Microsoft MVP

I am pleased to announce that I received the Microsoft MVP 2016 award for Cloud and Datacenter Management. Now I am part of the MVP family ☺️. The welcome kit arrived today. If you want to know more about the Award program, then you can follow the MVPAward blog. Here you can find more details about the award categories and you can also search for MVPs.

If you want to become a MVP, then you need to be active in the community (tweet, write your blog, speak at community meetings/conferences, share code, etc). When you already did that for a while, contact a MVP from your area and ask him/her, if he/she would nominate you. You could even ask for the MVP lead contact, they can also help you on your journey to become a MVP.

You  will receive an email from Microsoft, when you got nominated. Then you need to submit all your contributions to the community of the past year. And the you can only wait. There are special dates – one each quater – i.e. October 1st, when the award notifications are send out. This is the time, when all MVPs, who want to be renewed, wait nervously in front of their email programs 😉.

Thanks to everyone, who helped me on my journey and greetings to my fellow MVPs. 

SCSM 2012: Asset Management

This blog will be the first part of a series about my Asset Management solution for SCSM 2012 R2. It will give a general overview about the solution. The following parts will go into the details.

Part 2: Authoring – Classes and Relationships
Part 3: Authoring – Folders and Views
Part 4: Authoring – Forms
Part 5: Reports
Part 6: Runbook/Automation details

I was asked by a colleague end of last year, if we can manage hardware assets with System Center Service Manager 2012 R2. I found a solution from Steve Beaumont for SCSM 2010 besides the solutions with costs from Cireson or Provance for example. I contacted Steve and after discussing the options I started to create a new solution for SCSM 2012 R2 based on Steves template. The new solution is designed to meet the requirements of the requesting company but can also be adopted to other companies needs.

The solution covers the following requirements:

  • Sync with Active Directory (User), SCCM (PCs)
  • Assets should stay in the DB
  • Custodian should be linked to Asset
  • Read PC warranty information from Dell
  • Fill location information automatically
  • Additional categories for Computer Assets: Kiosk, Lab, Test
  • Create Assets automatically based on existing Windows Computer objects in SCSM (sync with SCCM)
  • Email notifications for new/deleted/updated objects


  • The Windows Computer names need to follow this structure:❤ letter site Code><Serialnumber>.
  • Enable AD and SCCM connectors in SCSM.
  • Install Service Management console and SMlets on the Orchestrator Runbook Server.

How is this implemented?

To achieve that the asset stays in the DB, the solution creates an Asset class based on the ComputerHardware class. When a new Asset gets created then it needs to be assigned to the Windows Computer object. The Orchestrator automation runbooks are handling that. So it can happen that multiple Windows Computer objects which are created in SCSM get linked to one Asset object. With that you can see the history of the Asset deployment.

The Custodian also needs to be linked to the Asset, because the Asset is the hardware that should have a defined owner, which does not change when the system gets reimaged. The automation will take the primary user of the deployed Windows Computer as first Custodian, but this needs to be manually reviewed, because this could not be the real owner of the hardware (shared machines, etc.).

Classes and Relationships:


An Asset Management workspace is created and views for the new classes and some additional useful views.


This form shows which information can be entered for the ComputerAsset. The other asset forms look nearly the same (only the Category field is missing).


The Custodian can be selected in the AssetCustodian field. All other drop down fields reference predefined liss. The Windows Computer can be assigned in the Related Items tab. Also the Order can be referenced there.

The order form is very short and simple.Order

Some runbooks are created in Orchestrator to automate the creation of the ComputerAsset objects in SCSM and keep them updated, . Here is a short overview:


All three main runbooks (Create Asset, Update Asset, Check deleted Windows Computer) check the Windows Computer objects first, then the Computer (Deployed) objects (synced from SCCM) and at last checks if an Asset object exists.

Additionally to that sub workflows are called to check the location, get the warranty, etc.

General considerations

  • Not everything can be automated, so every created/updated/deleted asset needs to be reviewed. Emails are send out to inform responsible teams to review.
  • The solution is an example how hardware asset management can be done with SCSM. It can be extended with additional class types, other properties, different automation, etc.

The solution can be downloaded from Github and you can watch a video on YouTube, which shows the solution in the SCSM console and the Orchestrator runbooks. I already presented about this solution at a German conference. So if you want to watch a German video, then you find it here.

In the other parts of my series I will go into more details how the solution is designed. So stay tuned😉.




SCOM 2012: Monitor MSAs with the HP Storageworks MP 4.2.1

If you ever implemented the HP Storageworks Management Pack for System Center Operations Manager 2012 then you will find that it needs some improvements. Beside the missing monitor alerts and the view properties there is one other topic: it would require a better documentation about the prerequisites on the monitored systems.

I have recently implemented the HP Storageworks MSA Management Pack which is one part of this Storageworks solution and followed Chiyo’s blog to do the initial configuration. But I had problems to connect some MSAs to the Management Server (Error: “Unable to connect to the remote system” in the HP Storage Management Pack User Configuration Tool) and there was nothing in the Management Pack documentation about how to fix it.

Here is what I found out, what was missing:

  • The Firmware had to  be updated (Firmware TS240* or later is required for SMI-S)
  • SMI-S unencrypted had to be enabled (new setting in the newer Firmware)
  • The monitoring user (which you enter in the HP Storage Management Pack User Configuration Tool) needs SMI-S access permissions.

With that the error went away and SCOM started to monitor.

I hope this helps you too.


SCOM 2012: Updated SCUtils APC PDU MP V1.1

I already wrote about the SCUtils APC PDU Management Pack for SCOM 2012 in this post. That was about the version 1.0 which had problems with monitoring the PDUs from a Gateway Server.

SCUtils has now released the new Version 1.1, which enables the monitoring from Gateway Servers. I have tested it and it works. So download the latest version and implement it.

Here is what you need to do to get this working (directly taken out of the SCUtils APC PDU MP documentation):

1. Install the Operations Manager console on each gateway server that is a member of a resource pool for monitoring APC PDUs.

2. If the gateway server and management server are separated by a firewall, you have to adjust the firewall to open the following ports in both directions between the gateway server and its management server:

1. TCP 5723
2. TCP 5724

3. Prepare an account that is a member of Operations Manager Read-Only Operators group.

4. Copy SetAccountToRegistry.exe from the installation folder (the default path is ‘C:\Program Files\SCUtils\ SCUtils Management Pack for APC PDU’) to each gateway server that is a member of a resource pool for monitoring APC PDUs.

5. Run SetAccountToRegistry.exe using a local administrator account. Fill in all the required fields. And click on Test button.


6. If the connectivity test has succeeded, click on Save button (the password will be encrypted before saving). Otherwise, reenter the information and try to test again.

7. Repeat the procedure on each gateway server that is a member of a resource pool for monitoring APC PDUs.



Getting Dell Warranty information

If your company has Dell computers, then it could be necessary that you get the warranty information into your Asset Management System, for example: System Center Service Manager or even System Center Configuration Manager.

There was a solution in the past to get this information directly through a REST api from a dell webpage, but that services was disposed in May 2016. Perhaps you already used one of these Solutions:

Dell now offers a new way to get this information through the Dell Warranty Status API.
Ok, that provides more security, but…

The problem with this is, that every company needs to request access and go through an approval process:

  • Request access and provide information about your environment and the tool which should grab the data incl. throughput estimates
  • Then you get a key and the access to the sandbox system, where you test the connection. The key expires after 90 days.
  • After giving feedback and some more reviews, you will get the approval to use the production webpage with the same key. Until that you are allowed to use the sandbox system.


More details can be found here.

You can request the access here.

I have created a PowerShell script which gets the ServiceLevelDescription and the EndDate for one Dell Computer. You can download the script here.

# AUTHOR:         Natascia Heil
# Script Name:    GetDellWarrantyInfo.ps1
# DATE:           09/09/2016
# Version:        1.0
# COMMENT:        – Script to check Warranty information for a computer from the
#                 Dell Warranty Status API
# Example:        .\GetDellWarrantyInfo.ps1 -ServiceTag ‘1a2b3c’ -ApiKey “sdfj7122394057sdfiouwer” -Dev $true
#Build URL
If ($Dev)
$URL1 = “$ServiceTag&#8221;
$URL1 = “$ServiceTag&#8221;
$URL2 = “?apikey=$Apikey”
$URL = $URL1 + $URL2
# Get Data
$Request = Invoke-RestMethod -URI $URL -Method GET -contenttype ‘Application/xml’
# Extract Warranty Info
$Warranty=$Request.AssetWarrantyDTO.AssetWarrantyResponse.AssetWarrantyResponse.AssetEntitlementData.AssetEntitlement|where ServiceLevelDescription -NE ‘Dell Digitial Delivery’
# Read first entry if available
If ($Warranty -is [Object])

Here are two examples what information you can get through the API:


You can use this script in an Orchstrator Runbook or Azure Automation to feed data into i.e. SCSM.

Orchestrator Runbook example:


In the Initialize Data create a Parameter for the ServiceTag (Serialnumber of the machine).

In the Run .Net activity paste the PowerShell script, then you do not need the param part, you can directly enter the variables ($ServiceTag, $Apikey, $Dev) with the corresponding values. Enter $SLA and $EndDate as Published Data and define that as returned data of the Runbook. With that you can call this runbook from all other main runbooks and get the warranty data for a Computer.


CIM Lingen 2016

Am 27. August hatte ich die Möglichkeit das erste Mal die Community Konferenz Cim in Lingen ( zu besuchen und auch gleich dort zu sprechen. Die Konferenz wird von der IT Emsland organisiert.


Meine Erfahrung war sehr positiv. Das Gebäude, in dem die Konferenz gehalten wurde, gehört zu einem alten Industriekomplex, der seinen eigenen Charme versprüht.
Der ganze Komplex ist sehr schön renoviert worden und bietet neben den Vortragsräumen der IT Emsland auch einen sehr ansprechenden Aufenthaltsbereich im Freien. Da das Wetter super war, wurde das auch gerne genutzt. Des weiteren wurde auch der überdachte Bereich der Hochschule Osnabrück mit genutzt, da das auch zu dem Gebäudekomplex gehört.

Was mich überrascht hat, war die Sprecherbetreuung. Gleich als ich ankam wurde ich begrüßt und in den Sprecherraum geführt. Grundsätzlich war alles sehr gut organisiert – danke an das Orga Team – im Sprecherraum gab es Getränke und Obst, genügend Stromanschlüsse, Internetanschluss, Wifi. Vor jedem Vortrag wurde der Sprecher angekündigt, die Agenda an die Leinwand projiziert und alle Knöpfe am Rednerpult waren gut beschriftet. Auch wenn das für mich das erste Mal war, bei dem mein Vortrag aufgezeichnet wurde, hat mich das ganze organisierte Umfeld sehr beruhigt.

Die CIM ist aus meiner Sicht eine besondere Konferenz, da sie

  1. kostenlos ist und 4 parallele Tracks anbietet
  2. an einem Samstag stattfindet
  3. die Vorträge hauptsächlich in Deutsch gehalten werden
  4. die Teilnehmerzahl auf 300 begrenzt ist, wodurch die Tickets ganz schnell weg sind
  5. offen ist für Community Beiträge (nicht nur von MVPs oder Herstellern)
  6. keinen Themenschwerpunkt hat, d.h. es können alle IT bezogenen Vorträge eingereicht werden, dadurch sind die Vortragsthemen sehr abwechslungsreich
  7. von tollen Leuten besucht/getragen wird

Alle Vorträge wurden live gestreamt, so dass auch alle, die nicht persönlich teilnehmen konnten, den Vorträgen folgen konnten.

Sobald die Aufzeichnung meines Vortrags “Asset Management mit Service Manager – eine kostengünstige Lösung” verfügbar ist, werde ich den Link hier aktualisieren.


Als Abschluss der Veranstaltung gab es auch noch die Möglichkeit, sich bei ein paar Currywürsten und Getränken zusammen zu setzen und gemeinsam den Tag Revue passieren zu lassen, was auch noch von einigen genutzt wurde und wobei sich interessante Gespräche entwickelt haben😉.

Die nächste CIM Lingen wird am 9.9.2017 am gleich Ort stattfinden. Ich kann nur empfehlen, sich den Tag zu reservieren und zu versuchen, einen Platz zu bekommen.

Vielleicht sieht man sich im nächsten Jahr wieder!

Update: Die Aufzeichnung ist jetzt verfügbar! 

SCUtils APC PDU monitoring

I already wrote a blog post about the free SCUtils APC UPS monitoring pack a while ago. Now SCUtils provided the promised APC PDU Monitoring pack for System Center Operations Manager 2012 SP1/R2. The only disadvantage is that this one is with costs. You pay 716,14€ without VAT (852,21€ incl. VAT) per license which includes monitoring for 10 devices and you get one year support.

The management pack monitors two types of PDUs: PDU and PDU2, which are two different generations of APC PDUs. PDU objects are first generation devices of the AP7000 series. PDU2 objects are from the second generation AP8000 series, they have sensors included which are monitored also.

Here are some more details about the monitoring pack.

Included MPs:
SCUtils.APC.PDU.FirstDiscovery.Overrides.xml (only required to speed up the discoveries => changes frequency to 700 sec. You can remove that after all PDUs are discovered.)

The regular discoveries run ever 12 hours, that is ok. Most of the monitors run every 5 min, rules run every 10 min. All are enabled by default.



The following folder/view structure gets created:

Diagram View:  (PDU Generation 1 => PDU2 Generation 2 would have additional objects)

You need to install the management pack on the management server and activate the license through a task. To do that go to the administration pane in the SCOM console and find the SCUtils Settings.

Select SCUtils Products Activation, then the Activation view is shown.

On the right side you have three Tasks:
Check a license Task
Get unique ID for offline activation
If your console machine has internet access, then you can run the Activate task. Otherwise you can also use the Get Unique ID for an offline activation task to request the activation through email.

In the Activate task you override the LicenseKey and the CompanyName fields:ActivateTaskDetails

The management pack will work after activation.

I only tested PDU devices not PDU2.

This management pack closes the APC monitoring gap. So with both offered management packs (UPS/PDU) you can monitor your APC environment.

Attention! Version 1.0 of this MP only works if you monitor the devices through a management server not on a gateway server! A new version of this MP has been released, which also works on a Gateway Server.

SCOM 2012: Get Pool Member monitoring details

I recently had a problem that a custom rule was not running correctly, so I wanted to find out which of my SCOM 2012 Management Servers was running the All Management Servers Resource Pool instance, where the rule was targetted to.

I could not find a something which matched in the web so I contacted some of my great SCOM colleagues and got feedback from Kevin Holman with the correct solution. Thanks Kevin!

There are two tasks in SCOM already, which can give you more deatils about which Management Server takes care of which instance (class).


I will show now where you find them and what you need to enter.

Both tasks you require the ID of the resource pool which handles the instances. In my case it is the ‘All Management Servers Resource Pool’.

To find that run the Operations Manager Shell and enter the command:

Get-SCOMResourcePool | FT Displayname, IDgetscomresourcepool

The output shows the resource pool names and the IDs. So copy the ID of the pool you need.

Then go to your Operations Manager Console.

Open the Management Servers State Dashboard view:

Select one of the Management Servers in the Management Server State section.


Then run the task ‘Get the Pool Member Monitoring a Top Level Instance’.


Here you need to override the PoolId and the ManagedEntityID. In my case the IDs are both the same as I want to know which pool member of the All Management Servers Resource Pool manages the pool. In your case you perhaps want to know that for another class. You can find the ManagedEntityID of the class through the PowerShell command: (Get-SCOMClass -Displayname ‘xxx’).Id.

The output of the Task gives you the Management Server Name:


The second task has another approach. It gives you all top level instances which a Pool Member monitors.

So run the ‘Get Top Level Instances Monitored by a Pool Member’ task.


Here you only need to override the PoolId.


The output lists all classes monitored by the pool member you selected in the Management Server State view.

With that information you can now go on and troubleshoot the logs why things are not working correctly on that Management Server.


SCOM 2012: OperationsManager module not found after WMF update

I recently had the situation in my System Center Operations Manager 2012 SP1 environment that Windows Management Framework was updated on all of the management servers. At first sight everything looked good. At second sight I recognized that one management server had a problem. It was running a PowerShell script to set custom properties on alerts and this script did not find any alerts anymore.

During investigation I found this error:

import-module : The specified module ‘OperationsManager’ was not loaded because no valid module file was found in any module directory.


I checked the PowerShell module directory, the module was there, but I couldn’t call it.

I ifxed it by running a repair of the SCOM console installation.

  • Go to Control Panel
  • Select Programs: Programs and Features
  • Select System Center 2012 – Operations Manager and click Uninstall/Change
  • Select Repair the Operations Manager InstallationRepairSCOM.JPG
  • Select Operations consoleSelectSCOMconsole.JPG
  • Click Repair

Additionally I recommend to reinstall the latest Update Rollup for the console again.



SCOM 2012: SCUtils APC Monitoring

It is already a while ago when I found out that there is a free management pack from SCUtils which monitors APC UPS devices, the SCUtils APC Monitoring Management Pack.
When I wanted to test it, I realized that it was only available for SCOM 2012 R2. So I contacted the support and asked if they can also provide a SP1 version for me.
And they really did it and were very responsive – a big plus!

So I was able to implement it in my test environment and checked it out.
Here are my findings.

The management pack is well designed. The bundle consists of two MPs:


It monitors APC UPS devices and APC EMUs (environmental monitoring unit). APC PDUs are not covered yet, but the support promised, that this will be added in the near future.
All discoveries run on a 4 hour schedule, the rules every 5 min and the monitors between 5 and 15 min. That is ok.

It creates all necessary views, including a Diagram View:

APC Folder

UPS Diagram View

With the UPS Dashboard you get a good overview of your APC environment.

UPS Dashboard


APC Monitors

All monitors are enabled by default, but there are also overrides, which disable some EMU monitors:

APC Overrides


APC Rules

Only one rule is disabled by default.

The MP has successfully detected the low battery runtime (8 min) and you can see that the Description, Path, Source is always very descriptive.APC Alert

They also added some nice reports:

APC Reports

So from what I see, it has all you need to monitor APC UPS devices. SCUtils promised to create a documentation for that MP bundle soon, but there is not really a lot you need to do to implement the management pack. The only thing is that you add the APC devices through the Network Monitoring to your environment and import the MPs. That’s it.
Very easy. And it is free at the moment.
I will only wait for the PDU monitoring to be added, then it will have all I want.

Information: I have created the Monitor, Rule and Report-Overview with MP Studio

Update: The APC PDU monitoring packs has been released. Here is my review.