If you are like me you were excited to see that Technical Previews are now available for Windows 10, Windows Server and System Center (details and download links are available at http://blogs.technet.com/b/systemcenter/archive/2014/10/02/announcing-availability-of-the-system-center-technical-preview.aspx). From what I’m seeing this will be an exciting update and I expect lots of good stuff will be shown at TechEd in Europe (http://europe.msteched.com).

This blog post will focus on lessons learned to quickly get to the point that you can test the new System Center components, what’s new in Operations Manager Technical Preview.


Lessons Learned:

I’m an old-school Operations Manager guy so while there were several components available Operations Manager was the first thing I wanted to check out. The graphic below shows which components have technical preview versions (DPM, Orchestrator, Operations Manager, VMM, and Service Manager).


Upgrade? My first thought was to upgrade an existing Operations Manager 2012 R2 environment to check this out (Yes, I know, I should actually read the directions first – I’ll explain why here in a minute).

The first thing I found quickly is that the technical preview is not designed to upgrade an existing lab environment. The screenshot below shows that the existing Operations Manager environment needs to be uninstalled first (I’m sure that this is just a technical preview approach, not an expectation for what will be available in the production release).

After removing OpsMgr I next found that it would not install due to in incorrect version of SQL server. The Technical Preview requires both Windows Server Technical Preview and SQL server 2014. From http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/dn806369.aspx: "System requirements: To evaluate System Center Technical Preview, you need to be running Windows Server® Technical Preview and Microsoft SQL Server 2014"

This was also discussed at http://blogs.technet.com/b/systemcenter/archive/2014/10/02/announcing-availability-of-the-system-center-technical-preview.aspx. "Please note that to evaluate System Center Technical Preview, you need to be running Windows Server Technical Preview and Microsoft SQL Server 2014."


Building an All-In-One VM:

Historically to test Operations Manager upcoming release I would build out an All-In-One environment (Domain controller, SQL, Operations Manager, etc). Details on this are available at: https://www.catapultsystems.com/cfuller/archive/2013/06/26/installing-an-all-in-one-system-center-operations-manager-2012-r2-preview-release-on-windows-server-2012-r2-preview-release-scom-sysctr.aspx.


For this installation we are building up a new virtual.

[NOTE: For a quicker way to do this I recommend using Azure and choosing the pre-existing image from the galley as shown below. This approach provides a quicker way to get a Windows Server Technical Preview version online and if your lab is like my lab, it’s probably much faster running on Azure than it is within a lab environment.]

Installation of the Windows Server Technical Preview worked very much like installation of Windows 2012 R2, for my installation I chose the Server with a GUI option.

The next step was to promote the server to be a domain controller (again this is just for an All-In-One configuration). After successful installation as a domain controller, the next step was to install Microsoft SQL Server 2014 evaluation edition.

NOTE: For my lab, it was critical to provide a real domain account for the SQL services which would allow it versus using the default accounts provided. In my lab the SQL installation failed repeatedly unless I provided domain credentials for the SQL Server service and other services to run with.

After the pre-requisites are in place (including roles and features required like IIS), the next step is to extract the Technical Preview edition for local installation as shown below.

If you run into the following error use: http://support2.microsoft.com/kb/2736284

dism /online /enable-feature /featurename:IIS-ASPNET45v

For my environment I also needed to do an iirseset and then close and re-open the Operations Manager installation process. When all is said and done, the installation process is remarkably similar to Operations Manager 2012 R2 and installed without issue.


What’s new in Operations Manager Technical Preview?

I spent some time comparing the Operations Manager Technical Preview with Operations Manager 2012 R2 and found the following differences:

User Interface:

Version: The production version (help about) shows as 7.2.10015.0 as shown below.

Widgets: There were also two widgets which appear to have been renamed:

The "Contextual Monitors Widget" – was the "Contextual Health Widget".

The "Monitors Widget" – was the "Object Health Widget"


Management Pack version differences?

A quick check of PowerShell cmdlets for System Center (get-scommanagementpack | select Name, Version) indicates that there are approximately 70 management packs which have been updated as part of the Technical Preview (version 7.2.10015.0 or 7.2.10015.1). This implies that core functions covered by these management packs may have been updated since the Operations Manager 2012 R2 release.


Advisor differences?

I did not identify any differences in how Advisor functions between Operations Manager 2012 R2 and the Operations Manager Technical Preview.


Web console differences?

I did not identify any differences in the web console between Operations Manager 2012 R2 and the Operations Manager Technical Preview.


Service Names?

I did not identify any differences in the names of the three Windows Services between Operations Manager 2012 R2 and the Operations Manager Technical Preview.


PowerShell cmdlets?

A quick check of PowerShell cmdlets for System Center (help *-SC*) did not identify any differences in the PowerShell cmdlets available between Operations Manager 2012 R2 and Operations Manager Technical Preview.


Operations Manager DLL’s

Operations Manager DLL’s appear to be the same between the two versions.

SCOM 2012 R2:


SCOM v.Next Technical Preview:



SDK Connectivity Test

Connecting to the Management Group using the SDK, the number of members is also the same between versions (as expected because the assemblies are the same):

2012 R2:


SCOM v.Next Technical Preview:



New Functionality:

This version adds support for Windows Server Technical Preview (the management pack is included in the installation media for Operations Manager Technical Preview). The screenshot below shows the Server Technical Preview in a monitored state for the Operating System.

A first glance at the health explorer indicates that the Health model is fully in place:

And Operating System performance counters are appearing as expected:


I expect that there are also other bug fixes and enhancements (both in the Technical Preview and in the final released version) that I have not identified.



Installation: To install System Center Operations Manager Technical Preview requires Windows Server Technical Preview and Microsoft SQL Server 2014. An upgrade from Operations Manager 2012 R2 is not currently allowed. For quickest ways to test this, I highly recommend using the existing Windows Server Technical Preview image provided within Azure (a link to the Microsoft Azure gallery is provided in John Savill’s article at http://windowsitpro.com/system-center/downloads-and-azure-images-system-center-and-windows-server-technical-previews-now-liv).

Features: The focus of the new functionality in the Operations Manager Technical Preview appears to be focused on making sure that when Windows Server Technical Preview releases that it will be able to be fully monitored by Operations Manager. It’s good to see these teams working together so that when the new Operating System launches it will be able to be monitored effectively when it has been released.

Thank you to Tao Yang for his review of this blog post and additions I included within the Operations Manager DLL’s and SDK Connectivity Test sections of this blog post!