My little System Center book project!

For sometime now I have been occupied with my little book project, it has taken a lot of time from my blogging since it has been completely new territory for my part. But! it has been a unique learning experience and I think that I’ve never been this good a using Word… Ever!

A while back a publisher contacted me and asked if I was interested in writing a book for them, at first I thought nah… don’t have the time and capasity to finish this in time.. But after thinking about it a couple of days I thought when am I going to get this opportunity again ? Therefore I said yes! and fast forward a couple of months ahead and here I am with the finished product.

So allow me to introduce my little book

Configuration Manager 2012 High-availability and Performance Tuning

Microsoft SCCM High Availability and Performance Tuning

 http://www.packtpub.com/microsoft-sccm-high-availability-and-performance-tuning/book

FThis is the first time I’ve ever written anything that was over 10 pages (Yes including school as well) and it has been a unique experience and I wish to thanks the publisher Packt www.packtpub.com who has given me this opportunity.

I also wish to thank my reviewers
Marius Skovli and Dragos Madarasan for good feedback in the review process.

#configmgr, #configuration-manager, #sccm, #sysctr, #system-center

News from Citrix and Microsoft

Wow this has been a huge day for both Microsoft and Citrix.
First of Microsoft announced today publically that they are making RemoteFX clients for all mobile platforms (Maybe part of the Mohoro DaaS?) Which means that Microsoft VDI and with Storage dedup might make MIcrosoft a better alternative and gain some lost grounds there, because this has been one of Citrix’s best features broad platform support. So about time Microsoft came aboard as well!

Anyhow… Citrix also made an announcent today that they will release XenDesktop 7.1 as of 23th of October, this release will support all of the new platforms that Microsoft will release the 18th great news! That means VDA on Windows 8.1 and Windows Server 2012 R2, and that XenDesktop can leverage all of the SMB features and SCVMM 2012 R2 with MCS.

(Still eager to see the PVS features here)

So that means you can upgrade your infrastructure first and then Citrix later Smilefjes
Hopefully this means that we can use XenDesktop 7.1 against New gen VMs, and hopefully 7.1 also includes provisioning against Azure it might be….

#azure, #sysctr, #windows-2012, #xendesktop

Netscaler 10.1 and System Center Virtual Machine Manager provider

A New secret from Citrix Smilefjes
Citrix just recently released a new build of its Netscaler appliance and also included a provider to integrate with Virtual Machine Manager even thou it is very hidden from the naked eye.

Open up Netscaler GUI web-console and up in the right corner you have the downloads pane.

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under here you will find the Management Pack for SCOM and the provider for VMM.

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After you have installed in you need to restart the virtual machine manager service on the VMM Server, then it will appear under the Configuration Provider on SCVMM.

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this means that we can create VIP templates against Citrix Netscaler

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It has the same feature set as It did before. Was hoping for something new and exiting feature set but not yet.

#gameworn, #goat, #mj, #netscaler-10-1, #pe, #scvmm, #sysctr, #wizarddays

XenMobile vs Configuration Manager & Intune

So this is a discussion I often meet, and will come across more the next weeks and months ahead I belive Smilefjes
Many of the customers I work with are often a full blowen Citrix customer or more forwards Microsoft.

Many are facing the discussion mobility how do we embrace it ? (or from another point of view, how do we manage it ?) and they are doing some research and find often that XenMobile or Intune shows up. So whats the difference between the two ?

Citrix has a long time been the master of delivering workspaces to a user and to any type of device, and with the release of CloudGateway Enterprise they were entering towards delivering mobile based features (for instance allowing them to deliver mobile based applications to a user device trough Citrix client) and with the purchase of ZenPrise last year they went full in. Zenprise was a fullblown MDM solution and now they have integratet CloudGateway (Cloudgateway was the old product which included Storefront, Gateway and AppController) with ZenPrise which is now known as XenMobile Enterprise.

This fits well for Citrix’s image (any device anywhere) and now they can manage any device as well (as long as it is mobile). Also they have developed sandboxed based applications under the category Worx and they can also deploy any applications from the vendors different stores. These Worx applications use Micro-VPN functionality to connect to the infrastructure and are completely seperated from other apps inside the mobile client.
To break it down in components XenMobile (Enterprise) consists of
* Netscaler (Gateway)
* Storefront
* AppController
* XenMobile MDM
* Sharefile

Then on the other side you have Microsoft, which is coming from a client management standpoint, and they have been there for quite some time. With the latest release of Configuration Manager, Microsoft released a connection with Intune which allowed buisneses to manage mobile devices via Intune directly from Configuration Manager.
So all mobile devices needed to be setup to talk to Intune in order to be managed.
Configuration Manager has also expanding it support to include Linux / Mac / Thin Clients as well as mobile devices with Intune, so microsoft has operated in the management part for a long time.
Instead of aiminig for a on-premise solution Microsoft har put everything in their cloud. So whenever Microsoft deployes a new feature to Intune every customer of Intune gets it without needing to do anything.
They also have an integration to exchange to allow the IT-guys to control mobile devices trough Active Sync (this also includes Office 365)
There is a new intune release coming with a new release of Configuration Manager the 18th of October.

But can these two products compete?
Well… they have some of the same features which is device management, Citrix has more advanced features with XenMobile and with Worx and Micro-VPN etc. Microsoft has full support for Windows phone and Windows RT (And coming with iOS and Android with an company portal app pretty soon) and Intune might have what you need but nothing fancy.

What we need to remember is that Configuration Manager is a fullblown client management suite, with patching, deploying operating systems, applications, baselining, antivirus, with Intune it gets mobile device management capability. XenMobile is not in this category, it gives you mobile management, mobile application management, sandboxing applications, give any device application delivery trough Citrix Receiver.

So if you are a System Center customer with Configuration Manager and your IT-guys use ConfigMgr for management, adding Intune might be an easy way to go ahead, and by using Intune you leave the feature set to Microsoft, they need to continue development and will add more features as new release become available (So you will get the new releases for free since its a cloud based solution which you get buy a monthly basis). For other customers which needs advanced features such as selective wipe and the ability to seperate buisness and private data and more advanced security features and deep suppor for all vendors (Except Windows) XenMobile is for you. Zenprise was one of the market leading vendors before Citrix bought them up.

If you compare the cost (for Intune the cost pr user is 6$ pr month so for one year you have 72 USD. You also need Configuration Manager for it to make any sense.) You can also get a discount if you are EAS or EA agreement already which makes Intune more viable.
XenMobile Enterprise on the other hand is not so much more expensive then a regular Intune subscribtion of course it requires alot more infrastructure then Intune does.

So hopefully you got a bit more understanding on what seperates Intune from XenMobile! Smilefjes

#citrix, #configuration-manager, #intune, #sysctr, #system-center-2012, #xenmobile

Creating VHD from Configuration Manager

Another fancy feature from within Configuraiton Manager is the ability to create VHDs direcly from the console by using a task sequence. Think of the possibilities of creating golden images by bulding a VHD file and then importing this direcly into SCVMM.

In order to do this process there are a couple of requirements.
* You need a physical computer which runs Hyper-V (Window 8 or 2012 +) (NOTE: Had some trouble running the R2 Configmgr on Hyper-v 2012 R2 so I used 2012 for this guide.
* you need the Configuration Manager console installed on the physical computer
* Should not be the site server

Now first thing we do after installing the R2 console is to go into Software Library –> Operating Systems –> Task Sequences.
Then right-click and choose “Create a new task sequence” –> “Install an existing image package to a virtual hard disk”

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Next we follow the procedures here and enter the information.
Now after we are done with creating the task sequence we can continue on with creating the VHD. We go into Software Library –> Operating Systems –> Virtual Hard disks, right-click and choose “Create Virtual harddisk”

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Now we have to define which task sequence should be assosiated with the VHD file

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Now after this is done and you have choosen the correct Distribution point that image building will process

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Now first of it builds an ISO file with the task sequence and creates a VM in hyper-v.

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You can see a random VM name appears.
Note: you can view the smsts.log for any errors that might occure during the running of the task sequence inside the VM (Before formatting this is placed on the X: drive)
To troubleshoot the hyper-v server you can view CreateTSMedia.log and DeployToVHD.log which are located under %ProgramFiles(x86)%\Microsoft Configuration Manager\AdminConsole

Remeber that this process creates a local VM instance on that hyper-v server that is spins up and runs the particular task sequence (when it is done it shuts down the VM and removes it from Hyper-V) and you get left with the VHD.

#configmgr, #configmgr-2012, #sysctr, #system-center

Cloud based distribution points

Well, along time since I’ve managed to blog! Smilefjes But ill give a quick update about the book im writing. Im writing a book about Configuration Manager which is going to cover high-availability and performance tuning, really exiting times! It takes up alot of my time therefore my lack of blogging lately.
Anways, this is something I’ve post poned some while now, which is cloud based distribution points!

Cloud-based distribution points is something that came with Service Pack 1 in System Center. Cloud-based DPs are really much like a regular DP except for the following:

* You cannot use a cloud-based distribution point to host software updates
* You cannot use a cloud-based distribution point for PXE or multi-cast deployments
* You cannot use a cloud-based distribution point during a task sequence that requires a task to Download content locally when needed by running task sequence.
* You cannot use a cloud-based distribution point to offer packages that are setup with run from Distribution Point
* You cannot use a cloud-based distribution point to host virtualized applications
* You cannot set a cloud-based distribtuion point as pull-based or as source distribution point.

Content that is sent from the Configuration Manager to Azure is copied encrypted. In order to setup a Cloud DP you need a couple of things.
First of you need a management certificate which you can use against Azure you can follow my recipe from my previous post.
https://msandbu.wordpress.com/2013/01/09/managing-windows-azure-via-windows-powershell/

You also need to generate a certificate which should be created using the same PKI structure as for the regular Configuration Manager solution. This certificate should be created using the web server template. This certificate should contain a FQDN which your clients should be able to resolve using DNS.
You can read more about the certificate here –> http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/230dfec0-bddb-4429-a5db-30020e881f1e#BKMK_clouddp2008_cm2012

After these two prerequsites are in place we can create the distribution point (if you have SP1 the option to create one are under Administration –> Hierachy –> Cloud –>
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Here we have to enter the subscripbtion ID this we can get from Azure and the management certificate.

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Next we choose what region and what site this DP should be assosicated with, as well as add a certificate generated by our internal PKI for the DP.
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Next we configure alerts and thresholds. After this is done we have to change the client policy to allow access to cloud DP

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And we can se in the monitoring pane that the cloud DP is functional.

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Under the FQDN enter a name for the server (which resembles the certificate name) this record has to be added the the DNS-zone either internally (if only for internal clients) or on the external zone) the IP-adress of the Distribution Point in Azure is found under cloud services.

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After this is done, we also have to modify the clients policy settings to allow clients access to the distribution point. If you go into the storage blob and under containers you can see the different packages that have been distributed to the cloud DP.

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If you want to scale out with more cores to the cloud DP you can go into the cloud service and use the scale function
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after I have distributed content I can see the package ID under the container in the storage pane.

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And there we go, will try to write up a follow-up which covers multi cloud DP points.

#configmgr, #configuration-manager-2012, #sysctr, #system-center-2012

Pull-based distribution point and rate limiting

One of the awesome features in Configuration Manager SP1 is the ability to define a distribution point as pull based. In essence what it does is that instead of pushing content from a site server to all the distribution points within a site, you define a pull DP and a source DP.

Regular content distribution.
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Then when you distribute content from a site server to a group of source DPs and the pull-based will get the content from the source DPs, this way you will reduce the load of the site server itself, and you might as well this way more effeciently distribute data. Think of it what if the site server has a low bandwidth connection to DP2 in the branch office but DP1 has a high-bandwidth connection to DP2 ?
This way it allows for more effecient data distribution.

Pull-based distribution

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You can define a DP as pull-based under the properties of the DP (here we can define which source DPs the DP should use. As you can see you can define multiple source DPs.
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and please note:
You can’t use a site server DP as pull-based
You can’t use a cloud-based DP as pull-based or as a source
A distribution point set with rate limiting which is then configured as pull-based distribution point will ignore any rate limiting configuration set.

Another nice feature on the DP which im going to cover in another post is cloud-based distribution point and of course rate limiting.

This allows you to define a schedule and bandwidth in % when sending content from a site server to a DP. (Remeber that these settings are only visible for DPs that are not on the site server. When you define rate limiting you have three options.

1: Unlimited
Uses all the available bandwidth (no restrictions)

2: Pulse Mode
Allows you do define that the content is to be split up in chucks in terms of KBs and how often they should be transmitted (with a delay between blocks)

3: Limited to specified maximum transfer rates by hour
Important to note that this options does not register how much bandwidth is available to Configuration Manager. For instance if you set this to 50% for 0 to 1 hours ConfigMgr will send data the first 30 mins then stop sending data the next 30 mins.

ratelimit

#configmgr, #configmgr-2012, #configuration-manager, #sysctr