Regular expression support in System Center Operations Manager

When you author management packs, you may have to include regular expression matching in discoveries and groups. Regular expressions may also be necessary for pattern matching in expression criteria in monitors and rules.

Original product version:   System Center Operations Manager
Original KB number:   2702651

Operations Manager supports two different types of regular expressions. You must know which element you are working in to be able to choose the correct expression. Group membership calculation and expression filters use distinctly different syntaxes for pattern matching.

Group calculation

Group calculation uses PERL regular expression syntax. By default, the matching is case-insensitive, however you can specify that an expression must be case-sensitive by using a special attribute in the XML. For more information, see SimpleCriteriaType.

Group calculation is found in your management pack (MP) whenever you use the Group Calc module. The GroupCalc expression uses the MatchesRegularExpression operator to create dynamic group membership based on pattern matching expressions. The implementation of this operator passes the expression that is found in the MP XML to the dbo.fn_MatchesRegularExpression SQL call name. If this call returns a value of 0, the match is false. If it returns a value of 1, the match is true.

Important

The dbo.fn_MatchesRegularExpression SQL call name itself is case-sensitive, so the MatchesRegularExpression operator used in dynamic group membership criteria will be case-sensitive as well.

GroupCalc also supports two special subelements that make abstract expressions of the following common regex style queries.

GroupCalc special functions

GroupCalc sub element MP expression Regex equivalent
ContainsSubstring ^*{O}.*$ (Wherein {O} is replaced by the substring)
MatchesWildcard ? .
MatchesWildcard * .*
MatchesWildcard # [0-9]

Note

If either of these two special operators are used, the evaluation is always case-sensitive.

Expression filter matching criteria

Expression filters that are used in management packs use .NET Framework regex expression syntax. Not all expressions work. However, the following .NET Framework regular expression syntax elements are supported. Expression filters exist in your management pack when you use the Expression Eval module.

Operations Manager regex syntax

Construct Operations Manager regex
Any character .
Character in range [ ]
Character not in range [^ ]
Beginning of line ^
End of line $
Or |
Group ( )
0 or 1 match ?
0 or more matches *
1 or more matches +
Exactly N matches {n}
At least N matches {n, }
At most N matches { , n}
N to M Matches {n, m}
New line character \n
Tab character \t

Operations Manager regular expression (regex) examples

Example 1

Search for any matches containing a single string, string1:

^(string1)$

Example 2

Search for any matches containing either of the two strings, string1 or string2:

^(string1)|^(string2)$

Example 3

Search for any matches to folders located recursively under the two folder paths, (/var/lib/string1/* or /var/lib/string2/*):

^(\/var\/lib\/string1\/.*)|^(\/var\/lib\/string2\/.*)$

Regular expressions via SDK

The Operations Manager SDK has a Matches criteria operator for filtering objects. This operator uses the same functionality as MatchesCriteria in the GroupCalc case mentioned earlier.

When you use the SDK to construct a criteria expression to find objects in the Operations Manager database, the following syntax elements are valid and useful:

  • Comparison operators
  • Wildcard characters
  • DateTime values
  • Integer to XML Enumeration comparisons

Comparison operators

You can use comparison operators when you construct a criteria expression. The valid operators are described in the following table.

SDK comparison operators

Operator Description Example(s)
=, == Evaluates to true if the left and right operands are equal. Name = 'mymachine.contoso.com'
!=, <> Evaluates to true if the left and right operands are unequal. Name != 'mymachine.contoso.com'
> Evaluates to true if the left operand is greater than the right operand. Severity > 0
< Evaluates to true if the left operand is less than the right operand. Severity < 2
>= Evaluates to true if the left operand is greater than or equal to the right operand. Severity >= 1
<= Evaluates to true if the left operand is less than or equal to the right operand. Severity <= 3
LIKE Evaluates to true if the left operand matches the pattern that is defined by the right operand. Use the characters in the wildcard table to define the pattern. Name 'LIKE SQL%'
Evaluates to true if the Name value is SQLEngine.

Name LIKE '%SQL%'
Evaluates to true if the Name value is MySQLEngine.
MATCHES Evaluates to true if the left operand matches the regular expression defined by the right operand. Name MATCHES 'SQL*05'
Evaluates to true if the Name value is SQL2005.
IS NULL Evaluates to true if the value of the left operand is null. ConnectorId IS NULL
Evaluates to true if the ConnectorId property doesn't contain a value.
IS NOT NULL Evaluates to true if the value of the left operand isn't null. ConnectorId IS NOT NULL
Evaluates to true if the ConnectorId property contains a value.
IN Evaluates to true if the value of the left operand is in the list of values defined by the right operand.

Note The IN operator is valid for use only with properties of type Guid.
Id IN ('080F192C-52D2-423D-8953-B3EC8C3CD001', '080F192C-53B2-403D-8753-B3EC8C3CD002')
Evaluates to true if the value of the Id property is one of the two globally unique identifiers provided in the expression.
AND Evaluates to true if the left and right operands are both true. Name = 'SQL%' AND Description LIKE 'MyData%'
OR Evaluates to true if either the left or right operand is true. Name = 'SQL%' OR Description LIKE 'MyData%'
NOT Evaluates to true if the right operand isn't true. NOT (Name = 'IIS' OR Name = 'SQL')

Wildcards

The following table defines the wildcard characters that you can use to construct a pattern when you use the LIKE operator.

Wildcard operators used with LIKE operator

Wildcard Description Example
% A wildcard that matches any number of characters. Name LIKE 'SQL%'
Evaluates to true if the Name value is SQLEngine.

Name LIKE '%SQL%'
Evaluates to true if the Name value is MySQLEngine.
_ A wildcard that matches a single character. Name LIKE 'SQL200_'
Evaluates to true for the following Name values:

SQL2000
SQL2005

Note: The expression evaluates to false for SQL200 because the symbol _ must match exactly one character in the Name value.
[] A wildcard that matches any one character that is enclosed in the character set.

Note Brackets are also used when qualifying references to MonitoringObject properties. For more information, see Defining Queries for Monitoring Objects.
Name LIKE 'SQL200[05]'
Evaluates to true for the following Name values:

SQL2000
SQL2005

The expression evaluates to false for SQL2003.
[^] A wildcard that matches any one character that isn't enclosed in the character set. Name LIKE 'SQL200[^05]'
Evaluates to true for SQL2003.

The expression evaluates to false for SQL2000 and SQL2005.

DateTime comparisons

When you use a DateTime value in a query expression, use the general DateTime format (G) to convert the DateTime value to a string value. For example:

string qStr = "TimeCreated <= '" + myInstant.ToString("G") + "'";
ManagementPackCriteria mpCriteria = new ManagementPackCriteria(qStr);

Convert all date values to the G format (GMT) to make valid string comparisons.

Integer value comparison to enumerations

When you use an integer enumeration value in a query expression, cast the enumeration value to an integer.

For example:

string qStr = "Severity > " + (int)ManagementPackAlertSeverity.Warning;
MonitoringAlertCriteria alertCriteria = new MonitoringAlertCriteria(qStr);

More information