Quickstart guide to SCOM and VSAE–Introduction

There are a few different ways to author content in MS’ Operations Manager. You can simply create new management packs from Templates in the console or even creating some low level custom monitors in there. But sometimes, what you need is not available there or would take too much time to be accomplished (too much click business!).

And that’s where the fun starts. Or the horror, for some most people. The first time I saw the SCOM 2007 Authoring Console, it looked familiar. Kinda/sorta…then I started noticing the differences and how things are a little still in there, not live like in the console. And dry. It is like another dimension where it seems to be the same thing, but everybody is dead. Well, enough with my Stephen King references. Seriously, it is a bit of a transition, since you have to abstract even more how the monitors/rules/discoveries will behave once made live in a real management group. But after a while, you get the groove and start creating some basic stuff more easily.

Then comes SCOM 2012 and Microsoft says the Authoring Tool, although being able to create content for 2012, it can’t reach its full potential. Enter the Visual Studio Authoring Extensions. When I first read that, I thought: awesome. I have used some VB, Visual Studio in the past. I’m not a programmer per se, but I can script, wrote code in the past, etc. I then eagerly installed VS (2010, at the time) and installed the extensions. The first impression: I believe I went through all phases very quickly: Denial, anger, fear and the acceptance: that will take a while to grasp.

Although the Authoring Console was a bit dry, it had some wizards, some visualization aids that were helpful. And would look a bit like the console. With VSAE, I felt a bit abandoned in the desert.

Months pass and I went back to it a few times to try and was able to do very little. I decided to create a Task Scheduler MP for Windows 2012. I confess, I did it using the authoring console.

But recently, two things happened. First, I saw this article by the guru Kevin Holman on how to create lots of workflows using VSAE. Second: I had to use it in a customer scenario, where they had around 100 event rules to be created and nobody wanted to click more than a 1000 times to do that. Well, it is time.

And right now, I’m starting another project, where I’m helping a customer to migrate almost 300 MOM 2005 (Yes, gentlemen, I said MOM 2005) workflows to SCOM 2012.

And here’s the challenge: how to do that fast and consistently. The AC requires as many clicks as the actual console. Or more. Editing bare XML can help, but is prone to errors and inconsistencies. Why not use the current tool and experiencing and learning how it would behave.

My initial tests are very promising and I will start a series of posts here, describing how it is progressing. Stay tuned!

Hope this helps