Tag Archives: MimboloveSquaredUp

Squared Up Upcoming V3 Dashboard with Distributed Application Discovery Feature

Written by Tao Yang

Squared Up is set to release the version 3 of their dashboard next week at Ignite North America. One of the key features in the v3 release is called the “Visual Application Discovery & Analysis” (aka VADA).

VADA utilise OpsMgr agent tasks and netstat.exe command to discover the other TCP/IP endpoints the agents are communicating to. You can learn more about this feature from a short YouTube video Squared Up has published recently: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DJK_3SritwY

I was given a trail copy of v3 for my lab. After I’ve installed it and imported the required management pack, I was able to start discovering the endpoints that are communicating to my OpsMgr agents in the matter of few clicks:

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As we all know, natively, OpsMgr is lacking the capability of automatically Distributed Application discovery, customers used to integrate 3rd party applications such as BlueStripe FactFinder with OpsMgr for this capability. However, now that BlueStripe has been acquired by Microsoft and it’s being fitted under the OMS banner as the Application Dependency Monitor solution (ADM), customers can no longer purchase it for OpsMgr. It is good to see that Squared Up has released something with similar capabilities because at this very moment, it seems to be a gap in the OpsMgr space.

Having said that, I don’t think the OMS ADM solution is too far away from the public preview release.

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One of the biggest differences I can see (after spending couple of hours on Squared Up V3), is that Squared Up VADA collects ad-hoc data at the time VADA is launched (which triggers the agent ask), whereas OMS ADM has it’s own agents and it is collecting data continuously.

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Additionally, looks like Squared Up VADA only supports Windows agents at this stage and OMS ADM will also support Linux agents.

At this stage, since we don’t know  if BlueStripe will be made available to OpsMgr in the future, and Squared Up is releasing this awesome addition to their already-popular OpsMgr web console / dashboard product, why not give it a try and see what you can produce? I guess since the data collection is ad-hoc, it will make more sense to start the discovery in VADA during peak hours when the system is fully loaded and each components are actively communicating to each other, so you don’t miss any components.

Lastly, if you are going to attend Ignite NA next week and want to learn more about this new feature in Squared Up V3, please make sure you go find them at their booth.

Recordings Available for the VSAE MP Authoring Webinar with Squared Up

Written by Tao Yang

Last night, I conducted 2 webinars with Richard Benwell of Squared Up on MP Authoring. I recorded both sessions from my computer using Camtasia, and now the recordings for both sessions are now available on Squared Up’s YouTube channel:

First Session: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oH035DgbUSQ

Second Session: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xu3yRE770QA

Lastly, the workshop guide, slide deck and the sample VSAE project is also available on GitHub:

https://github.com/tyconsulting/SquaredUp-VSAE-Workshop

Squared Up Released version 2.3

Written by Tao Yang

Few weeks ago, the Squared Up folks sent me the preview bits for version 2.3. I haven’t had time to play with it until today.

There have already been few posts about v2.3, i.e. the post by Squared Up, and the post by my friend and CDM MVP Daniele Grandini.

When I was reading the feature intro that Squared Up sent me, the one feature that really stood out for me was the Open Access Dashboards. You can read the feature description from Squared Up’s post here.

So basically, once you’ve made necessary configurations to support this feature and enabled Open Access on a dashboard, the IIS that’s hosting Squared Up would generate an image of the specific dashboard (in .png format), which you can open in any browsers without having to login to Squared Up. This image will be regenerated every 60 seconds, and the URL to this image uses a randomly generated GUID (in order to hide the URL of the full blown version of the dashboard).

SQUPOpenAccessIn the past, I’ve worked in environments where people had to create a read-only operator in OpsMgr for having Squared Up dashboards on big LCD screens on the wall. It is an admin overhead to manage this account and the password, not to mention that I’ve also seen it many times that when managers walk past, the dashboard is sitting at the login screen on the wall LCD screens because the session was expired. It doesn’t make the team look good Sad smile.

The Open Access dashboards addressed these issues, it would be a great feature for those who uses Squared Up on big screens hanging on the wall.

So if you haven’t upgraded your Squared Up instance to v2.3, I strongly recommend you to take a look at this great feature and start planning your upgrade Smile.

A Sneak Peek at Squared Up’s Upcoming OMS Plugin

Written by Tao Yang

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If you are an existing Squared Up customer, or have previously evaluated Squared Up’s product, you’d probably already know that currently, other than the existing SQL Plugin, Squared Up dashboards retrieve data via either OpsMgr Data Warehouse (DW) DB, or via OpsMgr SDK.

With the recent launch of Microsoft Operations Management Suite (OMS), over the last few months, folks at Squared Up have been busy developing a plug-in within Squared Up to display data within OMS. Although Squared Up has not set a release date for this plugin yet, I would like to give you a high level preview on what the OMS plug-in looks like so you know what you are expecting Smile.

Squared Up OMS Plug-in

Squared Up’s OMS Plug-in is designed to enable customers display the data collected by OMS on the Squared Up dashboards. It leverages the OMS Search API and allows users to specify the OMS search query within the plugin, and the search result returned from OMS will be displayed on the dashboard.

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As you can see, you can simply use the exact same query you’ve used in OMS and copy/paste to the OMS plug-in configuration. You can also use “|” (pipe) followed by the “Select” command to specify the fields that you are interested in displaying on the dashboard.

Since OMS is collecting data that is not natively available in OpsMgr (such as Change Tracking data, Wired Data, etc.) , you can really extend your existing Squared Up investment with this plugin. For example, I have produced a dashboard using the OMS plug-in in my lab (as shown below):

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In this dashboard, I have configured the following sections:

  • Windows Services Changes For the Last 6 Hours
    • Data type: ConfigurationChange
    • OMS Solution: Change Tracking
  • Software Changes For the Last 1 Day
    • Data type: ConfigurationChange
    • OMS Solution: Change Tracking
  • Top Offenders in OpsMgr (Nosiest monitoring objects)
    • Data type: Alert
    • OMS Solution: Alert Management
  • Hyper-V Host Available Memory
    • Data type: PerfHoulry
    • OMS Solution: Capacity Planning
  • Wired Data Traffic by Process
    • Data type: WiredData
    • OMS Solution: Wired Data

Without the OMS plugin, some of above listed data will not be available in Squared Up dashboards (such as change tracking data and wired data), some could be retrieved only via complex SQL queries (such as top OpsMgr offenders). Take Top OpsMgr offenders as example again, it is super easy to find out who are the OpsMgr top offenders in OMS, by using a very simple query: “Type=Alert AlertState=New TimeGenerated>NOW-24HOURS | measure count() by SourceFullName”.

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Interested in the OMS Plug-in?

Currently the version running in my lab environment is the “limited release technical preview”. This plug-in will also be demonstrated in the upcoming events such as MMS.

Are you also interested in trying the Squared Up Plug-in yourself? Although Squared Up has not confirmed the release date for this plug-in, they have asked me to let everyone know that if you’d like to test and provide feedback, please contact Squared Up directly. You can find their contact details from their website: https://squaredup.com/contact/

Displaying OpsMgr Events Data in Squared Up Dashboards

Written by Tao Yang

For those who’s been using Squared Up dashboards for your OpsMgr environments, you’d probably know that currently Squared Up does not have a plug-in for OpsMgr event data, thus you cannot display event data collected by OpsMgr on a Squared Up dashboard natively.

However, since Squared Up does have a SQL plugin and the OpsMgr event data is stored in OpsMgr databases, I’d like to show you a way of displaying event data using the SQL Plugin today.

When developing event collection rules for an OpsMgr management pack, MP developers generally would configure the collection rule to store the collected event in both operational DB (OperationsManager) and the Data Warehouse DB (OperationsManagerDW).

So why storing the data in 2 different databases? As you may know, in the native OpsMgr console, all the event views are accessing the event data from the operational DB, but when you are using reports to retrieve event data, most likely you are accessing the data from the DW DB. Another difference is, the retention period in Operational DB is a lot shorter than the Data Warehouse DB. For example the data retention period for event data is 7 days in Operational DB and 100 days in the DW DB.

With the Squared Up SQL Plugin, there’s a variable you can use for referencing the Data Warehouse DB (global:dw). I have developed couple of similar SQL query that you can run against the DW DB to retrieve event data:

Get the 30 most recent events logged with a specific source (publisher):

Get all events with a specific Event Number:

Note: For these 2 queries, you will need to place the event publisher name and event ID into the queries accordingly.

As an example, I have created a Squared Up dashboard for Forefront Endpoint Protection (FEP) MP, where I used the SQL plugin to retrieve the recent 30 security events logged by the MP:

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The result displayed by the SQL query matches the Event view shipped with the FEP MP:

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and I have used the Data Warehouse DB variable in the SQL plugin configuration:

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You can download this dashboard from Squared Up’s community site: https://community.squaredup.com/browse/download-info/forefront-endpoint-protection-2/

Lastly, please always test and tweak to query to need your requirements in SQL Management Studio first.

Squared Up Dashboards Community

Written by Tao Yang

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Squared Up has recently established a brand new web site: https://community.squaredup.com. This is where everyone in the community is able to share Squared Up dashboards. So, it’s pretty similar to TechNet Gallery, but only for Squared Up dashboards.

So far, I have produced dashboards for all products in the System Center 2012 (R2)suite. I am planning to share few more dashboards via this site, but for now, I’d like to show you what I have shared so far, and what other awesome dashboards a currently available for download.

My System Center 2012 R2 Suite Dashboards

ConfigMgr 2012 (R2)

Download from: https://community.squaredup.com/browse/download-info/configmgr-2012/

SCVMM 2012 R2

Download from: https://community.squaredup.com/browse/download-info/scvmm-2012-r2/

SCSM 2012 R2

Download from: https://community.squaredup.com/browse/download-info/service-manager-2012-r2/

Orchestrator 2012 R2 (Microsoft Official MP Only)

Download from: https://community.squaredup.com/browse/download-info/orchestrator-2012-r2/

Orchestrator 2012 R2 (Official MP + MPAuthor’s Orchestrator MP)

Download from: https://community.squaredup.com/browse/download-info/scorch-2012-r2-combined/

Note:

This dashboard requires the modified version of MPAuthor’s Orchestrator MP, which can be found from this blog: http://blog.tyang.org/2015/09/14/updated-mp-authors-system-center-2012-orchestrator-management-pack/

SMA 2012 R2

Download from: https://community.squaredup.com/browse/download-info/sma-2012-r2/

Windows Azure Pack (Microsoft Official MP)

Download from: https://community.squaredup.com/browse/download-info/windows-azure-pack-msft/

Windows Azure Pack (Based on Oskar Landman’s WAP MP V2)

Download from: https://community.squaredup.com/browse/download-info/wap-community/

Note:

The screenshot provided does not contain any subscription perf data because I do not have any subscriptions created in my lab environment. However, the author of this MP, Oskar Landman has verified this dashboard against his environment, and confirmed the performance plugin is configured correctly.

OpsMgr Self Maintenance (Based on OpsMgr Self Maintenance MP 2.5.0.1)

Download from: https://community.squaredup.com/browse/download-info/opsmgr-self-maintenance/

Other Awesome Dashboards

In addition to the dashboards I’ve created for the System Center 2012 R2 suite, there are also other awesome dashboards that I think you should take a look:

Office 365 (Created by myself)

Download from: https://community.squaredup.com/browse/download-info/office-365/

Veeam Hyper-V (Created by Steve Turnbull)

Download from: https://community.squaredup.com/browse/download-info/veeam-hyper-v/

OpsLogix Oracle (Created by Arjan Vroege)

Download from: https://community.squaredup.com/browse/download-info/opslogix-oracle-dashboard/

Capacity Usage (Created by Dieter Wijckmans)

Download from: https://community.squaredup.com/browse/download-info/capacity-usage-8/

SharePoint 2013 (Created by myself)

Download from: https://community.squaredup.com/browse/download-info/sharepoint-2013/

OpsMgr Community Dashboard (Created by Martin Nygaard Ehrnst)

Download from: https://community.squaredup.com/browse/download-info/opsmgr/

About Squared Up Community Dashboards

Please visit https://squaredup.com/community/ If you’d like to learn more about Squared Up’s Community Dashboards initiative. It is really easy to export your dashboards and share with the community. We will sanity check all dashboards submission before publishing it to the public, this is to ensure no sensitive information about your environment is shared with the public.

Squared Up Hit The Road

Written by Tao Yang

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Recently Squared Up has announced they will be travelling around Europe to meet their customers in person: https://squaredup.com/squared-up-hit-the-road/

The road trip is going to start in less than 2 weeks, the first stop will be Utrecht, Netherlands. If you are in the area, and would like to learn more about Squared Up dashboard for OpsMgr, please register and reserve your spot now at: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/system-center-community-event-tickets-18451967331

Squared Up will provide food and drinks, and I’m sure it will be a lot of fun.

After the Netherlands event, the second stop would be Gothenburg, Sweden on 7th October for Approved Consulting’s SCOM day – http://www.approved.se/lasning/nyheter/item/57-scom-dagen-7-oktober-2015.

So, if you are interested to meet Squared Up in person, and learn more about what’s in their pipeline, don’t miss these events!

OpsMgr Alert Console Task For Squared Up

Written by Tao Yang

I have just created 2 alert console tasks in OpsMgr for Squared Up:

  • View Alert in Squared Up
  • View Alert Source Object in Squared Up

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These 2 tasks will open the selected alert and alert source object in Squared Up  respectively using your default browser:

Squared Up Alert View:

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Squared Up Monitoring Object view (Alert Source Object):

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the management pack containing these 2 tasks can be downloaded at the end of this article. In order to use this MP, you will need to modify 2 lines:

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You need to open the unsealed MP (xml) in a text editor (such as Notepad++), and modify line 29 and 38 (as shown above). Please replace “http://Your-SquaredUp-URL” with the Squared Up URL in your environment. i.e.

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You can download this MP from the link below:

Squared Up Dashboard Community Initiative

Written by Tao Yang

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It has been over 3 months since I started working for Squared Up. If you ask me my impression about Squared Up, I believe they truly care about the System Center community. Over the last few months, the folks at Squared Up have been working on an initiative to create a community dashboard repository, where everyone can submit and share their Squared Up dashboards with the broader community.

With the recent release of Squared Up version 2.1.11, exporting and importing dashboards have been made incredibly easy. I have made a short demo video and uploaded to YouTube:

Or watch it on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NYDqSWbA2E0

As you can see, it is now really easy to export and import dashboards within Squared Up. Mr. Richard South from Squared Up has also asked me to share an Squared Up community news letter with readers of my blog:


Subject: Community Dashboards – New Features

Hi Tao

We have a couple of updates on our Community Dashboards project that I wanted to quickly share with you.

The main one is that we’ve just released a new version of the product which includes the ability to Export your dashboards and also to Import template dashboards (v2.1.11)

This should make it incredibly easy for you to submit dashboards, which you can send to community@squaredup.com, together with screenshots.

If you’d like get up and running with v2.1.11, without necessarily having to upgrade a production instance of Squared Up, we’d suggest simply applying for a 30 day trial online and you’ll be sent everything you need – http://squaredup.com/free-trial/download-30-day-free-trial/

If you have any questions in this respect, do please let me know.

We’ve also produced a launch page, including FAQs, at https://squaredup.com/community and put together a short video showing this new functionality in action – http://youtu.be/72HeYi9CvFc – as well as a longer one to discuss the project in more depth (although you’re up to speed with most of the information in that already)http://youtu.be/tRn1LnqQ2FY

So, that means the process for submitting is now as simple as;

  • Build dashboard (nb – don’t use SQL or iframe plugin)
  • Make private *
  • Take screenshots
  • One-Click Export
  • Send the ZIP + screenshots to community@squaredup.com
  • Win a Lego Death Star (hopefully…)

 

* You may want to ensure that there’s no private information available in any images or Visio SVGs used within your dashboards or in the dashboard title or sub-titles

Remember, we’re counting on you to get your dashboard submissions in by the beginning of next week in time for our preview launch at SCU Europe

As ever, many thanks for being part of this, feel free to drop me a line with any questions and have a great weekend

Cheers

Richard

Richard South | Squared Up Ltd


Now with the SCU Europe is taking place over in Basel, Switzerland this week, Squared Up has 2 sessions:

 

  • Whisky Tasting (and insider info…) with Squared Up (25th August, 17:15)
  • Revolutionise SCOM with Squared Up (26th August, 12:00pm)

 

Please stay tuned, there might be something exciting to be announced!

There are many ways to get involved in the System Center community, such as blogging, podcasting, sharing code on TechNet / GitHub / CodePlex, etc.

During a catch up call with Squared Up last week, Richard explained to me that they are essentially providing an additional channel for people to contribute and get involved in the community, because at the end of the day, not everyone blogs or write code. contributing an existing dashboard can be very quick and easy, it doesn’t take too much effort at all!

So, if you have designed an awesome Squared Up dashboard for a particular application and you would like to share it with the community, I encourage to take this opportunity and start sharing! As Squared Up Pointed out to me, their goal is for people to:

Use –> Share –>Improve

Squared Up Online Demo Lab Updated

Written by Tao Yang

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Squared Up has recently updated their online demo lab, with some new dashboards and features to show case:

http://squaredup.com/revamped-online-demo-lab/

In addition, they have made this demo lab open access to everyone, meaning you don’t need to register and provide any details in order to access it if you don’t want to. As they explained to me:

We are well aware that the daily lives of IT engineers are blighted by the sales teams of highly aggressive vendors who leap on any casual interest and deluge them with calls and emails. That’s why we put all our pricing online, so there’s no mystery and absolutely no need to talk to sales guys unless you actually want to.

So, if you haven’t used or played with Squared Up dashboards, you can access their demo lab by simply going to this address:

http://demo.squaredup.com/squaredup