Three quarters of 2015, my IT career and various ramblings

September is over. The first three quarters of 2015 are over.
This has been a very important year so far – difficult, but revealing. Everything has been about change, healing and renewal.

We moved back to Europe first, and you might have now also read my other post about leaving Microsoft, more recently.

This was a hard choice – it took many months to reach the conclusion this is what I needed to do.

Most people have gone thru strong programming: they think you have to be ‘successful’ at something. Success is externally defined, anyhow (as opposed to satisfaction which we define ourselves) and therefore you are supposed to study in college a certain field, then use that at work to build your career in the same field… and keep doing the same thing.

I was never like that – I didn’t go to college, I didn’t study as an ‘engineer’. I just saw there was a market opportunity to find a job when I started, studied on the job, eventually excelled at it. But it never was *the* road. It just was one road; it has served me well so far, but it was just one thing I tried, and it worked out.
How did it start? As a pre-teen, I had been interested in computers, then left that for a while, did ‘normal’ high school (in Italy at the time, this was really non-technological), then I tried to study sociology for a little bit – I really enjoyed the Cultural Anthropology lessons there, and we were smoking good weed with some folks outside of the university, but I really could not be asked to spend the following 5 or 10 years or my life just studying and ‘hanging around’ – I wanted money and independence to move out of my parent’s house.

So, without much fanfare, I revived my IT knowledge: upgraded my skill from the ‘hobbyist’ world of the Commodore 64 and Amiga scene (I had been passionate about modems and the BBS world then), looked at the PC world of the time, rode the ‘Internet wave’ and applied for a simple job at an IT company.

A lot of my friends were either not even searching for a job, with the excuse that there weren’t any, or spending time in university, in a time of change, where all the university-level jobs were taken anyway so that would have meant waiting even more after they had finished studying… I am not even sure they realized this until much later.
But I just applied, played my cards, and got my job.

When I went to sign it, they also reminded me they expected hard work at the simplest and humblest level: I would have to fix PC’s, printers, help users with networking issues and tasks like those – at a customer of theirs, a big company.
I was ready to roll up my sleeves and help that IT department however I would be capable of, and I did.
It all grew from there.

And that’s how my IT career started. I learned all I know of IT on the job and by working my ass off and studying extra hours and watching older/more expert colleagues and making experience.

I am not an engineer.
I am, at most, a mechanic.
I did learn a lot of companies and the market, languages, designs, politics, the human and technical factors in software engineering and the IT marketplace/worlds, over the course of the past 18 years.

But when I started, I was just trying to lend a honest hand, to get paid some money in return – isn’t that what work was about?

Over time IT got out of control. Like Venom, in the Marvel comics, that made its appearance as a costume that SpiderMan started wearing… and it slowly took over, as the ‘costume’ was in reality some sort of alien symbiotic organism (like a pest).

You might be wondering what I mean. From the outside I was a successful Senior Program Manager of a ‘hot’ Microsoft product.
Someone must have mistaken my diligence and hard work for ‘talent’ or ‘desire of career’ – but it never was.
I got pushed up, taught to never turn down ‘opportunities’.

But I don’t feel this is my path anymore.
That type of work takes too much metal energy off me, and made me neglect myself and my family. Success at the expense of my own health and my family’s isn’t worth it. Some other people wrote that too – in my case I stopped hopefully earlier.

So what am I doing now?

First and foremost, I am taking time for myself and my family.
I am reading (and writing)
I am cooking again
I have been catching up on sleep – and have dreams again
I am helping my father in law to build a shed in his yard
We bought a 14-years old Volkswagen van that we are turning into a Camper
I have not stopped building guitars – in fact I am getting setup to do it ‘seriously’ – so I am also standing up a separate site to promote that activity
I am making music and discovering new music and instruments
I am meeting new people and new situations

There’s a lot of folks out there who either think I am crazy (they might be right, but I am happy this way), or think this is some sort of lateral move – I am not searching for another IT job, thanks. Stop the noise on LinkedIn please: I don’t fit in your algorithms, I just made you believe I did, all these years.

Does anyone have a new System Center sticker for me?

Does anyone have a new System Center sticker?

I got this sticker last APRIL at MMS2010 in JUST ONE COPY, and I waited till I got a NEW laptop in SEPTEMBER to actually use that…
It also took a while to stick it on properly (other than to re-install the PC as I wanted…),  but this week they told me that, for an error, I got given the wrong machine (they did it all themselves, tho – I did not ask for any specific one) and this one needs to be replaced!!!!

This is WORSE than any hardware FAILure, as the machine just works very well and I was expecting to keep it for the next two years 🙁

Can anyone be so nice to send me one of those awesome stickers again? 🙂

How to convert (and fixup) the RedHat RPM to run on Debian/Ubuntu

In an earlier post I had shown how I got the Xplat agent running on Ubuntu. I perfected the technique over time, and what follows is a step-by-step process on how to convert and change the RedHat package to run on Debian/Ubuntu. Of course this is still a hack… but some people asked me to detail it a bit more. At the same time, the cross platform team is working to update the the source code on codeplex with extra bits that will make more straightforward to grab it, modify it and re-compile it than it is today. Until then, here is how I got it to work.

I assume you have already copied the right .RPM package off the OpsMgr server’s /AgentManagement directory to the Linux box here. The examples below refer to the 32bit package, but of course the same identical technique would work for the 64bit version.

We start by converting the RPM package to DEB format:

root# alien -k scx-1.0.4-258.rhel.5.x86.rpm –scripts

scx_1.0.4-258_i386.deb generated

 

Then we need to create a folder where we will extract the content of the package, modify stuff, and repackage it:

root# mkdir scx_1.0.4-258_i386

root# cd scx_1.0.4-258_i386

root# ar -x ../scx_1.0.4-258_i386.deb

root# mkdir debian

root# cd debian

root# mkdir DEBIAN

root# cd DEBIAN

root# cd ../..

root# rm debian-binary

root# mv control.tar.gz debian/DEBIAN/

root# mv data.tar.gz debian/

root# cd debian

root# tar -xvzf data.tar.gz

root# rm data.tar.gz

root# cd DEBIAN/

root# tar -xvzf control.tar.gz

root# rm control.tar.gz

Now we have the “skeleton” of the package easily laid out on the filesystem and we are ready to modify the package and add/change stuff to and in it.

 

First, we need to add some stuff to it, which is expected to be found on a redhat distro, but is not present in debian. In particular:

1. You should copy the file “functions” (that you can get from a redhat/centos box under /etc/init.d) under the debian/etc/init.d folder in our package folder. This file is required/included by our startup scripts, so it needs to be deployed too.

Then we need to chang some of the packacge behavior by editing files under debian/DEBIAN:

2. edit the “control” file (a file describing what the package is, and does):

clip_image002

3. edit the “preinst” file (pre-installation instructions): we need to add instructions to copy the “issue” file onto “redhat-release” (as the SCX_OperatingSystem class will look into that file, and this is hard-coded in the binary, we need to let it find it):

clip_image004

these are the actual command lines to add for both packages (DEBIAN or UBUNTU):

# symbolic links for libaries called differently on Ubuntu and Debian vs. RedHat

ln -s /usr/lib/libcrypto.so.0.9.8 /usr/lib/libcrypto.so.6

ln -s /usr/lib/libssl.so.0.9.8 /usr/lib/libssl.so.6

the following bit would be Ubuntu-specific:

#we need this file for the OS provider relies on it, so we convert what we have in /etc/issue

#this is ok for Ubuntu (“Ubuntu 9.0.4 \n \l” becomes “Ubuntu 9.0.4”)

cat /etc/issue | awk ‘/\\n/ {print $1, $2}’ > /etc/redhat-release

while the following bit is Debian-specific:

#this is ok for Debian (“Debian GNU/Linux 5.0 \n \l” becomes “Debian GNU/Linux 5.0”)

cat /etc/issue | awk ‘/\\n/ {print $1, $2, $3}’ > /etc/redhat-release

 

4. Then we edit/modify the “postinst” file (post-installation instructions) as follows:

a. remove the 2nd and 3rd lines which look like the following

RPM_INSTALL_PREFIX=

export RPM_INSTALL_PREFIX

as they are only useful for the RPM system, not DEB/APT, so we don’t need them.

b. change the following 2 functions which contain RedHat-specific commands:

configure_pegasus_service() {

           /usr/lib/lsb/install_initd /etc/init.d/scx-cimd

}

start_pegasus_service() {

           service scx-cimd start

}

c. We need to change in the Debian equivalents for registering a service in INIT and starting it:

configure_pegasus_service() {

               update-rc.d scx-cimd defaults

}

start_pegasus_service() {

              /etc/init.d/scx-cimd start

}

5. Modify the “prerm” file (pre-removal instructions):

a. Just like “postinst”, remove the lines

RPM_INSTALL_PREFIX=

export RPM_INSTALL_PREFIX

b. Locate the two functions stopping and un-installing the service

stop_pegasus_service() {

         service scx-cimd stop

}

unregister_pegasus_service() {

          /usr/lib/lsb/remove_initd /etc/init.d/scx-cimd

}

c. Change those two functions with the Debian-equivalent command lines

stop_pegasus_service() {

           /etc/init.d/scx-cimd stop

}

unregister_pegasus_service() {

           update-rc.d -f scx-cimd remove

}

At this point the change we needed have been put in place, and we can re-build the DEB package.

Move yourself in the main folder of the application (the scx_1.0.4-258_i386 folder):

root# cd ../..

Create the package starting from the folders

root# dpkg-deb –build debian

dpkg-deb: building package `scx’ in `debian.deb’.

Rename the package (for Ubuntu)

root# mv debian.deb scx_1.0.4-258_Ubuntu_9_i386.deb

Rename the package (for Debian)

root# mv debian.deb scx_1.0.4-258_Debian_5_i386.deb

Install it

root# dpkg -i scx_1.0.4-258_Platform_Version_i386.deb

All done! It should install and work!

 

Next step would be creating a Management Pack to monitor Debian and Ubuntu. It is pretty similar to what Robert Hearn has described step by step for CentOS, but with some different replacements of strings, as you can imagine. I have done this but have not written down the procedure yet, so I will post another article on how to do this as soon as I manage to get it standardized and reliable. There is a bit more work involved for Ubuntu/Debian… as some of the daemons/services have different names, and certain files too… but nothing terribly difficult to change so you might want to try it already and have a go at it!

In the meantime, as a teaser, here’s my server’s (http://www.muscetta.com) performance, being monitored with this “hack”:

image

 

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.

A few thoughts on sizing Audit Collection System

People were already collecting logs with MOM, so why not the security log? Some people were doing that, but it did not scale enough; for this reason, a few years ago Eric Fitzgerald announced that he was working on Microsoft Audit Collection System. Anyhow, the tool as it was had no interface… and the rest is history: it has been integrated into System Center Operations Manager. Anyhow, ACS remains a lesser-known component of OpsMgr.

There are a number of resources on the web that is worth mentioning and linking to:

and, of course, many more, I cannot link them all.

As for myself, I have been playing with ACS since those early beta days (before I joined Microsoft and before going back to MOM, when I was working in Security), but I never really blogged about this piece.

Since I have been doing quite a lot of work around ACS lately, again, I thought it might be worth consolidating some thoughts about it, hence this post.

Anatomy of an “Online” Sizing Calculation

What I would like to explain here is the strategy and process I go thru when analyzing the data stored in a ACS database, in order to determine a filtering strategy: what to keep and what not to keep, by applying a filter on the ACS Collector.

So, the first thing I usually start with is using one of the many “ACS sizer” Excel spreadsheets around… which usually tell you that you need more space than it really is necessary… basically giving you a “worst case” scenario. I don’t know how some people can actually do this from a purely theoretical point of view, but I usually prefer a bottom up approach: I look at the actual data that the ACS is collecting without filters, and start from there for a better/more accurate sizing.

In the case of a new install this is easy – you just turn ACS on, set the retention to a few days (one or two weeks maximum), give the DB plenty of space to make sure it will make it, add all your forwarders… sit back and wait.

Then you come back 2 weeks later and start looking at the data that has been collected.

What/How much data are we collecting?

First of all, if we have not changed the default settings, the grooming and partitioning algorithm will create new partitioned tables every day. So my first step is to see how big each “partition” is.

But… what is a partition, anyway? A partition is a set of 4 tables joint together:

  1. dtEvent_GUID
  2. dtEventData_GUID
  3. dtPrincipal_GUID
  4. dtSTrings_GUID

where GUID is a new GUID every day, and of course the 4 tables that make up a daily partition will have the same GUID.

The dtPartition table contains a list of all partitions and their GUIDs, together with their start and closing time.

Just to get a rough estimate we can ignore the space used by the last three tables – which are usually very small – and only use the dtEvent_GUID table to get the number of events for that day, and use the stored procedure “sp_spaceused”  against that same table to get an overall idea of how much space that day is taking in the database.

By following this process, I come up with something like the following:

Partition ID Status Partition Start Time Partition Close Time Rows Reserved  KB Total GB
9b45a567_c848_4a32_9c35_39b402ea0ee202/1/2010 2:002/1/2010 2:0029,749,3667,663,4887,484
8d8c8ee1_4c5c_4dea_b6df_82233c52e34621/31/2010 2:002/1/2010 2:0028,067,4389,076,9048,864
34ce995b_689b_46ae_b9d3_c644cfb66e0121/30/2010 2:001/31/2010 2:0030,485,1109,857,8969,627
bb7ea5d3_f751_473a_a835_1d1d4268303921/29/2010 2:001/30/2010 2:0048,464,95215,670,79215,304
ee262692_beae_4d81_8079_470a5456794621/28/2010 2:001/29/2010 2:0048,980,17815,836,41615,465
7984b5b8_ddea_4e9c_9e51_0ee7a413b4c921/27/2010 2:001/28/2010 2:0051,295,77716,585,40816,197
d93b9f0e_2ec3_4f61_b5e0_b600bbe173d221/26/2010 2:001/27/2010 2:0053,385,23917,262,23216,858
8ce1b69a_7839_4a05_8785_29fd6bfeda5f21/25/2010 2:001/26/2010 2:0055,997,54618,105,84017,681
19aeb336_252d_4099_9a55_81895bfe586021/24/2010 2:001/24/2010 2:0028,525,3047,345,1207,173
1cf70e01_3465_44dc_9d5c_4f3700dc408a21/23/2010 2:001/23/2010 2:0026,046,0926,673,4726,517
f5ec207f_158c_47a8_b15f_8aab177a630521/22/2010 2:001/22/2010 2:0047,818,32212,302,20812,014
b48dabe6_a483_4c60_bb4d_93b7d3549b3e21/21/2010 2:001/21/2010 2:0055,060,15014,155,39213,824
efe66c10_0cf2_4327_adbf_bebb97551c9321/20/2010 2:001/20/2010 2:0058,322,21715,029,21614,677
0231463e_8d50_4a42_a834_baf55e6b4dcd21/19/2010 2:001/19/2010 2:0061,257,39315,741,24815,372
510acc08_dc59_482e_a353_bfae1f85e64821/18/2010 2:001/18/2010 2:0064,579,12216,612,51216,223

If you have just installed ACS and let it run without filters with your agents for a couple of weeks, you should get some numbers like those above for your “couple of weeks” of analysis. If you graph your numbers in Excel (both size and number of rows/events per day) you should get some similar lines that show a pattern or trend:

Trend: Space user by day

Trend: Number of events by day

So, in my example above, we can clearly observe a “weekly” pattern (monday-to-friday being busier than the weekend) and we can see that – for that environment – the biggest partition is roughly 17GB. If we round this up to 20GB – and also considering the weekends are much quieter – we can forecast 20*7 = 140GB per week. This has an excess “buffer” which will let the system survive event storms, should they happen. We also always recommend having some free space to allow for re-indexing operations.

In fact, especially when collecting everything without filters, the daily size is a lot less predictable: imagine worms “trying out” administrator account’s passwords, and so on… those things can easily create event storms.

Anyway, in the example above, the customer would have liked to keep 6 MONTHS (180days) of data online, which would become 20*180 = 3600GB = THREE TERABYTE and a HALF! Therefore we need a filtering strategy – and badly – to reduce this size.

[edited on May 7th 2010 – if you want to automate the above analysis and produce a table and graphs like those just shown, you should look at my following post.]

Filtering Strategies

Ok, then we need to look at WHAT actually comprises that amount of events we are collecting without filters. As I wrote above, I usually run queries to get this type of information.

I will not get into HOW TO write a filter here – a collector’s filter is a WMI notification query and it is already described pretty well elsewhere how to configure it.

Here, instead, I want to walk thru the process and the queries I use to understand where the noise comes from and what could be filtered – and get an estimate of how much space we could be saving if filter one way or another.

Number of Events per User

–event count by User (with Percentages)
declare @total float
select @total = count(HeaderUser) from AdtServer.dvHeader
select count(HeaderUser),HeaderUser, cast(convert(float,(count(HeaderUser)) / (convert(float,@total)) * 100) as decimal(10,2))
from AdtServer.dvHeader
group by HeaderUser
order by count(HeaderUser) desc

In our example above, over the 14 days we were observing, we obtained percentages like the following ones:

#evt HeaderUser AccountPercent
204,904,332SYSTEM40.79 %
18,811,139LOCAL SERVICE3.74 %
14,883,946ANONYMOUS LOGON2.96 %
10,536,317appintrauser2.09 %
5,590,434mossfarmusr

Just by looking at this, it is pretty clear that filtering out events tracked by the accounts “SYSTEM”, “LOCAL SERVICE” and “ANONYMOUS”, we would save over 45% of the disk space!

Number of Events by EventID

Similarly, we can look at how different Event IDs have different weights on the total amount of events tracked in the database:

–event count by ID (with Percentages)
declare @total float
select @total = count(EventId) from AdtServer.dvHeader
select count(EventId),EventId, cast(convert(float,(count(EventId)) / (convert(float,@total)) * 100) as decimal(10,2))
from AdtServer.dvHeader
group by EventId
order by count(EventId) desc

We would get some similar information here:

Event ID Meaning Sum of events Percent
538A user logged off99,494,64827.63
540Successful Network Logon97,819,64027.16
672Authentication Ticket Request52,281,12914.52
680Account Used for Logon by (Windows 2000)35,141,2359.76
576Specified privileges were added to a user’s access token.26,154,7617.26
8086Custom Application ID18,789,5995.21
673Service Ticket Request10,641,0902.95
675Pre-Authentication Failed7,890,8232.19
552Logon attempt using explicit credentials4,143,7411.15
539Logon Failure – Account locked out2,383,8090.66
528Successful Logon1,764,6970.49

Also, do not forget that ACS provides some report to do this type of analysis out of the box, even if for my experience they are generally slower – on large datasets – than the queries provided here. Also, a number of reports have been buggy over time, so I just prefer to run queries and be on the safe side.

Below an example of such report (even if run against a different environment – just in case you were wondering why the numbers were not the same ones :-)):Event Counts ACS Default Report

The numbers and percentages we got from the two queries above should already point us in the right direction about what we might want to adjust in either our auditing policy directly on Windows and/or decide if there is something we want to filter out at the collector level (here you should ask yourself the question: “if they aren’t worth collecting are they worth generating?” – but I digress).

Also, a permutation of the above two queries should let you see which user is generating the most “noise” in regards to some events and not other ones… for example:

–event distribution for a specific user (change the @user) – with percentages for the user and compared with the total #events in the DB
declare @user varchar(255)
set @user = ‘SYSTEM’
declare @total float
select @total = count(Id) from AdtServer.dvHeader
declare @totalforuser float
select @totalforuser = count(Id) from AdtServer.dvHeader where HeaderUser = @user
select count(Id), EventID, cast(convert(float,(count(Id)) / convert(float,@totalforuser) * 100) as decimal(10,2)) as PercentageForUser, cast(convert(float,(count(Id)) / (convert(float,@total)) * 100) as decimal(10,2)) as PercentageTotal
from AdtServer.dvHeader
where HeaderUser = @user
group by EventID
order by count(Id) desc

The above is particularly important, as we might want to filter out a number of events for the SYSTEM account (i.e. logons that occur when starting and stopping services) but we might want to keep other events that are tracked by the SYSTEM account too, such as an administrator having wiped the Security Log clean – which might be something you want to keep:

Event ID 517 Audit Log was cleared

of course the amount of EventIDs 517 over the total of events tracked by the SYSTEM account will not be as many, and we can still filter the other ones out.

Number of Events by EventID and by User

We could also combine the two approaches above – by EventID and by User:

select count(Id),HeaderUser, EventId

from AdtServer.dvHeader

group by HeaderUser, EventId

order by count(Id) desc

This will produce a table like the following one

SQL Query: Events by EventID and by User

which can be easily copied/pasted into Excel in order to produce a pivot Table:

Pivot Table

Cluster EventLog Replication

One more aspect that is less widely known, but I think is worth showing, is the way that clusters behave when in ACS. I don’t mean all clusters… but if you keep the “eventlog replication” feature of clusters enabled (you should disable it also from a monitoring perspective, but I digress), each cluster node’s security eventlog will have events not just for itself, but for all other nodes as well.

Albeit I have not found a reliable way to filter out – other than disabling eventlog replication altogether.

Anyway, just to get an idea of how much this type of “duplicate” events weights on the total, I use the following query, that tells you how many events for each machine are tracked by another machine:

–to spot machines that are cluster nodes with eventlog repliation and write duplicate events (slow)

select Count(Id) as Total,replace(right(AgentMachine, (len(AgentMachine) – patindex(‘%\%’,AgentMachine))),’$’,”) as ForwarderMachine, EventMachine

from AdtServer.dvHeader

–where ForwarderMachine <> EventMachine

group by EventMachine,replace(right(AgentMachine, (len(AgentMachine) – patindex(‘%\%’,AgentMachine))),’$’,”)

order by ForwarderMachine,EventMachine

Cluster Events

Those presented above are just some of the approaches I usually look into at first. Of course there are a number more. Here I am including the same queries already shown in action, plus a few more that can be useful in this process.

I have even considered building a page with all these queries – a bit like those that Kevin is collecting for OpsMgr (we actually wrote some of them together when building the OpsMgr Health Check)… shall I move the below queries on such a page? I though I’d list them here and give some background on how I normally use them, to start off with.

Some more Useful Queries

–top event ids
select count(EventId), EventId
from AdtServer.dvHeader
group by EventId
order by count(EventId) desc

–event count by ID (with Percentages)
declare @total float
select @total = count(EventId) from AdtServer.dvHeader
select count(EventId),EventId, cast(convert(float,(count(EventId)) / (convert(float,@total)) * 100) as decimal(10,2))
from AdtServer.dvHeader
group by EventId
order by count(EventId) desc

–which machines have ever written event 538
select distinct EventMachine, count(EventId) as total
from AdtServer.dvHeader
where EventID = 538
group by EventMachine

–machines
select * from dtMachine

–machines (more readable)
select replace(right(Description, (len(Description) – patindex(‘%\%’,Description))),’$’,”)
from dtMachine

–events by machine
select count(EventMachine), EventMachine
from AdtServer.dvHeader
group by EventMachine

–rows where EventMachine field not available (typically events written by ACS itself for chekpointing)
select *
from AdtServer.dvHeader
where EventMachine = ‘n/a’

–event count by day
select convert(varchar(20), CreationTime, 102) as Date, count(EventMachine) as total
from AdtServer.dvHeader
group by convert(varchar(20), CreationTime, 102)
order by convert(varchar(20), CreationTime, 102)

–event count by day and by machine
select convert(varchar(20), CreationTime, 102) as Date, EventMachine, count(EventMachine) as total
from AdtServer.dvHeader
group by EventMachine, convert(varchar(20), CreationTime, 102)
order by convert(varchar(20), CreationTime, 102)

–event count by machine and by date (distinuishes between AgentMachine and EventMachine
select convert(varchar(10),CreationTime,102),Count(Id),EventMachine,AgentMachine
from AdtServer.dvHeader
group by convert(varchar(10),CreationTime,102),EventMachine,AgentMachine
order by convert(varchar(10),CreationTime,102) desc ,EventMachine

–event count by User
select count(Id),HeaderUser
from AdtServer.dvHeader
group by HeaderUser
order by count(Id) desc

–event count by User (with Percentages)
declare @total float
select @total = count(HeaderUser) from AdtServer.dvHeader
select count(HeaderUser),HeaderUser, cast(convert(float,(count(HeaderUser)) / (convert(float,@total)) * 100) as decimal(10,2))
from AdtServer.dvHeader
group by HeaderUser
order by count(HeaderUser) desc

–event distribution for a specific user (change the @user) – with percentages for the user and compared with the total #events in the DB
declare @user varchar(255)
set @user = ‘SYSTEM’
declare @total float
select @total = count(Id) from AdtServer.dvHeader
declare @totalforuser float
select @totalforuser = count(Id) from AdtServer.dvHeader where HeaderUser = @user
select count(Id), EventID, cast(convert(float,(count(Id)) / convert(float,@totalforuser) * 100) as decimal(10,2)) as PercentageForUser, cast(convert(float,(count(Id)) / (convert(float,@total)) * 100) as decimal(10,2)) as PercentageTotal
from AdtServer.dvHeader
where HeaderUser = @user
group by EventID
order by count(Id) desc

–to spot machines that write duplicate events (such as cluster nodes with eventlog replication enabled)
select Count(Id),EventMachine,AgentMachine
from AdtServer.dvHeader
group by EventMachine,AgentMachine
order by EventMachine

–to spot machines that are cluster nodes with eventlog repliation and write duplicate events (better but slower)
select Count(Id) as Total,replace(right(AgentMachine, (len(AgentMachine) – patindex(‘%\%’,AgentMachine))),’$’,”) as ForwarderMachine, EventMachine
from AdtServer.dvHeader
–where ForwarderMachine <> EventMachine
group by EventMachine,replace(right(AgentMachine, (len(AgentMachine) – patindex(‘%\%’,AgentMachine))),’$’,”)
order by ForwarderMachine,EventMachine

–which user and from which machine is target of elevation (network service doing “runas” is a 552 event)
select count(Id),EventMachine, TargetUser
from AdtServer.dvHeader
where HeaderUser = ‘NETWORK SERVICE’
and EventID = 552
group by EventMachine, TargetUser
order by count(Id) desc

–by hour, minute and user
–(change the timestamp)… this query is useful to search which users are active in a given time period…
–helpful to spot “peaks” of activities such as password brute force attacks, or other activities limited in time.
select datepart(hour,CreationTime) as Hours, datepart(minute,CreationTime) as Minutes, HeaderUser, count(Id) as total
from AdtServer.dvHeader
where CreationTime < ‘2010-02-22T16:00:00.000’
and CreationTime > ‘2010-02-22T15:00:00.000’
group by datepart(hour,CreationTime), datepart(minute,CreationTime),HeaderUser
order by datepart(hour,CreationTime), datepart(minute,CreationTime),HeaderUser

Invoking Methods on the Xplat agent with WINRM

So I was testing other stuff tonight, to be honest, but I got pinged on Instant Messenger by my geek friend and colleague Stefan Stranger who pointed me at his request for help here http://friendfeed.com/sstranger/4571f39b/help-needed-on-winrs-or-winrm-and-openwsman-to

He wanted to use WINRM or any other command line utility to interact with the Xplat agent, and call methods on the Unix machine from windows. This could be very useful to – for example – restart a service (in fact it is what the RECOVERY actions in the Xplat Management Packs do, btw).

At first I told him I had only tested enumerations – such as on this other post http://www.muscetta.com/2009/06/01/using-the-scx-agent-with-wsman-from-powershell-v2/ … but the question intrigued me, so I check out the help for winrm’s INVOKE verb:

clip_image002

Which told me that you can pass in the parameters for the method to be called/invoked either as an hashtable @{KEY=”value”;KEY2=”value”}, or as an input XML file. I first tried the XML file but I could not get its format right.

After a few more minutes of trying, I figured out the right syntax.

This one works, for example:

winrm invoke ExecuteCommand http://schemas.microsoft.com/wbem/wscim/1/cim-schema/2/SCX_OperatingSystem?__cimnamespace=root/scx @{command="ps";timeout="60"} -username:root -password:password -auth:basic -r:https://virtubuntu.huis.dom:1270/wsman -skipCACheck -encoding:UTF-8

clip_image004

Happy remote management of your unix systems from Windows 🙂

SCX Evolutions

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.

Using the SCX Agent with WSMan from Powershell v2

So Powershell v2 adds a nice bunch of Ws-Man related cmdlets. Let’s see how we can use them to interact with OpenPegasus’s WSMan on a SCX Agent.

PS C:\maint> test-wsman -computer virtubuntu.huis.dom -port 1270 -authentication basic -credential (get-credential) -usessl

cmdlet Get-Credential at command pipeline position 1
Supply values for the following parameters:
Credential

image

But we do get this error:

Test-WSMan : The server certificate on the destination computer (virtubuntu.huis.dom:1270) has the following errors:
The SSL certificate could not be checked for revocation. The server used to check for revocation might be unreachable.

The SSL certificate is signed by an unknown certificate authority.
At line:1 char:11
+ test-wsman <<<<  -computer virtubuntu.huis.dom -port 1270 -authentication basic -credential (get-credential) -usessl
+ CategoryInfo          : InvalidOperation: (:) [Test-WSMan], InvalidOperationException
+ FullyQualifiedErrorId : WsManError,Microsoft.WSMan.Management.TestWSManCommand

The credentials above have to be a unix login. Which we typed correctly. But we still can’t get thru, as the certificate used by the agent is not trusted by our workstation. This seems to be the “usual” issue I first faced when testing SCX with WINRM in beta1. At the time I simply dismissed it with the following sentence

[…] 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. […]

and I sincerely thought that it would explain pretty well… but eventually a lot of people got confused by this and did not know what to do, especially for the part that goes about trusting the certificate.  Anyway, in the following posts I figured out you could pass the –skipCACheck parameter to WINRM… which solved the issue with having to trust the certificate (which is fine for testing, but I would not use that for automations and scripts running in production… as it might expose your credentials to man-in-the-middle attacks).

So it seems that with the Powershell cmdlets we are back to that issue, as I can’t find a parameter to skip the CA check. Maybe it is there, but with PSv2 not having been released yet, I don’t know everything about it, and the CTP documentation is not yet complete. Therefore, back to trusting the certificate.

Trusting the certificate is actually very simple, but it can be a bit tricky when passing those certs back and forth from unix to windows. So let’s make the process a bit clearer.

All of the SCX-agents certificates are ultimately signed by a key on the Management server that has discovered them, but I don’t currently know where that certificate/key is stored on the management server. Anyway, you can get it from the agent certificate – as you only really need the public key, not the private signing key.

Use WinSCP or any other utility to copy the certificate off one of the agents.
You can find that in the /etc/opt/microsoft/scx/ssl location:

image

that scx-host-computername.pem is your agent certificate.

Copy it to the Management server and change its extension from .pem to .cer. Now Windows will be happy to show it to you with the usual Certificate interface:

image

We need to go to the “Certification Path” tab, select the ISSUER certificate (the one called “SCX-Certificate”):

image

then go to the “Details” tab, and use the “Copy to File” button to export the certificate.

After you have the certificate in a .CER file, you can add it to the “trusted root certification authorities” store on the computer you are running your powershell tests from.

image

So after you have trusted it, the same command as above actually works now:

PS C:\maint> test-wsman -computer virtubuntu.huis.dom -port 1270 -authentication basic -credential (get-credential) -usessl

cmdlet Get-Credential at command pipeline position 1
Supply values for the following parameters:
Credential

wsmid           : http://schemas.dmtf.org/wbem/wsman/identify/1/wsmanidentity.xsd
lang            :
ProtocolVersion : http://schemas.dmtf.org/wbem/wsman/1/wsman.xsd
ProductVendor   : Microsoft System Center Cross Platform
ProductVersion  : 1.0.4-248

Ok, we can talk to it! Now we can do something funnier, like actually returning instances and/or calling methods:

PS C:\maint> Get-WSManInstance -computer virtubuntu.huis.dom -authentication basic -credential (get-credential) -port 1270 -usessl -enumerate http://schemas.microsoft.com/wbem/wscim/1/cim-schema/2/SCX_OperatingSystem?__cimnamespace=root/scx

image

This is far from exhaustive, but should get you started on a world of possibilities about automating diagnostics and responses with Powershell v2 towards the OpsMgr 2007 R2 Cross-Platform machines. Enjoy!

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.

Installing the OpsMgr 2007 R2 SCX Agent on Ubuntu

You know since the beta1 of Xplat I have been busy with modifying the Redhat management pack and monitor CentOS with OpsMgr. Now, CentOS is a distribution that is pretty similar to RedHat, so the RPM package just runs, and it is only a matter of hacking a modified MP.

I never went really further in my experiments, mostly due to lack of time… but then yesterday I got a comment to this older post asking about Ubuntu. Of course I know about Ubuntu, and have been using Debian-based distributions for years. I actually even prefer them over RPM-based distributions such as RedHat or SuSE (personal preference). Heck, even this weblog is running on Debian!

Anyway, I never really tried to see if one of the existing RPM packages for RedHat or SuSE could be modified to run on Ubuntu. I will eventually test this on Debian too, but for now I used Ubuntu which tends to have slightly newer packages and libraries, overall. The machine I tested on is a Ubuntu Server 8.04.2. Older/newer versions might slightly differ.

BEWARE THAT ALL THAT FOLLOWS BELOW IS NOT SUPPORTED BY MICROSOFT. It is only described here for EXPERIMENTAL (==fun) purpose. DO NOT USE THIS IN A PRODUCTION ENVIRONMENT.

So, you are warned. Now let’s hack it.

The first thing to do is to copy the Redhat agent’s RPM package off your OpsMgr2007 R2 server in the “usual” path “C:Program FilesSystem Center Operations manager 2007AgentManagementUnixAgents”. Let’s grab the RHEL5 agent, which is called scx-1.0.4-248.rhel.5.x86.rpm in R2 RTM.

First we need to CONVERT the RPM package to the DEB package format used by Ubuntu, by using the ALIEN package:

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install alien
sudo bash
alien -k scx-1.0.4-248.rhel.5.x86.rpm –scripts
dpkg -i scx_1.0.4-248_i386.deb

image

The converted package will install… but the script execution will fail in a few places – most notably in the generation of the certificate, as it is not able to locate the right openssl libraries, as shown in the screenshot above.

If the libssl.so.6 file cannot be found, you might be missing the “libssl-dev” package, which you can install as follows:

apt-get install libssl-dev

But even if it is installed, you will find that the files are still missing. This is not really true: actually, the files are there, but on Ubuntu they have a different name than on RedHat, that’s all. You can therefore create hardlinks to the “right” files, so that they are aliased and get found afterwards:

cd /usr/lib
ln -s libcrypto.so.0.9.8 libcrypto.so.6
ln -s libssl.so.0.9.8 libssl.so.6

So now when installing the package, the certificate generation will work:

image

You are nearly ready to go. You have to start the service by using the init scripts – the “service” command is RedHat-specific, that will still fail.

/etc/init.d/scx-cimd start is the “standard” way of starting daemons from init on Unix.

But it still fails, as it seems that the init script provided in the RedHat package is really searching for a file called “functions” which is present on RedHat and on CentOS, which provides re-usable functions for startup scripts to include:

image

How do you fix this? I just copied the /etc/init.d/functions file from a CentOS box to my Ubuntu box.

I copied it via SCP from the CentOS box I have:

cd /etc/init.d

scp root@centos.huis.dom:/etc/init.d/functions .

You can probably also find and fetch the file from the Internet (both CentOS and RedHat should have accessible repositories with all the files in their distributions, since it is open sourced).

After you have the file in place, the init script will be able to include it, will find the functions it needs, and the daemon/service will now start (even if with minor errors I have not investigated for now, but that don’t seem to be causing troubles):

image

and here you can see it is finally running:

image

So let’s try to issue a few queries as shown in a previous posts:

image

IT WORKS!!!

But… there is a “but”: not all classes actually return instances and values just yet. Most notably the “SCX_OperatingSystem” class does not seem to return anything right awy. That is a very important class, because is the one we would use to first discover the Operating System object in the Management Packs. So we need to fix it. The reason why the class does not return anything, is that the SCX provider is looking into the /etc/redhat-release file to return what OS version/distribution the machine is running. And the file is obviously not there on Ubuntu.

On all Linuxes there is a similar file, called /etc/issue… which again, we can copy with the other name and trick the provider into working:

cd /etc

cp issue redhat-release

And NOW, the SCX_OperatingSystem Class also returns an instance:

image

The next step would be “cooking” an MP to discover Ubuntu. More on this on a later post (maybe). I did not test all classes and their implementation… you can try to poke at them by following the instructions and commands on my previous post here. But this should get you started.

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

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.

Programmatically Check for Management Pack updates in OpsMgr 2007 R2

One of the cool new features of System Center Operations Manager 2007 R2 is the possibility to check and update Management Packs from the catalog on the Internet directly from the Operators Console:

Select Management Packs from Catalog

Even if the backend for this feature is not yet documented, I was extremely curious to see how this had actually been implemented. Especially since it took a while to have this feature available for OpsMgr, I had the suspicion that it could not be as simple as one downloadable XML file, like the old MOM2005’s MPNotifier had been using in the past.

Therefore I observed the console’s traffic through the lens of my proxy, and got my answer:

ISA Server Log

So that was it: a .Net Web Service.

I tried to ask the web service itself for discovery information, but failed:

WSDL

Since there is no WSDL available, but I badly wanted to interact with it, I had to figure out: what kind of requests would be allowed to it, how should they be written, what methods could they call and what parameters should I pass in the call. In order to get started on this, I thought I could just observe its network traffic. And so I did… I fired up Network Monitor and captured the traffic:

Microsoft Network Monitor 3.2

Microsoft Network Monitor is beautiful and useful for this kind of stuff, as it lets you easily identify which application a given stream of traffic belongs to, just like in the picture above. After I had isolated just the traffic from the Operations Console, I then saved those captures packets in CAP format and opened it again in Wireshark for a different kind of analysis – “Follow TCP Stream”:

Wireshark: Follow TCP Stream

This showed me the reassembled conversation, and what kind of request was actually done to the Web Service. That was the information I needed.

Ready to rock at this point, I came up with this Powershell script (to be run in OpsMgr Command Shell) that will:

1) connect to the web service and retrieve the complete MP list for R2 (this part is also useful on its own, as it shows how to interact with a SOAP web service in Powershell, invoking a method of the web service by issuing a specially crafted POST request. To give due credit, for this part I first looked at this PERL code, which I then adapted and ported to Powershell);

2) loop through the results of the “Get-ManagementPack” opsmgr cmdlet and compare each MP found in the Management Group with those pulled from the catalog;

3) display a table of all imported MPs with both the version imported in your Management Group AND the version available on the catalog:

Script output in OpsMgr Command Shell

Remember that this is just SAMPLE code, it is not meant to be used in production environment and it is worth mentioning again that OpsMgr2007 R2 this is BETA software at the time of writing, therefore this functionality (and its implementation) might change at any time, and the script will break. Also, at present, the MP Catalog web service still returns slightly older MP versions and it is not yet kept in sync and updated with MP Releases, but it will be ready and with complete/updated content by the time R2 gets released.

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.