System Center and Devops

In this blog, I will share with you on how devops approach is followed and maintained while using system center suite of products.

Before going into details let’s talk about devops first.

The definition – DevOps (development and operations) is an enterprise software development phrase used to mean a type of agile relationship between development and IT operations. The goal of DevOps is to change and improve the relationship by advocating better communication and collaboration between these two business units.


Now in today’s fast changing enterprise world all business leaders ultimate goal is to be more collaborative and inter connected across various business functions and to do that you need an IT team and technology that enables you.

In market, there are various tools and suite of products that come to help enterprises. However, Microsoft suite of products system center suite is a winner in many areas.

In Devops approach from SME to large enterprise we follow the below approach

System Center DevOps Model



Starting with monitoring your entire Infrastructure SCOM (system center operations manager) is a great tool. Why you ask, as OOTB it has all management packs to monitor your entire Microsoft technological solutions and you have plenty of third party solution and adapters that makes it easier to integrate with other technologies or solutions.


Now when it comes to IT service management, you can rely on SCSM (system center service manager)

It is a great tool to manage all your incidents, service requests, change, problems. Off course you can use it for release and business relationship management but those features are not that great. If you combine it with other solutions then it is wonderful ITSM product.


Now for managing your infrastructure you have SCCM (system center configuration manager) OOTB tool can manage all windows software including OS for desktop, laptops, servers and with other third-party solution you can extend its functionality for managing and patching other third-party software’s.


Now for a successful devops you need to automate and combine all these functions. This is where SCORC (System Center Orchestrator) along with PowerShell comes in handy. You can automate almost any anything across your infrastructure.

Example Scenarios:

SCOM detects that one of your critical web services is down -> It then automatically create an incident and assigns it to L1 Wintel team. -> Wintel engineer validates the alert runs a runbook in SCORC from the SCSM console (which restarts IIS service) -> Now as the service is started -> SCOM alert is auto resolved and closed -> Incident in SCSM console is resolved with all the actions that got executed in background captured in incident logs -> Wintel engineer notices that from the past incidents and also by his experience that high RAM usage his root cause for this issue-> He goes to SCSM console raises a change request for increasing RAM on the server-> Goes to SCCM console and checks if the server is compliant with all latest security patches and critical updates -> once the change is approved in SCSM-> he uses SCORC runbooks which is integration with SCVMM to increase the RAM on the server -> weeks later from SCOM performance he pulls up a report and verifies that that IIS service going down has never happened after memory was increased on the server.

Above was just a high level example on how all the system center products work hand in hand. This makes it super easy to manage enterprise level IT infrastructure.


Patching by Orchestrator Part -1

Today i will explain you how you can achieve patching by orchestrator including complex patching procedures.

Below is list of software that you will need:

  1. Excel – To put the steps that needs to be carried out in a sequential order
  2. MS SQL DBs
  3. PS Scripts
  4. MS Orchestrator
  5. MS SCCM
  6. MS SCSM (incase you want to make patching a self service offering)

Now a few things to keep things in order:

  • In a Excel sheet arrange all steps that needs to be automated, below is just an example of column headers:

SequenceNo ActionType ComputerName Parameter1 Parameter2 Parameter3 Parameter4 Parameter5 Parameter6 Outcome Expected Patching by Orchestrator Excel sheet Template Patching by Orchestrator Template

  1. Now create DBs called ‘SteptoExecute’ in a SQL instance where you will upload the steps created in the previous steps, my suggestion is to create it in Orchestrator instance itself
  2. Another DBs called ‘ExecutedSteps’
  3. Now you have to create 1 main runbook which in turn will call multiple other runbooks that you need to create in next step.
  4. Here runbooks should be arranged to first read steps from ‘SteptoExecute’ and then invoke runbooks based on sequence#
  5. Other multiple runbooks that you need to create will mainly depend upon complexity of steps, here i will just give a high level of runbooks that will typical be required
    • SCCM Patch push code runbook
    • SCCM patching status code check runbook
    • Service Start runbook – Runbook will take service name
    • Service Stop runbook
    • Service restart runbook
    • Computer restart
    • Computer restart with timeout
    • Computer restart with check when it’s back online
    • Run Program- Can use to run a batch file
    • Web Status code checker – can be used to check response status code of web application – Click to download runbook  web application response status code checker
    • Email activity runbook – to send status of steps executed over an email
  6. Now use orchestrator runbook to invoke steps from the DBs in the sequential order arranged, use SQL DB read activity or a PS script
  7. Each step has an associated action type with it as explained earlier, which in turn will call the runbooks and runbooks will execute the steps such as stop/start/restart services, run batch files, rename files, start a web service, stop a web site and etc
  8. Make sure to make runbooks names same as action type, it will easier to invoke runbooks in the previous step
  9. Once all the steps are executed a email activity combines all the steps executed along with the results that are saved in ‘ExecutedSteps’ Db

Download link to Visio Diagram

In the next part i will share with you scripts that you will need and reference to other MVP and system center blogs which will be helpful to you.

However, due to NDA with my ex employer i will not be able to share complete runbooks or scripts that i have used. 

Please note, do test your runbooks in a dev environment first. Sometimes it can take a few trial and error in getting the steps in a sequence order.

Patching by Orchestrator Part -2

SCSM 2012 self service portal in Arabic

SCSM self service portal in not supported in arabic and neither there is much way to do it other than buying a portal from a third party vendor like Expit

I came across such a situation and buying a third party product was not a solution for me at that time and therefore had to write the silveright rex file myself in Arabic. (Thanks to my friend for the translation work)

Even if you just install SharePoint Arabic LP and make changes in your SCSM service offering to Arabic, you still have certian portions of the portal which is based on silverlight displayed in English, as it the default fall back language. Microsoft does not make Arabic silverlight localization for SCSM SM portal.

So if you are in sitaution like how i was, this file will be of your help.

Well now how does this work?

  1. Install SharePoint Arabic LP on the server hosting your SCSM self service portal.
  2. Go to folder where you have your resx other language files, typically it will be under inetpub\service manager\content
  3. Create a new folder called ‘ar’ without the quotaion marks.
  4. Now just dump the file in the folder.
  5. Go back to your portal, change the display language and you will say all your SM content is also displayed in Arabic.
  • If you want to change the portal to RTL then make the changes by using sharepoint designer and search for allignment and just change LTR to RTL for language ‘ar’ only.

In this way you will be able to get your self service portal completely in Arabic.

Download file from here: SCSM Self Service portal in Arabic

Note this will work only on self service portal based on silverlight. 

I am working on to make this for the new HTML 5 portal too, will post it by next month.

ITIL Process and System Center Service Manager

While deciding on a ITSM tool  there are many Qs that comes to one’s mind, below are most important one’s:

  • How many ITIL process can the tool support?
  • What is licensing model of tool?
  • How flexible is the tool in terms of configuration and customisation?
  • Can the tool support self service and keep up with business expectation in IT automation
  • How easy it is for end users to use it?
  • Last but the most important one, what is the Capex and Opex involved as IT is a cost center, budget is always a constraint

Here, i will try to answer the above questions.

Below is a table of ITIL process Vs OOTB System Center and MS tools capabilities

S. No ITIL Process Supported by System Center tool How it can be achieved
1 Service Strategy
1.1 Strategy Management for IT Services This is a combination of documentation and management review Microsoft EPM/Microsoft Office Sharepoint Server (MOSS) can be used
1.2 Service Portfolio Management SCSM
1.3 Financial Management for IT Services Other ERP tools can be used MS Dynamics
1.4 Demand Management SCOM Limited capabilities
1.5 Business Relationship Management SCSM Yes, only for customer satisfaction survey along with SCSM and SharePoint
2 Service Design
2.1 Design Co-ordination This is a manual exercise
2.2 Service Catalogue Management SCSM
2.3 Service Level Management SCSM
2.4 Availability Management SCOM
2.5 Capacity Management SCOM SCOM reporting
2.6 IT Service Continuity Management SCOM, SCDPM Through SCOM and System Center Data Protection Manager (SCDPM)
2.7 Information Security Management SCCM, SCSM SCCM to track no. compliant machines and SCSM for incident and service request
2.8 Supplier Management SCSM Service Catalogue of SCSM
3 Service Transition
3.1 Change Management SCSM
3.2 Service Validation and Testing SCORC Automated testing can be achieved by PS and orchestrator runbooks
3.3 Asset and Configuration Management SCCM, SCOM, SCSM Inventory information from SCCM, SCOM can be brought into a central repository of SCSM CMDB
3.4 Release and Deployment Management SCSM, SCORC SCSM to track releases and SCORC to auto deploy packages
3.5 Knowledge Management SCSM
3.6 Change Evaluation SCSM This is more of manual execise
3.7 Transition and Planning Support This is manual task
4 Service Operation
4.1 Event Management SCOM, SCCM
4.2 Incident Management SCSM
4.3 Request Fulfillment SCSM
4.4 Problem Management SCSM
4.5 Access Management SCSM, SCORC Limited capabilities
5 Continual Service Improvement
5.1 Continual Service Improvement Manual Task but Service Reporting can be generated from SCOM, SCSM, SCCM, etc

Coming to 2 point. SCSM licensing model is simplest of all, it comes along with System Center license which means you buy one edition of datacenter or Enterprise edition and you can use any product from the system center suite without any additional cost.

Infact this is least expensive ITSM tool in the market.

3rd point

SCSM is undoubtedly winner here, with SCSM authoring tool kit you can customise the tool to any length.

4th point

SCSM along with SCORC can be stretched to any length in terms of automation. Here also to further expand capabilities you can buy third party integration packs or build your own for more custom requirements. Of course, integration packs with MS products comes for free.

5th point

Yes, SCSM is relatively simple to use mainly as it lacks a lot of bells and whistles that today’s ITSM tools have specially when you pitch it against top tools of market. However, it will be a wrong comparison. SCSM is best suited for small enterprises.

Finally,  my recommendations is go for SCSM incase of SME where end users is not more than 5K and daily ticket limit does not hit over 2K (including incident, change, service request)

It is great tool, if you have a dedicated resource or team to work on automation of your daily tasks as SCSM is best in market in terms automating things and comes almost a zero cost.

Please share your feedback and comments below on SCSM experience.


System Center Service Manager Version / Build #

I have compiled all the build numbers for SCSM, incase you see something is missing or incorrect, please post them in comments.

Service Manager 2016 

Build Number Version
7.5.4108.0 System Center Technical Preview
7.5.4295.0 System Center Technical Preview 2
7.5.4458.0 System Center Technical Preview 3
7.5.7217.0 System Center Technical Preview 4
7.5.7314.0 System Center Technical Preview 5
7.5.7487.0 SCSM 2016 RTM
7.5.7487.37 Update Rollup 2 for System Center 2016 Service Manager (for HTML Portal and Exchange Connector only, main version was not changed)
7.5.7487.64 Update Rollup 3
7.5.7487.89 Update Rollup 4

Service Manager 2012 R2 Self Service Portal

Build Number Version
7.5.3079.507 SCSM 2012 R2 Update Rollup 8
7.5.3079.523 Update 1 for SCSM 2012 R2 Self Service Portal
7.5.3079.548 Update 2 for SCSM 2012 R2 Self Service Portal
7.5.3079.572 Update 3 for SCSM 2012 R2 Self Service Portal

Service Manager 2012 R2

Build Number Version
7.5.3046.276 SCSM 2012 R2 Preview
7.5.3079.0 SCSM 2012 R2 RTM
7.5.3079.61 SCSM 2012 R2 Update Rollup 2
7.5.3079.148 SCSM 2012 R2 Update Rollup 3
7.5.3079.236 SCSM 2012 R2 Update Rollup 4
7.5.3079.315 SCSM 2012 R2 Update Rollup 5
7.5.3079.367 SCSM 2012 R2 Update Rollup 6
7.5.3079.442 SCSM 2012 R2 Update Rollup 7
7.5.3079.504 Fix for SCSM 2012 R2 Update Rollup 7
7.5.3079.507 SCSM 2012 R2 Update Rollup 8 (Self Service Portal only)
7.5.3079.571 SCSM 2012 R2 Update Rollup 9 (withdrawn by MS)
7.5.3079.601 SCSM 2012 R2 Update Rollup 9 v2(withdrawn by MS)
7.5.3079.607 SCSM 2012 R2 Update Rollup 9 v3

Service Manager 2012 SP1

Build Number Version
7.5.2053.0 SCSM 2012 SP1 CTP2
7.5.2205.0 SCSM 2012 SP1 Beta
7.5.2905.0 SCSM 2012 SP1 RTM
7.5.2905.125 SCSM 2012 SP1 Update Rollup 2
7.5.2905.150 SCSM 2012 SP1 Update Rollup 4
7.5.2905.158 SCSM 2012 SP1 Update Rollup 4 Re-released
7.5.2905.179 SCSM 2012 SP1 Update Rollup 6

Service Manager 2012

Build Number Version
7.5.1088.276 SCSM 2012 CTP2
7.5.1354.0 SCSM 2012 Beta
7.5.1464.0 SCSM 2012 RC
7.5.1561.0 SCSM 2012 RTM
7.5.1561.106 SCSM 2012 Update Rollup 2
7.5.2905.150 SCSM 2012 Update Rollup 3
7.5.2905.158 SCSM 2012 SP1 Update Rollup 3 Re-released

Service Manager 2010

Build Number Version
7.0.5813.0 System Center Service Manager 2010 Release Candidate
7.0.5826.0 System Center Service Manager 2010 RTM
7.0.5826.859 Cumulative Update 1 for System Center Service Manager 2010
7.0.5826.881 Cumulative Update 2 for System Center Service Manager 2010
7.0.5826.886 Cumulative Update 3 for System Center Service Manager 2010

Service Manager 2010 SP1

Build Number Version
7.0.6545.0 System Center Service Manager 2010 Service Pack 1 Release Candidate
7.0.6555.0 System Center Service Manager 2010 Service Pack 1
7.0.6555.101 Cumulative Update 1 for System Center Service Manager 2010 Service Pack 1
7.0.6555.110 A hotfix for Cumulative Update 1 for System Center Service Manager 2010 SP1: May 2011
7.0.6555.115 Cumulative Update 2 for System Center Service Manager 2010 Service Pack 1
7.0.6555.116 Hotfix package for System Center Service Manager 2010 Service Pack 1(Requires CU2)
7.0.6555.118 Active Directory Connector does not synchronize new updates after you switch domain controllers (Requires CU2. Not cumulative—does not include 2250444)
7.0.6555.128 Cumulative Update 3 for Microsoft System Center Service Manager 2010 Service Pack 1
7.0.6555.131 Cumulative Update 4 for Microsoft System Center Service Manager 2010 Service Pack 1 (SP1)