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  • Blog Post: SQL Sequel: More Useful Orchestrator Database Queries

    In the last article, I showed how you can run a few SQL queries to find some detailed information about IPs, runbooks and activities and their relationships in the database. In this article, I’ll focus more on running runbooks (Jobs). To start with, here’s a diagram of the relationships of the tables...
  • Blog Post: Quick Tip: Understanding Multi-Value Data and the Databus

    I saw a question in the forums around multi-value data and how someone could pass multi-value data in to a runbook via the Initialize Data activity. I was going to answer the question there but thought it would be better to post an article to reach a broader audience. When dealing with published data...
  • Blog Post: System Center 2012 Orchestrator – Test & Start RunBooks

    Here is part 3 of Anil Erduran’s series on RunBooks in Orchestrator 2012. This part walks you through how to test, save and run your existing RunBooks: System Center Orchestrator 2012 – Test & Start RunBooks : http://blogs.technet.com/b/meamcs/archive/2012/03/14/system-center-orchestrator-2012-test...
  • Blog Post: Orchestrator Quick Tip: What’s the Maximum Size of Parameters?

    I see this question on internal discussions list every now and then, so I thought I'd answer it here to be helpful. The question was: Is there a maximum length for string parameters in the Initialize Data activity? And if the answer is “yes” – what would the maximum length for string parameters be? Let...
  • Blog Post: Cool Tool: New Command Line Utility to Start a Runbook

    I was talking with one of the other Program Managers on the team the other day about how he wanted to be able to launch a runbook as part of a remediation task in Operations Manager, and how it would be great if he has some command-line utility that would enable him to do that quickly via a simple command...
  • Blog Post: Implementing Your Own Runbook Input Parameter Validation Checking

    Using the “Initialize Data” activity at the beginning of a runbook allows you to provide input parameters to any runbook. This greatly enhances the flexibility of a runbook by allowing it to be called by another runbook or via the web service, and the input parameters supplied to vary the data being...
  • Blog Post: Service Provider Foundation is Alive & Well in System Center 2012 SP1 Beta

    To answer a question I've been getting a lot lately: yes, Service Provider Foundation (SPF) is still a part of System Center 2012 SP1. The reason the question is coming up so much is that SPF moved in terms of packaging. Up to and including the CTP2 release SPF was discoverable on release media at peer...
  • Blog Post: Getting Deeper Information from Orchestrator via COM, part 3

    Before I start, here are links to the previous parts of this series: Getting Deeper Information from Orchestrator via COM Getting Deeper Information from orchestrator via COM, part 2 In the last two posts, I showed how to connect to the COM interface for Orchestrator and how to use it to get various...
  • Blog Post: Speeding up Runbooks by Improving Activity Loading Speed

    Even on the product team, there is a lot of information we don’t see that gets published about the product. Other arms of Microsoft like Customer Support are continually listening to customers and feed bugs and change requests to the product team, but they also publish KB articles and helpful tips about...
  • Blog Post: Evaluating the Reach and Scale of Opalis Runbooks

    Adam Hall just announced a couple new articles that were published on Opalis and the next version of Opalis, Orchestrator: We have published two new articles that discuss how to evaluate the Reach and Scale of Opalis. These articles and associated Runbooks were created and tested in Opalis, and they...
  • Blog Post: System Center 2012 Orchestrator – RunBook Basics

    I was browsing through all of the great new articles over on our TechNet Wiki and came across this one that I thought you might like. It’s written by Microsoft’s own Anil Erduran and it discusses the concept of RunBooks in Orchestrator 2012.  It also sounds like he has plans to write a few more...
  • Blog Post: Running the Runbook Tester as Another User

    One of the threads I’ve seen going around the Orchestrator discussion list recently is how to run the Runbook Tester as another user. The Runbook Tester is launched from the Runbook Designer and automatically loads the runbook currently being edited. The Tester is launched in the user context of the...
  • Blog Post: Creating Single-Instance Runbooks without Queuing

    One of the cool things about Orchestrator is that it can automatically handle multiple-instance threading of runbooks or queue them up depending on your need. For instance, you may have a runbook that processes new users to be added to Active Directory, and for a large company, you might have several...
  • Blog Post: Creating and Using Local Variables in a Runbook

    One of the features in Orchestrator is “Variables”. These are globally-available, statically-defined values (hence the running joke that they’re not actually “variables”, they’re “constants”). They provide a good way to define values that you re-use over and over throughout a number of activities and...
  • Blog Post: Finding Out “How Did I Get Here?” in a Runbook

    I recently saw a new feature suggestion in the Orchestrator feedback on Connect and I realized that we can actually accomplish the requested functionality today in Orchestrator, so I thought I’d share how. Here is the feedback from the customer: There are times when it would be very helpful to know which...
  • Blog Post: Community Spotlight: New Tool to “Sanitize” Runbook Exports

    Ryan Andorfer, one of our favorite members of the Orchestrator community, has done it again. He has come out with a new utility to help administrators sanitize their runbook export files.Here’s what Ryan has to say: A ‘difficulty’ we have with migrating policies / Runbooks from one environment (dev)...
  • Blog Post: Understanding Sequential vs. Parallel Processing of Runbook Activities

    I saw a question in the forums the other day by a person who asked how you should expect activities in a workflow to be executed when one of the activities generates multi-value data. In other words, one of my activities returns a list of things. How do the next activities react? Will they run in parallel...
  • Blog Post: Patching Orchestrator Runbook Servers while Maintaining High-Availability

    Balancing server patching with maintaining the availability of the services that run on these servers can be a difficult task for an IT Pro, with lots of repetitive, time-consuming, and error-prone steps. Luckily, Orchestrator has emerged as an effective automation tool to help IT Pros manage the patching...
  • Blog Post: IPs and Activities and How Those are Represented in the Database

    Following some of my recent articles about how Integration Packs (IPs) are handled during registration, installation, and unregistration (see Understanding IP Installation: What Does Register/Unregister/Deploy/Undeploy Really Mean? ), and as a precursor to a new tool I will be unveiling this week (trying...
  • Blog Post: Quick Tip: Checking PowerShell Scripting Abilities on a Computer

    I do lots of PowerShell scripting, both inside runbooks and in stand-alone scripts. I have my own little virtual lab with a bunch of VMs and a domain controller that has a group policy assigned to enable the right PowerShell scripting settings on all the domain-joined computers, so I really don’t run...
  • Blog Post: Fun with PowerShell v3 “Robust Sessions” in Runbooks

    A couple of weeks ago, Karl Prosser posted an interesting article on using PowerShell v3 with Orchestrator .And, while at MMS last week, I had an opportunity to sit down and run through one of the PowerShell v3 hands-on labs that were available. In that lab, I found out about the new capabilities around...
  • Blog Post: Quick Tip: Error Handling Across Parent/Child Runbooks

    I got a question posed to me in the form of a design change request for Orchestrator. And, true to fashion for Orchestrator, I pointed out that what was being asked for as a feature could be solved by the existing product by just architecting the runbook in a certain way. The scenario posed was this...