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May Technical Tip: Retiring Machines with Express Software Manager

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How does your organization handle machines that have reached the end of their useful life? Ideally, you have IT asset management processes in place to retire or replace these older computers before they break down or become obsolete.

But how do you manage retiring these machines in Express Software Manager? The steps you take depend on a number of factors including internal procedures used within your organization and how much data you wish to retain about those retired machines.

Here are some factors to consider:

How do you know when a machine has been removed from your network?

Ideally you have procedures in place to notify you when a computer is due to be removed from the network. If not, you can use a computer’s last heartbeat status in Express Software Manager to help determine that it is no longer communicating with the Express database. An out-of-date last heartbeat is a possible sign that the machine has been removed from the network and should be removed from the Administrative Console’s list of active machines.

How much data do you need to save about retired machines? 

Typically, you use Express Software Manager to inventory the software and hardware installed on your machines, and to collect usage data about the applications that are being used. How important is that historical information for retired machines?

RETIRING MACHINES IN THE EXPRESS ADMINISTRATIVE CONSOLE

With the above questions in mind, here are several alternatives for processing retired machines within the Express Administrative Console.

1. Create a special “retired machine” machine group.

One option for dealing with retired machines is to create a user-defined group and call it something like “retired machines.” When a machine has been removed from your network you would then simply move that machine into the “retired machines” group. For general reporting purposes, you would use a group filter to filter out the “retired machines” group. Advantages: This approach provides you with maximum flexibility and allows you to easily access inventory and software usage history about these retired machines. Disadvantages: These retired machines continue to use an Express inventory and metering license, even though they’re not in active use.

2. Move retired machines into the “Deleted Machines” folder in the Machines Panel.

Moving computers into the Deleted Machines folder is probably the most common way to deal with machines that are no longer on the network. Advantages: This option frees up licenses for new machines and eliminates the machines from most reporting. However, usage data that was collected for that machine is still viewable in usage reports. Disadvantages: Inventory information about hardware and software installed on that machine is lost, and you have no method of generating reports on “retired machines.”

3. Purge deleted machines from the database.

Similar to the second option, you can choose to move retired machines into the Deleted Machines folder, and then delete the machines from the Deleted Machines folder. Advantages: This model frees up licenses, and if you are deleting numerous machines with large amounts of collected usage data, this option can help minimize the size of your Express database. Disadvantages: With this option, all information about affected machines are purged, with the additional disadvantage that historical usage data will now be inaccurate, as now it will not include usage previously recorded for the purged machines.

RETIRING MACHINES FROM THE EXPRESS PURCHASING CONSOLE

Computer purchases are typically recorded in the Express Purchasing Console. If you have entered the computer’s serial number in the purchasing console, these purchases are automatically reconciled to the machine in the Machines Pane, when the computers are inventoried. You may find it useful to modify that machine’s purchase record once it has been retired. You can note the computer’s retired status using the line item “status” field, or the “notes” field, or by creating your own custom field and entering the data you desire, such as a retirement date or other notation. If you’re moving computers into a “retired machines” group or into the Deleted Machines folder, the line item recording that computer’s purchase will remain reconciled to that machine. If you have deleted or purged your retired machine, the line item for that machine will now be listed in the Reconcile tab of the Purchasing Console under Unreconciled Computers.

I hope the above information has given you some useful information about methods for dealing with retired computers in your environment!