As you may know, I have obtained my Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE) specifically in the solution area of Private Cloud. When you obtain a Microsoft Certification, there are some certifications that have an expiry date, meaning that to maintain a certification you need to re-certify. This is the case that I am in with my MCSE Private Cloud. I received an email from Microsoft indicating that the Recertification exam is now available.
Since I plan to take this recertification exam, I thought it would be helpful to go through each of the Skills Measured, and include some examples. Not only will this help me review the material I already know, and brush up on the areas that I need more experience with.
I figured that I would break this into a series, covering each of the higher-level categories/areas and their sub topics.
- MCSE Private Cloud Re-certification Exam – Skills Measured – Part 1: Configure Data Center Process Automation
- MCSE Private Cloud Re-certification Exam – Skills Measured – Part 2: Deploy Resource Monitoring
- MCSE Private Cloud Re-certification Exam – Skills Measured – Part 3: Configure and Maintain Service Management
- MCSE Private Cloud Re-certification Exam – Skills Measured – Part 4: Configure the Fabric
- MCSE Private Cloud Re-certification Exam – Skills Measured – Part 5: Configure System Center Integration
So, to start let’s cover the first category: Configure Data Center Process Automation.
1.0 – Configure Data Center Process Automation
1.1 – Implement Workflows
- Implement SCO Runbook automation
- Automate remediation of incidents
- Including resolution of System Center Virtual Machine‒based incidents
- Design and build end-to-end automation
- Incorporating System Center 2012 technologies
- Implement change control and problem resolution workflows
1.1.1 – Implement SCO Runbook Automation
Although this is a rather vague item, when I read this it made me think about using Orchestrator Runbooks with Service Manager. So, the first step to achieving this is to have a Connector in SCSM for Orchestrator. Once you have a Connector, and it has synchronized at least once, the Runbooks will appear in Service Manager under Library > Runbooks. With the Runbook selected, in the Tasks menu click on the Create Runbook Automation Activity Template.
After creating the initial template, the Runbook Activity Template form will be displayed. On the General tab, the important piece is to check the “Is Ready For Automation” checkbox. Without that, Service Manager will not be able to automatically initiate the Runbook.
The other important part is on the Runbook tab. This is where you will need to map the Service Manager inputs to the Orchestrator Runbook parameters.
1.1.2 – Automate Remediation of Incidents
This can refer to multiple things. For example, this could refer to the Parent-Child incident relationship, and the option to auto resolve child incidents, which can be found in the SCSM console, under Administration > Settings > Incidents Settings > Parent Incident.
This could also refer to the SCSM to SCOM Connector, and how closed SCOM Alerts affect SCSM Incidents or vise versa. This option can be found in the SCSM console, under Administration > Connectors > SCOM Alert Connector > Schedule. Notice that there are 2 options, one to “close alerts in Operations Manager when incidents are resolved or closed”, and “resolve incidents automatically when the alerts in Operations Manager are closed”.
1.1.3 – Including Resolution of System Center Virtual Machine‒Based Incidents
When reading this topic, I immediately think that it ties into or is similar to the Automate Remediation of Incidents topic. Especially with the configuration of SCOM Alerts, and the auto-resolution settings with the SCOM Alert Connector.
When you create the SCVMM Connector in Service Manager, notice on the Summary screen, the Additional Information states: “VMM server SCVMM.SC.LAB is configured to push discovery data to Operations Manager server . Please create an Operations Manager CI connector to this Operations Manager server, ensure that VMM Management Pack Microsoft.SystemCenter.VirtualMachineManager.2012.Discovery is included for synchronization and that synchronization has completed successfully at least once.”
Therefore, you need to also have the SCVMM to SCOM integration configured properly, in addition to having the Service Manager SCOM CI Connector setup as well.
1.1.4 – Design and Build End-To-End Automation
When I read this,it makes me think immediately of SCORCH and SCSM primarily. So for example, trying to design an end-to-end automation process, I would start with the SCSM self-service portal.
From the Self-Service Portal, the next step would be SCSM itself (since that’s what the Portal is tied to). You would have to create a Request Offering and a Service Offering, and link a Runbook Automation Activity to the generated Service Request in SCSM.
This of course will trigger what ever automation your Runbook was designed to deliver. Maybe it’s for a new user account, and as the automated process progresses, it writes back to the SCSM Service Request. Then finally once it is complete, maybe you have it designed to send an email to someone, and then finally close the Service Request. There are a lot of options for more granular elements to work with, like assigning the Service Request to a specific group, applying classifications/categories, emailing IT personnel of the request (when it started, when it finished, and if there were any errors along the way). The possibilities are endless.
But the end-to-end automation doesn’t just have to be self-service. There are a lot of different scenarios that could be considered, not limited to: Date/Time, monitoring Computers, disk space, event logs, processes, or services, monitor files/folders, even SCOM alerts.
1.1.5 – Incorporating System Center 2012 Technologies
Since this is within the Workflow category, it makes me think about leveraging other System Center technologies and reacting to different conditions or states. For example, if a VM goes offline (which can be monitored via the SCOM Integration Pack and using the ‘Monitor Alert’ activity), tied in with VMM throwing the Alert. Maybe if that VM is not recoverable, then triggering a ‘Recover VM’ activity via DPM.
Or what about using the Self-Service Portal again for new VM requests. Aside from the creation of the VM itself, but also automatically installing the SCCM Client, and ensuring it is added to a Maintenance Window for patching? Again, this is a vague subject, but the options are endless.
1.1.6 – Implement Change Control and Problem Resolution Workflows
Change and Problem management is done via SCSM.
To implement workflows for this, navigate to Administration > Workflows > Change Request Event Workflow Configuration. You can create a workflow for when a Change Request is created, or updated.
In addition to various Criteria you can include, you can also include Notifications to various individuals.
Again, back to my focus on SCORCH, if there is a repeatable “change” that occurs in your environment (like, say, monthly patching), you can have a Change Request template trigger a Runbook to apply updates, etc.
1.2 – Implement Service Offering
- Add a new service offering to the service catalog
- Create a custom workflow using the Service Manager console
- Reference Orchestrator workflows in Service Manager
- Implement self-service provisioning of virtual machines
1.2.1 – Add a New Service Offering to the Service Catalog
To be able to add a Service Offering to a Service Catalog, start by launching the Service Manager console, and navigate to the Library.
Expand the director Library > Service Catalog > Service Offerings.
You first need to ensure that you have a Service Offering in the Published state.
Next, still within the Library area, navigate to the Groups area.
You can either right-click on the Groups menu, or in the Tasks menu on the right, click Create Catalog Group.
In the New Catalog Group dialog, after the Before You Begin and General pages, on the Included Members page, click Add.
On the Select Objects dialog, you can filter the list to Service Offerings, and then select one and click Add, then click OK.
Finish through the Create Catalog Items Group wizard to completion. You’ve now added a new Service Offering to the Service Catalog.
1.2.2 – Create a Custom Workflow Using the Service Manager Console
To be able to create a custom Workflow in the console, start by launching the Service Manager console, and navigate to Administration.
Expand the directory to Workflows > Configuration.
You will see listed in the main area, several Workflows that can be configured. Choose one, and either double-click on it, or in the Tasks menu on the right, click on Properties.
In my lab example, I will use the Incident Event Workflow Configuration.
In the Configure Incidents Event Workflows dialog, click Add to create a new Workflow.
Navigate through the Add Incident Event Workflow wizard. By example, notice (for the Incident workflow) we can configure the event it is triggered on; either “When an object is created”, or “When an object is updated”.
On the Specify Event Criteria screen, you can customize the criteria for the workflow to trigger; like Classification Category, Escalated, Priority, etc.
On the Select Incident Template screen, you can apply a specific template, which can have pre-populated fields, etc.
On the Select People to Notify screen, you can customize and add several Users to notify, and even specify unique message/email templates too (which can include variables to include information about the Incident).
1.2.3 – Reference Orchestrator Workflows in Service Manager
To be able to reference Orchestrator workflows in Service Manager (which, I am assuming actually is referring to Orchestrator Runbooks), you first need to connect Service Manager to Orchestrator. Start by launching the Service Manager console, and navigate to the Administration area.
Navigate to Connectors.
In the Tasks menu on the right, click on Create Connector > Orchestrator Connector.
On the Sync Folder screen, you need to specify the folder to sync. This folder will contain the Runbooks from Orchestrator.
Expand the Library directory, and select Runbooks.
In the details area, you will see all of the Runbooks that have been synchronized.
Now that the Runbook is available in Service Manager, you can select it and create a Runbook Automation Activity Template. I won’t detail the rest of the process at this time.
1.2.4 – Implement Self-Service Provisioning of Virtual Machines
To accomplish this, you need to have the Virtual Machine Manager Integration Pack deployed and configured within Orchestrator. For details on how to do this, see my SCORCH 2012 SP1 in a LAB – Configuration Guide (Integration Packs) guide.
Once you have the Integration Pack setup, you need to create a Runbook. You will notice that the SCVMM Integration Pack has the following options for creating a VM through Orchestrator.
- Create VM from Template
- Create VM from VHD
- Create VM from VM
Alternatively, since the re-cert exam is about everything “new” and the “latest and greatest”, this self-service VM provisioning item can also be accomplished via the Windows Azure Pack (WAP) or the App Controller interfaces, with the proper underlying VMM configuration.
Well, that’s it for this first section. Next we will review the items covered in the next Skills Measured – Part 2: Deploy Resource Monitoring.