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How to effectively use "Software Inventory Configuration" to manage Software Inventory using ZENworks 7

Novell Cool Solutions: Feature
By Ananda N

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Posted: 27 Jan 2006
 

This article helps you to understand the effective use of "software Inventory configuration" available in ZENworks 7 Inventory Management component. This in turn, results in a more accurate and manageable software inventory.

Contents

Introduction to Software Inventory Management
How ZENworks Inventory Assist in Better Software Inventory Management
Typical Problems/Scenarios along with Solutions using ZENworks
Conclusion

Introduction

It is critical for network administrators to maintain accurate software inventory in the network in order to comply with license agreements, avoid software audits, track usage of restricted files/software manage desktops/servers and keeping the network secure. Nevertheless, it is difficult to record an accurate software inventory, keep it up-to-date and then tie that inventory into critical updates.

With the help of Inventory applications, you can get the list of the applications that are residing in servers and desktops in a network; these lists can be matched to software-purchasing invoices to demonstrate that it is in accordance with the terms of the company license agreements. In this article, we shall learn how we can achieve some of these tasks using ZENworks 7 workstation/server inventory.

How ZENworks Inventory Assist in Better Software Inventory Management

Prior to the ZENworks 6.5 release, customization of inventory scan to better manage software inventory was difficult. But from ZENworks 6.5 customization and scope of inventory scan is simplified much for users by introducing software dictionary feature. The Inventory scanner has been enhanced with the following features that enables you to control the scanning process more effectively and efficiently for inventoried workstations as well as servers.

Workstation/Server Inventory supports scanning for the following software inventory information:
  • Windows* operating system and its patches
  • Internet Explorer and its patches
  • Windows Media Player and its patches
  • Outlook Express and its patches
  • Novell Client 32 and its installed components
  • ZENworks suite and its installed components
  • Microsoft* Office and its installed applications
  • Antivirus products such as Symantec Antivirus Corporate Edition and McAfee Antivirus
  • Virus definition date and version for the antivirus products such as Symantec Antivirus Corporate Edition and McAfee Antivirus
It supports scanning for the products listed in the Windows Add/Remove Programs and the MSI database.
It Includes dictionary of software titles to provide more accurate report of Installed software.
It Provides rules to control the scope of software scan.
It Reports total disk usage against configured file extensions.

ZENworks Software Dictionary utility contains list of software identifiers and rules. 'Software Identifiers' are used to identify a particular software installed on a machine. 'Rules' are used to control the scope of the scanning process.

Two types of software dictionary exist – General and Private Dictionary.
General Dictionary is part of the software dictionary that contains predefined software identifiers and is installed once you install ZENworks inventory software. The private dictionary is the part of software dictionary that contains user-defined software identifiers and rules.

For details, refer to http://www.novell.com/documentation/zenworks7/dm7admin/data/bqe9lby.html

Typical Use Cases of Managing Software Inventory

ZENworks 6.5 or above provides simple solutions for various problems related to software inventory management. Note that, solutions can be arrived using various ZENworks inventory tools namely Inventory - Reports, Query, Quick Report, DB Export, Summary. In this article, majority of the solutions are addressed using Inventory Canned Reports. Following are typical problems faced by network administrators.

Use Case 1: As per the company policy, users are not allowed to store audio or .MP3 files on their machines. This in-turn turns out as a critical task for an administrator to track or take an audit of the machines containing audio files manually.

Solution:

You can use Inventory Canned Report 'Disk Usage By Machine' to get a report of the disk usage for various file extensions per machine, in addition to .MP3.

By default, the software inventory configuration page includes MP3 file extension for Disk Usage table. Use the following Inventory Query, to get the list of machines containing .MP3 files from the entire set of managed workstations

'Disk Usage.File Extension Name = MP3'.

You can also view Disk Usage for MP3 files by launching Inventory summary from a workstation object in ConsoleOne.

If an administrator wants to perform a similar action for a different file extension, he/she has to just add the required file extension in Disk Usage table present in the software Configuration page, trigger a scan and check the inventory utilities for appropriate information.

Use Case 2: Users are restricted to install some software on their machines. Administrators must ensure users abide to this rule. In order to verify this, administrators must periodically perform inventory of user's machines and escalate if there is a deviation.

Solution:

An administrator can obtain the list of machines where the required software is installed is by using ZENworks canned report – 'Software installations' with appropriate filter defined. If the software is not identified by the dictionary or is not part of Add/Remove Programs, administrator can add such software to the dictionary table. You can also add new software entries to the dictionary from 'Manage Unidentified Software' option available in Software Configuration page. Subsequently, trigger a scan & verify using the above mentioned canned report. For details, refer to http://www.novell.com/documentation/zenworks7/dm7admin/data/bqe9lby.html.

You can also use Inventory - Query, Summary, DB Export, Quick Report tools to achieve the results.

Use Case 3: Across the network, there may exist different versions of a software. To maintain the consistency/uniformity across the network, administrator must ensure that only the latest version of the software exist on all the user's machines and may also require to check software license compliance.

Solution:

By default, ZENworks reports only maximum version of the software installed on the device.

Step 1: To track the version of a given software or check if multiple versions of the same software exist.

In order to obtain all the versions of any particular software from a device, administrator has to first configure required rules in the software configuration page, so that inventory scanner reports appropriate data.

For configuring rules, please refer to http://www.novell.com/documentation/zenworks7/dm7admin/data/bqe9lby.html#bpm559i.

Use ZENworks Canned Reports - 'Software Installations' or 'Software by Machine' to track the version of a given software and can also check for existence of multiple versions of the same software on the managed devices.

You can also use Inventory - Query, summary, Db export, Quick Report tools to achieve the results.

Step 2: To compare the number of copies of software with purchased copies. Having made the above configurations, launch ZENworks Canned Report - 'Software Installation Count' to obtain the number of copies of softwares installed. Administrator has to manually cross-check this count with the purchased copies to ensure software license compliance.

Use Case 4: Network administrators across different locations may like to share the configurations made for software inventory management, so that consistency is followed through-out & also duplication of effort in configuration can be avoided.

Solution:

Assume that an administrator would have made necessary configurations to the software inventory configurations (namely Dictionary modifications, rules, filters etc) on an inventory server. This server can be made to act as the source of dictionary updates to other inventory servers in the network by configuration the 'Dictionary Update' policy (available as policy in the Server package). Please refer, http://www.novell.com/documentation/zenworks7/dm7admin/data/bpn70hq.html#bpn70hq

Use Case 5: Tracking Anti-virus Definition Updates

Solution:

Using ZENworks Inventory Canned Report - 'Anti-Virus Signatures Files by Machine', you can obtain the list of machines with any anti-virus software installed. This report also contains information on 'Virus Definition Date' and 'Definition version', using which administrator can get to know whether machines in the network are updated with the latest anti-virus definitions.

Use Case 6: Tracking software patch distribution

Solution:

ZENworks Inventory canned reports makes one's life easier in terms of tracking software patch distribution like Windows Security patches, Windows Media Player patches, Internet Explorer patches. Note that, ZENworks reports patches for only a predefined set of products.

For example, to get a report of all machines where Windows specific Security Patch installed, use canned report 'Windows Security Patches by Patch'.

To obtain the list of all Windows Security Patches installed in every machine, use 'Windows Security Patches by Machine' report.

Similarly, appropriate reports are made available to the administrators for other software patch information.

Conclusion

Now that you have the basics of ZENworks software inventory configurations and how to effectively use it, you can enhance the usage of software inventory in similar fashion to your requirements.

For additional information, see the ZENworks 7 Desktop Management Workstation Inventory Administration Guide OR ZENworks 7 Server Management Server Inventory Administration Guide.

Author
Ananda Giri. N

Reviewers
Ganesh. V
Lakshmi. R
Badrinarayan. R
Cinthuja. A


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