<November 2010>
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By Stefan Koell on Tuesday, November 09, 2010 2:07:47 PM

By now, you should have seen already some blog posts about the new SCOM version (2012 or whatever it will be called in the end). Here are some bits I am particularly excited about:

  • There is NO Root Management Server anymore! I think this one will make a lot of people happy. R.I.P. R.M.S.
  • Agent and Server Pools: I’m really looking forward to this one. Instead of monitoring web pages from a single watcher node you can have a pool of nodes watch an URL. If a node is failing another node from the pool will pick up.
  • Outside In Monitoring: every company offering publicly faced web applications right now has - most likely - already some outside in monitoring service like Gomez in place. SCOM vNext will also have a similar service on board. It’s nice to see some serious competition in that area since gomez isn’t exactly cheap.
  • J2EE Monitoring: The X-Plat area will be covered more and more. Very nice and exciting news!
  • Azure Monitoring: Still trying to figure out how Windows Azure will impact IT business over the next few months/years. Nice to see this one on board as well.

This is just the tip of the iceberg. I’m also very excited about all the UI changes (WPF?), extensibility (also regarding UI?) and stuff for authoring (custom modules?). How the hell should I survive the next 12 months…

By Stefan Koell on Sunday, November 07, 2010 8:53:19 PM

SNAGHTML46b62cRoyal TS 1.6.10 has an issue when you try to open .rts documents created with versions 1.5 or older. Specifically when the document is missing the DocVersion element in the XML (see screenshot). If you open such an old file in 1.6.10, you may see all the connections but you cannot actually edit or connect to a session.

Here’s what you can do to avoid the issue with very old files:

Method 1:
Before you upgrade to 1.6.10, download and install 1.6.9 from here and upgrade then to 1.6.10 using this link.

Method 2:
Open the .rts file and add the 1 line at the bottom of the file (see screenshot).

Method 3:
You can also download the beta version of 1.6.11 which has a fix for that from here. To use the beta you need to install 1.6.10, download the .zip file and replace the RTSApp.exe in the install directory from the .zip file.

Method 4:
If the above doesn’t help you can also do the following:

  • Open the document
  • Select the document in the tree
  • On the right hand side, select all connections
  • Click on Edit to open the bulk-edit dialog
  • Check “Override Credentials” and leave all fields blank to reset all the credentials in your connections
  • After clicking OK you can use the same method to set the credentials to your connections again

It seems the issue is also encryption related. Much older versions of Royal TS are using a slightly different encryption method. This method was replaced since there was a bug with unicode characters in password strings.

There’s one other thing in 1.6.11 beta which might be interesting for you to test. As discussed in this thread, 1.6.11 will evaluate the exit code of the pre-connect task and will cancel the session if the exit code of the pre-connect task is not 0. So if you plan to implement a script to create a VPN connection you can actually prevent Royal TS from connecting to the session if the script is unsuccessful.

By Stefan Koell on Tuesday, October 19, 2010 8:38:48 AM

It’s been a couple of months since we released 1.6.9. According to our experience, user feedback and forum traffic, 1.6.9 has been a rock solid release. We are still working hard on a 2.0 release but there are some things we still needed to do for 1.6.10:

  1. Some minor cosmetic issues in the UI were fixed and improved. For example, the window title will now display the file name first which makes much more sense and can be found in many products. Especially in situations where you have multiple instances of Royal TS running, each has opened a different file, allows you to quickly find the right instance from the task bar.
  2. Performance optimization when you load and save your .rts files. We managed to improve load and save times dramatically, regardless of your document protection. Only caveat is the slightly longer processing time when you change your credentials using bulk-edit on a large number of connections at once.
  3. The installer will create a pre-compiled image of Royal TS during the installation. Royal TS will now start much faster and will also feel a bit snappier than before.

Royal TS 1.6.10 also needs to have .NET Framework 4 installed. Have a look the System Requirements page for more information.

The release notes for 1.6.10 can be found here.

Go to the download page to get 1.6.10 now.

A big ‘thank you’ to all our beta users for testing and feedback!

If you have any questions, suggestions or bug reports, feel free to register an account and post to our forums.

By Stefan Koell on Saturday, October 09, 2010 3:43:00 PM


In this series I will talk about invoking external programs or scripts from within SCOM. This post will be focused on Tasks and shows how to deal with some advanced scenarios. Here’s the list of topics covered in this part:

1. Invoke a command as console task
2. Invoke a script script as console task
3. Invoke a command as agent task
4. Invoke any command as agent task
5. Invoke a PowerShell script script as agent task

All this will be done in the OpsConsole – without the need of the Authoring Console!

By Stefan Koell on Saturday, October 09, 2010 9:12:11 AM

Since the release of CU3 for SCOM 2007 R2, users might be confused about the exact support matrix for running SCOM 2007 R2 databases on SQL Server. Since our database team is, let’s say “very responsive” and tend to install Service Packs very quickly after their release and sometimes even without notifying the service owner, this might get a bit messy with the release of SP2 for SQL 2008.

CU3 for SCOM 2007 R2, as stated here supports the following:

  • New installations of SCOM 2007 R2 with CU3 are supported to run on SQL 2008 R2
  • Existing installations of SCOM 2007 R2 without CU3 are supported to run on SQL 2008 SP1

CU3 for SCOM 2007 R2 does NOT support:

  • Existing installations of SCOM 2007 R2, even with CU3 installed, the upgrade of the SQL backend systems (OperationsManager, OperationsManagerDW and Reporting Services) from SQL 2008 to SQL 2008 R2 are NOT supported
  • It is also NOT supported to install SP2 for SQL 2008 on all the SQL backend systems!

According to MS, the support for the two missing scenarios above will come with CU4.


By Stefan Koell on Friday, August 06, 2010 4:32:07 PM

Operations Manager has some really nice reporting features. Most management packs have several predefined reports on board and even community management packs (especially those from last MP contest) have pretty cool reports on board as well. Still, sometimes there’s just not the right report available. In this case you have a couple of options, here are some popular examples:

  1. Access the data directly in the database:
  2. Creating a Custom Report for SCOM 2007 R2 with SQL 2008 reporting in Microsoft Visual Studio 2008

While those options have many advantages and gives you full control of how your report will look and feel like, it’s very time consuming and there’s also a steep learning curve involved. If you just want to get the data out of your data warehouse and sent to you by email as an excel file, it’s a lot of trouble to go through.

Another option is to use the built-in Report Builder which ships with SQL Reporting Services. I couldn’t find much information on how to use this beast with SCOM, so I decided to play around with it and blog about it.

But before we get started, we need to install the models on the reporting server. Pete posted an excellent blog post over a year ago describing how to install the models which are shipped with SCOM since SP1:

After you installed the models and assigned the right data source to them, we can get started…

The Mission:

For this demo, I show how to create a report listing all computers where the average CPU utilization over the last 7 days is below a certain value. There’s a similar report in the Virtual Machine Manager Management Pack but unfortunately the report is not designed to get scheduled because it only accepts absolute date values. So, our report here should be scheduled to run every week showing the results for the last 7 days.

Get Started:

In the reporting space you should an “Actions” item called “Design a new report” (be sure you have the Actions pane visible!):

Clicking on the above item will open the Report Builder of SQL Reporting Services. When you successfully installed the models as explained in Pete’s post, you should see the two models in the Getting Started pane:


Select the Performance model, Table layout and click on OK. On the left hand side you should now see the “Explorer” pane showing you all the entities from the model and the corresponding fields below.

Basic Report Design:

Our report should contain a column showing the computer name, one showing the average value, one for the minimum value and another one for the maximum value of the CPU utilization. In the Entities explorer select “Object” and in the fields box, drag the “Name” field to the column fields on the design surface.


After doing that, click on the “Performance Data Dailies” entry in the Entities explorer. Expand the fields “# Average Value”, “# Min Value” and “# Max Value”, like this:


Drag the child elements: “Avg Average Value”, “Min Min Value” and “Max Max Value” to the column fields area on the design surface, next to the name field. Right-click on each of the columns and uncheck the “Show Subtotal” item to get rid of the subtotal line. You can also double-click on the column headers to provide some meaningful name for each column. Your designer should look like this now:


Fine Tuning the Report Design:

Right-click on the field below the computer name column header (on the “xxxxxx” text)and select “Edit Formula…”. Let’s use the formula dialog to ensure every computer name is written in upper case:


For the average, min and max values we want to round the numbers to display only 2 digits. Open the formula dialog as before for these columns and use the ROUND function:



Click on the “Sort and Group” tool bar button to specify which column is sorted by default:


You may also check out the Report Properties available using the Report menu:



Now it’s time to pick the right data from our model. First thing to do is to limit our results to the class “Windows Computer”. To do that, select Class as entity and drag the “Class Default Name” to the right panel and select Windows Computer from the Filter List:


After that we need from the “Performance Data Daily\Performance Rule Instance\Performance Rule” entity the fields “Performance Object Name” (equals Processor) and “Performance Counter Name” (equals % Processor Time).

From “Performance Data Daily\Performance Rule Instance” entity the field “Instance Name” (equals _Total).

Then select “Performance Data Daily” from the entity box and drag the Date Time field to the right and configure it “after 7 days ago”.

Lastly, expand the # Average Value field and drag the Avg Average Value to the right, and configure it “less than or equal to 1”. Right click on the last condition and select “Prompt” from the context menu to make this value configurable. The filter should then look like this:



Now you can test and run the report from the report builder or save it directly to the reporting services instance. Use the web access to the reporting services reports to create a new folder if you wish and save your freshly compiled report to that folder. After a refresh in the Operations Console, the folder and the report will appear and is ready to run and more important: ready to schedule!


You can always re-open your reports with the Report Builder using the File – Open menu. I hope I could show you how to use the models and the reporting builder to create your own reports. If you have any feedback or improvement suggestions, let me know.

Have fun!

Stefan Koell 
Operations Manager MVP

By Stefan Koell on Sunday, July 11, 2010 8:02:17 PM

Still working hard on V2. This time I will blog about controlling Royal TS settings using Group Policies:



An ADMX file will be supplied with some predefined policies to set. So far all policies can be set on computer level and on user level. Policies configured on computer level are stronger than on the user level.

Here’s an example how to configure data base logging using group policy objects:


Royal TS will pick up the policy change and will apply them immediately:


Notice the label at the bottom indicating some settings cannot be changed because they are applied using group policies.

Here are some more settings we plan to integrate:




As always, if you have any feedback, let us know…

By Stefan Koell on Friday, July 02, 2010 10:34:22 AM

image001Yesterday I received word that I had been awarded an MVP for System Center Operations Manager.

My thanks to Microsoft and to the community for this award. I have been very active at the SystemCenterCentral forums, created a series of blog posts about creating PowerShell modules and offer a freeware tool called LogSmith which enables you to easily slice and dice collected events from OpsMgr.

I’m very excited about the next version of OpsMgr and I will try to keep up with my community work. You can soon expect a brand new version of LogSmith and I hope I can do some more step-by-step guides on my blog. So if you have any suggestions, let me know.

By Stefan Koell on Wednesday, June 16, 2010 9:59:23 AM

Very interesting article on different methods to implement a singleton pre-.NET 4 and a new way to do it with C#:

By Stefan Koell on Thursday, May 27, 2010 10:03:51 PM


Last couple of weeks were really slow. Had lot’s of troubles getting infrastructure stuff up and running. Had to get rid of my Exchange server, needed to switch to Team Foundation Server because I’m really sick of Subversion and the latest challenge was to get the Royal TS 2.0 to compile against .NET 4.0. Let me tell you, it’s not that easy as you might think!

Anyhow, I’m back on track and I think I will be able to finish the Options dialog by the end of the upcoming weekend.

2 Sections of the Options dialog are done already:

imageThe “General” Section:
”Application Start” will allow you to set one of three options which are pretty self explanatory:

  1. Do not open any documents
  2. Open documents from last session
  3. Open a selection of documents (see screenshot)

The option “Application Close” moved from the main window’s “Tools” menu to the options dialog and will prompt for confirmation before you close the application if any connection is still active.

“Theme” works pretty much the same way as before except for one small detail: changing the selection will “preview” how the theme will look like by temporarily change the theme.

Royal TS 2.0 will have some informational popup-banners which you can hide and some prompts with a checkbox option “Do not show this again”.“Reset Warnings and Messages” will reset all those dialogs and popup-banners which may annoy you.

The “Encryption” Section:

This section is exactly the same UI element you can find to encrypt and password-protect your documents. Because Royal TS 2 will allow you to store credentials in your application settings, this makes sense. The general idea is, that you do not have any credentials defined in your documents – you still can, but you should define your credentials in your application settings and just reference them in your documents. This way you do not really have to encrypt your document (again, you still can if you need to). It makes document sharing much easier. I will post a detailed blog post in a couple of weeks how document sharing and referencing credentials will work.

One important question, I would love to get your feedback:

I’m considering to reduce the priority or maybe drop one feature present in Royal TS 1.x for the first Royal TS 2.0 release: “Minimize to Systray”. It seems that Windows 7 changed the game a bit and the “Show Desktop” function and the new task bar integration seems to cause weird behavior. I originally planned to keep at least every Royal TS 1.x feature in the 2.0 release but this could delay the release date a bit and I was wondering how important that feature might be for you. Please leave a comment or drop me an email…