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Hidden Gems – Part 2

Best Practices for Asset Management with Novell ZENworks

Written by Ken Baker

When it comes to software asset management, one of the biggest challenges is figuring out where to start. The BrainShare 2010 session on “Best Practices for IT Asset Management” answered this question and revealed best practices that can help organizations manage their software licenses in a way that reduces overall effort, better uses their existing software assets and saves money.

Where To Start

The first step in software asset management is determining what software assets you have. But when you have hundreds or thousands of applications, a standard inventory report containing a consolidated view of your software data can be overwhelming. On a typical workstation, you might have four or five applications that require license tracking, but standard inventory reports show the application view of all installed applications—even those that don’t requiring tracking. You might have a variety of browsers, messaging clients, readers and more—as well as different instances of .NET and Java that your applications require. Standard inventory reports typically provide more of a technical view into your software assets, one that is geared towards the needs of a helpdesk rather than software license management. As a result, you end up having to plow through a lot of data just to figure out where you stand in terms of license compliance.

Designed to simplify license compliance, Novell ZENworks Asset Management filters inventory data in a way that significantly reduces the number of applications you view when building your license definitions. It does this through its software license view, which acts as both a filter and an extension of the application view. It also facilitates processes and reporting needs specific to the asset management discipline. The software license view excludes applications that don’t have license implications, ignores individual suite components and rolls up different versions of the same software. As a result, the software license view in Novell ZENworks Asset Management can often reduce the number of applications that you have to assess and track by fifty percent. This is the critical first step in software asset management: knowing exactly which applications need to be tracked for license compliance. (See the White Paper “Novell ZENworks: Next-generation Inventory”, for detailed information on Novell recognition technology.

Getting Proof of Ownership

Once you’ve narrowed down which applications you need to track, you need to import your proof-of-ownership information into ZENworks Asset Management, which might come from sources such as purchase records and license certificates. This process can be greatly simplified if you have a central purchasing system that tracks and organizes this data for you. But even if you’re using a customized database, spreadsheet, vendor purchase reports or even hard copy records, ZENworks Asset Management facilitates entering this information into its database.

The following represent the two main vehicles for mass-importing your proof-of-ownership information into ZENworks Asset Management:

  • Reseller Connectors — ZENworks Asset Management can import purchase records from certain reseller import files, including CompuCom Software Compliance Reports, Softchoice Product History Reports, Insight ZENworks Asset Management Reseller Connector Reports, SHI License Compliance Reports and KMD Asset Reports.
  • Purchase Record Import Template — For purchase record data from other sources (i.e., different databases, other resellers and paper sources), this template will help you create a properly formatted tab-delimited ASCII text file that can be imported into the ZENworks Asset Management database. (See TID # 2972845)

Regardless of which method you use, when importing a large number of records, it’s best to import the purchasing data in batches. For example, you might want to separate the batches by manufacturer, maintaining your original purchasing data in a spreadsheet with a worksheet for each manufacturer. This can help you better track the records you have imported, as you save a copy of each worksheet into the proper tab-delimited text file in preparation for import.

Also, don’t succumb to the temptation to delete records, prior to import, for purchases that are not related to licensing. This unnecessarily creates more work for you. Rather than deleting these records, it’s best to filter them out using the Exclude function in ZENworks Asset Management after you import the records. Also, don’t change the naming conventions of your product fields prior to import. If you do, it can result in the accidental importing of duplicate data. If you accidentally re-import such a file, the records will be seen as new rather than duplicates, and will not be skipped during import.

When your files are ready for import, do the following to import them into the ZENworks database:

  1. From within the ZENworks Control Center, click the Asset Management tab and select Purchase Records from the License Management page.
  2. Click Start Import from the Action menu.
  3. When the Import Purchase Records dialog box displays, browse to the location where you’ve stored the file to be imported and select it. (See Figure 1.)
  4. Click OK to start the import.

From within the Import Status tab you can see the progress of the import, as well as a record of previous imports. When the import finishes, the new purchase records will be stored in the ZENworks database and associated with a catalog product, which represents a unique purchase record line item. When you’re done importing, you should review the complete list of catalog products to determine if there are any that should be excluded. This can be done by performing a filter search in the Product Type and Name fields for keywords such as Media, CD and doc. Next, mark the products you want to exclude and select Exclude from the Action menu.

License Model Maze

Once you’ve loaded all of your proof-of-ownership data, you next need to navigate the license model maze. You might have CAL licenses, per-CPU licenses, OEM based licenses, per-install licenses, named user licenses or site licenses. In addition, was the license purchased under maintenance? Is it a term or perpetual license? Do you have upgrade or downgrade rights? The list goes on and on. So, how do you make sure you have the right license model associated with each individual application? And how do you avoid repeating that analysis process every year when it’s time to renew?

ZENworks Asset Management makes it easy to track multiple license scenarios for your applications, even multiple license models per application. This is possible because each license model is tracked as an entitlement, which in turn is linked to a licensed product.

Still, as you use Novell ZENworks Asset Management to associate the appropriate license models with your cataloged products (a process referred to as creating licensed products), it’s best to start with the most basic license models before dealing with the more complex models. This allows you to become more comfortable with the interface and how the process works before you move on to more complex license models that require more refined definitions.

When creating your licensed products, ZENworks Asset Management lets you batch create multiple licensed products using its Auto-Reconcile Wizard. When using auto-reconcile, it’s still best to focus on a specific group of applications. ZENworks Asset Management lets you do this by filtering your discovered product list by different fields, such as manufacturer or product type.

When you use the Auto-Reconcile Wizard to create licensed products, the process will allow you to do the following:

  • Create one or more entitlements
  • Add catalog products to the entitlements
  • Add discovered products to the entitlements
  • Specify the users or devices covered by the entitlements

Since auto-reconcile only allows you to work on one license model at a time (i.e., per installation, OEM, CPU), you’ll need to repeat the auto-reconcile process for each license model.

To create your licensed products with the Auto-Reconcile Wizard, do the following:

  1. Select the License Management page from the Asset Management tab and then click Licensed Products.
  2. From the Licensed Products panel under the Action menu, click Auto-Reconcile: Create Licensed Products.
  3. When the Auto-Reconcile Wizard launches, use the Manufacturer and Product fields to filter the applications you want to define as licensed products.
  4. Select the licensed products to be created.
  5. Select the destination folder for the new licensed products.
  6. Enter a description for the license entitlements, which will serve as a name for the entitlement and identify it in the licensed products entitlement list. The description can reflect the product name and version, the license model, the license type or any other applicable information. When creating multiple entitlements, you might want to enter the license model type as the description.
  7. Confirm the creation of the licensed products.

While the above summarizes how to create licensed products for basic license models, ZENworks Asset Management, as mentioned earlier, also allows you to handle more complex models. For example, you can bring the different versions of an application into individual entitlements under a single licensed product by using the Merge Licensed Products task from the Action menu. To address downgrade/upgrade rights, you can also use the Merge task or you can simply edit a licensed product and add the versions covered by the license under the Coverage tab. (See Figure 2.)

Once you finish the auto-reconcile and any additional refinements to your entitlements and licensed products, you’ll have access to a software license view of all your software assets. The only remaining steps will be to link your proof-of-ownership information to license entitlements, and—if desired—add purchase summary information, link your license contracts and maintenance agreements to your entitlements, add additional supporting documentation to the entitlement (i.e., original license purchase, license certificates), add demographic data to your devices, and allocate licenses based on device or demographics. Completion of these additional steps can make it easier for you to manage your overall software compliance.

Greater Visibility and Control

Now that you have imported, reconciled and configured all your licensing and entitlement information for your software applications, you can take advantage of the significant time and cost savings provided by the array of reports in Novell ZENworks Asset Management. While you can also create and customize your own reports in ZENworks Asset Management, there are three standard reports that you can take advantage of from the ZENworks Control Center:

  • License Management Reports — Allow you to analyze your license compliance and license allocation data, displaying detailed and summary compliance status, products not associated with a license, detailed and summary purchase information, inventory comparisons and more.
  • Contract Management Reports — Let you analyze contract data from different perspectives such as key financial information, service level agreements, lease details, vendor information, parent/child contract relationships, renewal dates and more.
  • Software Usage Reports — Enable you to analyze the usage of local applications, served applications and Web applications on the devices in your organization. These reports let you easily discover underutilized applications so you can reallocate them to other users or renegotiate your vendor license agreement—and consequently reduce software license fees.

The ZENworks Reporting Server also lets you take advantage of some additional predefined reports on license allocation, purchases, software compliance and software suites. The whole point of these reports—and ZENworks Asset Management as a whole—is to give you greater visibility and control of your software assets so you can stay in compliance, better optimize usage, plan for the future and save money. (See Figure 3.) To learn more about what ZENworks Asset Management can do for you, visit www.novell.com/products/zenworks/assetmanagement. Or if you are already a ZENworks Configuration Management customer, you can evaluate ZENworks Asset Management for free for thirty days. So, why not give it a try? Who knows what additional hidden gems you’ll find?

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