Challenges involved in normalizing ConfigMgr (SCCM) data

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ConfigMgr (SCCM) is primarily an operational tool used for the management of the network environment such as patch and software deployment.  The trouble starts when other parts of the organization like the Asset Manager, and/or Procurement teams want to use this tool for other purposes such as Asset Management, Software Asset Management, License Compliance etc

ConfigMgr provides most (but not all) of the elements for doing such projects in a “raw” format.

What is a “raw” format?

A “raw” format is the native information that you can find in any device.

For example, you are probably using one of the following Adobe products in your computer: Reader, Acrobat Standard, or Acrobat Pro.

If you search for one of these products on your computer, you will find one or two ways to identify them (looking at the add/remove programs or by searching on the executable and/or dll).  The same search on your colleague’s computer will yield a different representation of the name and version of the product.

A quick search in the BDNA Technopedia database shows that there are more than 2,400 ways these products are identified.

The ConfigMgr challenge

An asset manager in a mid-size company would have to manage not 1 or 2, but 10,000 machines. And not just one product, but possibly the 600 products which are under contract.

If we apply the previous numbers, we have 600 apps * 2,400 raw data = 1,440,000 possible ways software is identified. And these numbers don’t take into account the number of computers (x10,000).

With this huge number we can quickly understand that the challenge is not the identification itself, but the volume of data generated by ConfigMgr.

How to approach that problem

In an environment where no patch or software is deployed or removed, the asset manager would manually create a software catalog of sorts. Depending on the size of the environment size and the budget, the catalog can be reasonably functional (at least 60%) in a 6 months to 1 year period.

In the real world, new/obsolete computers are added/removed from the network, software are installed/uninstalled, and/or patched on a on a daily/weekly basis. Your catalog is obsolete as soon as it’s completed and will need to be refreshed immediately and constantly.

The Technopedia solution

As you do for other parts of your business, you outsource what is not part of your core function. Why make paper for a printer if you are in the healthcare or insurance business.

At Technopedia, we have a dedicated team of market researchers who are responsible for populating and maintaining the hardware and software catalog. As of the end of December 2012, the catalog identifies more than 2 million Add/Remove, and 10 million Executable.

By leveraging their work, you can focus on your core function and deliver higher value to your business.