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A simple guide to WMI providers

By Cohen Shwartz Oren

How to write WMI providers in C#

• Download Demo executables – 6 Kb


• Download Demo project – 19.9 Kb

Table of contents

• Introduction
• What is Platform Management?
• What is WMI?
• What is WMI Provider?
• Developing WMI Provider – Where to start?
• Defining Namespace
• Sample project
• How to use the Demo project
• Known problems in .NET WMI implementation
• Conclusion
• Appendix A: Definitions & Acronyms
• Appendix B :WMI tools
• Appendix C: Important Reading
• Appendix D : Developing steps to support SNMP

Introduction

This article's purpose is to describe how to develop a WMI provider in the .NET
framework. There are several incentives for writing this article:

• The lack of simple examples for writing WMI provider in c#.


• Many developers are not familiar with WMI and therefore don’t make use
of this powerful technology.
• By now there are too many Management buzz words that requires simple
explanations.

This article does not include the use of SNMP and does not answer to the
following questions:

• How to write MIB?


• How to configure the Windows SNMP service?
• How to subscribe for traps?

Nevertheless, anyone who interest in those questions can find some useful notes
regarding the required steps to expose managed application to SNMP (see
appendix D).

Management includes a ‘Managed object’, ‘Managed object provider’ and a


‘Management consumer’. A Managed object can be a hardware device, driver or a
software application that we would like to configure and to receive events from.
The management consumer is the client application that wants to receive those
events and the managed object provider is the mediator that provides this
interaction between the two. The Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI)
supplies the standards means to do this.

What is Platform Management?

In a nut shell, Platform Management is the means to manage and monitor the
health of a system. This may fall into the following categories :

• Configuration - initialization and settings of various aspects of the platform


objects such as timeout values, user count thresholds, database
connection strings etc.
• Performance measurements - measure end to end process in regards to
duration, optimization etc.
• Hearth beats monitoring - manage component life time. Start and stop
services, receiving components state etc.
• Information exposing - expose platform information that might be valuable
for system administrators, billing etc.
• Alerts mechanism – informative events, errors and critical errors that
happens in the platform.
• Corrective events mechanism – As opposed to post mortem events this
kind of events gives to the administrators the ability to perform actions in
order to prevent up coming errors.

What is WMI?

WMI stands for Windows Management Instrumentation. This is the Microsoft


implementation to two industry standards of DMTF (Desktop Management Task
Force) the first is CIM (Common Information Model) and the second is WBEM
(Web-Based Enterprise Management).

WMI core is already a part of windows ME/2000 and XP. The WMI enables the
management capabilities by supplying the standard storage component (CIM),
the means to set and get information to and from the storage and the ability to
dock third party providers (same as plug-in) to the Providers Manager (CIMOM).
This industry standard compliancy allows alien components to share management
environment locally and remotely by using SNMP.

What is WMI provider?

WMI Provider is a software component that functions as mediator between the


CIM Object Manager and managed objects. Using the WMI APIs, providers supply
the CIM Object Manager with data from managed objects, handle requests on
behalf of management applications, and generate event notifications.

Developing WMI Provider – Where to start?

In order to expose software component such as a service through the WMI one
need to write WMI provider. This plug-in (provider) exposes the service to the
WMI and provides the interface to receive information and to interact with the
service. Till recently WMI Providers was written as a COM component and now
with the emerging of .NET framework it is easier to develop providers.

In case you aren’t familiar with the MOF syntax you can simply start with
developing the WMI Provider(see the sample section). When it all done and
finished use the InstallUtil.exe (see appendix B) tool to enter the managed class
into the CIM schema, then if you want you can generate the MOF file from the
WMI CIM Studio (it is highly recommended since it is the best way to learn this
syntax). If you do know how to write MOF file (lucky guy) then use the
Mgmtclassgen utility (see appendix B) to create the C# classes and events for the
WMI provider.

Defining Namespace

Namespace enables you to logically gather related managed objects under one
logic umbrella. It is recommended to define your own namespace for several
reasons:

• Order
• Efficiency – Namespace like 'CIMV2' and 'Default' contains a lot of
Managed objects. By defining unique namespace enables you to save time
while looking for your objects.

Sample project

The demo includes a simple .NET service (‘Parachute service’ - Managed


application ) and a WMI provider (‘Parachute provider’). For simplicity reasons,
the sample use the MSDEV IDE extension for VS.NET Server Explorer (see
Appendix B) as the consumer application.
The Service code is quite simple. Adding a reference to the ParachuteProvider and
to System.Managment assemblies. In the ExposeMeToWMI method we instantiate
the provider, set some values and then publish (Instrumentation.Publish() )
the provider to the WMI. The publish call registered the provider and the
managed object is mapped into the CIM schema. Events are fired when the
service starts and stops.

Note: The provider instance is valid only when the service is started.

The Provider code contains the following actions:

• Adding reference to theSystem.Management assembly.


• Defining the instrumented namespace parachute_company under root:
[assembly:Instrumented("root/parachute_company")]
Note: The managed object schema will be defined under this namespace.

Adding an instance installer in case we want to publish the provider directly via
the InstallUtil tool. In this example we publish the provider through the service.
Defining events by using the InstrumentationType.Event attribute:
[InstrumentationClass( InstrumentationType.Event )]. Defining WMI
Provider instance using the InstrumentationType.Instance attribute:
[InstrumentationClass( InstrumentationType.Instance )]

Note: The provider code can be just as well written in the service.

How to use the Demo project

1. Register the Parachute service to the SCM (Service Control Manager) with
the InstallUtil tool (%systemroot%%\Microsoft.NET\Framework\
<framework version> \InstallUtil.exe).

InstallUtil.exe <service file>.

2. Open the SCM \Administrative tools\ Services


3. Log on as ‘This account’- Right click on the service name (Parachute) ->
Properties -> Log on tab -> check the ‘This account’ enter user name and
password (the user must be under Administrator group).
4. Start the service
5. Install the MSDEV IDE Management extension for VS.NET Server Explorer.
6. Open the MSDEV in ‘Server Explorer’ view.
7. Add your computer to the explorer: Right click on the Servers root tree ->
Add Server.
8. Add Management class to the ‘Management Classes’ item. Look for the
Parachute class under to the parachute_company namespace.
9. Expend the Parachute item you should see the brand new instance. Take a
look at the instance properties you can see that the parachute color is
exposed (red) by WMI.

10. Subscribe for events: ‘Add Event Query ‘to the ‘Management Events’ item.

11. Check the ‘Custom’ Events type.


12. Add the Landing and Jump events (situated under the parachute_company
namespace).
13. Start and stop the service. The MSDEV output window will display the
events data.

Known problems in .NET WMI implementation


• .NET framework, currently, does not support methods and properties
settings.
• For some reason the WMI Event Registration tool to subscribe an events
does not work. You can use instead the MSDEV IDE:
• The schema is not removed when Installutil.exe /u is run. (You can
remove it using wbemtest.exe).

Conclusion

Well, that's it folks. Hopefully, this article will stimulate you to drill down into the
WMI technology and to make advantage of it. Please send feedback, bug reports
or suggestions here.

Appendix A : Definitions & Acronyms

• CIM - Common Information Model – this is the premier concept of WBEM


by this model WMI stores the Managed objects data (namespace, classes,
methods, properties etc.).
• CIM Repository – This is the storage that holds the Managed objects data.
The structure of the CIM repository is build upon the DMTF.
• CIMOM - Common Information Model object manager. The CIM repository
is managed by the CIMOM, which acts as an agent for object requests. The
CIMOM tracks available classes and determines which provider is
responsible for supplying instances of these classes..
• DMTF - Distributed Management Task Force – The DMTF consortium was
founded in May of 1992. This initiative was conceived and created by eight
companies like: BMC Software Inc., Cisco Systems Inc., Compaq Computer
Corp., Intel Corp., and Microsoft Corp. etc. The aims of this consortium are
to define industry standards for management.
• MIB – Management Information Base describes a set of managed objects.
Each managed object in a MIB has a unique identifier.
• MOF - Managed Object Format. This text file includes the class definition of
on or more managed object. You can export and import this definition
from the CIM repository by using the WMI CIM Studio.
• Schema - a group of classes that describe a particular management
environment.
• SNMP - Simple Network Management Protocol. SNMP is an Internet
standard defined by the IETF and is a part of TCP/IP suite of protocols.
SNMP is the protocol by which managed information is travel between
stations and agents. Management information refers to a collection of
managed objects that reside in a virtual information store called a
Management Information Base (MIB).
• WBEM - Web-Based Enterprise Management – WBEM stands for several
DMTF industry standards including the Common Information Model. WBEM
provides a standardized way to access information from various hardware
and software management systems in an enterprise environment.

Appendix B : WMI tools

• Download the WMI Administrative Tools at:


http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyId=6430F853-
1120-48DB-8CC5-F2ABDC3ED314&displaylang=en It includes the
following:
o WMI CIM Studio: view and edit classes, properties, qualifiers, and
instances in a CIM repository; run selected methods; generate and
compile MOF files. WMI Object Browser: view objects, edit property
values and qualifiers, and run methods.
o WMI Event Registration Tool: configure permanent event
consumers, create or view instances of event consumers, filters,
bindings, and timer system classes.
o WMI Event Viewer: displays events for all instances of registered
consumers.
• Mgmtclassgen.exe - Microsoft Visual Studio .NET tool. Convert MOF file
into .cs/.vb/.js files.
• Management [WMI] Extension for VS.NET Server Explorer
:http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?displaylang=en&famil
yid=ef7594d3-4907-4af6-b7d8-6e22115ffaf0
• Platform SDK tools – %systemroot%\system32\wbem
• mofcomp.exe – Compiles MOF files and adds the managed objects to the
CIM Repository. It is also possible to check the MOF file correctness.
• wbemtest.exe - Windows Management Instrumentation Tester, also called
WBEMTest, is a general-purpose utility for viewing or modifying Common
Information Model (CIM) classes, instances etc. It is functions as the CIM
studio only it UI is humble.
• MIB Browser - http://www.nonlinearideas.com/
• MIB editor, builder and browser - http://www.mg-soft.com/index.html

Appendix C : Important reading

Books

• “Developing WMI Solution” - http://www.wbem.co.uk/ Chapter 8 –


Developing .NET Management Application.

Articles

• A Peek into the Enterprise Instrumentation Framework


http://www.codeproject.com/dotnet/EIF.asp?target=wmi
• Windows Management Instrumentation: The Journey Begins -
http://www.winnetmag.com/Articles/Index.cfm?ArticleID=8959&pg=2
• Exposing Management Events
http://msdn.microsoft.com/library/default.asp?url=/library/en-
us/cpguide/html/cpconexposingmanagementevents.asp
• Inheritance http://msdn.microsoft.com/library/default.asp?url=/library/en-
us/cpguide/html/cpconexposingmanagementevents.asp
• Understanding WMI Evening
http://www.winscriptingsolutions.com/Articles/Index.cfm?ArticleID=9805
• Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI) Implementation
http://www.codeproject.com/csharp/wmi.asp?target=wmi
• WMI Made Easy For C#
http://www.csharphelp.com/archives2/archive334.html

Appendix D : Developing steps to support SNMP

1. Obtain an OID (Object IDentifier) from IANA To participate in the SNMP


arena you need to define your classes and events in a MIB file. First, The
SNMP root node must be a unique number (Only ONE MIB/SNMP Private
Enterprise number is permitted per organization). IANA:
http://www.iana.org/cgi-bin/enterprise.pl
2. Create a MIB (Management Information Base) file (check out the appendix
B for some useful and easy to use MIB editors). Define classes and SNMP
traps (events) that will eventually expose by the WMI Provider.
3. Compile the MIB file using the SMI2SMIR utility. This will generate a MOF
file.
4. Compile the MOF file using the mofcomp.exe compiler to check the MOF
file syntax correctness.
5. Create the C# classes and events with the Mgmtclassgen utility (see
appendix B). Use the C# classes to create WMI provider: