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Hidden Gems – Part 1

Best Practices for Asset Management with Novell ZENworks

Written by Ken Baker

Add the Devices

On the left side of the ZENworks Control Center interface there are a number of powerful, yet often overlooked, task options. (See Figure 4.) One of these is the Import Managed Devices option, which enables you to import multiple devices using your device list file. (Note: There is also an Add Device option that allows you to manually enter individual devices one at a time.) Once you have both your registration key and device list file correctly created, use the Import Managed Devices option to import your devices.

After you click this option, the interface will let you select your registration key and browse to your .CSV device list file. When importing is complete, you’ll see all the new devices listed in the import folder you created. You can drill down into individual devices to see their unique hostnames and serial numbers. As mentioned before, this unique detail will enable you to automatically reconcile the imported device record with the actual device once it has the ZENworks agents installed.

Tracking Device Life Changes

Once your devices are in the ZENworks database and deployed, you need to be able to keep track of their movement through your organization. Has a workstation moved from one location to another? Has it moved from one user to another? Has its internal hardware changed over time? Have changes been made to its software configuration? ZENworks Configuration Management and ZENworks Asset Management can help you track all of these types of changes.

Keeping track of a device’s current user can be one of the biggest challenges you'll face. While some organizations rely on user input to keep this information up to date, you'll want to avoid relying on users for any inventory data entry. Even though ZENworks can simplify this process with the deployment of Collection Data Forms, the potential for human error often results in too much time wasted by IT personnel having to scrub and clean that data. To avoid excessive data scrubbing, some organizations hire IT temps to perform regular inventory updates, but this still consumes valuable IT time and budget. A better option is to rely on the LDAP integration in both ZENworks Configuration Management and ZENworks Asset Management.

Within the ZENworks Control Center, you can create an LDAP Import Task that automatically and regularly imports demographic information (including device usernames) for all your devices from either a Novell eDirectory or Microsoft Active Directory user source. To set up the LDAP Import Task, you select the Asset Inventory tab from the Configuration menu and then click New to launch the New LDAP Import Task Wizard. The wizard will ask you to specify an LDAP source that you have already defined as a user source in your Management Zone. It will also ask you to select and map the fields you want imported into the ZENworks database, as well as create the schedule that determines when and how often the task will be executed.

Just as you can schedule LDAP Import Tasks, you can also schedule regular inventory scans to determine the current status of your devices, such as Deployed, In Service or Retired. Inventory scans will report on changes within the device hardware, including internal memory, total disk space, free disk space and BIOS versions. Inventory scans can also report certain device software changes as they relate to anti-virus/anti-malware definition files, new applications, deleted applications, undesirable software and any deviations from your defined software standards. While all of these functions are available in ZENworks Configuration Management, you can obtain a greater breadth and depth of software reporting by taking advantage of ZENworks Asset Management.

From these inventory scans, the ZENworks product line provides a broad array of reports that can play a critical role in planning and budgeting. Both ZENworks Configuration Management and ZENworks Asset Management provide system readiness reports that can tell you which devices meet the performance hardware requirements for OS migrations or applications upgrades. ZENworks Asset Management is also able to report on trends and application usage. (Read part 2 for more on this subject.)

It's important to note that both ZENworks Configuration Management and ZENwork Asset Management, as well as ZENworks Patch Management, leverage the ZENworks Control Center as a common management console. Additionally, ZENworks Asset Management is included in the Enterprise Edition of ZENworks Configuration Management.

Whether it’s the end of life, the beginning or somewhere in between, ZENworks Configuration Management provides the tools you need to manage your hardware assets throughout their entire lifecycle.

End of Life and Beyond

New regulatory requirements have made end-of-life tracking and reporting more important than ever. In certain industries, you are responsible for every bit of data on a machine, even after its useful lifespan within your organization. So even if you have sold, donated or thrown away your retired machines, you might need to be able to certify that all the data (or the hard drive where the data resided) has been destroyed.

The “Retired” status in ZENworks Configuration Management or ZENworks Asset Management can help you address your beyond end-of-life management requirements. With this in mind, you need to be aware that if you delete a device in the ZENworks Control Center, it completely removes the device and all its associated data from the ZENworks database. However, if you simply retire a device in the ZENworks Control Center, all of its associated information will remain accessible from the database, giving you reporting capabilities that can support compliance efforts. Another benefit of retiring a device is that all software applications associated with the retired device are excluded from software compliance reporting.

Whether it’s the end of life, the beginning or somewhere in between, ZENworks Configuration Management provides the tools you need to manage your hardware assets throughout their entire lifecycle. And by adding ZENworks Asset Management into the mix, you can better manage your software assets as well. To learn more about how ZENworks Asset Management supports the software-based asset management best practices discussed at BrainShare 2010, read part two of this article (Hidden Gems – Part 2; Best Practices for Asset Management with Novell ZENworks Asset Management), which will be available later this month.

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