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System Center

Thoughts on System Center 2012 R2 Update Rollup 7

You’re probably wondering why UR7 for System Center 2012 R2 is news now when it was released over a month ago on July 29th. If you’re a long-time reader of mine, then you know that I don’t trust Microsoft updates before they are one month old. The product that galvanized that opinion was System Center.

System Center is Microsoft’s suite of private cloud and management tools (Image Credit: Microsoft)
System Center is Microsoft’s suite of private cloud and management tools (Image Credit: Microsoft)

A History of Re-Releases

Around every quarter, Microsoft releases a large collection of updates called an update rollup (UR) for the suite of System Center products. I have not done a thorough search, but I would be surprised if there has been a single UR release for System Center 2012 or System Center 2012 R2, where major issues were not introduced that required a re-release or hotfix by Microsoft and unwanted and otherwise unnecessary downtime and engineering for customers.

I noted several weeks ago on my own site that UR7 was released for System Center 2012 R2, providing hotfix and feature updates for a number of products in the suite. I also recommended that administrators wait for a month before deploying the rollup; a history of problems converts a sense of adventure into one of caution. And sure enough, Microsoft had to re-release UR7 for System Center 2012 R2 Data Protection Manger (DPM) because, as Microsoft notes:

After installing UR7, expired recovery points on the disk were not getting cleaned up, causing an increase in DPM recovery point volume.

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Anyone who had previously deployed UR7 needs to manually download the re-released rollup and perform an install.

Changes in UR7 for System Center 2012 R2

The following products had updates. All had bug fixes, but some had feature improvements, which I will note later in this post:

Data Protection Manager had following feature improvements.

  • Support for Windows 10: UR7 adds support for protecting Windows 10 computers identically to how previous client operating systems could be protected.
  • Recover from Azure Backup vault to Alternative DPM Server: You can use Azure Backup as an off-site repository for DPM. If you lose a DPM server then you can restore its data from the Azure Vault to another DPM server. Both DPM servers must be running System Center 2012 R2 UR7 and be registered with the Azure Backup vault.

Virtual Machine Manager was improved as follows:

  • Support for Windows 10: You can deploy Windows 10 as a virtual machine guest operating system (OS). UR7 does not add support for installing the SCVMM console on Windows 10.
  • Debian 8 Support: UR7 offers support for Debian 8 Linux as a guest OS.
  • VMware vCenter 5.5: An increased set of vSphere management scenarios were added to the SCVMM console.
  • Multiple External IP Addresses per Virtual Network: If you have deployed Hyper-V Network Virtualization (NVGRE) then you are probably managing the gateway using SCVMM. UR7 ads support for more than 1 external IP address for NAT for each virtual network.
  • Reassociate Orphaned Virtual Machines to Service or VM role: A feature that we considered missing in SCVMM was the ability to re-associate a virtual machine after removing-adding a host in SCVMM. UR7 solves this gap in functionality.
  • VMM DHCP Extension PXE/TFP Forwarding: You can take advantage of VMM DHCP extensions to perform a PXE boot.

Finally, UR7 for Windows Azure Pack Web Sites makes the following changes:

  • Publishing through the SCM site is disabled by default; previously it was enabled by default.
  • The default values in AppHostConfigSections can be changed after installing UR7. Any previous modifications must be reapplied after the update.

Getting UR7 for System Center 2012 R2

Unfortunately, Microsoft deploys update rollups for System Center via Windows Update. If you follow each of the above product links you might find that there are preparatory or follow-up steps that do not lend themselves to an automatic update. As I’ve already stated, there is the slight matter that update rollups usually have issues in the first month. I typically recommend blocking updates to System Center via automatic means.

You can manually download the updates from the Microsoft Update Catalog by following the above links. This will also give you the opportunity to read any relevant instructions for deploying the update.

Note that all elements of System Center should be updated to the same update rollup level. In other words, if you use both SCOM and SCVMM then update both to UR7. Running one at UR6 and another at UR7 is not supported and probably will lead to issues.

A quick update: A company in the Netherlands reported, after I posted this story, that they had found an issue with UR7 for SCVMM when using NVGRE gateways. Oh well!

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Aidan Finn, Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP), has been working in IT since 1996. He has worked as a consultant and administrator for the likes of Innofactor Norway, Amdahl DMR, Fujitsu, Barclays and Hypo Real Estate Bank International where he dealt with large and complex IT infrastructures and MicroWarehouse Ltd. where he worked with Microsoft partners in the small/medium business space.
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