SQL Server 2005 – SQL Server Integration Services – Part 10

In the previous
of our series dedicated to new features in SQL Server 2005
Integrated Services, we started exploring methods of incorporating Windows
Management Instrumentation (WMI) based data into the package flow control. As
explained, this functionality has been implemented in the form of two
components – WMI Data Task and WMI Event Task. The former (which we already
have covered) provides access to data describing a managed environment,
collected through WMI as soon as it is launched. This allows you, for example,
to establish the status of a computer system at an arbitrarily chosen date and
time, to ensure that parameters such as disk space, CPU utlization, or free
memory are within limits required in order to continue package execution.
Similarly, you can gather inventory of event log entries, installed applications,
or running processes, if other tasks depend on them in some way. Note that in
all these examples, you are the one who decides (through either interactive or
scheduled execution) the point in time at which values of WMI object properties
are extracted. In addition, use of WMI Data Task implies that you are primarily
interested in actual values. However, there might be cases in which you are
more concerned about detecting object creation, deletion, or modification (e.g.
when an arbitrary threshold is reached) in order to trigger an appropriate
action at that time. This is where WMI Event Task comes into play.

In order to explore the way WMI Event Task operates, we need first to explain
how WMI handles this type of scenario. As you might recall from our discussion
about principles of WMI, management features are implemented through classes.
While the classes we have mentioned so far deal with the state of hardware and
software components, there are also others which represent their dynamic
character. Depending on the type of changes, known in WMI jargon as events (to
be exact, changes to WMI classes that we are interested in are called intrinsic
events), there are three distinct classes:

  • __InstanceCreationEvent class, representing creation of a new
    object of a WMI class,

  • __InstanceDeletionEvent class, representing deletion of an
    existing object of a WMI class,

  • __InstanceModificationEvent class, representing modification to
    an existing object of a WMI class.

Note that these classes are designed with the intention of being paired up
with another WMI class, providing the ability to monitor changes to its
objects. Furthermore, WMI Query Language, which we briefly introduced before
(and which we will be using to extract data about instances of event classes),
has some syntactical peculiarities that you will need to be familiar with. More
specifically, the WHERE clause (mandatory in this case) includes the ISA
keyword followed by the name of a monitored class (which also applies the query
to all of its subclasses – as we mentioned in the previous article, classes
form a multi-level hierarchy, where children inherit properties and methods of
their parents). The WITHIN keyword (in the context presented in our examples)
sets the polling interval, which determines the maximum amount of time between
the event taking place and its notification being delivered to the WMI-based
application (WMI Event Task, in this case). You might want to set this interval
to a small integer for the duration of testing, but remember to increase it
afterwards, since low values tend to have negative impact on system
performance. Another common characteristic of WMI Event queries is the use of
the TargetInstance property (which exists in all three of the intrinsic event
classes listed above) representing an object that was the subject of the
monitored event (created, modified, or deleted). This provides the ability to
further narrow down the scope of your queries by specifying criteria
identifying exact instances that you are interested in. __InstanceModificationEvent
class has, additionally, PreviousInstance property, representing the object
with its properties prior to the event, which allows comparing "old"
values against the "new" ones assigned to TargetInstance properties.

To make these specifications a bit easier to understand, let’s look at some
of their practical applications. Most commonly, we will be testing for creation
of a particular object (class instance), which means that we will be running
the WQL SELECT statement against the __InstanceCreationEvent class. For
example, in order to detect newly launched processes (and ensure that the
notification will be returned in no more than 10 seconds), you would execute
the following query:

SELECT * FROM __InstanceCreationEvent WITHIN 10
WHERE TargetInstance ISA “Win32_process”

If you are interested only in a specific process (e.g. iexplore.exe), you
can add to the WHERE clause check for matching value of the Name property of
the object represented by the TargetInstance property:

SELECT * FROM __InstanceCreationEvent WITHIN 10
WHERE TargetInstance ISA “Win32_process”
AND TargetInstance.Name = “iexplore.exe”

Similarly, you can monitor Windows Event Viewer for a particular entry. TargetInstance
properties that might be helpful in assigning desired selection criteria –
besides the Logfile (which is included in our example below and can take on
values of System, Application, or Security) – include SourceName (identifying
the component responsible for generating the entry), or EventCode (a unique
number assigned to every event type):

SELECT * FROM __InstanceCreationEvent WITHIN 10
WHERE TargetInstance ISA “Win32_NTLogEvent”
AND TargetInstance.Logfile = “System”

As mentioned before, __InstanceModificationEvent queries, frequently take
advantage of the PreviousInstance property. The sample query listed below
monitors the insertion of a disk into the CD-ROM drive (by checking values of MediaLoaded
property of Win32_CDROMDrive class instance before and after the modification
WMI event):

SELECT * FROM __InstanceModificationEvent WITHIN 10
WHERE TargetInstance ISA “Win32_CDROMDrive”
AND TargetInstance.MediaLoaded = TRUE
AND PreviousInstance.MediaLoaded = FALSE

Probably the most common data processing scenario in which WMI events could
be helpful, involve launching a sequence of tasks activities as soon as data to
be processed becomes available (e.g. by being copied to target computer). This
can be accomplished by employing a SELECT query against __InstanceCreationEvent
class in combination with another class, for which creation of a new instance
is equivalent to creation of a new file on a managed computer. The best match
in this case (from the performance point of view) is the CIM_DirectoryContainsFile
class (this class forms an association between CIM_Directory and CIM_File
classes, which are referenced as its GroupComponent and PartComponent
properties, respectively). In order to detect a new file appearing in a
specific directory (in our example c:Data), you would run the following query
(note that the last entry contains extra backslashes as so-called escape
characters, which ensure proper string parsing. Such characters need to be
applied whenever you want the next character to be treated literally. For
example, by placing it after "Win32_Directory.Name=,
you ensure that the following double quote does not indicate the end of this
string, but rather the beginning of the path to target folder c:Data.
Similarly, we added it in front of each backslash appearing in the folder path):

SELECT * FROM __InstanceCreationEvent WITHIN 10
WHERE TargetInstance ISA “CIM_DirectoryContainsFile”
AND TargetInstance.GroupComponent = “Win32_Directory.Name=”c:\\Data””

Now it is time to look into incorporating this functionality into SSIS
packages using the WMI Event Watcher Task. Start by creating a new project
using SQL Server Business Intelligence Development Studio. Drag the WMI Event
Watcher Task from the toolbox onto the Control Flow area of the package
designer interface. Right-click on it and select Edit option from the context
sensitive menu. In the resulting WMI Event Watcher Task Editor window, switch
to the WMI Options entry. This will allow you to set the following parameters:

  • WmiConnection – this
    option contains the name of the target system and WMI namespace
    (which, by default is, rootcimv2), as well as the authentication method
    applied when connecting to it (for more detailed information, refer to the
    previous article, where we covered this topic in more detail).

  • WqlQuerySourceType – as in the case of the WMI Data Task, this
    option can be assigned Direct input, File connection, or Variable.

  • WqlQuerySource – the way this entry is populated depends on the WqlQuerySourceType.
    If you decide to test our examples above, ensure that you remove all extraneous
    formatting characters (tabs, carriage returns), which we included in order to
    make them more readable.

  • ActionAtEvent – two available choices are "Log the
    event" or "Log the event and fire SSIS event." We will be covering
    SSIS events and package execution logging capabilities in our future articles,
    but for now, in order to be able to test our examples, let’s review briefly the
    way to verify their successful completion through entries recorded in logs.
    Start by right-clicking on the unused space of the Control Flow area of the
    designer interface and selecting the Logging… item from the context sensitive
    menu. You will be presented with the Configure SSIS Logs:Package window. Click
    on the Package label in the list of Containers on the left hand side of the
    window. On the Providers and Logs tab on the right hand side, ensure that
    "SSIS log provider for Text Files" is selected and use the Add…
    button to make the corresponding entry to appear in the "Select the logs
    to use for the container" section. In the list of Containers on the left
    hand side, mark the checkbox next to the WMI Event Watcher Task and click on
    its label (leaving the Package checkbox empty). You should see the "SSIS
    log provider for Text Files" under the Providers and Logs tab. Click on
    the list box in the Configuration column and select the <New
    connection…> entry. This will display the File Connection Manager Editor
    dialog box, from which you need to specify the Usage type (Create file,
    Existing file, Create folder, or Existing folder) as well as the file name and
    location. All logging actions resulting from events associated with WMI Event
    Watcher Task will be recorded in this file. Once you have completed configuring
    connection manager, confirm your choices with the OK button. After you return
    to the Configure SSIS Logs:Package window, switch to the Details tab. Here you
    can choose events that you want to be logged. For the purpose of our exercise,
    enable the WMIEventWatcherWatchingForWMIEvents entry. Click on OK to return to
    the SSIS designer interface. From this point on, designated events will be
    recorded in the log file you specified during each package execution. You can
    review it to verify the outcome.

  • ActionAtTimeout – determines an action that is triggered if a
    monitored WMI event does not take place before the period specified in the
    Timeout option (described later) passes. This includes logging the time-out or
    logging the time-out and firing an SSIS event (as we already mentioned, we will
    be reviewing SSIS events in our next article). If you intend to test the
    timeout functionality, for now, use the "Log the time-out" entry and
    mark the WMIEventWatcherEventTimedout entry on the Details tab of the Configure
    SSIS Logs:Package dialog box.

  • AfterTimeout – allows the task to either Return with failure,
    Return with success, or Watch for the event again. Your choice will likely
    depend on the other components within the Control Flow – in the case of our
    simple examples, this setting is not relevant.

  • NumberOfEvents – is an integer indicating the number of events
    that the task will capture before completing.

  • Timeout – specifies the number of seconds before the AfterTimeout
    action is launched (assuming that number of monitored WMI events has not
    reached NumberOfEvents value before this time has elapsed).

To test the examples listed above, configure logging, choose the Direct
input as the WqlQuerySource, and copy the WQL queries to the WqlQuerySource
window (you might want to modify the WITHIN value to 1, to see the results
immediately). Use the default Timeout value of 0, which keeps it disabled. Launch
the package and pay attention to changes in color of the WMI Event Watcher
Task, which should initially turn yellow. You can force each of the WMI events
by launching a new instance of Internet Explorer, generating an event in the
Windows System Event Log (e.g. by stopping or starting a non-critical service),
putting a disk in the CD-ROM drive, or creating a new file in c:Data
directory. Shortly afterwards, you should see the color of the WMI Event
Watcher task becoming green. In addition, you can verify successful task
completion by checking content of the log file.


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Marcin Policht

Marcin Policht
Marcin Policht
Being a long time reader, I'm proud to join the crowd of technology gurus gathered here. I have a fair share of Microsoft exams behind me, a couple of acronyms after my name - MCSE, MCSD, and MCT, decent familiarity with majority of MS BackOffice products (SMS, SQL, Exchange, IIS), programming and scripting languages (VB, C++, VBScript with wsh) and several years of practical experience with Windows environment administration and engineering. My focus these days is on SQL Server and Windows 2000, and I'll attempt to share the most interesting experiences with these products.
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