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Why Azure Monitor Workbooks are awesome and you should be using it now to supplement SCOM

With Azure Monitor Workbooks you can now quickly and easily make intelligent decisions about your infrastructure.

One of the things SCOM has never been good at is reporting or dashboards. I recently on-boarded a few VMs in my lab that have been running for months. If I look at SCOM everything looks great.  No performance issues or problems.

Now if I have a look at the same VMs in Azure Monitor Workbooks I see a totally different story.

I can quickly see that my DB07 server has CPU pegged.

I log into my server.  Yep CPU is pegged at 99%.  Even worse its not even SQL that is consuming the CPU.   Where were you at on this one SCOM?

 

Let me give another example.   If I scroll down in my workbook I can see another chart for available memory.

I can quickly see that one server DB01 has a ton of available memory.

I log into the SQL server and verify that I am wasting memory (relative to my lab size) on this server.

You might say well its because SQL Server is limited right?  Nope not the case.  SQL is set to consume as much as it needs.  I am just wasting memory.

Can’t I get this same data in SCOM? Not easily as most of the time with medium to large SCOM environments, the reports and dashboards take forever to show up or timeout. Azure Monitor can scale to hundreds of thousands of servers and still return this data in seconds.

How to use Azure Monitor Workbooks

First you will need a Log Analytics workspace.  https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/azure/azure-monitor/learn/quick-create-workspace

Once you have a workspace you will need to point your SCOM agents at the workspace.  I recommend this method.  https://kevinholman.com/2017/08/16/adding-direct-agent-oms-workspace-and-proxy-via-powershell/

Then go to Azure Monitor, Workbooks, and select Performance.

 

Select your Subscription, Workspace, and Counter

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SCOM Maintenance Mode Scheduler

The SCOM Maintenance Mode Scheduler application makes enabling and scheduling maintenance mode simple for all users. Your IT staff will no longer have a reason why a server wasn’t put into maintenance mode.

The updated HTML5 web application now works with SCOM 2012 R2, 2016, SCOM 1801, 1807 and 2019. It deeply integrates into SCOM using all the new native maintenance mode scheduling capabilities. All your IT staff can quickly schedule maintenance mode without having to install and use the slow console.

Features:

  • Easily access web based maintenance mode scheduler from any browser (Chrome, FireFox, Safari and IE)
  • Schedule Windows/Unix Computers, Groups, and Objects like SQL Databases for maintenance in a few seconds.
  • Import a CSV containing a list of computers or groups for scheduled maintenance.
  • Instant MM: Server and application admins can instantly place servers into maintenance during reboots and maintenance windows directly from the server without requiring admin privileges to the server.
  • Instant MM can be called by a VB, PowerShell, or code from anywhere. This can be used to start and stop maintenance on any server for a specified amount of time. This makes it easy to integrate into your current change or software management process.

Download

Additional Features:

  • Redesigned web application that works 5x faster then the previous version.
  • Works in multiple different modes.
    • Open Access:  You can choose to enable open access where anyone can schedule maintenance mode even if they are not in SCOM.
    • SCOM Role Based Access – Only allow SCOM users to access and schedule Computers, Groups, and classes they have access to.
  • Integrated Dashboard works in the SCOM Console.
  • Instant Maintenance Mode with URL Parameters.  Specify URL parameters ComputerName, ID, Min, Action to control maintenance mode.
  • Manage page will make it easy to see and manage any upcoming maintenance windows and identify any gaps
  • Uses the same role based permissions that SCOM 2016 uses. Users will only be able to schedule maintenance mode for servers, groups, or objects they already have access to in SCOM.

Instant MM

 

This solution makes it easy for IT staff to put a server into maintenance mode without having to go to the SCOM console. On any server, the administrator can visit the SCOM Maintenance Mode Scheduler Instant MM website at http://yourMSserver/Home/MM/InstantMM

Create a shortcut on the desktop of the servers to make it even easier. This can be accomplished manually or by use SCCM, AD Group Policy or some other software deployment software

 

Integrated Dashboard

Instant Maintenance Mode with URL Parameters

SCOM Maintenance Mode Scheduler has the ability to add parameters to the URL.

  • ComputerName – Specify the Computer Name
    http://yourMSServer/MM/Home/InstantMM/?ComputerName=yourComputer.yourdomain.com
  • Min – Number of Minutes for Maintenance Mode
    http://yourMSServer/MM/Home/InstantMM/?Min=120
  • Action – Start or Stop Maintenance Mode
    http://yourMSServer/MM/Home/InstantMM/?MMAction=Start
    http://yourMSServer/MM/Home/InstantMM/?MMAction=Stop
  • Combine multiple URL Parameters
    http://yourMSServer/MM/Home/InstantMM/?ComputerName=DB02.scom2k16.com&Min=120&MMAction=Start

Instant Maintenance Mode using PowerShell, VBScript or Code.

Using the new URL Parameters, you can now put servers into Maintenance Mode from any computer using a script or code.  Typical use case would be using SCCM when updates or software is installed.  SCCM would execute the VB or PowerShell script before the install process to start maintenance mode.  After the updates or software is installed SCCM would call the script to stop maintenance mode.

VB Script Example    Download: https://www.scom2k7.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/computerMM.renameTOvbs.txt

 

PowerShell Example     Download: https://www.scom2k7.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/computerMM.renameTOps1.txt

Any problems, bugs, or issues please e-mail:  support@scom2k7.com

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Stop collecting all the worthless SCOM events in your environment

Quick Download: https://gallery.technet.microsoft.com/Stop-collecting-all-the-3479ecb5

Do you want to stop collecting all the worthless SCOM events in your environment?  By default SCOM collects thousands of events out of the box with a few Management Packs installed. 99.999% of the time no one is looking at these events.  The events bloat your database and often times provide zero value.

A customer was recently was decommissioning two SQL servers that created 35 Million SCOM events in 2 days.  The events took up 60GB of DB space and crashed their production SCOM.

First we need to create a Management Pack to hold all the overrides.

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I called mine “SCOM2K16 – Disable All Events”

Copy the script to one of your management servers and run it locally.

Now we simply run this powershell script on one of your management servers

The magic in the script is that it only disables event collection rules that don’t alert.  Rules that do alert we want to keep on, so it won’t disable them.

 

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The script will take a long time to run as there may be thousands of rules that need to be turned off.

Thanks to Brad Watts for help with the script.

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Creating a site-to-site Azure VPN with PFSense

First I need to create a Azure Virtual Network and Subnet.  I go to All services image and find Virtual networks

I add a Virtual network called EastAzureVnet with a Subnet called EastServerSubnet and leave the defaults.  (Make sure this address space doesn’t overlap with your on-prem network)

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Now I open my Virtual network I just created called EastAzureVnet and click Subnets and click Gateway subnet

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Leave the defaults and click OK

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Virtual Network Gateway

I need to create a Virtual Network Gateway.  I go to All services and find Virtual network gatewaysimage

I set the following values and click Create(Note: This will take about 15 minutes, so go have a Beer Mug on Google Android 9.0 or a Hot Beverage on Google Android 9.0)

Name: EastAzureVngVPN

SKU: Basic  (If this were for production I would choose VpnGw1 or higher)

Virtual network: EastAzureVnet

Public IP address: EastAzureIpVPN

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Local network Gateway

Next we need to create a Local Network Gateway. I go to All services and find Local network gateways  image

I use my on-prem network information. 


My lab uses IP address range 192.168.2.1 – 192.168.2.255 (aka 192.168.2.0/24)

My Example External IP is 67.37.217.79

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After it is created click on the Local Network Gateway called EastAzureLngVPN and click Connections,  Then click Add

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I use the following information and Click OK.  Create and save your shared key as you will need this when setting up the PFSense side. (You will want your Shared key to be more complex then the example)

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PFSense

In Azure go back to Virtual Network Gateways and get your public IP Address for your Azure VPN

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Next I go over to my On-Prem PFSense Firewall and click VPN, IPSec

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Click Add P1, I changed the following settings

For Remote Gateway use your Public IP Address from your Azure Virtual Network Gateway

For Pre-Shared Key use your Pre-Shared Key

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Click Save

Then Apply Changes

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Now Click Show Phase 2 Entries, and click Add P2

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For P2 (Edit Phase 2).  I go back to Azure to get the address space.

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Set the Remote network address to the address space in Azure.   (Not the Subnet)

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Click Save, and Apply Changes.

Now if we go to Status, IPsec

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I can see we have Established a connection

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Lastly I need to create a firewall rule.  I go to Firewall, Rules.  The select IPsec and click Add

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Change Protocol to Any.  You can lock this rule down to suit your needs.

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Click Save and Apply

To get DNS working correctly. (So you can Add VMs to your Domain) 

I set you DNS server for your Virtual Network to my local On-Prem DNS server.

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One note.  Azure blocks much of ICMP traffic.  So to test, create a VM with a Public IP Address of None.  Then connect with Remote desktop.

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For general information on Azure Site-to-Site VPNs see https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/azure/vpn-gateway/vpn-gateway-howto-site-to-site-resource-manager-portal

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Quickly fix SCOM scripts from Exported Management Packs with Transform Tool

Quick Download: https://gallery.technet.microsoft.com/Fix-SCOM-from-Exported-e011ab52
Source: https://github.com/timmcfadden/SCOM-Transform-Tool

Have you ever exported a MP with a script and tried to run it on the command prompt and it fails yet seems to work fine when SCOM runs it.

If I export the MP from SCOM using PowerShell.

Then open it up in NotePad++ and search for the script name. In my case it is DiscoverSQL2014FileGroups.js

Now I copy the script to a file of its own and try to run it on my SQL 2014 server. I use the command line from above

But I get a script error.

The issue is the exported mp changes some of the characters in the script. So we need to change the characters back so we can run it manually.

With the Transform Tool I copy and paste the script. Then I hit Unescape.

I copy the updated code and take a look at it. I can see that it changed the characters back to what they should be.

I run the script on the SQL server and it now works.

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