New capabilities in System Center 2016 Service Management Automation

As you try out the new features in System Center 2016 that were made generally available earlier last month, here is a summary of things you can do with System Center 2016 Service Management Automation:

  1. Create a Script type runbook and see how it compares with a Workflow type runbook
  2. Control where your runbook is run
  3. Develop and test SMA runbooks right from PowerShell ISE
  4. Take advantage of the latest PowerShell features in your SMA runbooks
    Let’s dig deeper into each of the new features:

Support for Script type runbooks

In System Center 2012 R2 Service Management Automation, runbooks were based on PowerShell Workflows only. We have now added support for native PowerShell Script type runbooks.

Advantages of using PowerShell Script type runbooks, in comparison to Workflow type runbooks:

  • No compilation time when executing runbooks – runbooks start at the scheduled time and not any later
  • Understanding PowerShell Workflows is not necessary to get started with Service Management Automation

However, there are some trade-offs to be made as well:

  • Parallelizing execution is a little difficult than when using PowerShell Workflows
  • Ability to suspend and resume is lost

You can learn more about how to use Script type runbooks through these blog posts. Overall, with the support for native PowerShell Script type runbooks, you now have the choice to use the type that best suits your needs – PowerShell Workflow or PowerShell Scripts.

Control where your runbook is run

In System Center 2012 R2 Service Management Automation, runbooks where run on all available runbook workers at random. The idea behind this was that this helped balance the load between the runbook workers. However, sometimes you might want to target a runbook worker for running a particular runbook. We have addressed this issue in System Center 2016 Service Management Automation by giving you the ability to choose which runbook worker, a runbook will run on.

You can learn more about how to use this feature through this blog post.

Develop and test SMA runbooks right from PowerShell ISE

In System Center 2012 R2, only ways to interact with Service Management Automation were through Windows Azure Pack portal or SMA PowerShell module. A lot of customers used PowerShell ISE to develop their SMA runbooks and then copied the runbook over into Windows Azure Pack portal which was cumbersome. To improve the authoring experience, we have released an add-on PowerShell ISE for Service Management Automation.

With the new add-on, you can now develop and test your runbooks right from PowerShell ISE. You can learn more about the add-on through this blog post.

As of today, you still need to use Windows Azure Pack portal to manage/monitor your runbook jobs and work with connection, schedule and module assets. In future updates, we will continue adding functionality to ISE Add-on to completely remove the dependency on Windows Azure Pack portal.

Take advantage of the latest PowerShell features in your SMA runbooks

Service Management Automation continues the support for the latest PowerShell features to meet your automation needs. For System Center 2016, this means the support for the new PowerShell 5.1 features. PowerShell 5.1 comes installed with the Windows Server 2016 and packs a lot of important new features.

Thank You!

All the new features in System Center 2016 Service Management Automation have been developed from customer and community feedback. We would like to thank all our customers who have taken part in Technical Preview program or provided feedback through other channels. Thank you and we look forward to improving the product further.

You can download and try System Center 2016 from here.