You might have heard that Microsoft is switching to a semi-annual channel for Windows Server and System Center. If you have no clue what this is or what it means then read this post from June 2017. In short, it means that every half year, Microsoft will release new updates for your System Center / Windows Server products. These updates will fix issues, but also introduce new features. Before Microsoft releases the final version it will publish a preview version of that specific update.
The next update release will be called 1801 (18 = year 2018 and 01=January). You will be able to update your product with these releases. Just few days ago, Microsoft released the preview versions of the 1801 release and they are called 1711 (17= year 2017 and 11=November). You can find all System Center releases for download here:
- System Center Service Manager Preview, version 1711
- System Center Orchestrator Preview, version 1711
- System Center Operations Manager Preview, version 1711
- System Center Data Protection Manager Preview, version 1711
- System Center Virtual Machine Manager Preview, version 1711
Ok what is new in terms of System Center Operations Manager 2016 1711 (later 1801)? First, the installation experience stays exactly the same as it is for SCOM 2016. There are no changes.
Enhanced SDK Client performance
We have introduced performance improvements in the Operations console that typically prevent the console from responding while a new management pack is being imported or deleted, or a configuration change to an MP is saved.
Well this sounds pretty good and has been a pain for many years. I couldn’t really test it, as I just have a small demo environment but especially in larger organizations, this will be much appreciated.
Linux Kerberos support
Operations Manager can now support Kerberos authentication wherever the WS-Management protocol is used by the management server to communicate with UNIX and Linux computers, providing greater security by no longer needing to enable basic authentication for Windows Remote Management (WinRM).
What does that exactly mean? When deploying a Linux Agent, SCOM uses SSH port 22 to install/remove/update the agent on the Linux machine. BUT afterwards it uses WS-Management protocol for monitoring the Linux server using dedicated Linux Run As accounts. These Run As accounts are configured to use basic authentication. After the 1711 update, you are able to use domain accounts (!) in order to use Kerberos to authenticate against the Linux machine. This is a big improvement in terms of security. But there are few pre-requisites that need to be fulfilled:
In order to enable Kerberos authentication on the management server that is monitoring / discovering the Linux machines you need to run a SCOM task…
The task sets the follwing Authentication registry key on the management server…
HKLM:\Software\Microsoft\Microsoft Operations Manager\3.0\Setup\Linux Auth to Kerberos.
Updates and recommendations for third-party Management Packs
In System Center 2016 we released the MP Updates and Recommendations feature which has been expanded now to include discovery and downloads of third-party management pack updates, based on feedback from customers.
SCOM 2016 introduced Updates and Recommendations for Microsoft management packs, which means that you will get notified if there are any updates or recommended MPs for your environment. In SCOM 2016 1711 it has been extended to cover also third-party management packs for example fro Nice, Infront etc.
…in the console it looks like this…
Service Map integration
Service Map automatically discovers application components on Windows and Linux systems and maps the communication between services. It automatically builds a common reference map of dependencies across your servers, processes, and third-party services. Integration between Service Map and System Center Operations Manager allows you to automatically create distributed application diagrams in Operations Manager that are based on the dynamic dependency maps in Service Map. For further information on planning and configuring integration, see Service Map integration with System Center Operations Manager.
The Service Map integration is actually not new (few month ago Microsoft released the first preview version of this integration for SCOM 2016), but I think it will be officially released with update 1801. Service Map is part of Operations Management Suite, which is a SaaS service living in Azure. It lets you discover application components, servers, processes and ports between components. It looks like this…
The downside is, that this diagram is living in the cloud and not in SCOM. BUT the new Service Map integration brings this discovered “map” as distributed application into SCOM. You basically need to import the management pack, create Azure AD Service Principal for authentication in Azure and configure the MP. If everything the configuration succeeds you will have the connection from SCOM to OMS which will dynamically update your on-premises distributed application in SCOM. This will look similar to this…
(Source: Microsoft TechNet)
You can now use a Linux agent with FluentD support for log file monitoring at par with Windows Server. This update provides the following improvements over previous log file monitoring:
- Wild card characters in log file name and path.
- New match patterns for customizable log search like simple match, exclusive match, correlated match, repeated correlation, and exclusive correlation.
- Support for generic Fluentd plugins published by the fluentd community.
Well this is a big new thing, which is probably also influenced by Operations Management Suite. In the past it was not the best experience to monitor Linux log files using the available management pack template wizard. Well it worked but it was somewhat limited. The new Fluentd module comes with the latest Linux agent delivered in the newest Linux management packs. Fluentd is an open source data collector, which lets you unify the data collection and consumption. It supports many data sources and has a flexible plugin system that allows to extend its functionality.
Once you have the Linux agent installed you need to configure the Fluentd configuration file which determines what log file (source) to monitor and what search pattern it should match, additionally you could use a filter to have a more complex way to “filter” the log data. Once you have the configuration file prepared, you copy it to the Linux agent.
The next step is to enable the System Center Operations Manager External Data Source Service (OMED service) on the management and gateway server that provides the capabilities for enhanced log file monitoring…
Finally we need to create our own custom management pack with rules and monitors using the Microsoft.Linux.OMED.EventDataSource module. It seems that here are some MP authoring skills are required.
Some user scenarios for the Fluentd plugin…
Improved HTML console experience
The Web console has been redesigned and is now a fully HTML-based console and no longer has a dependency on Silverlight. The monitoring tree and dashboards support the HTLM5 markup language.
This is probably the most requested feature of all. A brand new HTML 5 driven web console without any dependency on Silverlight – yeah! As far I can tell the console has been re-written from the ground up. It is a new experience although the functionality is pretty much the same….
…except for the new dashboards, here an example of the built-in Management Group Health dashboard….
One cool thing is that you can create you own dashboard with new widgets, available only in the web console. Start with a new Demo Dashboard….
…somehow it looks like the Azure portal dashboard .
There are 6 widgets available…
Here I built a demo dashboard using each of these widgets…
Very cool is the custom widget, which let’s you add any kind of HTML. I used an iframe to embed a Youtube video as you can see in the screenshot above. Another Azure like experience is editing the dashboard itself, meaning rearranging the widgets. You simply move them around as you are used in the Azure portal dashboard…
This is pretty cool stuff and maybe there is more to come. But this post gives you a detailed overview what is new in SCOM 2016 1711. I hope you like it!