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Opalis 6.3: Getting Started with the Configuration Manager IP

Opalis 6.3: Getting Started with the Configuration Manager IP

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Opalis 6.3 introduces four new System Center Integration Packs (for SCCM, SCSM, SCVMM, and SCDPM) and updates the existing OpsMgr IP. We'll be posting a number of deep dives into the different Integration Packs to show some of the scenarios we used in creating them, but I thought that for Configuration Manager I would add a "Getting Started" article to walk through all of the different activities and how to quickly build useful workflows with them.

What's In the Configuration Manager IP (with links to the TechNet docs for each):

Each of these activities has a specific purpose, and when combined with all of the other activities available in the base product and other Integration Packs, the potential variations are virtually limitless. It's a very flexible set of activities that addresses a specific slice of activities faced by ConfigMgr admins. Some of you may look at this list and say it addresses the majority of the things you do every day. Others may look at the list and want even more activities because you do things other than the scenarios we thought about when designing the Integration Pack. For those of you who want more, I encourage you to check out the article I wrote a couple of days ago: Making Custom Objects and Integration Packs using PowerShell Scripts.

For now, let's talk about the general scenarios we were shooting for in this release. We concentrated on datacenter scenarios, but didn't forget about the client scenarios. In thinking about how customers would use this IP with Configuration Manager, these two overall themes stood out:

  • In the data center, Opalis provides for repeatable processes, integrated with change management, that take potential human error out of the deployment and management of critical server systems.
  • For client management, Opalis provides a way to increase IT efficiencies by reduce the human effort involved in handling large-scale problems like remediating client update compliance.

We looked at the basic tasks that the majority of ConfigMgr admins tackle every day, and determined what kinds of Opalis activities would be useful in performing these tasks

ConfigMgr Admin Tasks

Individual Actions Involved

Opalis Activities Used

Sample Workflow

Software Deployment Creating Collections
Assigning programs to collections
Checking deployment status
Create Collection
Add Computer to Collection
Create Advertisement
Refresh Collection
Refresh Client
Get Advertisement Status
image
OS Deployment Creating Collections
Assigning task sequences to collections
Checking task sequence status
Create Collection
Add Computer to Collection
Advertise Task Sequence
Refresh Collection
Refresh Client
Get Advertisement Status
image
Patch Deployment Creating Collections
Assigning updates to collections
Checking compliance status
Create Collection
Add Computer to Collection
Deploy Software Update
Refresh Collection
Refresh Client
Get Software Update Compliance
image

As you can see, there are a number of actions that are used across all the scenarios. We also add a couple of other utility activities: Delete Collection and Get Collection Member.

The workflows I show above are very simple, but are functional as they are. All that is required is to configure the various properties of the activities. These simple workflows are actually enough to get you going with automating Configuration Manager activities like these. Of course, you'll want to add more details like error checking / handling, integration with change management, and more. Going back to my "Building Blocks" article, you can think of workflows like LEGOs, where you start with a simple configuration and then build on it to make it more sophisticated. That's what we'll explore in more detail in the next few articles.

For now, this is enough to "get your feet wet" and start building workflows with Opalis to automate Configuration Manager activities.



Comments
  • We are in the process of implementing SCCM and would like to use Opalis to automate some of our tasks.  Is there a way to use Opalis to automate/streamline package & program creation within SCCM?  We've looked at the SCCM SDK and can do it there, just wondered if Opalis could help make it easier.

  • Whatever you can do with the ConfigMgr SDK, you can create a custom object for in Opalis. In fact, here's an article I wrote about using PowerShell to create a custom activity for creating an update list:

    blogs.technet.com/.../making-custom-objects-amp-integration-packs-using-powershell-scripts.aspx

    Doing the same for packages and programs is about the same.