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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.

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