Novell Home

Unless you live on a deserted island, you have probably heard of the IT Infrastructure Library–commonly referred to as ITIL. If you haven't, see IT Gets It in the March/April 2005 issue for more information on ITIL (novell.com/connectionmagazine/2005/03/tech_talk_2.html), or take a quick look at the What Is ITIL sidebar.

What you may not be as familiar with, is the importance of software asset management to successful ITIL implementations, or even that there is a specific ITIL book dedicated to Software Asset Management (SAM). ZENworks Asset management can play a key role in automating and supporting several key ITIL best practice areas, including Software Asset Management and Service Support.

This article reviews ITIL best practices and summarizes how ZENworks Asset Management functionality can be mapped to specific ITIL guidance in these areas.

Software Asset Management
While many ITIL projects are centered around Service Support and Service Delivery, the ITIL guide to Software Asset Management is gaining traction as a process framework for managing enterprise software assets.

ZENworks Asset Management offers IT managers a host of capabilities that support and enable ITIL initiatives including Service Support, Service Delivery along with Software Asset Management; however, the focus of ZENworks Asset Management is in dealing with the complexities of IT assets, and software in particular.

ITIL Books

The Office of Government Commerce publishes and updates books on the following topics:

  • Service Support (Service Desk, Incident Management, Problem Management, Configuration Management, Change Management and Release Management)
  • Service Delivery (Capacity Management, Financial Management for IT Services, Availability Management, Service Level Management and IT Service Continuity Management)
  • Software Asset Management (SAM)
  • ICT Infrastructure Management
  • Application Management
  • Security Management

SAM Defined
The ITIL Best Practices for Software Asset Management Guide defines SAM as: "...all of the infrastructure and process necessary for the effective management, control and protection of the software assets within an organization, throughout all stages of their lifecycle."

The ITIL SAM Guide consists of 10 chapters that outline everything from SAM basics to tools and technology. In the following sections, we map specific recommendations and guidance to ZENworks Asset Management capabilities to show how the product supports this important framework.

Since ITIL deals fundamentally with process, much of the guide addresses recommendations around policies, procedures and related documentation. As such, only those sections and recommendations directly related to tools and technology are addressed in this article.

ITIL Best Practices to ZENworks Asset Management Mapping
Chapter One: Introduction
1.4 SAM Principles
A scalable, structured approach needs to be adopted in order to achieve [SAM objectives] for each organization.

It is impossible to implement an effective SAM process without the successful design, development, implementation and maintenance of an accurate SAM database, automatically updated from the live infrastructure.

ZENworks: ZENworks Asset Management provides a way to organize SAM-related activities around a structured, scalable database.

ZENworks Asset Management offers a complete, automated inventory process, including:

  • agentless network-wide discovery
  • agent-based workstation/server inventory with numerous automated scheduling/scanning options
  • optional input forms to update inventory data

1.5.1 Managing Risks
SAM facilitates the management of significant business risks including:

  • legal and financial exposure
  • damaged reputation
  • unexpected financial workload impact
  • security breaches including unauthorized disclosure of confidential information
  • unexpected problems with acquisitions/mergers/demergers
  • interruption of operations
  • unsupportable operations

ZENworks: By enabling an effective SAM program and ensuring compliance with software license provisions and intellectual property laws, ZENworks Asset Management helps address the key risks outlined in ITIL Best Practices for SAM guide.

1.5.2 Controlling costs

  • better negotiating position
  • improved strategic infrastructure planning
  • prevention of software over-deployment
  • reduced hardware costs
  • improved software purchasing arrangements
  • reduced cost of internal licenses support
  • reduction in process and direct infrastructure costs
  • reductions in problem-resolution costs
  • potential tax benefits

ZENworks: With a single location for software asset information, ZENworks Asset Management enables an organization's database; you gain the ability to control and reduce costs associated with software licenses, upgrades, maintenance and support.

1.6.5 Potential issues for implementing SAM
Underestimating the effort required to identify installed software.

ZENworks: Accurately identifying software applications (not just files) is a core strength of ZENworks Asset Management. Using a unique, patented approach based on a Knowledgebase, built and maintained by Novell Technology Analysts, ZENworks Asset Management identifies and distinguishes:

  • normalized manufacturer, product, edition and version
  • suites and suite components
  • category/subcategory
  • OS and app service packs/releases and OS hotfixes
  • serial numbers
  • virus definitions/engines
  • evaluation versus full product installs
  • runtime versus full version distinction
  • language editions
  • locally defined products, for example, in-house applications

1.9.1 Overall baseline recommendations
Inventories: Create and maintain accurate inventories of software and hardware assets including costs, with secure control over access to software assets, for example, proof-of-license and distribution copies of software.

ZENworks: ZENworks Asset Management offers comprehensive hardware and software inventory. Software purchase information and proof-of-ownership data can be imported or input to support license counts.

1.9.1 Overall baseline recommendations:
Reconciliations: Perform regular reconciliations of the following and resolve any identified exceptions promptly:

  1. what is actually installed against
  2. what is recorded against
  3. licenses owned

ZENworks: ZENworks Asset Management includes several methods and tools to facilitate the reconciliation of the license view of software inventory to purchased products, including:

  • Reseller connectors (CompuCom, Softchoice, SHI and Software Spectrum)
  • Product catalog to aggregate individual purchases and ensure one-time reconciliation
  • Autoreconcile tools to match purchased products to discovered products

Chapter Two: Context
2.1 Special characteristics of software assets

  • Software is frequently upgraded and license conditions can change with each upgrade
  • End users are asked to agree to licenses during installation and are sometimes asked to install and run other programs as evaluation software.

ZENworks: ZENworks Asset Management addresses these software specific challenges:

  • Upgrade license records in ZENworks Asset Management can be linked to base licenses to create a relationship and record license amounts properly
  • The sophisticated software inventory methods used in ZENworks Asset Management distinguishes between full and evaluation software for many major manufacturers and titles.
What is ITIL?

ITIL was developed by the Office of Government Commerce (OGC) in the United Kingdom in the 1980s and provides a comprehensive, consistent and coherent set of best practices focused on the management of IT services and related processes. ITIL best practices are described in a series of books published by the OGC and used by many organizations worldwide to:

  • develop a common set of terminology for IT and business professionals
  • define predictable and reliable IT services that cross IT silos
  • implement IT process improvements and improve service levels
  • reduce the cost associated with IT services and support

Industry analysts have noted that organizations are using ITIL and other process frameworks to move from a traditional IT organization focused on technology to a service-oriented IT organization focused on business services. Figure A lists attributes of these two types of IT organizations.

Figure A
Traditional IT Organization Service-oriented IT Organization
technology focus process/service focus
fire-fighting preventative
reactive proactive
users customers
isolated/silos integrated/enterprise-wide
one-off/ad-hoc repeatable/accountable
informal processes formal best practice
IT internal perspective business perspective
operational-specific service orientation

Chapter Five: Process Overview
5.2.1 Core Asset Management processes Asset Identification

ZENworks: The core capability of ZENworks Asset Management is asset identification and tracking related asset attributes.

5.2.2 Core Asset Management processes Asset Control
ZENworks: ZENworks Asset Management uniquely identifies assets and tracks them through their lifecycle to ensure proper control.

5.2.3 Core Asset Management processes Status Accounting
ZENworks: ZENworks Asset Management tracks configuration details from scan-to-scan and provides comprehensive history reports to show changes over time.

5.2.4 Core Asset Management processes Database Management
ZENworks: ZENworks Asset Management is based on a core database that is optimized for asset tracking and reporting.

5.2.5 Core Asset Management processes Financial Management
ZENworks: ZENworks Asset Management allows you to record software purchase information, including costs, to provide a financial basis for decision-making and analysis.

5.3.4 Procurement
During the process of the internal order, a check should be made as to whether there are already any available licenses to be used.

ZENworks: ZENworks Asset Management Web Console provides IT and procurement managers easy access license compliance reports that show critical information in one view:

  • licenses owned (entitlements)
  • licenses consumed (installed)
  • over/under license status
  • software usage levels

This information is automatically updated as purchase records are imported and inventories are refreshed. So, managers can clearly see when licenses are available to be deployed.

5.3.4 Procurement
There need to be corresponding procedures to formally transfer the license if management is handled on a decentralized basis.

ZENworks: ZENworks Asset Management includes a license allocation feature that allows purchased licenses to be allocated and reallocated based on department, site, cost center and workstation.

5.3.6 Deployment
During the deployment stage, all components of a release are deployed to their agreed and approved environments.

ZENworks: Using ZENworks Asset Management in conjunction with ZENworks Suite, IT managers can align operations with SAM and license compliance data to ensure that deployments do not cause compliance violations.


5.3.7 Operations/Monitoring ongoing operations relevant to SAM
Identify individual exceptions to SAM policies, for example, instances of unauthorized software installed on workstations immediately or soon after installation.

ZENworks: ZENworks Asset Management offers several ways to archive this best practice:

  • With the unique Knowledgebase approach to discovery, software is categorized to help IT managers identify applications that may be problematic. For instance, common malware is categorized and IT managers can be alerted to its presence on managed workstations.
  • ZENworks Asset Management allows IT managers to create their own categories for applications, for example, nonstandard, so they can report and alert based on their own policies.

5.3.8 Software deployment optimization
Active software usage (as opposed to just installation or availability) should be reviewed periodically to determine whether deployment corresponds to end-user needs.

ZENworks: ZENworks Asset Management includes comprehensive software usage tracking and analysis. Once enabled, it automatically tracks usage of all applications and correlates it back to known applications within the Knowledgebase. Data tracked includes:

  • application
  • active usage time (foreground window)
  • runtime (total time opened)
  • number of starts
  • last used
  • workstation
  • user
What in the World is a CMDB?
Is ZENworks Asset Management One?

You can hardly discuss ITIL without explaining the role of the Configuration Management Database (CMDB). At the core of the CMDB is what ITIL calls Configuration Items (CIs).

CIs are defined as: Any Component that needs to be managed in order to deliver an IT Service. Information about each CI is recorded in a Configuration Record within the CMDB and is maintained throughout its Lifecycle by Configuration Management. CIs are under the control of Change Management. CIs typically include hardware, software, buildings, people and formal documentation such as process documentation and SLAs.

A CMDB is defined as: A database used to manage Configuration Records throughout their lifecycle. The CMDB records the attributes of each CI, and relationships with other CIs. A CMDB may also contain other information linked to CIs, for example Incident, Problem or Change Records. The CMDB is maintained by Configuration Management and is used by all IT Service Management Processes.

Most analysts and practitioners involved in ITIL projects recommend a federated approach to building and maintaining the CMDB. The federated approach involves a CMDB that only stores a subset of the information about CIs, incidents, changes, etc. The federated CMDB model involves linking numerous databases and mechanisms with which to synchronize (or at least import) data. In this model, the CMDB contains baseline information on infrastructure components and their relationships such that management can produce reports.

At its core, ZENworks Asset Management contains CIs, CI attributes and some of the relationships that need to be tracked under ITIL. While ZENworks Asset Management does not contain data about incidents, problems, requests for change, etc., some organizations find that it serves as a good baseline CMDB; however, other organizations use ZENworks Asset Management as a "feeder" in a federated CMDB model.

5.4 Verification and compliance
Any truly effective SAM process will have automated methods for trapping noncompliance issues and escalating them to the appropriate resources for immediate attention.

The SAM process should not only be capable of trapping and escalating these issues but also to instigate remedial action.

ZENworks: Within the ZENworks Asset Management Web Console, IT Managers can set alerts for out-of-compliance situations. These e-mail alerts can be tailored based on severity, for example, quantity of under-licensed situations, so they can be sent to the appropriate levels of management.

Using ZENworks Asset Management in conjunction with ZENworks Suite, IT managers can take corrective action to uninstall applications to correct compliance violations. Of course, this only makes sense if the license is not needed, which can be easily determined through software usage information in ZENworks Asset Management.

8.9 Current purchase records
Organizations can benefit from having access to current purchase records. Some resellers offer a download capability into in-house SAM systems for recording all licenses purchased for use in License Management.

ZENworks: In addition to supporting a general import format, ZENworks Asset Management includes reseller connectors (currently including CompuCom, Softchoice, SHI and Software Spectrum) whereby specific reports of license transactions from these resellers' Web sites can be downloaded and imported directly into license tracking in ZENworks Asset Management. red N

About ZENworks Asset Management

ZENworks Asset Management, introduced in mid-2005, includes comprehensive hardware and software discovery and tracking along with license compliance and software usage analysis.

Asset Inventory, a core component of ZENworks Asset Management, includes network discovery and computer hardware and software asset tracking. Asset Inventory is included in the ZENworks Suite and existing customers of the following three products with upgrade protection or maintenance are entitled to it:

  • ZENworks Suite
  • ZENworks Desktop Management
  • ZENworks Server Management

Built on top of Asset Inventory, Asset Management includes:

  • Software Compliance
  • License tracking
  • License view of software inventory
  • Reconciliation and compliance status
  • License allocation
  • Software standards management

Software Usage Analysis

  • Monitoring
  • Trend reporting


© 2014 Novell