Cherwell Blog

November’s New Feature Spotlight: Automatic ESID Contributions

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Over the months ahead, we will be highlighting in our blog the new features found in Express Software Manager Version 10. One of the most exciting features, in my opinion, is the ability to configure Express Software Manager to automatically contribute unrecognized applications discovered on your networks to the Express Software Identification Database (ESID).

Q: What, exactly, is the purpose of this feature?

A: This feature, when enabled, scans computers in your environment that have software installed that’s not recognized by Express Software Manager. The data related to these applications is sent via a secure HTTP connection to our¬†server. The data is then processed and evaluated by the ESID team and, if appropriate, added to the database of recognized applications.

Q: Why did you introduce this feature?

A: Express Software Manager’s software recognition capabilities are widely acknowledged to be among the best in the industry, and we intend to maintain our competitive advantage in this area! Express Software Manager has always allowed customers to contribute unrecognized applications to the Express Software Identification Database, but this was previously a semi-automated process that required some effort on the end of our customers. This new automated approach allows us to continue growing our coverage of recognized applications, while making it as easy as possible for our customers.

Q: How does Express Software Manager determine which computers to scan?

A: Each monthly ESID update contains an algorithm to determine which machines are the best candidates for scanning. For example, in November the algorithm may elect to scan 1% of the computers showing unrecognized files in the \Program Files path. In December the algorithm may choose to scan 2% of the computers with closely matched executable names in all the directories. These algorithm variations ensure we capture a diverse set of information across our customers’ environments.

Q: What’s the impact on the target machines?

A: Virtually none. Once a machine is identified as a candidate for contributing to the ESID it is flagged in the Express Software Manager database. The next time that computer is inventoried, if the overall criteria for number of scans has not been met, the machine will be scanned and the data sent to Express Metrix. A scan is simply a more extensive type of inventory, but it runs at low priority and users will not be impacted.

Q: What if I want to exclude a particular computer from this process?

A: No problem. You can exclude any computers you want using a setting under the Machine | Properties Advanced Options tab.

Q: What type of data is sent to your servers? Do I need to worry about confidential data being transmitted?

A: The data collected by Express Software Manager only relate to file headers, file executables (name, size, path), GUIDs (Global Unique Identifiers), MSI database information, and start menu options. The scans also include your customer id, statistical information about the number of closely matched and unrecognized executables, and the name, domain, machine id, and name of the last logged in user. All this information is used when evaluating the scan; however, nothing tied to the specific machine or your company is ever included in the ESID.

Q: I chose not to enable this feature when originally prompted. How do I turn it on?

A: Open the Express Administrative Console. Click on the Tools menu, select Options, select the Advanced tab, and check “Enable automatic contribution to the ESID.”