Monthly Archives: January 2014

SCOM: MP Author from Bridgeways/Silect

Everyone who creates custom management packs for System Center Operations Manager needs an authoring tool. With SCOM 2007 there was the old Authoring console, which cannot be used anymore with SCOM 2012 MPs.

Then there was the Visual Studio Authoring Extension solution for SCOM: http://social.technet.microsoft.com/wiki/contents/articles/5236.visual-studio-authoring-extensions-for-system-center-2012-operations-manager.aspx.

I must admit that I never felt comfortable with it.

Now there is a new free tool called MP Author from Bridgeways/Silect. It is the small brother of MP Studio. You can find the details here: https://bridgeways.com/products/mp-author.

I was very interested about it and installed it right away.

Here are some things I found.

Prerequisites:

  • .Net Framework 3.5 and 4.0
  • SCOM Console
  • Admin Permissions to install and run

I also saw that it rapidly increases used memory if you work within a management pack. It quickly uses over 1GB RAM or  more if available. That also depends on how many management packs you have opened in parallel with MP Author.

Things I am missing:

If you look at the tree view of the objects in a management pack, I am missing some object types:

tree

I do not see Tasks and Recovery Tasks.

The list of available tools also includes the MPBPA (Management Pack Best Practice Analyzer), what was always helpful with the 2007 Authoring console:

tools

But when I run it, I get the following error:

mpbpa-error

When I check the logs I see this:
Attempt to run MPBPA against mp timed out. C:\Program Files\Silect\MP Author\MPBPA\MPBPAv2.exe “C:\IT\Test.xml” /I:”C:\Program Files\Silect\MP Author\ManagementPacks” /Report:”C:\Users\xxx\Documents\Silect\ManagementPacks\Reports\MPBPA.Report.Celanese.Win32Services.2007.xml”

HtmlMessageBox: Error running MPBPAV2.EXE, error code was -1 StdOut: StdError: Caption: Error analyzing management pack Icon: Hand

So it calls another program. I found that if you call that directly through Command Prompt then it works without an error. Also I searched for the report file and found it on my machine. So it works even with the error.

Anyhow. It looks like a nice tool for creating management packs, which do not have Tasks or Recovery Tasks. It has some good wizards and still a lot which can be improved.

Update: If you change the referenced management pack folder (Tools:Set Reference Management Pack Folder), then do not forget to copy the MPs from the old folder (C:\Program Files\Silect\MP Author\ManagementPacks) to the new one. Otherwise it will not work.

Also the tool is very slow, so if there is no update in the future which increases performance then no one will use it really.

SCOM Tipp: Adding a Relative Date Time Picker to a SCOM report

I would like to whish you all a happy new year as this is my first post in 2014!

One of the topics a SCOM administrator has to deal with is reporting. You probably already have created one or more custom reports. Most of the documentation about this is still from SCOM 2007 R2 – which also works for 2012 – and references to basic date/time fields, where you can enter fixed dates.

Standard date/time picker:
standard picker

Here are some authoring examples:
http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/hh528528.aspx
http://blogs.technet.com/b/jonathanalmquist/archive/2011/01/03/custom-report-authoring-for-beginners.aspx
http://thoughtsonopsmgr.blogspot.de/2011/08/my-first-little-report-part-i-lets-make.html

If you have to run a report on a monthly basis you perhaps also want to be able to schedule the report and use relative dates, but that is not possible with standard startdate and enddate parameters.

Relative date/time picker:
relative picker

You need to follow this Technet blog to add a relative date time picker: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/gg697751.aspx. Specially check the section “Example: Adding a Relative Date Time Picker to the Alert Report“.
The article describes well what needs to be done to change a standard report into a report with relative date time.

Some things I was struggeling with:

  • General: You can add all necessary parts through direct XML editing, you only need to know where to add them. => see Sample.Reports.Relative.xml which will help you with that.
  • Replace StartDate/Enddate with relative Parameters:
    Replace the @Startdate and @Enddate values in the queries with CONVERT(DATETIME, CONVERT(VARCHAR, @StartDate, 101)) and CONVERT(DATETIME, CONVERT(VARCHAR, @EndDate, 101)).
    After replacing your startdate and enddate with the new relative parameters, search for your old parameter name and check that you have not used it somewhere, where it was not mentioned in the article!
  • Controls in the Parameter block: The article only describes the parameters, which are needed for the relative date time picker, but you also will need controls if you have additional fields, otherwise you only see the date time fields.  Here is the list of common report controls.
    The Parameter Block is always direct before the report in the XML => see Sample.Reports.Relative.xml

I have also created two sample management packs with one sample report in it which will show the differences.

You can download the sample report management packs here.