Kicking the tires for Configuration Manager 2012’s Package Conversion Manager (PCM)

Kicking the tires for Configuration Manager 2012’s Package Conversion Manager (PCM)

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In the past few months, we’ve received a lot of requests to help many of you focus on “testing” the new Package Conversion Manager (PCM) that is available in the Microsoft Download Center.  It is rather trivial to actually download PCM and install in your production environment yet for many it is very scary to do so.  You *can* safely do this without concerns as we do not modify any System Center Configuration Manager 2012 database settings during install.  Instead, we simply update the Administration Console to enable the functionality.  The backend database pieces are part of Configuration Manager 2012 that you received already.  As such, we reference PCM as a Configuration Manager 2012 Feature Pack.

In today’s post, I want to help many of you get started by providing you some files that will import some basic packages/programs into your Configuration Manager 2012 system.  Beyond this, I wanted to enable you to test our collection intent functionality enabling you to easily move WQL query targets to the new Application Model’s Global Conditions & Requirements.

Lastly, I’ve also attached a tool (PCMTestTool.exe) that allow you to easily “clean” the system and run through various times to get the hang of it.  This tool is available as-is and isn’t supported by Microsoft.

Preparing your Configuration Manager 2012 Infrastructure for the test drive

Let’s start by downloading the files attached to this blog.  They are in a single zip file called KickingTiresPCM.zip.  You can download them here.

After this, we need to do a couple of quick things before we get deep into kicking the tires.  First, you must have already installed Configuration Manager 2012 on a server OS such as Windows 2008/R2.  We do not have any requirements outside a working server-side infrastructure.  You do not for the purpose of this test need working clients as the packages I’m providing to you are not designed to be deployed to clients.

Second, you will need to create a new configuration file for PowerShell that allows us to target both framework versions as the clean script is written using PowerShell.  By default, PowerShell isn’t targeted against both .NET 2.0 and .NET 4.0.  I outline how to do this in my blog post here.  In order to effectively run through the plug-in demo, you will need to do this step.

Setting up Applications for Testing of Configuration Manager PCM Usage

The first step is to import some applications.  I’ve outlined in the following blog post how to effectively import a set of applications called HRBusinessApps.zip (they are part of the above zip.)  To simplify, use my blog titled “ConfigMgr 2012 PCM Walking Through PCM Plug In Capabilities” under the section titled Developing your Plug In.

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After you’ve imported the applications, you will need to change the source for the packages. To do this, you follow these instructions outlined in the above blog in section “Edit the Program Source for the HR Business Apps” -

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Stepping through Analyze, Convert, Fix & Convert, and Scheduling with PCM

In the past, I’ve provided several detailed blogs on how to utilize the features of PCM.  Rather than repeat them, I’m going to provide them as reference as they will step you through using the major aspects of PCM.  The blogs are outlined below and if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to let me know.

Analyzing Packages in PCM

Using Fix & Convert scenario in PCM

Targeting:  Using PCM’s Collection Query Migration to the App Model

Using Scheduled Package Analyzer to schedule Analysis

Developing a Plug-In for PCM to support custom wrappers

Resetting Configuration Manager Readiness to re-test/re-enable PCM

To allow you to go through multiple iterations of testing and learning, I’ve provided you a tool our development team built that will facilitate cleaning your test environment.  This application is fully un-supported though it is signed with Microsoft’s digital signature to ensure you can trust it.  It provides several functions and I will provide their outline below.

Inside the downloaded zip file, you will find an application called PCMTestTool.exe.  This application allows you to do the following-

  • It creates packages & programs for you to test PCM
  • It will create these packages & programs with sample WQL queries for you to test Fix & Convert including collection intent
  • It will remove all PCM-specific state such as readiness, etc. so that you can test over & over again

This is the primary purpose of this blog is to help get you started with testing.  This allows you to test PCM without having any internal needs and you can simply download the single attached zip file, following instructions provided to import the packages/programs and off you go.  You can then utilize PCMTestTool.exe to clean your Configuration Manager 2012 test server to re-run and test.  You can also use PCMTestTool.exe against your own applications if you like.

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By default, each package created will create a WQL collection.  If you like to create a package with a unique WQL, you can use WQL Collection argument.

Summary

In today’s post, I focused on helping many of you get started in testing your environment by not requiring you to do it against your packages/programs.   Instead, I provided you with files you can use to test PCM and get familiar with it.  This will allow you to go through the various scenarios that PCM solves for you.

Let me know if you have any problems!

Enjoy!

Thanks,

-Chris

Attachment: KickingTiresPCM.zip
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  • The PPDAC file does not appear to be in the zip.  Can you repost?

  • Hey DJ-

    I have a bug in my blog.  We renamed it from PPDAC to PCMTestTool.exe.  It is under the zip of the same name.  I will update my blog to be accurate.  Great catch!

    Thanks,

    -Chris