Category Archives: ConfigMgr 2012

License Management with ConfigMgr 2012

Firstly, if you intend to rely, solely, on ConfigMgr for software license management & compliance – think again!

According to Microsoft this functionality within the suite has its limitations. Microsoft admits to these ‘limitations’ within the ConfigMgr Asset Intelligence Documentation (http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/gg681998.aspx)

Asset intelligence is a feature in ConfigMgr that utilizes special hardware inventory classes, a set of reports and a catalog that is periodically updated by Microsoft.

The section of the documentation which describes the limitations is below:

Legal Limitations
The information displayed in Asset Intelligence reports are subject to many limitations and the information displayed in them does not represent legal, accounting, or other professional advice. The information that is provided by Asset Intelligence reports is for information only and should not be used as the only source of information for determining software license usage compliance.

The following are example limitations involved in inventorying installed software and license usage in the enterprise by using Asset Intelligence that might affect the accuracy of Asset Intelligence reports:

Microsoft license usage quantity limitations

  • The quantity of purchased Microsoft software licenses is based on information that administrators supply and should be closely reviewed to ensure that the correct number of software licenses is provided.
  • The reported quantity of Microsoft software licenses contains information only about Microsoft software licenses acquired through volume licensing programs and does not reflect information for software licenses acquired through retail, OEM, or other software license sales channels.
  • Software licenses acquired in the last 45 days might not be included in the quantity of Microsoft software licenses reported because of software reseller reporting requirements and schedules.
  • Software license transfers from company mergers or acquisitions might not be reflected in Microsoft software license quantities.
  • Nonstandard terms and conditions in a Microsoft Volume Licensing (MVLS) agreement might affect the number of software licenses reported and, therefore, might require additional review by a Microsoft representative.

Installed software title quantity limitations
Configuration Manager Clients must successfully complete hardware inventory reporting cycles for the Asset Intelligence reports to accurately report the quantity of installed software titles. Additionally, there might be a delay between the installation or uninstallation of a licensed software title after a successful hardware inventory reporting cycle that is not reflected in Asset Intelligence reports run before the client reports its next scheduled hardware inventory.

License reconciliation limitations
The reconciliation of the quantity of installed software titles to the quantity of purchased software licenses is calculated by using a comparison of the license quantity specified by the administrator and the quantity of installed software titles collected from Configuration Manager client hardware inventories based on the schedule set by the administrator. This comparison does not represent a final Microsoft conclusion of the license positions. The actual license position depends on the specific software title license and usage rights granted by the license terms.

However, should you wish to use the Asset Intelligence feature for License Management regardless of its limitations, the following steps will need to be completed.

  1. A CSV file containing all license information will need to be created. A sample CSV License file is here:Not all fields need to be completed, however the following fields are mandatory; Name,     Publisher, Version and EffectiveQuantity. All dates within this CSV need to be in the US format i.e. mm/dd/yyyy.  Name & Version must match what is in the ConfigMgr DB – I (or another ConfigMgr Admin) can sort this.
  2. This CSV needs to then be imported into ConfigMgr;
    Open the console and navigate to Assets And Compliance -> Asset Intelligence.
    Right click on Asset Intelligence and select Import Software License.
    Run through the wizard ensuring you select General License statement when given the choice.
  3. Software Licenses can then be reported on.
    Navigate to Monitoring -> Reporting
    Run the report named License 15A – General License Reconciliation Report
    This will show you a basic report containing license count, usage and more importantly the difference between them both

Is this reliable? No!

Could you use this as evidence during a compliance audit? Definitely not.

Is it real-time? No, it can be days, weeks or even months out of date.

What other options are there?

There are a multitude of discovery tools available on the market, including tools from 1E, Snow, LicenseDashboard etc – these all range in price, but from our experience, 15-20GBP per client per annum is the norm.

These tools generally ‘plug-in’ to ConfigMgr and make use of Asset Intelligence, Software Metering and their own DBs to give you a bigger picture of your licensing within the enterprise.

Toolsets:

If, like many enterprises, you are in the process of moving towards a new Windows 7 platform along with a new implementation of Configuration Manager 2012 – take this as an opportunity to get hold of your licensing and manage it correctly. Knowing where software is installed can now become a business process rather than a technical investigation – and its easy!

ConfigMgr 2012 also offers Software Metering – i.e. Is software deployed but not being used? We can determine this easily, and with a bit of simple SQL Querying we can automate the removal of the application.

The one issue which still blights most enterprises is how to prevent deployment of applications when no licenses are remaining. In an ideal world, this wouldn’t be an issue, as the whole software approval process would look something like this:

  1. User requests a licensed application
  2. Service Desk passes the call to relevant parties;
    Whoever deals with software license purchasing to check license availability, costs etc
    IT Department to potentially ‘push back’ and ask for business justification and potentially suggest other software (Maybe a viewer is a better option?)
    Users manager to approve the ‘need’ for the software and potentially, the costs to his/her departmental budget
    CMDB guys to record software asset deployment
  3. Once the Service Desk has the required approval, the call is passed to ConfigMgr Administrator or Infrastructure guys to either (for example):
    Approve request from ConfigMgr Console
    Add the user to the relevant AD group for deployment.

If, when the call gets to 2a/b/c there are no licenses left, and the users manager approves the cost then more should be purchased prior to the call being forwarded to next person/department.
No manual installs should ever take place.

Unfortunately, the above process is nearly always flawed.

Another issue which impacts most enterprises is the recovery of licenses from lost, stolen or broken machines, or users who have left the company – its usually a dirty process which in most case is left to luck, and crossed fingers.

There is a tool available on the market which can prevent deployment of applications if no licenses are available, easily recover licenses from lost, stolen or broken machines and even from users who have left the company. It can even help bring existing software installations under control. Slickey License Manager (http://www.slickey.com) can be easily implemented and work alongside ConfigMgr and/or any discovery tool.

In summary, License Management + ConfigMgr 2012 = half a solution. However, it can help you keep a mindful eye on your licensing position – but its not automated and will need IT resources to manage.

Documenting your ConfigMgr site

Regularly clients ask for documentation after a ConfigMgr implementation.

As well as the usual support documentation i.e. How does it work? How can we add extra Admin users? etc, there is also a requirement for the ‘nitty gritty’; what settings are set? What are the exact steps in the task sequence? What versions of drivers does it deploy?

Luckily, there are a number of scripts & utilities which can be called upon, to make this very easy!

The first, is an old utility/script which is designed for use with Configuration Manager 2007. It is from the DeploymentGuys and can be found here:

Task Sequence Documentor

However, because of the vast changes in Configuration Manager 2012, this will not work.

But if you do it slightly differently it works perfectly:

1. Export ConfigMgr 2012 Task Sequence to .zip file
2. Extract .zip file
3. Browse to SMS_TaskSequencePackage\packageid
4. Copy tsDocumentorv2.xls (downloaded from the above location) to this directory
5. Open object.xml from the SMS_TaskSequencePackage\packageid folder and search for “cdata”
6. Copy all code between 7. Paste it into a new text file
8. Add to the top line of your new file
9. Save with a .xml file extension into the SMS_TaskSequencePackage\packageid directory
10. Open in IE (You will need to turn on compatibility mode if using version 9 or 10)

You will see a beautifully formatted document which can be handed over to the client.

You can also open it in Excel and apply the XSL file, which will give you the same output but in Excel format

The second script, is one which really excites me! I was a ‘beta tester’ for David, and it amazed me what can be achieved through PowerShell! So much, that I’ve decided its something that I ‘must’ learn!

David O’Briens script basically documents your ‘whole’ site, and writes it to a perfectly formatted Word document.

David’s website is http://www.david-obrien.net and contains lots of helpful resources.

But the article you ‘need’ to be looking at is this one:

ConfigMgr 2012 Inventory Script

As David mentions in the first few lines of the article, its still in beta and I’m sure will be developed with time. But as it stands, it will save you hours of time!

As a beta tester we had some issues, mainly surrounding the fact that I’d never imported the ConfigMgr Powershell cmdlets nor had I upgraded to Powershell v3.0! Once these were ironed out and I run the script, I was delighted!

To run the script, you very simply need to run the following command from a Powershell x86 session:

.\CM12_Inventory.ps1 -ManagementPoint YourMP -SiteCode YourSiteCode -CompanyName YourCompany -verbose

And Hey Presto! Documentation is done!

OSD in ConfigMgr 2012 SP1

Long time no speak…

With Christmas, New Year, a holiday to New York & Florida and a new job role, the blog has been lonely!

However, I’m back in the game and implementing ConfigMgr 2012 SP1!

I’ve been looking at OSD this morning, and noticed a change since SP1, which I’m not sure was detailed anywhere obvious.

When creating a Build & Capture Task Sequence, you get to the screen offering you to browse for the Operating System. In 2012, you could simply browse to an imported Operating System Installer, i.e. a copy of the Windows 7 source files which you have imported into the console.

In SP1, we don’t have this option. The only option presented is to browse for an Operating System Image. This is a bit crazy, considering that this is the reason we are creating a Build and Capture Task Sequence – to obtain an image, a *.wim file.

What we have to do in SP1 is to import the Windows 7 install.wim into the console as a Operating System Image. We can then select this in the task sequence.

Hope this helps someone!

Slickey License Manager

About to hit the ground running is Slickey License Manager;

Slickey makes it easy to deploy boxed, licensed products with enterprise deployment tools.

Up to now, packagers, administrators etc have been hampered in smaller businesses as generally, these type of small to medium companies have purchased software as and when it is needed, and not worried about volume licensing until its too late!

Obviously, it is not a viable option to create multiple packages/applications for the same product with different license keys…

Slickey allows you you create one package or application which ‘checks in’ to obtain available license keys from a central server. This the logs the machine name and date of license retrieval. Similarly, the uninstall will ‘check’ the license key back in once the software is removed.

As you probably already know, this could save thousands in licensing.

Its still a young product, but one which could not only save companies a lot of money, but also save system administrators a lot of time. This all improves efficiency of IT systems – which, lets face it, is the reason we all do what we do!

Check out the website, comments would be VERY gratefully received and welcomed!

Slickey License Manager

Could be a common fault on Dell E6230?? (UPDATED) (UPDATED AGAIN)

Today, we had a strange issue.A brand new Dell E6230 which we have been testing our OS Deployment task sequence on, suddenly failed to boot.

When powered on, the power button lit up, as did the battery indicator. But nothing else.

We listened closely and could hear a clicking sound. Not the hard drive as this machine has an SSD!

We reseated the RAM – Nothing.

We reseated the SSD – Nothing.

We called Dell, who said they would send an engineer out.

But suddenly, whilst on the call with Dell we noticed something!

Read more ...

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@NickolajA Any ideas what this issue I have with modern driver management pic.twitter.com/O6zv5Dt2dK