How To – Tasks and Transformations: WMI Event Watcher

Written by Varigence Blog on 4.21.2011

TAGS: MistBISSIS

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In my previous post, I gave an example of using the WMI Data Reader task to query for information about a computer’s hard drive, and write that information to a file on disk.

In this post, I’m going to demonstrate the related WMI Event Watcher task.

Background:

Whereas the WMI Data Reader task returns data about the system, the WMI Event Watcher task detects changes in your system. Like the WMI Data Reader task, the WMI Event Watcher task also uses WQL to describe the event(s) it’s listening for. You might use the task to determine:

When a file is added to a folder When a server’s hard disk free space drops below a certain percentage When a server’s free memory drops below a certain percentage When an application is installed Although discussing all the intricacies of WQL queries is beyond the scope of this post, I do want to show a couple examples.

To detect when a file is added to a folder, say C:WMIFileWatcher, the query would be:

SELECT * FROM __InstanceCreationEvent WITHIN 10 WHERE TargetInstance ISA "CIM_DirectoryContainsFile" and TargetInstance.GroupComponent= "Win32_Directory.Name="c:WMIFileWatcher""

To understand this query, I’m going to start with the WHERE clause. The WHERE clause is checking for a TargetInstance whose type is CIM_DirectoryContainsFile and whose GroupComponent is the path I’m listening for changes in.

CIM_DirectoryContainsFile is a WMI class that associates an instance of CIM_Directory and CIM_DataFile. Not surprisingly, CIM_Directory represents a file system directory and CIM_DataFile represents a logical file. Thus, there’s an instance of CIM_DirectoryContainsFile for every file in every directory in your file system. It also means that when a file is added to C:WMIFileWatcher, a new CIM_DirectoryContainsFile instance is created.

If you now look at the SELECT and FROM clauses, you’ll see that I’m selecting all InstanceCreationEvents. __InstanceCreationEvent is a WMI class that represents the creation of a new WMI class instance. So, I’m selecting all WMI instance creation events, looking for the creation of a CIM_DirectoryContainsFile instance for the C:WMIFileWatcher directory.

Finally, the WITHIN clause indicates that the task will notify me of all instance creation events, that meet my WHERE clause criteria, every 5 seconds.

Note that there are two other event classes. One is the __InstanceDeletionEvent class, which represents the deletion of a WMI instance:

SELECT * FROM __InstanceDeletionEvent WITHIN 5 WHERE TargetInstance ISA "Win32_Process"

This query detects every time a Win32_Process WMI instance is deleted. Effectively, this means it detects every time a Windows process is terminated.

There’s also the __InstanceModificationEvent class. A key difference with this class is that you also have access to a PreviousInstance value, which enables you to compare your PreviousInstance with your TargetInstance.

For this example, I’m going to have the WMI Event Watcher notify me when my machine’s free memory falls below 100 MB. When that happens, I will use a WMI Data Reader task to write out a file that lists all processes running and the physical memory they’re using, to see which processes are hogging system resources.

Using BIDS:

To author the WMI Event Watcher task, start by finding it in the Toolbox.

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Drag and drop the task onto the package’s design surface. You’ll see a red X icon within the task, indicating that there are errors.

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In the error list, the sole error is:

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To set-up the task, and resolve this error, double click on the WMI Event Watcher task. That will bring up the WMI Event Watcher Task Editor dialog.

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To start, you can supply the task with a WQL query. The query’s content can come from different sources; the WqlQuerySourceType property lets you select the query’s source. Its dropdown allows you to choose from:

Type Description Direct Input Enter text directly into a property File Connection Specifies a file that contains the content. The file may already exist or may be created at runtime. You might choose to store your queries in a file that you can change outside of BIDS. Variable Create or choose a variable that contains the content. Use Direct Input and then click inside the WqlQuerySource field.

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An ellipses button will appear; click on it to open the WQL Query dialog.

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This is a simple dialog box that’s useful for entering multiline queries. As mentioned earlier, I want to detect when my system’s free memory falls below 100 MB. To do that, the query is:

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The key portion of this query is the second part of the WHERE clause. I’m comparing the FreePhysicalMemory field on my Win32_OperatingSystem instance to 102,400 KB. Within 5 seconds, of each time the FreePhysicalMemory value is modified, this Event Watcher will test if the value has fallen below 102,400 KB.

You may be wondering why I don’t suggest a more robust comparison, such as checking if less than 20% of the system’s memory is available:

SELECT * FROM __InstanceModificationEvent WITHIN 5 WHERE TargetInstance ISA "Win32_OperatingSystem" AND (TargetInstance.FreePhysicalMemory / TargetInstance TotalVisibleMemorySize) < 0.2

There are two problems with this approach. First, FreePhysicalMemory and TotalVisibleMemorySize are both uint64 types. So dividing them will produce an integer value, making them inappropriate for a percentage comparison. The second problem is that WHERE clauses in WQL queries are limited. The two allowed formats are:

SELECT * FROM class WHERE property operator constant SELECT * FROM class WHERE constant operator property You’ll notice that you must compare a property to a constant; you can’t compare an expression to a constant.

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The next step is to create a WMI connection, so the task knows where to run the query. To do that, you can use the WmiConnection property, which lets you set the target system to run the WQL query on, as well as authentication for the connection. If you click inside the WmiConnection field, you’ll see a down arrow button. Click on the button to open a dropdown.

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Inside the dropdown, click on ‘New WMI connection…’ to open the Connection Manager Editor dialog.

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This dialog creates a new connection manager for the WMI data reader; the important fields are Server name and Namespace.

Server name identifies the machine to run this query on. Currently, it’s set to localhost. Since I’ll be running this task on my local machine, I’ve checked the Use Windows Authentication checkbox. If I don’t check it and try to run the task in BIDS, I’ll get an error that ‘User credentials cannot be used for local connections.’ Pressing the dialog’s Test button would also indicate the problem.

Namespace is a key field for WMI. The brief explanation is that different namespaces provide different types of functionality, known as classes. The rootcimv2 namespace (cimv2 is an abbreviation for Common Information Model v2) allows you to access most physical and logical components in a system. You can browse additional namespaces and their classes using tools such as WMI CIM Studio and Scriptomatic 2.0.

Once you’ve set up your server name and namespace, press OK in the dialog.

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With the WMI connection and WQL query entered, it’s time to consider what happens in your workflow when an event fires.

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The ActionAtEvent property offers you two choices, both of which include logging the event notification. Your actual choice is whether an SSIS action is initiated as well. As of this post in the series, I haven’t discussed SSIS events and you won’t need SSIS events for this example, so I suggest you select the Log the event option.

Notice that there are also options for what the WMI Event Watcher does after an event it’s listening for fires. The AfterEvent property lets you choice from three options:

Name Description Return with success Return success when the event is detected Return with failure Return failure when the event is detected Watch for the event again Once the event is detected, continue watching for the event to occur again The success and failure values matter for your workflow; the next task in your workflow may be different depending on which value your Event Watcher task returns. In this case, you can keep the ‘Return with success’ default.

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While I’m discussing events, let’s look at the NumberOfEvents property. This property specifies the number of times the task watches for the event before completing. You can keep the default at 1.

Along with limiting the number of times the task listens for an event, you can also control how long the task waits for events using the Timeout property. The Timeout property specifies the maximum number of seconds the task will run; 0 indicates the task will not timeout. If the number of processed events doesn’t reach the NumberOfEvents value before the Timeout’s seconds have elapsed, the task completes due to the timeout.

Notice that there are properties specifically for actions to be taken at and after a timeout, analogous to the properties for events. These are the ActionAtTimeout and AfterTimeout properties. For ActionAtTimeout, you can change its value to simply Log the event. The AfterTimeout value really depends on the scenario. In this example, the task never times out; the task will keep waiting until the system’s free memory falls below 100 MB. Thus, the ActionAtTimeout and AfterTimeout values are meaningless. However, if you were trying to test a machine over a particular period of time, say 3 hours, then you would want to set the Timeout property and you would use ActionAtTimeout to control your workflow, based on whether the event fired or the timeout was reached.

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With that done, you can press OK to save your changes and dismiss the dialog. Now you’re ready to add a WMI Data Reader task to complete the example. You can consult my previous post on how to construct that task.

Two key differences from the previous post are:

The query to use for this example is: SELECT Name, ProcessId, WorkingSetSize, PeakWorkingSetSize FROM Win32_Process You might want to change the OverwriteDestination to ‘Append to destination’ With both tasks present in the designer, you now need to connect them to build the workflow. To do that, first select the WMI Event Watcher task.

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Then drag the arrow from the WMI Event Watcher Task to the top of the WMI Data Reader task.

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When you release your mouse, the arrow will be extended to the WMI Data Reader task.

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Double clicking on the arrow opens the Precedence Constraint Editor dialog box.

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In this case, the dialog simply confirms that if the Event Watcher catches an event indicating that available memory has fallen below 100 MB, it will return success so that the Data Reader task runs.

With that, your workflow is now complete and this package could be used to detect a low memory situation and report all processes running on your system at that time.

Using Mist:

Now let’s see how to do the above in Mist.

To start, you’ll need to create a package. If you’re unfamiliar with how to create a package, you can follow the first couple steps in the Mist User Guide’s Creating a Package topic.

Once your package is created and opened, navigate to the Toolbox tool window.

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Select and drag the WMI Event Watcher task onto the Package’s design surface.

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The task has a red X icon because it has errors.

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You’ll need to provide values for the WmiConnection and Source properties.

Inside the Package Details tool window, you’ll find the same properties as the WMI Event Watcher dialog in BIDS.

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Our first step is to enter the WQL query. In the Source area, there is the Method dropdown, which lets you control the WqlQuerySourceType property. It’s already set to the default value of Direct. If you were to click on the dropdown, you’d see that Mist offers the same options that BIDS provides.

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In the text box beneath the dropdown, you can enter the WQL query.

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If you click on the WMI Connection dropdown, it only contains a value for (No Selection). Thus, you’ll need to add a WMI Connection to the project. You can follow the steps in the Mist User Guide’s Create New Connection section to create a connection, although you’ll want to make a WMI connection rather than an Ole DB connection.

The designer for the WMI connection has two red bordered fields, clearly indicating what you need to enter.

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From the BIDS sample, provide an appropriate namespace and server name, and set Use Windows Authentication to true.

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Now, reopen the package and select the WMI Event Watcher task to view its details again. In the WMI Connection combo box, you can now select WmiConnection1.

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To match the BIDS sample, you now need to change the ActionAtEvent property to Log Event and you need to change the ActionAtTimeout property to Log Timeout.

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To finish the workflow, you should add the WMI Data Reader task; again, you can consult my previous post to see how to construct that task.

Once both tasks are in the package, you’ll need to connect them to create your workflow. Start by clicking on the WMI Event Watcher task’s bottom anchor. Click and drag a line from the bottom anchor to the WMI Data Reader’s top anchor.

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Then let go of your mouse.

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As you can see, the straight line you dragged is replaced with an arrow. If you click on the arrow, the package details area updates with the Precedence Constraints editor. In this case, the already created input specifies that a precedence constraint is coming from the WMI Event Watcher task and its evaluation value is success.

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You can leave this as-is.

With that finished, you can right click on your package and select the Build & Open in BIDS menu item.

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This menu item builds the Mist package, and then opens the produced package in BIDS. You can then execute your package in BIDS. Mist is able to do this since the assets it produces are real SSIS assets; Mist-built assets never contain proprietary elements.

Links:

WMI Event Watcher documentation for the BIML language

WMI Event Watcher task – MSDN

WMI Win32 classes

WMI Tasks for Scripts and Applications - This site links to pages that offer script samples of different WMI tasks. Although not exactly the same as WQL, the scripts use WQL and are very readable, so they can be a good source of guidance for learning how to write various queries.

Craig

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