System Center Integration Framework (Integration Kit 2.0)

Note: These are not committed features, enhancements or other efforts. These are simply suggestions and placeholders for a yet-to-be-defined release. This page will be updated as suggestions and plans mature.

Overall Framework Improvements

The 1.0 integration kit was generally a loosely-coupled set of utility methods, created on the fly as needed to solve specific problems or needs in creating the OEM deployment product. In thinking about 2.0 and beyond, the integration kit and the System Center Integration Framework in general need to be a more tightly-integrated set of code that does more than provide some utility functions. The code needs to provide a streamlined methodology for creating integrations with System Center products, as well as form the foundations of centralized, yet componentized, methods for handling common needs such as logging, error handling, and other items. Also key in this development is the inclusion of testing facilities so that every bit of code can be effectively tested in a methodical manner rather than using ad-hoc testing using the “beat on the keyboard until it breaks” method.

Toward those goals, the major framework improvements in 2.0 will be:
  • Inclusion of and dependence on the Microsoft Enterprise Library (from the Patterns & Practices Team). This library is a well-established set of enterprise API-like libraries that form the foundation for a core set of functionality, such as:
    • Logging
    • Exception Handling
    • Encryption
    • Validation
    • Data Access
    • Policy Injection
    • Caching
  • Linkage to additional application blocks that are common extensions to the Enterprise Library
    • Unity – Constructor, property and method call injection
    • Application Block Factory
    • Web Service Software Factory
    • Smart Client Software Factory
  • More documentation from the code to high-level overviews. More flowcharts and other documentation to help explain the function and intent of the code.
  • Development of a test harness with unit tests for each method
  • Improvement and expansion of utility methods to streamline code creation, validation, etc. Effort will be put into working with System Center product teams to provide sample code including detailed test scenarios.
  • Integration with Windows Workflow Foundation (WF), Windows Communication Foundation (WCF), Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF). Extensibility through Powershell
  • Common Toolsets, samples, and best practices documentation, such as:
    • WIX (installer) – to allow for a more flexible installation process
    • Visual Studio - Test Edition – for creating and running unit tests against the code

Some Specific Feature Enhancements for 2.0, Related to SCCM and/or OEM Deployment:

Note: Again, these are not committed features, just placeholders and ideas for areas of improvement.
Boot Images
  1. Enable manual selection of boot image to be used as source for creating OEM-specific boot image
  2. Enable upgrading existing OEM-specific boot images
  3. Enable single boot image for multiple OEMs (allows for universal task sequence)
  4. WinPE Management Wizard
    1. Allows detailed management of drivers, registry changes, additional files copied in, WinPE packages, potential creation of user interface/menus, etc.
Drivers
  1. Better driver management
    1. Driver management in SCCM is currently not very robust and leads to confusion among customers when the same driver name is re-used for different applications of the same driver (ie x86 vs x64, different OSes, etc.)
    2. Customers need to have different views or tools to allow them to better manage their device drivers and driver packages so they completely understand which drivers they are using in their enterprise.
  2. Driver integration with WSUS custom updates
    1. (Requires customer use of WSUS 3.0 SP1 or later and partner use of 3.1 schema)
    2. There needs to be a connection between drivers in WSUS and the OSD driver catalog.
User interface
  1. Blade-specific features
    1. Right now, there are not any enhancements to the console or any specific features in the deployment kit for server blades. We should allow the user to see and configure specific information related to blade servers, such as physical location, embedded management, etc.
  2. Command-line Wizard
    1. Just like the Array Builder wizard, applies rules specified in XML to building a correct command line for a configuration utility. Enables more advanced scenarios for the user while allowing them to do so without constantly referring to documentation. It essentially presents them with a series of potential commands, and each one they choose filters the possible remaining commands.

Task sequence mini-wizard
  1. Multiple user-selectable task sequence templates
    1. Ability to have multiple templates to choose from (like the main task sequence wizard has a couple of paths) rather than one template for new task sequences and one template for merging task sequences.
  2. Improve user experience at task sequence creation time
    1. Right now the task sequences folder doesn’t always refresh, new task sequences are created in root folder or in current folder depending on which type you’re doing, etc.
Reboot to PXE
  1. Utilize a “centralized” RTP functionality instead of replicating it for each OEM
Installer
  1. Greater flexibility for choosing components to install
  2. Better error detection and recovery
  3. Improve handling of right-click actions for multiple OEMs
    1. InstallShield’s XML injection capabilities are not very robust and end up with the potential of creating multiple OEM menus
General
  1. ROM / BIOS flash during deployment using custom updates
  2. Run custom inventory and set variables at the beginning of a task sequence to aid in hardware-independent branching task sequences
Samples and Documentation
  1. Better documentation of usage scenarios:
    1. Creating a master hardware-independent task sequence
    2. Workload deployment
    3. Integration with other OEM features / applications
  2. Reports, Queries, Collections
    1. Correlate drivers to WinPE boot images, Windows OS images, driver packages, installed machines
Testing
  1. Implement task sequence testing framework to allow for easier dev/test of task sequences rather than requiring constantly going through normal user flow requiring reboot and deploy. For instance, allow running full task sequence from booted WinPE machine by creating “fake” task sequence environment
SCCM Actions
  1. Auto-create a single-computer collection and assign a task sequence to it
  2. Chain task sequences
    1. Custom task sequence action to call another task sequence
    2. Custom task sequence action to terminate current task sequence
  3. Custom task sequence action to run a script (user types in or imports)
  4. New methods:
    1. Add a right-click action to menu (SccmObjectInstaller)
Utilities
  1. Log parser / correlator / OSD troubleshooting tool
Miscellaneous
  1. Allow for embedding tools in WinPE rather than requiring a separate package

Schedule

There is no formal schedule yet for this release, but I am trying to get something done in a preliminary state for public consumption by MMS in late April 2009.

Last edited Dec 29, 2008 at 9:01 PM by rhearn, version 1

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