Hotfix for SCSM Portal – first look

I just downloaded the hotfix for the Service Manager Portal and had a quick look at it.

Lots of fixes – but still showstoppers

There are a lot of fixes in this release but there are also some unfixed issues, some of them are showstoppers for us.

  • Query form element with filter criteria depending on selection from another query in same form does not work
  • Multiple query form elements inside same request offering form cannot add same relationship types

So there are more showstoppers for us, but the did not make it on the known issue list yet. So I’ll post them here:

  1. Datetime control in Service Request I would prefer a calendar control. But the issue with the actual control is, that you simply cannot enter a valid value.clip_image001Even using the international date does not work.
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  2. “The endless list” issue The query result are still in an endless HTML table when there are 1,000 results for example, you need some time to find the next field to enter.
  3. Service requests and activities do not show up. For some reasons no service request and activities show up in the test portal – but they do in the development portal.

A “nice to have” feature would be, if you enter a longer “companyname” in the global settings it could use the whole line without break.

image

What’s nice – and more suggestions for improvement

Some words to the nice things of the portal.

Open a Workitem via link

Now it is possible to open workitems with a link – so now it is possible to send links to a workitem.

One suggestion here: It would be nice to send the link from the actual site by copying the link form the browsers link section – or maybe a “share” button like in the Knowledge Base?

Knowledge Base

The Knowledge Base displays the articles as supposed. There can be links to KB articles, too.

One suggestion: The search is only in the description to the KB article, but not in the internal content section. It would be nice to have full text search.

Other blogs about the new self service portal

[Updated 2015-12-12 19:17]

Conclusion

There is progress on the service manager portal. But it is still not for use. I think, it still needs some time to improve – maybe an Easter update will be good enough for production.

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System Center Usergroup Meeting in Linz/Austria

On 16th November we have had our second System Center User Group meeting in Linz/Austria and the 11th in Austria. 16 attendees could enjoy 3 great practical sessions.

At first I gave a quick overview about the System Center User Group and upcoming Events (slides). Our next event will be on Januar 19th in Vienna at Microsoft – the simulcast of SCU Texas. The registration is open.

So when you get interested in the user group, the information we share – find us on Xing or follow us on twitter for the newest information. (@scug_at).

Session 1: Operational Management Suite (OMS)

In the first talk Stefan Koell began and showed us the insights what’s OMS for. Impressive were the short improvement cycles in OMS.

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Session 2: Limit the power of Powershell 5 with JEA

Next was Roman Stadlmair who presented the possibility of limiting the Power of PowerShell 5 with JEA – an advanced PowerShell topic. It was an exciting talk from Roman about an interesting upcoming concept in PowerShell. He provides his slides for us.

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Session 3: myOperations IT

In the last session Alexander Becker presented the myOperations IT Management Portal. It is one web portal for some system center products.

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After the sessions we have had in deep technical discussions in the networking part(y) of the meeting. Stefan sponsored the pizzas and I brought the drinks.

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Finally you get some impressions of the meeting room. Thanks for Michael Seirer our professional meeting photograph for shooting and sharing the photos.

So enjoy the photos and let’s see you in our next user group – maybe in Vienna at the System Center Universe Texas 2016 streaming.clip_image010

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Showstoppers on SCSM2012R2/UR8 – the new Service Portal

The new Service Manager Portal is available as announced. Download is in System Center Service Manager 2012R2 UR8. UR7 is required for this update according to System Requirements of the release notes.

There is already lots of Feedback on the announcing site and on Technet.

I just checked the new portal with service requests working on the Silverlight portal. So I found some showstoppers, listed below.

Showstopper 1 – Installation

We installed it on two systems. On the first system there is a problem with the images – see beyond the left side and the heart on the service request.


By the way – clicking the heart shown, opens the service request. By clicking the heart in the opened Service Request the heart is filled.But it is not saved as favorite. So when you go to the Service Request again, the heart is not filled anymore.

Showstopper 2 – Date Field

The date field is no calendar and in addition there is a problem with the time zone.

Showstopper 3 – Endless Query Results

We have a service request with an user picker – with some thousand users. When you hit the refresh button all users return in a html table – so you get thousand lines. There is nothing to search beside the browsers built in search (ctrl-f). And even if you find the entry needed – the search goes on. The search for the next field to enter.

We have a service requests with a query result where only one selection is allowed – but in the new portal you can check all checkboxes.

We have a Service Request with 2 query results. The second query result depends on the first one. This functionality is not provided by the new portal – it just stops working, after clicking “refresh” on the second query.

Showstopper 4 – Did not update changes done in Service Manager

I also did some changes to a service request and the service request did not update. I can not remember, what I wanted to change, but there was no effect, even server restart did not display the changes. It did not help to wait for over 14 hours. Reducing “UserCacheTimeOut” in web.config did not help – but it is not clear, if this value means minutes, seconds or years.

Showstopper 5 – Possibility to start Service Requests without required fields

It is possible to start a service request without entering any data. This is, when you use query result fields.

Noticeable technical behavior

There are some noticeable technical behaviors, which point to an unready direction of the portal – but there is no technical showstopper in sight.

Since the installation guide was not available, I installed it on good luck – and it worked. I installed it on the management server. The also provided MPB was already imported. No other MPs where touched.

A glimpse at the views

I just openend Announcements.cshtml and what I found is a worthless endtag (</span>) and a never used variable (altTxt) – clearly marked in Visual Studio. Of course this works, but there is an “unready” smell with this.

Web.Config

That is the place to change the company name from contoso to your company.

There was a funny default language in web.config: <add key=DefaultLanguage
value=fr-FR/>
– since I do not speak french a word and we only use german and english. So I do not know, how this came.

The definition of the Management Server is also in the web.config – well done.

The File permissions

Somewhat strange was this warning beyond. It appeared, when I changed to the wwwroot in the file system. Seems there is a problem with the permissions after installing the service portal. After clicking “reorder”, the permissions were fine.

Needing external Sites [new content]

The new portal uses the following external sites:

  • http://az416426.vo.msecnd.net – for a Java script file
  • fonts.googleapis.com – for the font used
  • dc.services.visualstudio.com – for no Response – maybe usage data?

 

A glimpse from the user side

My first impression is, that the portal is more user friendly than the old one. I tried announcements – they do not update automatically – perhaps because of the cache (see features). But after a while, it worked fine and you immediately recognize the message.

My second task was searching for a service request – this worked fast and as suspected.

So I was ready to use a service request. At first I was somewhat surprised that the User picker (aka Query results on System.User) does not show users. After clicking the provided “Refresh” button all users appeared. All? Only 2000, since the web.config defines this maximum (<add
key=MaxQueryResults” value=2000/>
).
And all in a single table (see showstopper 3). This behavior is not suspected and better in the old portal. Now you can search in internet Explorer with the IE search (ctrl-f) but you have 2000 lines und you never find the next field to answer – somewhat annoying. Maybe a showstopper, if there is no alternative.

In addition to this, the query result is not sorted in any way – this is not better than sorting descending. The possibility to sort in the request offering would have been nice.

So over all – there are showstoppers – more than one in the new Service Manger Portal. I do not think we get a usefull version this year. And I hope they will fix the Service Requests before thinking on more features.

Reactivate CRs and all related MAs

The following short script will set a specific CR in progress and all related MAs to active.

$smdefaultcomputer = <computer>
$crclass=Get-SCSMClass System.Workitem.ChangeRequest$
$maclass
= Get-SCSMClass -Name System.WorkItem.Activity.ManualActivity$
$maStatusActive
=get-scsmenumeration ActivityStatusEnum.Active$
$crStatus
=get-scsmenumeration ChangeStatusEnum.InProgress$
$cr
=smlets\get-scsmobject -Class $crclass -Filter “Name -eq ‘CR83769′”
$mas
=Get-SCSMRelatedObject $CR | ? classname -eq ‘System.WorkItem.Activity.ManualActivity’
$masu=$mas | %{$i=$_.id;get-scsmobject -class $maclass -Filter “Id -eq $i}
$masu
| Set-SCSMObject -Property status -Value $maStatusActive
$cr
| Set-SCSMObject -Property status -Value $crStatus

System Center Universe 2015 Basel

Some impressions and my take aways from the System Center Universe 2015. My focus was on the sessions about automation and Service Manager. In addition I attended to the Power BI Sessions – and they were very exciting.

Keynote: Microsoft Technology outlook with focus on IoT and machine learning (Sascha Corti)
Sascha showed the example, that Microsoft monitors the power consumptions of the  air condition from the Microsoft campus. So they can react much faster, when the consumptions rises. This results in lower downtime and in addition they can safe about 10% of the power consumption.
The second example for IoT was a movie about the london underground – they also monitor “things”. ( see video ).
He also published his actual pulse measured by a Microsoft band on his wrist to a Website as an example for IoT.
It seems that machine learning gets standardized by Microsoft. Sascha showed an example with 30,000 datasets of an survey with standard data (income, education,  age, sex). Machine learning in azure took several minutes and the aim was to predict if the income is over or under 50k. (Link to Azure Machine Learning). And parnters can build Webservices with this learned methods and offer it to customers. Sounds interessting.
A thing that surprised me was, that Microsoft saves money by monitoring the power consumptions of the  air condition from the Microsoft campus. So they can react much faster, when the consumptions rises. This safes them about 10% of power – and money.

System Center Reporting Hero to Super Hero to Earth to Cloud in Warp Speed
Nice and easy Tool, to create analysis templates. Maybe easier than Microsoft Excel  and for an high level view. (PowerBI)

Minimizing Risk in  Modern Powershell Environments with JEA
Nowadays you are only able to make all powershell functions available – or none. So I could give powershell cmdlets to the servicedesk, but then the servicedesk can also destroy my environment. Since I do not like this – they get nothing. With WMF 5.0 (Windows Management Foundation)  JEA (just enough admin) it is possible to define, witch powershell functions are available the the users. Really nice.

Programming SCSM with c# and Visual Studio
Dieter Gasser presented three ways to use visual Studio to enhance the Microsoft Service Manager. One was to enhance the functionality provided by the  Tasks.
Dieter also mentioned, that CIs in Service Manager only make sence, when they are used by Service Requests.

itNetx Produkte
ItnetX gave a look at upcoming products – there are some really nice improvements.
1. A new Service Manager Portal design – the new Portal v3 is with a standard GUI Framework (Bootstrap)
2. Powershell Activities – this extends the Service Manager with a new activity – you can put powershell commands in it, which are executed
3. There will be an update to the Advanced View Editor (AVE). You will be able to create new  views – including calendar views.
4. Admin Tools – with more (easier) security possibilities for admins

Scoosp – starting runbooks as a service via a portal
Another Portal – but this one is for the admins not for the consumers. So there is only the information provides by Sstem Center Orchestrator. It is possible to start runbooks with the parameters. There is no possibility to provide high level business process management processes. But since there are templates for common admin tasks, that could be really useful. (Link to SCOOSP)

How to find out the actual Service Manager version via powershell

It was not that easy to find out the actual Version of our SCSM Installation, since Microsoft does not update the Info Window of Service Manager. So I wrote a powershell line, to find out.

Get-ItemProperty 'HKLM:\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Uninstall\{7B523367-360B-4EB6-9ED4-D2637816DD0F}' | Select Displayname, Displayversion, installdate

There is an other way with SQL:

select * from servicemanager.[dbo].[__PatchInfo__] WITH(NOLOCK) order by appliedon desc

Import Excel generated csv to SCSM via powershell

If you want to bulk Import data to System Center Service Manager from CSV with german data using powershell, there two things to do right:

  1. Save the Excel spreadsheet as “CSV (Trennzeichen-getrennt) .csv”
  2. Import into SCSM with right encoding
    1. Import-Csv $Filename -Delimiter ‘;’ -Encoding Default
    2. Import-Csv $Filename -Delimiter ‘;’ -Encoding UTF7

That’s it.