Archive for February, 2010

Feb
15

Who is using the computer?

Posted by: | Comments (4)

With the upcoming ConfigMgr vNext beta approaching I want to give some reflections of the functionality that exist today in ConfigMgr 2007 that will be even more used in ConfigMgr vNext. Starting with the Asset Intelligence top user functionality.

One of the largest issues when implementing an asset management system or helpdesk system is to fetch the information of the computer-to-user mapping. The most common way is to set this manually, but this is hard to maintain correctly in the long run because this kind of information is dynamic. Computers could be borrowed between co-workers or moved between departments without IT is notified. There were an last-logged-on-user inventory entry before (and it’s still present…) but that inventory are based on what specific user was logged on to the computer during the actual inventory execution on the client, and if nobody was logged on at that time the entry was empty. So it wasn’t a trustworthy source getting this information. But with the introduction of Asset Intelligence in ConfigMgr a possible solution for this issue was released that not everyone is aware of exists. In this post I will try to describe this functionality in more detail and how this is enabled.

By evaluating logon and logoff events Asset Intelligence calculates the number of times a user has been logged on to the computer as well as the total amount of time in minutes that the user has been logged on to the computer. All this information gathered with time limit of data within the last 90 days, this is then sent as a part of hardware inventory and made available in reports and for use by external products like asset/helpdesk systems. Below is a short description how you enabled this in your environment:

Enable to audit successfully account logon events on computers

  1. Applying the settings below manually or using an group policy

Enable Asset Intelligence in ConfigMgr console

  1. Open ConfigMgr Console
  2. Expand Site Database – Computer Management
  3. Right-Click Asset Intelligence and Select Enable
  4. Select Enable only…. And check reporting classes SMS_SystemConsoleUsage and SMS_SystemConsoleUser then click OK
  5. Click YES in the warning dialog (The extra resources this takes has not caused any problems from my experience even for very large customers)
  6. Finished

At the next hardware inventory the inventory will be populated with this information. If you haven’t had the policy to audit successfully account logon events enabled for an long time it can take different amount of times dependant on the hardware inventory frequency getting in the information into the inventory. This information is then used by ConfigMgr to populate a row for each computer with the TopUser for the computer based on the total logon count and total time where total time has precedence. This information can also be fetched in reports or queries by accessing the SQL view v_GS_SYSTEM_CONSOLE_USAGE.

The SQL view v_GS_SYSTEM_CONSOLE_USER makes it possible to see all users that has logged on to a specific computer to make a top list of the users based on your own criteria. It’s also possible to get a list of all computers a users has been logged on to the last 90 days.

Some of the ConfigMgr 2007 built-in reports are:

  • Hardware 03A – Primary computer users
  • Hardware 03B – Computers for a specific primary console user
  • Hardware 04A – Shared (multi-user) computers
  • Hardware 05A – Console users on a specific computer

As you can imagine the potential are huge making dynamic solutions based on this.

Comments (4)

In a collaborative project we, Patrik Sundqvist and Anders Bengtsson have created an embryo of an Asset Management extension for Service Manager. Our thoughts behind this management pack are to build a version one that we could extend in the future. It is not a feature complete asset management solution for enterprise organizations, but it is a foundation that could give you some ideas what you could do with Service Manager 2010.

Download management pack here and the management pack guide here.SMAsset02

 SMAsset01

Comments (1)

As you probably already know a new version of ConfigMgr are scheduled to be released next year. Microsoft is calling it ConfigMgr vNext but my guess is that the RTM name will be ConfigMgr 2011. In this post I want to share information and my views on some of the new functionality and changes in ConfigMgr vNext that has been revealed by Microsoft. ConfigMgr vNext TAP nomination is open and you can find the nomination survey here. Rumors say that beta program should start in the end of March. I’m really excited that a new version is coming; it’s a special event for a system management techie that only occurs every five years and experience say that it only gets better if you look at the history of SMS/ConfigMgr products.

Hierarchy

Microsoft is aiming for ConfigMgr vNext hierarchy designs to be less complex and easier to maintain, and their solution is to introduce a new site server Central Administration Server (or CAS), it will be the central point of administration and will not be able to manage any clients. Additionally changes of the site server’s relations will be huge. Primary site servers will no longer have the ability to have Parent/Child relation to each other, instead secondary site servers will. This is the exact opposite to how it’s working today. Role based delegation is introduced that enables easier and more granular delegation of tasks.

Replication

Today’s Inbox replication will be replaced by native SQL replication. As it is today all replicated information is processed on every site server it passes causing excessive unnecessary workload on the site servers. By changing to SQL replication hopefully the site servers will have more resources for more important operations. Another new feature is the ability to bandwidth throttle distribution points, today if data transfer between the site server and distribution point is unmanaged. This feature will really enable you to use non-dedicated servers on branch offices as distribution points without setting up them as secondary servers.

Software Management

Here you have been working the last six years convincing customers to move from user to computer based distribution because of licensing, and now Microsoft is starting to talk about User Centric distribution. Don’t be alarmed it’s not as drastic as you think, it’s almost genius. A new object will be introduced “Application”. The Application object will be advertised to the user and can contain rules how to react when the user moves between platforms and clients. For example a rule could say that the application should only be installed on clients where the user is inventoried by ConfigMgr as the TopUser of the computer. If then the user temporary is logging on to a colleagues computer the application will not be installed there. Rules could also be defined for different software installation when moving between different platforms like mobile and Desktop Services. I will describe this new object in much more detail´s in later posts.

Self-Service

ConfigMgr vNext will deliver a Self-Service Portal. The user will be able to enter a portal and install available applications instantly. The application object mentioned earlier will contain the application details that will be shown in the portal as well have multi-language support for the application details. It will also be basic approver functionality for application that has a high cost. But in reality this should be connected to Service Manager and I hope that Patrik will show how this could be done in a later post as soon as the first ConfigMgr vNext beta is released.

This was a sum up of what’s coming on the ConfigMgr horizon. As soon as I get my hands on the beta I promise to give you some more reflections.

Comments (1)

When creating a view in the Service Manager console you might want to filter the listed objects based on a related object’s property. Since I got a question last week regarding a scenarios like this, I thought I go ahead and describe how this could be done. In this example I’m creating a view tha lists all change requests that are assigned to a swedish user. Follow the instructions below to create such a view:

  1. Start by right clicking on the “Change Management” folder and click “Create view”.Adv_View_Query_1_CreateView
  2. Name the new view, provide a description and select in which management pack you want to store the view.Adv_View_Query_2_General
  3. Click browse in the criteria section and select “Combination classes” in the “View” drop down list. Select a the combination class called “Change Request (Advanced)” and press OK.
    This is the key to success since you want to be able the query a combination class (a type projection) instead of only a simple class. A combination class provides access to related objects and there properties.
    Adv_View_Query_3_ChooseClass
  4. Since you selected a combination class (a type projection) you can now have a search criteria that is based on properties of items that are related to the change request in your view.
    Adv_View_Query_4_Criteria_RelatedObjects
  5. Select the “Assigned To User” in the left pane of the criteria section. Then check the checkbox for the “Country” attribute in the right pane of the criteria section, click the add button and write “Sweden” in the textbox.
    Adv_View_Query_5_Criteria
  6. Select which columns to display in your view and close the wizard.

You’re done!

To test the view, make sure you have a user object with the country value “Sweden” and a change request with this user as the “Assigned To” user.
Note: The same method could be used to list all incidents that has affected user that speaks a certain language

Comments (2)