Enhansoft

Enhansoft Support and Announcement Blog

Disabled Software Metering Rules Are a Good Thing!

By Garth Jones

In a previous blog post entitled, “Total Usage for All Metered Software Programs Query Matches the Executable Name,” I talked about my surprise when I found out that disabled metering rules were being displayed in the software metering (SWM) reports. I closed off that blog post by saying that this was in fact a good thing, so let me explain why it is a good thing and then I will go into more detail about each point below.

1. Fewer active rules needed.

2. Capture new versions or languages without the need for a new rule.

3. You can get creative with your reporting.

Fewer Active Rules Needed

I do a lot of work for international clients. They generally worry about multiple versions of software which could include several different language versions. In the past, if I wanted to ensure that I collected details for Microsoft Project from a client who uses both English and French language versions, I would need to create a separate rule for each version and language. For example:

· Microsoft Project 2007 English

· Microsoft Project 2007 French

· Microsoft Project 2010 English

· Microsoft Project 2010 French

You can imagine how many rules I would need to create if an organization used more than two languages, and employed several versions of a diverse group of products. However, without creating these rules, I would not be able to report on each version and the version’s language. It is estimated that you can only have ~100 SWM rules within the SWM policy. Therefore if you write one rule per version and / or language you will be restricted about the number of products that you can obtain software metering data on. By using only one active generic rule for all versions and languages then you could create reports about 100 different products.

Capture New Versions or Languages Without the Need for a New Rule

In my example above, I would only see results for English and French versions of Microsoft Project 2007 and 2010. Therefore, if a Greek version of Microsoft Project was installed, none of the rules would apply and there would be no way of knowing the SWM details for the Greek version. However, by using a generic SWM rule that ignores versions and languages everything is collected. This is a good thing as it means we could create a disabled rule for Microsoft Project Greek and be able to report on it right away, instead of waiting to get results! The same is also true if Microsoft Project 2013 was installed. You could gather results right away instead of waiting until you noticed the new version.

You Can Get Creative With Your Reporting

In both examples above there is no need for extra SWM rules, however when it comes to reporting, disabled SWM rules truly shine.

· You can use the disabled rules to display data from the built-in reports. Similar to what I did within my first blog post. Since you are collecting data for all versions and all languages, if a new version or language is installed in your environment you can quickly create a disabled rule for the data and report on the results immediately by using the existing generic rule data.

· You can leverage the disabled rules within your own custom reports.

· By creating disabled rules and leveraging them within reports, you reduce the need for Managers and Asset Managers to manually gather data about individual versions and languages on each product for their own reporting purposes.

I hope that you see how using disabled SWM rules can be an advantage to you and your organization!

DisabledSWMRule

Total Usage for All Metered Software Programs Query Matches the Executable Name

By Garth Jones

I noticed something interesting in one of the built-in reports, Total usage for all metered software programs, found in System Center 2012 Configuration Manager (CM12), so I thought that I would share it with all of you.

Sometime before I ran this report, a software metering rule for Microsoft® Windows® Operating System - cmd.exe - 6.1. (1033) was created by CM12 in a disabled state.

When I finally ran Total usage for all metered software programs it showed me that 15 total users had used this software. Why did this happen with the disabled rule?

Total Usage for All Metered Software Programs

In case you don’t believe me when I say that I disabled this rule, below is the screenshot showing the rule disabled:

Total Usage for All Metered Software Programs-Disabled Rule

After some troubleshooting, I found out that the query used for Total usage for all metered software programs is written to match the executable name NOT the rule ID. It doesn’t matter if the software metering rule is enabled or not as long as the exe name matches. In this case it is CMD.exe, and you end up with what I call a false positive result.

Looking at the CM12 console screenshot above, you can see that the enabled rule is for all versions (*) of CMD.exe, whereas the disabled rule is only for Windows 7 and Windows 2008 R2 (6.1.*). This is why there is a difference in the results between the enabled rule results and the disabled rule results.

In case you’re curious, below is what is displayed for my CMD SWM rule, which includes all versions of cmd.exe.

Total Usage for All Metered Software Programs-CMD SWM Rule

The question that is likely on your mind is, “Now what do I do? That is a problem.” That was my first reaction too, but now that I have thought about this a bit more, it is not actually a problem at all. In fact it is a good thing. Why? Stay tuned for the answer next week.

Reminder to Vote for August’s Free SSRS Report

The report choices in our poll are: Computer Service Details OR List of PCs by Windows Experience Index.

VOTE HERE for your favorite report! The winning report will become August’s free SSRS report.

a) Computer Service Details report is useful when you need to quickly review the status of each service installed on a PC. For example, if you need to track down PCs that don’t have McAfee service installed, you can review the list of services that are installed on an individual PC to see if it has McAfee (or an alternate anti-virus software) before taking any action.

Computer Service Details

In the full-feature set, this report is the final drill through report from List of PCs with a Service and List of PCs with a Service Set to Automatic and Service is Not Running.

b) List of PCs by Windows Experience Index will provide you with detailed Windows Experience Index system component scores for each PC with a specific Windows Experience Index.  The overall Windows Experience Index score is based on the lowest component SubScore of a PC.

For more details about Microsoft’s Windows Experience Index, please see the following links:

Windows 7
http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows7/products/features/windows-experience-index
http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows7/What-is-the-Windows-Experience-Index

Windows 8
http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows-8/what-windows-experience-index

All Versions
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Windows_System_Assessment_Tool

List of PCs by Windows Experience Index

In the full-feature set, this report will drill through to Computer Windows Experience Index Details.

All of our reports have the Role-Based Administration (RBA) feature enabled. This means that if you are using System Center 2012 R2 Configuration Manager, these reports will work with all RBA clients. Don’t worry if you are not using SCCM 2012 R2 because you can still run these reports as usual.

Don’t forget to contact Info AT Enhansoft to request July’s free SSRS report, List of PCs by Office SKU (Office 2003).

If you would like to suggest future SSRS report give-aways, please email ewrwish At Enhansoft with your ideas. Thank you!

List of PCs by Office SKU (Office 2003) is July’s Free SSRS Report

Get your free copy of List of PCs by Office SKU (Office 2003) today by sending an email to Info at Enhansoft. This report is only free in July!

List of PCs by Office SKU (Office 2003) will show a list of all PCs with a particular Microsoft Office 2003 product installed.

July's free SSRS report has the Role-Based Administration (RBA) feature enabled, so if you are using System Center 2012 R2 Configuration Manager this report will work with all RBA clients! Don’t worry if you are not using SCCM 2012 R2 because you can still run this report as usual on SCCM 2012 and SCCM 2007.

List of PCs by Office SKU (Office 2003)

Also, make sure to vote in this month’s poll to help decide which report will become August’s free report.

What is a Management Information Format (MIF) File?

By Garth Jones

Whether you are using Configuration Manager 2012, 2007, or SMS there are two different types of Management Information Format (MIF) files (sort of).

The first type of MIF file that I am referring to is defined in the Configuration Manager 2007 docs as the following:

“Management Information Format (MIF) files can be used to extend hardware inventory information collected from clients by the Configuration Manager 2007 hardware inventory client agent. During hardware inventory, the information stored in MIF files is added to the client inventory report and stored in the site database, where you can use the data in the same ways that you use default client inventory data. Two MIF files can be used when performing client hardware inventories: NOIDMIF and IDMIF.”

The second type of MIF file is not generally explained. At least I don’t remember seeing a definition of it listed within any of the docs. It is the inventory file created by a PC when it performs one of the inventory actions such as hardware inventory, software inventory or heartbeat discovery.

The two file meanings are easily confused and extremely similar in basic meaning, structure, etc., but they are different; one is used to extend the inventory information and one is the actual inventory file.

As well, it is the second type of MIF file that is meant most often when people talk about MIF files, particularly when troubleshooting inventory, so this is why I’m telling you this! For example, in this blog post, Troubleshooting Inventory Flow, I’m talking about the second type of MIF file.

When talking about MIF files, determine if you are talking about extending the inventory or the actual inventory itself. If it is the latter then my recommendation is for you to search for the log file name or folder name that contains the MIF file ( i.e. inventoryagenet.log or dataldr.log) in order to troubleshoot the second type of MIF file.

In my opinion, you should never use MIF files to extend your inventory in the first place as there are too many down sides to using them (i.e. network traffic, no control on the data, in CM07 there’s no control on what MIFs are collected, etc.) and very little upside.

MIF Files

4th Annual Carol Durie Memorial Golf Tournament

Carol Durie Memorial Golf Tournament-1

By Suzanne Tighe

Enhansoft is proud to be, once again, sponsoring the 4th Annual Carol Durie Memorial Golf Tournament slated for July 11, 2014 at Equinelle Golf Course. The tournament has raised over $200,000 for the Kemptville District Hospital’s Mammography Unit in the last 3 years. The tournament is in honor of Carol Durie, a local Kemptville teacher, who lost her battle with breast cancer in 2010.

The theme is, as always for this tournament, “Think Pink.” What do you think, can we get Garth Jones in one of these shirts? If these former students of Carol’s can wear pink shirts, I am sure Garth can as well!

Carol Durie Memorial Golf Tournament-2

Help Choose Enhansoft’s Next Free SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS) Report for the Month of August

The report choices in July’s poll are: Computer Service Details OR List of PCs by Windows Experience Index.

VOTE HERE for your favorite report!

a) Computer Service Details report is useful when you need to quickly review the status of each service installed on a PC. For example, if you need to track down PCs that don’t have McAfee service installed, you can review the list of services that are installed on an individual PC to see if it has McAfee (or an alternate anti-virus software) before taking any action.

Computer Service Details

In the full-feature set, this report is the final drill through report from List of PCs with a Service and List of PCs with a Service Set to Automatic & Service is Not Running.

b) List of PCs by Windows Experience Index will provide you with detailed Windows Experience Index system component scores for each PC with a specific Windows Experience Index.  The overall Windows Experience Index score is based on the lowest component SubScore of a PC.

For more details about Microsoft’s Windows Experience Index, please see the following links:

Windows 7
http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows7/products/features/windows-experience-index
http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows7/What-is-the-Windows-Experience-Index

Windows 8
http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows-8/what-windows-experience-index

All Versions
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Windows_System_Assessment_Tool

List of PCs by Windows Experience Index

In the full-feature set, this report will drill through to Computer Windows Experience Index Details.

All of our reports have the Role-Based Administration (RBA) feature enabled. This means that if you are using System Center 2012 R2 Configuration Manager, these reports will work with all RBA clients. Don’t worry if you are not using SCCM 2012 R2 because you can still run these reports as usual.

Don’t forget to contact Info AT Enhansoft to request July’s free SSRS report, List of PCs by Office SKU (Office 2003).

If you would like to suggest future SSRS report give-aways, please email ewrwish At Enhansoft with your ideas. Thank you!

July’s Free SSRS Report is List of PCs by Office SKU (Office 2003)

Thank you to everyone who voted in last month’s poll! The winning report with 68% of the vote is List of PCs by Office SKU (Office 2003) which makes it July’s free SSRS report.

Get your free copy today by sending an email to Info at Enhansoft. This report is only free in July!

List of PCs by Office SKU (Office 2003) will show a list of all PCs with a particular Microsoft Office 2003 product installed.

July's free SSRS report has the Role-Based Administration (RBA) feature enabled, so if you are using System Center 2012 R2 Configuration Manager this report will work with all RBA clients! Don’t worry if you are not using SCCM 2012 R2 because you can still run this report as usual on SCCM 2012 and SCCM 2007.

List of PCs by Office SKU (Office 2003)

Stay tuned because tomorrow we will tell you about the reports in July’s poll.

Reminder to Request June’s Free SSRS Report and to Vote for July’s Free SSRS Report

List of WSUS Sync States by Site is only free in June, so get your copy of June’s free SSRS report today by sending an email to Info AT Enhansoft.

Also, don’t forget to vote for July’s free SSRS report. The report choices are: Count of Keyboard Descriptions OR List of PCs by Office SKU (Office 2003). As of this morning, List of PCs by Office SKU (Office 2003) is leading with 71% of the vote. If you want to see List of PCs by Office SKU (Office 2003) maintain its lead, or if you want Count of Keyboard Descriptions to become July’s free report then make sure to VOTE HERE! We’ll announce the winner on Wednesday.

June’s free SSRS report:

List of WSUS Sync States by Site is designed to show you the WSUS sync states of your hierarchy. Configuration Manager (CM) WSUS Sync component status is reset at midnight, which means that if an error occurs between the last time a CM administrator reviewed the component status and midnight, this error will be missed. However, there are cases where a WSUS Sync component appears to be OK when in fact there could be issues. Our report will help point out systems with potential problems and allow you to make an informed decision. 

In this screenshot you see a parent and child site.

List of WSUS Sync States by Site

WSUS Sync States

How to Avoid Receiving Inventory Re-Sync Requests for Snapshot VMs

By Garth Jones

In Wednesday’s and Thursday’s blog posts I showed you easy ways to force a full hardware inventory on a PC or multiple PCs.

We use Hyper-v to make snapshots of the VMs in our test lab. This is done so that we can quickly revert a VM to a known state. In this case, the SCCM Client Center tool and the previously mentioned right-click tools don’t work as effectively, so manual intervention is required in order to force a full hardware inventory.

To solve this issue each time a VM is restarted (rebooted) we force the CM12/CM07 client to:

1. Perform a heartbeat discovery (data discovery cycle).

2. Delete the last full hardware, thereby forcing the next hardware inventory cycles to perform a full inventory.

3. Delete software inventory data, thereby forcing the next software inventory cycles to perform a full inventory.

4. Perform a hardware inventory.

5. Perform a software inventory.

Since I don’t want to perform this task manually each time, I scripted all of the actions listed above by using WMIC. Then I set a scheduled task to run every time a VM re-starts with a 5 minute delay. The 5 minute delay allows the Configuration Manager client to start before you try to force the inventory action to occur.

Using WMIC you can trigger each action to occur sequentially. Below is the list of commands that we use.

Heartbeat / Data Discovery Record:
WMIC /namespace:\\root\ccm path sms_client CALL TriggerSchedule "{00000000-0000-0000-0000-000000000003}" /NOINTERACTIVE

Delete Hardware Inventory Data:
WMIC /namespace:\\root\ccm\invagt path inventoryActionStatus where InventoryActionID="{00000000-0000-0000-0000-000000000001}" DELETE /NOINTERACTIVE

Delete Software Inventory Data:
WMIC /namespace:\\root\ccm\invagt path inventoryActionStatus where InventoryActionID="{00000000-0000-0000-0000-000000000002}" DELETE /NOINTERACTIVE

Perform Hardware Inventory:
WMIC /namespace:\\root\ccm path sms_client CALL TriggerSchedule "{00000000-0000-0000-0000-000000000001}" /NOINTERACTIVE

Perform Software Inventory:
WMIC /namespace:\\root\ccm path sms_client CALL TriggerSchedule "{00000000-0000-0000-0000-000000000002}" /NOINTERACTIVE

Inventory ReSync-Task Scheduler

If you have similar issues, my advice is to setup a scheduled task every time a PC re-starts (with a 5 minute delay).

Inventory ReSync-Actions

Simply by setting-up a scheduled task to perform all 5 actions sequentially, we avoid having to perform them manually and avoid having outdated data within our CM12 environment. This is also useful for PCs that have deep freeze or other similar technology where a PC’s inventory may get out of sync easily.