SCX Evolutions

July 19th, 2009 by Daniele Muscetta

During the beta of the Cross-Platform extensions and of System Center Operations Manager 2007 R2, the product team had promised to eventually release the SCX Providers'source code.

Now that this promise has been mantained, and the SCX providers have been released on Codeplex at http://xplatproviders.codeplex.com/ it should be finally possible to entirely build your own unsupported agent package, starting from source code, without having to modify the original package as I have shown earlier on this blog.
Of course this will still be unsupported by Microsoft Product support, but will eventually work just fine!
This is an extraordinary event in my opinion, as it is not a common event that Microsoft releases code as open source, especially when this is part of one of the product it sells. I suspect we will see more of this as we going forward.

Also, at R2 release time, some official documentation about buildilng Cross-Plaform Management Packs has been published on Technet.

Anyway, I have in the past posted a number of posts on my blog under this tag http://www.muscetta.com/tag/xplat/ (I will continue to use that tag going forward) which show/describe how I hacked/modified both the existing MPs AND the SCX agent package to let it run on unsupported distributions (and I think they are still useful as they show a number of techniques about how to test, understand and troubleshoot the Xplat agent a bit. In fact, I have first learned how to understand and modify the RedHat MPs to monitor CentOS and eventually even modified the RPM package to run on Ubuntu (which also works on Debian 5/Lenny), eventually, as you can see because I am now using it to monitor – from home, across the Internet – the machine running this blog:

www.muscetta.com Performance in OpsMgr

Or even, with or without OpsMgr 2007 R2, you could write your own scripts to interact with those providers, by using your favourite Scripting Language.

After all, those experimentations with Xplat got me a fame of being a "Unix expert at Microsoft" (this expression still makes me laugh), as I was tweeting here:
Unix expert at Microsoft

But really, I have never hidden my interest for interoperability and the fact that I have been using Linux quite a bit in the past, and still do.

Also, one more related information is that the fine people at Xandros have released their Bridgeways Management Packs and at the same time also started their own blog at http://blog.xplatxperts.com/ where they discuss some troubleshooting techniques for the Xplat agent, both similar to what I have been writing about here and also – of course – specific to their own providers, that are in their XSM namespace.

Disclaimer

The information in this weblog is provided "AS IS" with no warranties, and confers no rights. This weblog does not represent the thoughts, intentions, plans or strategies of my employer. It is solely my own personal opinion. All code samples are provided "AS IS" without warranty of any kind, either express or implied, including but not limited to the implied warranties of merchantability and/or fitness for a particular purpose.
THIS WORK IS NOT ENDORSED AND NOT EVEN CHECKED, AUTHORIZED, SCRUTINIZED NOR APPROVED BY MY EMPLOYER, AND IT ONLY REPRESENT SOMETHING WHICH I'VE DONE IN MY FREE TIME. NO GUARANTEE WHATSOEVER IS GIVEN ON THIS. THE AUTHOR SHALL NOT BE MADE RESPONSIBLE FOR ANY DAMAGE YOU MIGHT INCUR WHEN USING THIS INFORMATION. The solution presented here IS NOT SUPPORTED by Microsoft.

Cross Platform in OpsMgr 2007 R2 Release Candidate

March 27th, 2009 by Daniele Muscetta

You have heard it all over the place, System Center Operations Manager 2007 R2 has reached the Release Candidate milestone and the RC bits have been made available on connect.microsoft.com.

As it is becoming a tradition for me with each new release, I want to take a look at the Unix Monitoring stuff like I did since beta1 of Xplat, passing thru beta2. I am an integration freak and I have always insisted that interoperability is key. I will leave the most obvious “release notes” kind of things out of here, such as saying that there are now agents for the x64 version of linux distro’s, and so on…. you can read this stuff in the release notes already and in a zillion of other places.

Let’s instead look at my first impression ( = I am amazed: this product is really getting awesome) and let’s do a bit of digging, mostly to note what changed since my previous posts on Xplat (which, by the way, is the MOST visited post on this blog I ever published) – of course there is A LOT more that has changed under the hood… but those are code changes, improvements, polishing of the product itself… while that would be interesting from a code perspective, here I am more interested in what the final user (the System Administrator) will ultimately interact with directly, and what he might need to troubleshoot and understand how the pieces fit together to realize Unix Monitoring in OpsMgr.

After having hacked the RedHat MP to work on my CentOS box (as usual), I started to take a look at what is installed on the Linux box. Here are the new services:

ps -Af | grep scx

You will notice the daemons have changed names and get launched with new parameters.

Of course when you see who uses port 1270 everything becomes clearer:

netstat -anp | grep 1270

Therefore I can place the two new names and understand that SCXCIMSERVER is the WSMAN implementation, while SCXCIMPROVAGT is the CIM/WBEM implementation.

There is one more difference at the “service” (or “daemon”) level: the fact that there is only ONE init script now: /etc/init.d/scx-cimd

/etc/init.d/scx-cimd

So basically the SCX “Agent” will start and stop as a single thing, even if it is composed of multiple executables that will spawn various processes.

Another difference: if we look in “familiar” locations like /etc/opt/microsoft/scx/bin/tools/ we see that a number of configuration files is either empty (0 bytes) or missing (like the one described on Ander’s blog to enable verbose logging of WSMan requests), when compared to earlier versions:

/etc/opt/microsoft/scx/conf

But that is because I have been told we now have a nice new tool called scxadmin under /opt/microsoft/scx/bin/tools/ , which will let you configure those things:

/opt/microsoft/scx/bin/tools/scxadmin

Therefore you would enable VERBOSE logging for all components by issuing the command

./scxadmin -log-set all verbose

and you will bring it back to a less noisy setting of logging only errors with

./scxadmin -log-set all errors

the logs will be written under /var/opt/microsoft/scx/log just like they did before.

Other than this, a lot of the troubleshooting techniques I showed in one of my previous posts, like how to query CIM classes directly or thru WSMAN remotely by using winrm – they should really stay the same. I will mention them again here for reference.

SCXCIMCLI is a useful and simple tool used to query CIM directly. You can roughly compare it to wbemtest.exe in the WIndows world (other than not having a UI). This utility can also be found in /opt/microsoft/scx/bin/tools

A couple of examples of the most common/useful things you would do with scxcimcli:

1) Enumerate all Classes whose name contains “SCX_” in the root/scx namespace (the classes our Management packs use):

./scxcimcli nc -n root/scx -di |grep SCX_ | sort

./scxcimcli nc -n root/scx -di |grep SCX | sort

2) Execute a Query

./scxcimcli xq "select * from SCX_OperatingSystem" -n root/scx

./scxcimcli xq "select * from SCX_OperatingSystem" -n root/scx

Also another thing that you might want to test when troubleshooting discoveries, is running the same queries through WS-Man (possibly from the same Management Server that will or should be managing that unix box). I already showed this in the past, it is the following command:

winrm enumerate http://schemas.microsoft.com/wbem/wscim/1/cim-schema/2/SCX_OperatingSystem?__cimnamespace=root/scx -username:root -password:password -r:https://linuxbox.mydomain.com:1270/wsman -auth:basic –skipCACheck

but if you launch it that way it will now return an error like the following (or at least it did in my test lab):

Fault
Code
Value = SOAP-ENV:Sender
Subcode
Value = wsman:EncodingLimit
Reason
Text = UTF-16 is not supported; Please use UTF-8
Detail
FaultDetail = http://schemas.dmtf.org/wbem/wsman/1/wsman/faultDetail/CharacterSet

Error number:  -2144108468 0x8033804C
The WS-Management service does not support the character set used in the request
. Change the request to use UTF-8 or UTF-16.

the error message is pretty self explanatory: you need to specify the UTF-8 Character set. You can do it by adding the “-encoding” qualifier:

winrm enumerate http://schemas.microsoft.com/wbem/wscim/1/cim-schema/2/SCX_OperatingSystem?__cimnamespace=root/scx -username:root -password:password -r:https://linuxbox.mydomain.com:1270/wsman -auth:basic –skipCACheck –encoding:UTF-8

Hope the above is useful to figure out the differences between the earlier beta releases of the System Center CrossPlatform extensions and the version built in OpsMgr 2007 R2 Release Candidate.

There are obviously a million of other things in R2 worth writing about (either related to the Unix monitoring or to everything else) and I am sure posts will start to appear on the many, more active, blogs out there (they have already started appearing, actually). I have not had time to dig further, but will likely do so AFTER Easter – as the next couple of weeks I will be travelling, working some of the time (but without my test environment and good connectivity) AND visiting relatives the rest of the time.

One last thing I noticed about the Unix/Cross Platform Management Packs in R2 Release Candidate… their current “release date” exposed by the MP Catalog Web Service is the 20th of March

image

…which happens to be my Birthday – therefore they must be a present for me! :-)

Disclaimer

The information in this weblog is provided "AS IS" with no warranties, and confers no rights. This weblog does not represent the thoughts, intentions, plans or strategies of my employer. It is solely my own personal opinion. All code samples are provided "AS IS" without warranty of any kind, either express or implied, including but not limited to the implied warranties of merchantability and/or fitness for a particular purpose.
THIS WORK IS NOT ENDORSED AND NOT EVEN CHECKED, AUTHORIZED, SCRUTINIZED NOR APPROVED BY MY EMPLOYER, AND IT ONLY REPRESENT SOMETHING WHICH I'VE DONE IN MY FREE TIME. NO GUARANTEE WHATSOEVER IS GIVEN ON THIS. THE AUTHOR SHALL NOT BE MADE RESPONSIBLE FOR ANY DAMAGE YOU MIGHT INCUR WHEN USING THIS INFORMATION. The solution presented here IS NOT SUPPORTED by Microsoft.

CentOS 5 Management Pack for OpsMgr SCX

May 13th, 2008 by Daniele Muscetta

As I mentioned here, I have been testing the SCX beta.

Not having one of the "supported" platforms pushed me into playing with the provided Management Packs, and in turn I managed to use the MP for Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5 as a base, and replaced a couple of strings in the discoveries in order to get a working CentOS 5 Management Pack.

CentOS_HealthExplorer01_NEW

I still have not looked into the "hardware" monitors and health model / service model, so those are not currently monitored. But it is a start.

A lot of people have asked me a lot of information and would like to get the file – both in the blog's comment, on the newsgroup, or via mail. I am sorry, but I cannot provide you with the file, because it has not been throughly tested and might render your systems unstable, and also because there might be licensing and copyright issues that I have not checked within Microsoft.

Keep also in mind that using CentOS as a monitored platform is NOT a SUPPORTED scenario/platform for SCX. I only used it because I did not have a Suse or Redhat handy that day, and because I wanted to understand how the Management Packs using WS-Man worked.

This said, should you wish to try to do the same "MP Hacking" I did,  I pretty much explained all you need to know in my previous post and its comments, so that should not be that difficult.

Actually, I still think that the best way to figure out how things are done is by looking at the actual implementation, so I encourage you to look at the management packs and figure out how those work. There are a few mature tools out there that will help you author/edit Management Packs if you don't want to edit the XML directly: the Authoring Console, and Silect MP Studio Lite, for example. If you want to delve in the XML details, instead, then I suggest you read the Authoring Guide and peek at Steve Wilson's AuthorMPs.com site.

Disclaimer
The information in this weblog is provided "AS IS" with no warranties, and confers no rights. This weblog does not represent the thoughts, intentions, plans or strategies of my employer. It is solely my own personal opinion. All code samples are provided "AS IS" without warranty of any kind, either express or implied, including but not limited to the implied warranties of merchantability and/or fitness for a particular purpose.
THIS WORK IS NOT ENDORSED AND NOT EVEN CHECKED, AUTHORIZED, SCRUTINIZED NOR APPROVED BY MY EMPLOYER, AND IT ONLY REPRESENT SOMETHING WHICH I'VE DONE IN MY FREE TIME. NO GUARANTEE WHATSOEVER IS GIVEN ON THIS. THE AUTHOR SHALL NOT BE MADE RESPONSIBLE FOR ANY DAMAGE YOU MIGHT INCUR WHEN USING THIS PROGRAM.

Testing System Center Cross Plaform Extentions

May 4th, 2008 by Daniele Muscetta

I am testing the beta bits of the cross-platform extensions that were released on Microsoft Connect 

This post wants to describe my limited testing so far – I hope this can benefit/help everyone testing the beta for some stuff that might currently not be incredibly clear – unless you attended the MMS class, at least :-))

I started out with the White Paper that has been posted on the web, which describes the architecture pretty well, but from a higher level (with diagrams and the like). Then I downloaded the beta bits, which contain another document about setting the thing up. It is pretty well done, to be honest (especially if you consider that it is beta documentation for a beta product!), but it does not really go all the way down to troubleshooting things a lot, yet. I will try to cover some of that here.

I installed the agent manually – it’s just a RPM package, not much that can go wrong with that. There is a reason why I did not use the push discovery and deployment of the agent, which you will figure out reading later on. Once installed, I tried to figure out how things were looking like on the linux machine. It is all pretty understandable, after all, if you look around on the machine (documented or not, linux and open source stuff is easy to figure out by reading configuration files and the like, and by searching on the web).

Basically the “agent” is not properly an "agent" the way the windows agent is, since it does not really "sends" stuff to the Management Server on its own: It consists of a  couple of services/daemons, based on existing opensource projects, but configured in their own folder, with their own name, and using different ports than a standard install of those,  not to conflict with possible existing ones on those machines.

The Management Service uses these services remotely (similar to doing agentless monitoring towards a windows box) using these services. The two services are:

 scx-services commands

It is easy to figure out how they are layed out. Even if undocumented, you look at the processes

SCX processes

and you can figure out WHERE they live (/opt/microsoft/scx/bin/….) and where their configuration files are located (/etc/opt/microsoft/scx/conf …).

SCX Configuration

The files are self explanatory, and the documentation of the opensource projects can be found on the Internet: 

for wsmand

for cimd

 

I still have to delve into them properly as I would like to, but I already figured out a bunch of interesting things by quickly looking at them.

Agent Communication someone must have decided to “recycle” the 1270 port number that was used in MOM2005 :-) Basically openwsman listens as a SSL listener (with basic auth – connected via PAM module with the “regular” unix /etc/passwd users, so you can authenticate as those without having to define specific users for the service). So all that happens is that the Management Server asks things/executes WS-Man queries and commands on this channel. The Management Server connects every time to the agent on port 1270 using SSL, authenticates as “root” (or as the specified "Action Account") and does its stuff, or asks the agent to do it. So the communication is happening from the Management Server to the agent… not the other way around like it happens with Windows "agents". That’s why it feels to me more like an “agentless” thing, at least for what concerns the “direction” of traffic and who does the actual querying.

For the rest, the provided Management Packs have “normal” discoveries and “normal” monitors. Pretty much like the Windows Management Packs often discover thing by querying WMI, here they use WS-Man to run CIM queries against the Unix boxes.

The Service Model is totally cool to actually *SEE* in action, don’t you think so ?

Service Model

 

A few more debugging/troubleshooting information:

I searched a bit and found the openwsman.org documentation and forum to be useful to figure some things out. For example I banged my head a few times before managing to actually TEST a query from windows to linux using WINRM. This document helped a lot.

Of course you have to solve some other things such as DNS resolution AND trusting the self-issued certificates that the agent uses, first. Once you have done that, you can run test queries from the Windows box towards the Unix ones by using WinRM.

For example, this is how I tested what the discovery for a Linux RedHat Computer type should be returning (I read that by opening the MP in authoring console, as one would usually do for any MP):

winrm enumerate http://schemas.microsoft.com/wbem/wscim/1/cim-schema/2/SCX_OperatingSystem?__cimnamespace=root/scx -username:root -password:password -r:https://centos:1270/wsman -auth:basic

If you need to test the query directly *ON* the linux box (querying the CIMD instead than WSMAND), the WBEMEXEC utility is packaged with the agent (under /opt/microsoft/scx/bin/tools ). It is not as easy as some windows administrators (that have used WBEMTEST or WMI Tools in the past) would hope, but not even that bad. Just to run a few queries to the CIM daemon locally it is not really interactive, so you need to create a XML file that looks like the following (basically you build the RAW request the way the CIMD accepts it):

 

 

<?xml version="1.0" ?>

<CIM CIMVERSION="2.0" DTDVERSION="2.0">

<MESSAGE ID="50000" PROTOCOLVERSION="1.0">

<SIMPLEREQ>

<IMETHODCALL NAME="EnumerateInstanceNames">

<LOCALNAMESPACEPATH>

<NAMESPACE NAME="root"/>

<NAMESPACE NAME="scx"/>

</LOCALNAMESPACEPATH>

<IPARAMVALUE NAME="ClassName">

<CLASSNAME NAME="SCX_OperatingSystem"/>

</IPARAMVALUE>

</IMETHODCALL>

</SIMPLEREQ>

</MESSAGE>

</CIM>

 

 

Once you have made such a file, you can execute the query in the file with the tool like the following:

./wbemexec -d2 query.xml

 

As you can see from here, CIMD uses HTTP already. This differs from Windows' WMI that uses RPC/DCOM. In a way, this is much simpler to troubleshoot, and more firewall-friendly.

 

I have not really found an activity or debug log for any of those components, yet… but in the end they are not doing anything ON THEIR OWN, unless asked by the MS…. So the “healthservice” logic is all on the MS anyway. Errors about failed discoveries, permissions of the Action Account user, and anything else will be logged by the HealthService on the Windows machine (the Management Server) that is actually performing monitoring towards the Unix box.

It really is *just* getting the WMI and WinRM-equivalent layer on linux/Unix up and running– after that, everything is done from windows anyway!

After this common management infrastructure has been provided, 3rd parties will be facilitated in writing *just* MPs, without having to worry about the TRANSPORT of information anymore.

 

As you have probably noticed from the screenshots and commandlines, I don’t have a “real” Redhat Enterprise Linux or “supported” linux distribution… Therefore I started my testing using CentOS 5 (which is very similar to RHEL 5) – the agent installed fine as you can see, but I was not getting anything really “discovered” – the MP had only found a “linux computer” but was not finding any “RedHat” or “SuSe” or any other "Operating System" instances… and if you are somewhat familiar with the way Operations Manager targeting works, you would understand that monitors are targeted at object classes. If I don't have any instance of those objects being discovered, NO MONITORING actually happens, even if the infrastructure is in place and the pieces are talking to each other:

 CentOS not discovered

Therefore my machine was not being monitored.

In the end, I actually even got it to work, but I had to create a new Management Pack (exporting and modifying the RHEL5 one as a base) that would actually search for different Property values and discover CentOS instead as if it were RedHat:

CentOS Discovered 

After importing my hacked Management Pack the machine started to be monitored. Here you can see Health Explorer in all of its glory:

image008

Of course this is a hack I made just to have a test setup somewhat working and to familiarize myself with the SCX components. It is not guaranteed that my Management pack actually works on CentOS the way it is supposed to work and that there aren't other – more subtle – differences between RedHat and CentOS that will make it fail. I only modified a couple of Discoveries to let it discover the "Operating System" instance… everything else should follow, but not necessarily. One difference you see already in the screenshot above is that I am not yet seeing the hardware being monitored, so my hack is already only partially working and it is definitely something that won't be supported, so I cannot provide it here. Also, this is a beta, so I I think that the Management Packs will be re-released with following beta versions, and this change is something that would need to be re-done all over again. Also, the unsupported distribution is the reason why I installed the agent manually in the first place, as the "Discovery Wizard" would not really "agree" to go and let me install the agent remotely on an unsupported "platform!".

But I could not wait to see this working, while waiting two business days (we are on a weekend!) for confirmation that I am allowed to actually download a 30-day-unsupported-Trial of the "real" RedHat Enteprise Linux, so I cheated :-)

 

 

Disclaimer

The information in this weblog is provided "AS IS" with no warranties, and confers no rights. This weblog does not represent the thoughts, intentions, plans or strategies of my employer. It is solely my own personal opinion. All code samples are provided "AS IS" without warranty of any kind, either express or implied, including but not limited to the implied warranties of merchantability and/or fitness for a particular purpose.
THIS WORK IS NOT ENDORSED AND NOT EVEN CHECKED, AUTHORIZED, SCRUTINIZED NOR APPROVED BY MY EMPLOYER, AND IT ONLY REPRESENT SOMETHING WHICH I'VE DONE IN MY FREE TIME. NO GUARANTEE WHATSOEVER IS GIVEN ON THIS. THE AUTHOR SHALL NOT BE MADE RESPONSIBLE FOR ANY DAMAGE YOU MIGHT INCUR WHEN USING THIS INFORMATION.