\Configuration\MediaManager

Issue 9
Tapes are marked as reusable on the next day after the date of expiry as DPM runs a reclamation job only at midnight. If you want the tape to be reusable on the same date as it is expired, create the ExpireDatasetOnDayStart 32- bit DWORD, and set its value to 1 under the following registry key:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Microsoft Data Protection Manager\Configuration\MediaManager

Issue 10
DPM does not enable browsing of a protected folder on a protected server that has an invalid created date and time.
Issue 11
A tape backup of millions of files fails, and you receive the following error message:

ID 998
Details: The parameter is incorrect (0x80070057).


Operations Manager (KB2731874)

Issue 1
The Windows PowerShell module runspace configuration cache grows indefinitely. This causes memory usage to increase.
Issue 2
The Set-SCOMLicense cmdlet fails if the management group evaluation expiration time-out has expired.

Operations Manager – UNIX and Linux Monitoring (Management Pack Update)

Issue 1
The System Center Operations Manager agent may crash on Oracle Solaris root zones that are configured to use a range of dedicated CPUs.
Issue 2
The UNIX/Linux agent process provider may not enumerate running processes if a process has arguments that include non-ASCII characters. This prevents process/daemon monitoring.
Issue 3
The .rpm specification file for the agent for Red Hat Enterprise Linux does not specify the distribution.

Orchestrator (KB2702112 – Runbook Designer (x86), Runbook Server (x86))

Issue 1
A System Center Orchestrator Runbook that uses the "Run Program" activity to execute an application on a system that is running Windows Server 2008, Windows Vista, or an earlier version of Windows may return a failed status for the "Run Program" activity together with the following content in the Error Summary Text published data:

Could not start Orchestrator Run Program Service service on computer_name – The service did not respond to the start or control request in a timely manner. (code 1053)

On the remote computer on which the service is trying to start, the following event is captured in the Application log:

Log Name: Application
Source: Application Error
Event ID: 1000
Level: Error
Faulting application OrchestratorRunProgramService.exe, version, time stamp 0x4f44a324, faulting module KERNEL32.dll!SetProcessPreferredUILanguages, version 6.0.6002.18005, time stamp 0x49e03824, exception code 0xc0000139, fault offset 0x0006f04e,
process id 0x76c, application start time 0x01cd134f73ced65a.


Service Manager (KB2719827)

Issue 1
The URL links to incidents or activities in the Notification Templates are incorrect. For more information about this issue, go to the following Microsoft TechNet website:

Including Links to Incidents or Activities in Notification Templates (SCSM 2012)

Issue 2
The time stamp for incidents that are created by using the SMTP connector are incorrect.
Issue 3
If you change the SharePoint site language in the Service Manager portal, an incorrect language may be displayed.
Issue 4
Service Manager does not generate an incident for alerts that are created by Operations Manager rules.


Virtual Machine Manager (KB2724538 – Console, KB2724539 – VMM Server, KB2725034 – Self-Service Portal)

Issue 1
After a VMM update is installed, a physical-to-virtual (P2V) conversion may fail with error 413 because the version that is listed in the AgentVersion registry value is incorrect.
Issue 2
A virtual machine has a status of "Unsupported VM Configuration" if the virtual machine was configured to use an ISO and if the Share image file instead of copying it option is selected. For more information about this issue, click the following article number to view the article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:

2690619 Virtual machine configured to use an ISO has a status of Unsupported VM Configuration in System Center 2012 Virtual Machine Manager

Issue 3
Power optimization powers off the host computer instead of shutting it down.
Issue 4
When you view checkpoints for a VMware virtual machine, the VMM Console may crash. Additionally, you receive the following error message:

Value of ‘0’ is not valid for ‘Value’. ‘Value’ should be between ‘Minimum’ and ‘Maximum’.

Issue 5
Virtual machine placement may provide the same host rating even though available memory between the hosts is different.
Issue 6
You cannot log on to App Controller because VMM does not support domains that have a one-way trust.
Issue 7
Text is truncated on PRO tip warnings.
Issue 8
Images (or logos) within PRO tips are not displayed when integrating with System Center 2012 Operations Manager.
Issue 9
The VMM Console can take several minutes to load in environments that have several hundred hosts.
Issue 10
Virtual machine placement can require up to 30 seconds per host.
Issue 11
VMM Console performance decreases in large environments.
Issue 12
VMM does not recognize third-party disk resource types that are used in a Hyper-V failover cluster.
Refresh host cluster jobs may fail, and you receive the following error message:

Warning (13926)
Host cluster was not fully refreshed because not all of the nodes could be contacted. Highly available storage and virtual network information reported for this cluster might be inaccurate.

Virtual machines that have a status of "Unsupported Cluster Configuration" may fail, and you receive the following error message:

Error (13924)
The highly available virtual machine (VMname) is not supported by VMM because the virtual machine uses non-clustered storage.



The update for the different components can be downloaded from these links:

Full description on the update and instructions for installation can be found in the knowledge base article.