In previous versions of Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager (ConfigMgr / SCCM), a common task for administrators, engineers, and consultants, was to extend the hardware inventory configuration. These inventory extensions were written in Managed Object Format (MOF) and allowed the SCCM client agents to report back a wider array of information to the central site database for reporting purposes, collection building, and other management tasks. Making changes to the configuration could be a tedious task, as MOF is not very forgiving, and rather quite strict, in its syntax.
In Microsoft Systems Management Server 2003 (SMS 2003), each time a configuration change was made, it was necessary to deploy the updated MOF file to the SMS clients — this made ensuring hardware inventory consistency across all clients a challenging task. In SCCM, Microsoft included changes to these MOF files (SMS_DEF.mof and Configuration.mof) as part of the machine policy refresh task, which is a client-side polling mechanism for configuration changes.
In SCCM 2012 Beta 2, Microsoft is taking it a step further and has eliminated the SMS_DEF.mof altogether, left the configuration.mof behind by itself, and stuck the WMI inventory configuration in … WMI. What is WMI? WMI stands for Windows Management Instrumentation, a service built into the Windows Operating System since Windows XP (and Windows 2000 Service Pack 4, I think). It provides a standard method of exposing hardware and software level system information to applications, such as storage, processor, memory, running processes, installed software, and other application configuration data. SCCM is built on top of this technology, and often makes developing software and scripts around the product much easier than it otherwise might be.
For the remainder of this article, we’re going to look at specifically how to extend hardware inventory in SCCM 2012 programmatically using Windows PowerShell with the SCCM WMI provider.