ClientFaux – the fastest way to fill ConfigMgr with Clients

Recently at work, we were debating the best way to handle mass collection moves in ConfigMgr.  We’re talking moving 10,000 or more SCCM devices a day into Configuration Manager collections.

To find out, I installed CM in my beastly Altaro VM Testlab (the build of which we covered here), and then wondered…

how the heck will I get enough clients in CM to test in the first place?

Methods we could use to populate CM with Clients

At first I thought of using SCCM PXE OSD Task Sequences to build dozens of VMs, which my lab could definitely handle.  But a PXE Image was taking ~24 minutes to complete, which ruled that out.  Time to thousand clients even running four images at a time would be over one hundred hours, no go.

Then I thought about using differencing disks coupled with AutoUnattend images created using WICD, like we covered here on  (Hands-off deployments), but that still takes ~9 minutes per device, which is a lot of time and will use up my VM resources.  Time to thousand clients, assuming four at a time? 36 hours.

I thought I remembered seeing someone come up with a tool to create fake ConfigMgr clients, so I started searching…and it turns out that other than some C# code samples,  I had a fever dream basically, it didn’t exist.

So I decided to make it, because after all, which is more fun to see when you open the console in your testlab, this?

Or this?

And it only took me ~40 hours of dev time and troubleshooting.  But my time per client?  Roughly eight seconds!  That means 450 clients PER hour, or a time to thousand clients of only two hours!  Now we’re cooking…

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Hard to test cases in Pester

Recently at work I have finally seen the light and begun adding Pester tests to my modules.  Why is this a recent thing, you may ask?  After all, I was at PowerShell Summit and heard the good word about it from Dave Wyatt himself way back in 2015, I’ve had years to start doing this.

Honestly, I didn’t get it…

To tell the truth, I didn’t understand the purpose of Pester. I always thought ‘Why do I need to test my code? I know it works if it accomplishes the job it’s supposed to do’.

For instance, I understood that Pester was a part of test-driven development, a paradigm in which you start by writing tests before you write any code.  You’d write a ‘It should make a box’ test and wire it up before you actually wrote the New-Box function.  But I was only looking at the outside of my code, or where it integrates into the environment.  In truth, all of the tests I wrote earlier on were actually integration tests.

See, Pester is a Unit Driven Test Framework.  It’s meant to test the internal logic of your code, so that you can develop with certainty that new features to your function don’t break your cmdlet.

CodeCoverage made Pester finally click

It wasn’t until I learned about the powerful -CodeCoverage parameter of Pester that it actually clipped.  For instance, here’s a small piece of pseudo code, which would more or less add a user to a group in AD. Continue reading

Faster Web Cmdlet Design with Chrome 65

If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you know that I LOVE making PowerShell cmdlets, especially ones that consume an API or scrape a web site.

However when it comes to tools that peruse the web, this can get a bit tricky, especially if a site doesn’t publish an API because then you’re stuck parsing HTML or loading and manipulating an invisible Internet Explorer -COMObject barfs in Japanese.  And even this terrible approach is closed to us if the site uses AJAX or dynamically loads content.

In that case, you’re restricted to making changes on a site while watching Fiddler 4 and trying to find interesting looking method calls (this is how I wrote my PowerShell module for Zenoss, by the way.  Guess and checking my way through with their ancient and outdated Python API docs my sole and dubious reference material, and with a Fiddler window MITM-ing my own requests in the search to figure out how things actually worked.  It…uh…took a bit longer than I expected…)

This doesn’t have to be the case anymore!  With the new release of Chrome 65 comes a PowerShell power tool so powerful that it’s like moving from a regular apple peeler to this badboy.

What’s this new hotness?

For a long time now if you load the Chrome Developer Tools by hitting F12, you’ve been able to go to the Network tab and copy a HTTP request as a curl statement. Continue reading

Making an Azure Function Reddit Bot

Around the time I was celebrating my 100th post, I made a big to-do about opening my own subreddit at /r/FoxDeploy. I had great intentions, I would help people in an easier to read format than here in the comments…but then, I just kind of, you know, forgot to check the sub for four months.

But no longer!  I decided to solve this problem with the only tool I know…code.

Azure Functions

A few months ago, I went to ‘The Red Shirt’ tour with Scott Guthrie in which he talked all about  the new Azure Hotness.  He covered Functions, an awesome headless, serverless Platform as a Service offering which can run a variety of languages including C#, F#, Node.js, Java, and of, course, Best Language, PowerShell.

I was so intrigued by this concept when I first learned of it at an AWS event years ago in Chicago, where they introduced Lambda. Lambda was cool, but it couldn’t run bestgirl language, PowerShell. Continue reading

Backing up your Testlab with Altaro VM Backup

To be a good engineer, you need a Testlab. End of sentence.

You need it so you can peruse flights of fancy, like making some web services, trying out that new language and other endeavors perhaps not specifically related to your day to day work.

It HAS to be your own too!  You can’t just use the one at your work.  If things go awry between you and your company, you definitely don’t want to lose your livelihood AND your hard-earned testlab in the same stroke!  This is also why you don’t want to have your life insurance purchased through your work too (or if you do, make sure you don’t get fired and die in the same day).

In consulting, I would get assigned to a project and have a month or so to come up to speed on new technologies. I found that when I had a testlab, it was so much quicker to get working, just make a new VM, domain join it and have SQL installed and ready for a new SCCM, Scorch, Air-Watch, whatever. In fact, the periods when I did the best engineering work over my career closely line up to the times that I had a working testlab available to model my customer’s environments and make mistakes on my own time, not theirs.

If you have read this and are convinced that you too need a testlab, and don’t yet have one, you can click here to read my guide here on setting up a Domain Controller with one-click!

The one-click domain controller UI in action

And what should we do with things that are important? We protect them. In this post I’ll walk you through some of the options available to protect and backup your testlab.

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