Details about the System Center Integration Framework

Hi, my name is Robert Hearn and I will be your tour guide today for your wonderful journey into the fiery depths of he... oh wait... wrong intro.... into the wonderful world of integrating with System Center!
During our journey together, we'll learn about the cute and cuddly native inhabitants of System Center and how best to raise and nurture your integrations so that they become nice, responsible applications (be careful of those teenage years). We'll share helpful hints, tips and tricks, warnings about the potholes and the bad areas of town, and generally have a good time expanding our knowledge and capabilities of integrating with System Center.

So, who is this Robert Hearn, anyway? And what is this SCIF thing?

Oh! That's me! Ahem.... Hi, my name is Robert... oh wait, you know that already... What you don't know is that aside from annoying you with my writing style, I'm also a Senior Program Manager at Microsoft, dealing with partner integration programs for the System Center team. Although typically Program Managers go about as deep technically as a functional spec, I somehow found myself buried deep in code over the last couple of years working on integrations with Configuration Manager for our OEM partners. The result of this effort was the 1.0 version of this project, which honestly I hate to refer to as the System Center Integration Framework since it was really nothing more than a bunch of hastily-written utility methods designed to help build the integrations we were working on. There wasn't a lot of planning that went into the code, and many times, new methods were written at the spur of the moment as we needed to get some specific functionality.

As we got part of the way through the project, I realized that what we were doing would be really useful to everyone as an integration layer, rather than just used one time for one specific application. And, since we were writing this integration to work with multiple OEMs, it kind of ended up as a framework anyway. When I started the project, I really didn't have a lot of development experience. I'm a Program Manager, remember? Sure, I had done some dev work on the side, but nothing really serious. I actually learned C# over the course of developing this integration, as well as a few other languages (some I wouldn't say aloud in public!). Getting closer to the end of the 1.0 project, it became evident that there would be a lot of benefit to the partner community as a whole to have this framework available to help them get off the ground in developing integrations for Configuration Manager (and System Center as a whole). So, the idea of the SCIF was born.

But isn't all this in an SDK or an API somewhere? Who is getting laid off because of you?

Believe me, nobody's getting laid off - we need all the SDK people!

SCIF (technically SCIF 2.0) will be a broad-spectrum set of pre-built methods, sample components, projects and solutions that enables you to quickly and easily get up to speed on developing new add-ons to System Center applications, or just integrating your current application with System Center. It's designed to cross all the boundaries between the SDKs and APIs of the individual System Center products and provide a more unified experience to the developer so that developing an integration with Configuration Manager is not a completely new experience compared to Operations Manager. And unlike the typical SDK, the code does more than provide an interface into the product. there will be tons of additional methods that provide more of a utility function than working directly with the System Center products. Some of this is a result of lessons learned during this development process, some of it is from best practices championed by Microsoft and others, and some of it is simply stuff you would have to write anyway.

Above all, the goal here is to provide a way for those interested in building integrations to learn how to do it with plenty of sample code and example projects that do more than the typical "Hello World" application. By showing integration using real world applications, you can truly see how all the interaction happens behind the scenes and use the code in your own applications. It's like looking into Microsoft code and not having to use a decompiler! (oh wait, did I say that?)

Ok, I get the point. What do i do now?

  • Well, first off is that you should subscribe to the RSS feed. See more on that here: Keeping up with SCIF
  • The second thing is to check out the "how can I help?" page here: How you can help
  • The final thing is to send cash (no wait... you shouldn't do that). How about instead you just provide lots of support and encouragement to your little application...they grow up so fast...


That's it for now. Happy Coding!
-Robert

Last edited Aug 11, 2009 at 6:15 PM by rhearn, version 1

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