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Monthly Archives: February 2014

Thoughts on Cluster Aware Updating and ConfigMgr…

In the past, and even today, Patch Management for servers can be quite a struggle for administrators. Not only by policy or processes but technically as well. The struggle might become bigger when clusters are involved…

Microsoft has done a great job by introducing Cluster Aware Updating (CAU) in Windows Server 2012 (it’s available in R2 as well). This allows administrators to have a much bigger amount of control to safely update cluster nodes while preventing a restart of each node at the same time. I will not get into the technical details about CAU, TechNet and a lab environment are your friends on that department.

Many organizations use ConfigMgr to facilitate Patch Management for all Windows based machines equipped with a ConfigMgr client. For the sake of this post, I assume ConfigMgr 2012 is used (SP1 or newer).

As we all know, ConfigMgr uses WSUS as an ‘engine’ and adds additional technology to provide a feature rich Patch Management solution. ConfigMgr adds more options to scan, evaluate, download and distribute updates than WSUS. Unfortunately, the ConfigMgr client is NOT aware of CAU which will provide some challenges.

CAU is a beneficial feature that admins do not want to see defeated by the ConfigMgr client when deploying updates. However, if a ConfigMgr Site (or even a hierarchy) is available, then it would be very nice to use this facility to download and install updates.

Microsoft provided a nice FAQ for CAU that is certainly recommended to read: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/hh831367.aspx

The FAQ describes two options when using ConfigMgr with CAU:

  • coexistence
  • leverage

Leveraging CAU with ConfigMgr is most likely the way to go. The ConfigMgr infrastructure is used to determine which updates need to be deployed. CAU will do the actual installation of updates and will make sure that cluster availability is secured. This is especially true for Hyper-V clusters which will live migrate each VM to a different node to allow the node beging updated being restarted during installation.

On the other hand, involving ConfigMgr with CAU might deliver some additional complexity. In some scenarios it makes sense not to leverage ConfigMgr at all and stick to WSUS alone. This might be true when building private clouds from scratch where a WSUS server is used to update the backend of the private cloud…

If someone has some experience with CAU and ConfigMgr, then feel free to share your thoughts in the comments…

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Migrating to ConfigMgr 2012 R2, supported paths…

Just a quick one and a reminder for myself…

Recently one of my customers requested to migrate from an existing ConfigMgr 2012 RTM site to ConfigMgr 2012 R2.

Since I like to sit on my hands first and think things over, I investigated what’s possible for them.

Assuming an in-place upgrade needs to be done, let’s determine the workflow first (I might forget a few steps):

  1. Make a backup of the ConfigMgr 2012 RTM site database
  2. Stop all ConfigMgr services
  3. Uninstall WAIK
  4. Install ADK 8
  5. Update WSUS with required hotfixes KB2734608 and KB2720211
  6. Upgrade to ConfigMgr 2012 SP1
  7. Install CU2 or newer
  8. Stop all ConfigMgr services
  9. Uninstall ADK 8
  10. Install ADK 8.1
  11. Upgrade to ConfigMgr 2012 R2
  12. Upgrade to MDT 2013 if present
  13. Create and distribute the boot images you need

This is the only supported path since it’s not possible to directly upgrade from the RTM to R2.

OK, let’s build a new R2 site infrastructure from scratch and see if it’s possible to migrate content from the RTM site to the R2 one.

Looking at TechNet gives the following supported paths.

Quoting from http://technet.microsoft.com/en-US/library/gg682006.aspx :

Applies To: System Center 2012 Configuration Manager, System Center 2012 Configuration Manager SP1, System Center 2012 R2 Configuration Manager

The Migrating Hierarchies in System Center 2012 Configuration Manager guide provides documentation to help you migrate hierarchies within your Microsoft System Center 2012 Configuration Manager environment. You can migrate the following hierarchies:

  • With System Center 2012 Configuration Manager, you can migrate an existing Configuration Manager 2007 SP2 infrastructure to System Center 2012 Configuration Manager
  • With System Center 2012 Configuration Manager SP1, you can migrate an existing Configuration Manager 2007 SP2 infrastructure or an existing System Center 2012 Configuration Manager SP1 infrastructure to System Center 2012 Configuration Manager SP1
  • With System Center 2012 R2 Configuration Manager, you can migrate an existing Configuration Manager 2007 SP2 infrastructure or an existing System Center 2012 R2 Configuration Manager infrastructure to System Center 2012 R2 Configuration Manager

Oh oh, no migration path possible from RTM to R2…

I conclude there’s no ‘easy’ way from RTM to R2. The following elements might help deciding what to do:

  • If you have a well-organized Definitive Software Library (DSL), preferably placed on a separate file server using a DFS Namespace, then you might use some PowerShell magic to add a lot of content to the R2 site quickly
  • If you’re existing RTM infrastructure is not managed well, then consider starting again from scratch

I start to understand how much Microsoft is encouraging to make sure that everything you do is planned properly. So I was right with sitting on my hands first…

 
 
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