It would be wrong to start off any discussion of SCOM authoring without pointing out some of the great resources that do exist on this topic:
-The MSDN Operations Manager Development Kit (Excellent for those of the developer persuasion, but less friendly for those whom PowerShell is much more comfortable than C#)
-Steve Wilson’s classic AuthorMP blog posts. (A bit dated, but they remain a source of some the most insightful posts on various aspects of OpsMgr)
-Jonathan Almquist’s posts both in his old, and new home
-Brian Wren has put together great video content + some awesome posts over the years
-Graham Davies and the Manageability Guys in the UK have some awesome posts: 1, 2 , 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8
-If you happen to be a Microsoft Premier customer there is a great workshop on SCOM Authoring with Visual Studio that came out last year
-And countless members of the community like Tao Yang & Raphael Burri who have written high quality MPs that can serve as a primer to those who want to dig in and start authoring. (Since I started writing this post awhile back I believe Tao has hosted some MP authoring training, I haven’t gotten a chance to look at it yet, but once I do I will add a link.)
-There are of course many other worthwhile posts throughout the SCOM community both inside and outside of Microsoft, but that is what Bing, Google, and DuckDuckGo are for.
But despite all that great content out there. Management Pack authoring can be an extremely difficult skill to acquire. At least from my own perspective – starting out in MP Authoring was really hard. Even after having read the vast majority of the published info on MP authoring, and watching all the videos that are out there I can’t say that I felt particularly confident to wade into Visual Studio and start writing management packs. I understood the basic mechanics, but I lacked the ability to fill in the inevitable gaps of knowledge to be able to author custom MPs that met real enterprise level business needs.
Unfortunately, a lot of the best how-to examples and step-by-step tutorials tend to be a little generic. I suspect this is done intentionally to minimize complexity as much as possible. The hope being that a budding MP author can learn the fundamentals and then extrapolate from the excellent guide on “how to author a custom MP that no one would ever import into their real environment”, and later apply this knowledge to some real-world problem.
My brain tends to not work that way. It is easily distracted by shiny objects and Wikipedia. To learn I need concrete real-world examples, problems, deadlines. For me the most valuable training in MP authoring came not from all the guides and links referenced above, but from a single one hour Lync call with a senior colleague at Microsoft. I had a specific question that I didn’t know how to solve and step-by-step over the course of an hour he walked me through how to build an MP that addressed that request.
I really wish there were a ton of Authoring videos like that call out there following the simple formula:
Real-world enterprise monitoring problem that is not currently addressed by a Management Pack + Screen capture video that walks through the process every step of the way.
Sadly as fun as it would be to simply complain, I think there might be some small value in me adding what little I know about MP authoring to the general ether following the format above.
I had toyed with the idea of doing Livecoding.tv or live Twitch.tv sessions, but my home internet connection these days is DSL so the upload streaming experience is lacking, so these will be pre-recorded sessions with some light editing.
The first installment can be found here:
MP Authoring 001
I have about 10 videos planned so far and if the first few are of any use to the community I will shoot for publishing a new video every two weeks until I run out of ideas.