Tuesday, February 5, 2013

System Center 2012 (DPM) Certification

It is no longer possible to get certified on Data Protection Manager only. Actually the same applies to Operations Manager. Both products (and many more) are now part of the Private cloud certifications. The Private Cloud exams cover all the System Center 2012 private cloud components (except for Configuration Manager)

  • Data Protection Manager
  • Operations Manager
  • App controller
  • Virtual machine Manager
  • Orchestrator

So a lot more stuff to cover in only two exams. In my experience this means less in-depth knowledge about the individual products and more  focus on how the components work together (in a private cloud). But still a very interesting path to go.

The certification process is made up two parts. The first part is the MCSA (2008 or 2012) as a base level of knowledge. If you have achieved this certification, there are two exams that you separate the MCSE Private Cloud certification.


Exam 70-247 - Configuring and Deploying a Private Cloud with System Center 2012.
Audience Profile:  “Candidates for this exam use System Center 2012 products to install and configure a private cloud solution. They design, configure, and deploy the underlying infrastructure fabric of networking, storage, and compute resources. They standardize and automate configuration and deployment of applications. Candidates for this exam have Windows Server, Active Directory, System Center 2012, security, high availability, fault tolerance, and networking experience in an enterprise environment, basic Microsoft SQL Server and Windows PowerShell knowledge, and application configuration experience. Candidates are also familiar with ITIL and MOF concepts.”

Exam 70-246:  Monitoring and Operating a Private Cloud with System Center 2012
Audience Profile:  “Candidates for this exam have Windows Server, System Center 2012, security, high-availability, fault tolerance, and networking experience in an enterprise environment, candidates should also have basic Microsoft SQL Server and Windows PowerShell knowledge, and application configuration experience. Candidates are also familiar with ITIL and MOF concepts. These candidates might be the Active Directory Administrator, Virtualization Administrator, Enterprise Administrator, or System Center Administrator for their organizations.”

Trainings and study material
There are two official Microsoft trainings available one for each exam (M10750, M10751). Both trainings take 5 days (total of 10 days). These training are a good way to get going with the certification. But also without these courses there is a lot of information available for free on the web,

Study material 070-247
The Microsoft Exam guide is the official exam guides which contains a variety of resources to help you prepare for the exam
Keith Mayer created an alternative Prep guide with many useful information sources helping you to prepare for the exam.
The Microsoft Virtual Academy is another useful resource MVA provides its users with a virtual university experience.  Students on MVA can get access to information and training on the latest Microsoft technologies. Learning through MVA is free of charge, and you can study any time at your own place.

Study material 070-246
The Microsoft Exam guide is the official exam guides which contains a variety of resources to help you prepare for the exam
Keith Mayer created an alternative Prep guide with many useful information sources helping you to prepare for the exam.
The Microsoft Virtual Academy is another useful resource.

Other resources

Of course, it is most important of all to have a practical hands-on knowledge of System Center 2012. Download the System Center 2012 (SP1) VHD’s. This download consists of files that you extract into a single pre-configured VHD file for this System Center component. The VHD enables you to create a virtual machine to evaluate the different System Center components.
Operations ManagerApp controller, Data Protection Manager, Orchestrator, Service Manager, Virtual Machine Manager

Guided Laps
Active guided lab that will help you evaluate the Microsoft private cloud core capabilities of Infrastructure Management, Service Delivery & Automation, and Application Management,
Lab 1: Provide Resources through self-service requests
Lab 2: Drive consistent service delivery
Lab 3: Provision additional cloud infrastructure
Lab 4: Delegate cloud resources
Lab 5: Create consistency through service templates
Lab 6: Perform a standardized application deployment to test
Lab 7: Stage application resources
Lab 8: Self-service deployment of an application to a production environment
Lab 9: Gain insight and visibility through reporting
Lab 10: Monitor infrastructure

Lab 11: Taking corrective actions in the infrastructure

Lab 12: Reduce time to resolution with application performance monitoring

Lab 13: Deploy an update to service instance

Lab 14: Explore creating dashboards

Second Shot
If you plan to do the exams, then I suggest you register for the Second Shot option. Passing the exams needed to demonstrate those skills can be tough, but for a limited time, you’ll get a free second chance to succeed. You can register here.

I’ll not recommend this cortication process for people that only work with Data Protection Manager, because only a small part of the Private Cloud exams are focusing on DPM. But again in many cases you will use multiple System Center components, then this exam will help you to understand how these components work better together.

More info: Born to learn, KemSim

Monday, February 4, 2013

DPMRA not starting on the DPM Server

The following issue I encountered in our own DPM environment.

When checking the DPM console we found that all jobs were stuck. During investigation we found that the the DPMRA service on the DPM server keeps failing to start.The event log shows countless number of the following errors.

Log Name:      System
Source:        Service Control Manager
Event ID:      7009
Task Category: None
Level:         Error
Keywords:      Classic
Description: A timeout was reached (30000 milliseconds) while waiting for the DPMRA service to connect.

Log Name: System
Source: Application Popup
Event ID: 26
Task Category: None
Level: Informatio
Keywords: Classic
Description: Application popup: DPMRA.exe - Application Error : The exception unknown software exception (0x8007000e) occurred in the application at location 0xfd74bccd

There are no other event in the eventlog that indicate why the DPMRA service keeps failing. The DPMRA1.errlog logs gives us a better indication of the root cause.

2430 28D4 02/04 09:31:11.131 03 agentcfg.cpp(475) [0000000000A5CC20] NORMAL Cound not find configuration for DPMRA

2430 28D4 02/04 09:31:11.131 29 dpmra.cpp(125) [0000000000A594D0] NORMAL CDPMRA: destructor [0000000000A594D0]

With help of this Technet forum post we found that this error indicates that one of the registry keys for DPM is missing.

did a procmon trace, and found that the registry key HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Microsoft Data Protection Manager\Agent\2.0\Configuration is missing ! Which would co-incide with the agent saying "Element not found"

We checked the registry and the key is indeed missing. As shown in the image below.


This is a complex key with a lot of unique information, therefor the best way to fix this issue is by restoring the key. In our case we have a System State back-up available of the server (created at the time the server was working fine).

The steps below show you how to restore the registry key from a System state back-up (VHD). This procedure uses Windows 2008 R2 server. Other OS versions involve different steps

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Windows 2012 Hyper-V VMs enters a paused state or a CSV volume goes offline during back-up

A serious issue when backing up CSV 2.0 volumes. Host-based backups could bring down most of the VMs on the cluster. This can be a serious show stopper if you plan to migrate to Windows 2012 Hyper-V

When creating a back-up of a Windows 2012 Hyper-V CSV  volume you might get the following error in your cluster log.

Event id: 5120
Cluster Shared Volume xxxx is no longer available on this node because of 'STATUS_CLUSTER_CSV_AUTO_PAUSE_ERROR(c0130021)'. All I/O will temporarily be queued until a path to the volume is reestablished.
  • You enable the Cluster Shared Volumes (CSV) feature on a Windows Server 2012-based failover cluster.
  • You create a virtual machine on a CSV volume on a cluster node.
  • You start the virtual machine.
  • You try to create a backup of the virtual machine on the CSV volume by using Microsoft System Center Data Protection Manager (DPM).
In this scenario, one of the following issues occurs:
  • The backup is created, and the virtual machine enters a paused state.
  • The CSV volume goes offline. Therefore, the virtual machine goes offline, and the backup is not created.
  • VMs stop responding while the backups runs

There is a hotfix available from Microsoft unfortunately it looks like this doesn’t solve the issue. In addition after applying this hotfix there seemed to be a severe memory leak on the node storage owner.

More info and a workaround available on the Technet Forum thread.

More information also available the Microsoft support article: Issues that occur after you deploy System Center 2012 DPM SP1.

Monday, January 28, 2013

The DPM 2012 database grows and the console crashes after installing Update Rollup 3


After installing Update Rollup 3 for System Center 2012 Data Protection Manager you notice that the DPM database grows and eventually the DPM console will crash.

On one of the days when this didn't happen, the dpm system becomes unresponsive around 2-3am and all the jobs just pile up. By restarting the server or killing the DPM service will correct the blockage and as above the Sharepoint catalogue fails to complete. If I run the powershell to create the Catalogue nanually, the server again becomes unresponsive. This has all happen after Rollup 3 was installed. It is very clear that when DPM runs the Sharepoint Catalogue job, something starts to go wrong.

This is fixed in SP1 but there’s an alternate workaround here:

KB2809773 - The Data Protection Manager database grows and the console crashes after installing Update Rollup 3 (http://support.microsoft.com/kb/2809773)

forum link

Friday, January 25, 2013

Update Rollup 1 for System Center 2012 (DPM) Service Pack 1


Here is what is fixed in this roll-up release

Issue 1
Client backups fail when there is a case difference between the client computer name on the computer and the client computer name that is stored in Active Directory.
Issue 2
The Administrator Console may stop working when a user starts the Create Protection Group Wizard on a non-English or a non-Russian version of Data Protection Manager.
Issue 3
The Agent Management Wizard may stop working on the Spanish version of Data Protection Manager.

Data Protection Manager (KB2802095)

Thursday, January 24, 2013

System Center Data Protection Manager CSV Serialization Tool

This tool is mostly interesting for people trying to back-up Windows 2008 R2 CSV.

The back-up of Windows Server 2008 R2 CSV van be tricky. It is recommended to use a hardware snapshot provider. If there is no hardware provider available then you need to switch to serial CSV back-ups.

This process creates an XML file that is read by DPM.  This works well when you have only a couple of Hyper-V servers to manage.  But what if you had lots of clusters backed up by a single DPM server?  With the current approach, if there are multiple clusters managed by DPM, the user needs to run DSConfig.ps1 on one node of each cluster and then XMLs of each cluster needs to be merged and replace the DataSources.xml

Microsoft has released the System Center Data Protection Manager CSV Serialization Tool to help you in this scenario.  This tool is intended to be used when backing up Windows Server 2008 R2 Hyper-V clusters with one or more CSVs using DPM 2010 with QFE 3 and above or DPM 2012.

Read more at Aidan Finn, IT Pro

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

System Center 2012 SP1 DPM documentation

The following documentation is available for the new release of Data Protection Manager.

Title Size Link
SC2012_DPM_Cmdlets.doc 3.6 MB DOWNLOAD
SC2012_DPM_Cmdlets.pdf 3.6 MB DOWNLOAD
SC2012_DPM_CompleteDocumentation.docx 1.2 MB DOWNLOAD
SC2012_DPM_CompleteDocumentation.pdf 5.7 MB DOWNLOAD
SC2012_DPM_Deployment.docx 155 KB DOWNLOAD
SC2012_DPM_Deployment.pdf 778 KB DOWNLOAD
SC2012_DPM_GettingStarted.docx 134 KB DOWNLOAD
SC2012_DPM_GettingStarted.pdf 407 KB DOWNLOAD
SC2012_DPM_Operations.docx 929 KB DOWNLOAD
SC2012_DPM_Operations.pdf 4.4 MB DOWNLOAD
SC2012_DPM_Planning.docx 181 KB DOWNLOAD
SC2012_DPM_Planning.pdf 810 KB DOWNLOAD
SC2012_DPM_Troubleshoot.docx 475 KB DOWNLOAD
SC2012_DPM_Troubleshoot.pdf 5.2 MB DOWNLOAD

Plenty to read for some hours…