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How to Build Composite DSC Resources

By - Source: Toms IT Pro

You're not constrained by the resources Microsoft builds in to desired state configuration technology. You can build your own.

Credit: ShutterstockCredit: ShutterstockDesired State Configuration (DSC) is an amazing technology. It's great to define what a system should look like, run a configuration and it's done. This magic is built upon resources which combine to form configurations. Microsoft provides lots of built-in resources such as WindowsFeature, File, Registry and so on. Administrators can also create custom resources as well. Even though DSC resources by themselves are useful, managing them efficiently soon can turn problematic if an administrator needs to apply the same set of resources across different machines.

For example, if an administrator needs to ensure a Windows feature and a particular file exists somewhere on more than one server, she would have to duplicate the same configuration multiple times. This can lead to things like fat-finger syndrome as well as a major hassle when that same configuration needs to be changed. If the same configuration is applied to many different servers, each instance of that configuration will have to be modified. This isn't a good situation to be in.

A solution to this shared configuration problem is to create a composite resource. A composite resource is a way to create a single configuration and share it across multiple machines. Creating a composite resource is essentially creating a single DSC configuration with references to several "non-composite" resources like normal. However, it is then wrapped up in a way that DSC can see it as a single DSC resource. Machines are none the wiser that your composite resource actually is a group of multiple resources together.

To demonstrate creating a composite resource, I'll be using PowerShell v5. It's possible to do this with v4, but v5 makes things a little easier. I'll be creating a composite resource to represent my default server configuration. A composite resource needs a module to live in, so I'll create that first. I'll call it DefaultConfiguration since I might want to add other default resources in this module later on.

I'll first create the module that will hold the resource. Unlike other "regular" modules, you don't need a PSM1. You actually just need a PSD1 manifest. I'll create the module folder and the manifest.

$parentModulePath = 'C:Program FilesWindowsPowerShellModulesDefaultConfiguration'
mkdir $parentModulePath
New-ModuleManifest  -RootModule DefaultConfiguration –Path "$parentModulePathDefaultConfiguration.psd1"

Next, I'll need to create a subfolder called DSCResources. In here will contain one or more composite resources that will exist inside of the DefaultConfiguration module. Here I'll need to create both the PSM1 (providing the resource itself) and a manifest (PSD1) for each resource.

$resourceModulePath = "$parentModulePathDSCResourcesDefaultServer"
mkdir "$parentModulePathDSCResources"
mkdir $resourceModulePath
New-ModuleManifest  -RootModule 'DefaultServer.schema.psm1' –Path "$resourceModulePathDefaultServer.psd1"
Add-Content –Path "$resourceModulePathDefaultServer.schema.psm1" –Value ''

Note: The module name must end in schema.psm1. This designates the module as a composite resource.

Now that I have the file structure laid out, I'll now create the resource itself. You'll find that this is just creating a typical configuration. There's nothing special here. I'll just create one to add a Windows feature and create a text file somewhere as an example.

configuration DefaultServer {
    WindowsFeature 'InstallGUI'
        Ensure = 'Present'
        Name = 'Server-Gui-Shell'
    File 'SomeFile' {
        DestinationPath = 'C:SomeFile.txt'
        Contents = 'something here'
        Ensure = 'Present'

I'll save this to "$resourceModulePathDefaultServer.psm1". Notice that I don't have a Node statement at the top as is normally required. This is the major difference with a typical DSC configuration and a configuration that will be used to build a resource.

Now that I have a module and composite resource created, I can now simply apply this as a standard DSC resource. Below I've built a configuration for my MEMBERSRV1 and have copied over my composite resource to that server.

configuration SpecificServerConfiguration {
    Node 'MEMBERSRV1' {
        DefaultServer {


You can see that I don't have any properties to define under DefaultServer. That's because I didn't have any parameters on the configuration I built earlier. I'll save this to C:MEMBERSRV1_Config.ps1.

I'll now ensure that my composite resource shows up on MEMBERSRV1.

Invoke-Command –ComputerName MEMBERSRV1 –ScriptBlock {Get-DscResource –Name DefaultServer }

I'll now create the MOF and run the configuration on MEMBERSRV1. If all goes well, it should apply the composite configuration.

. C:MEMBERSRV1_Config.ps1

Start-DscConfigurationManager –Path .SpecificServerConfiguration –ComputerName MEMBERSRV1 –Wait -Verbose