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MP Container Defaults: M-Pack Creator vs Visual Studio

Introduction: Definition of MP Container

My definition of an MP container is how I would refer to as the outer shell of your Management Pack. Sort of how you see a frame to a perfect picture.

The outer shell (or frame) can take a while to structure when creating one from scratch. This is the overall foundation from how it will display and present itself in not only your SCOM monitoring console but how it will display your monitoring in general. We want to create a strong frame so that it’s adaptable to any monitoring portrait.

In this article we will look to outline the differences of administrative effort between how you would achieve this in Visual Studios utilizing VSAE and then how you can achieve this within the ProtectOrg M-Pack Creator solution.

What makes up the MP Container

How I see this is simply what are the foundational bases which would allow a management pack to be eligible to be imported straight away into SCOM. Not so much to whether it will monitor something straight away, but more to the fact it will display correctly and be as user friendly as possible.

Below are the bases of the foundation of your MP Container;

  • Management Pack Name
  • Management Pack Description
  • Management Pack Parent Folder
  • Management Pack Sealed Status
  • Management Pack Version

These look to be very easy and basic type of properties, and they in fact absolutely are! As a matter of fact creating a management pack in the SCOM console alone achieves the majority of this in a flash. However the only thing you cannot do in that method is sealing a management pack. And this would be very important if you want to monitor any form of classes or create overrides for another management pack which is sealed going forward.

Creating the MP container with Visual Studio

So the best way to outline the process of how we create everything is to start from the beginning when creating the management pack and then cover all of the MP Container properties.

The first thing is to create the SCOM Management Pack project.

Figure 1.1 - Operations Manager 2019 Management Pack Template

Once we have selected the SCOM version which would be applicable to the version which you are using, then we define a name for the management pack project.

Figure 1.2 - Configure your new project window

Once you click create then the Management Pack Project fragment is then created. So now we have to go through the MP container defaults. So we right click the name of our management pack and go into properties so we can get the following below shown in Figure 1.3

Figure 1.3 - Management Pack Settings Properties

So we have a few things which tick our list above which are;

  • Management Pack ID – ID name of the Management Pack (cannot use any spaces)
  • Management Pack Version
  • Management Pack Friendly Name – Name displayed in the SCOM Console

If we want to control these settings in a different way then we can click the Find or Create the Management Pack Display Name and Description hyperlink and this will take us into the ManagementPack.mpx fragment as seen in Figure 1.4

Figure 1.4 - ManagementPack.mpx fragment

The next part we want to configure is then making the management pack sealed. In the same settings we need to go into the properties and select the Build tab and tick the Generate sealed and signed management pack tick box.

Figure 1.5 - Sealed Management Pack Settings

But we still need to create a key pairing file which is created using the Visual Studio Developer tools utilizing the sn.exe program to generate it.

Once done you click the browse button shown in Figure 1.5 and select the key pairing which will be used to seal your management pack.

The next part is to configure the auto versioning settings in the Deployment tab. Leaving this on by default will allow the auto incrementing every time you build the management pack project. But here we can define which version the management pack will always remain on.

Figure 1.6 - Deployment Versioning Settings

Now the final part we need, is to have at the very least have a parent folder which will not only be displayed in the SCOM console but also allow you to nest folders and also views.

There are two ways to do this, we can add a new item which uses a template Folder Item fragment template.

Figure 1.7 - Folder & Folder Item Template

Below you can see the folder fragment which contains some additional commentary which tells the user where they can add switches to create the folders for their management pack.

Figure 1.8 - Folder Item Fragment Template

Or the other option is to copy from a ready created fragment which contains all of the XML detail to form the folder fragment where you can replace IDs etc, and this will allow you to kick start the folder object a lot quicker.

Figure 1.9 - Parent Folder Template

Creating the MP Container with M-Pack Creator

Now when we look at how we achieve this from the M-Pack Creator solution this is the best part about the product. Everything which we had listed above for what we see are the foundational objects of information, are simply set on the first page!

In Figure 1.10 we have the Management Pack Form, which is the very first option whenever you launch the application and this gives you all of the MP Definition fields to fill and even more in fact.

Figure 1.10 - Management Pack Form from M-Pack Creator

Not only can we set all of the MP Container properties but we can also control whether the management pack is sealed or not sealed immediately. Also to note that not only is the key pair created automatically but its also stored alongside the management pack for safe storing.

In addition we can also control the versioning of the management pack, and this is basically whenever you make a change the version will increment each time, very similar to Visual Studios. But we can also easily specify whether we want to set the version manually throughout any change. But what is interesting about this product is that how easily this can be defined. Not to mention even after you have built the MP container, you have the option to change both options at any time.

ProtectOrg M-Pack Creator will be available to buy and download from our website soon. To be notified when it is available, please register your interest by using our contact form and make sure to tick the M-Pack Creator tick box.

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