One of the common organizational barriers encountered by those wishing to implement a genuine software asset management tool relates to internal pressure within the organization to leverage an existing Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM) deployment to accomplish SAM-related goals. To be sure, SCCM has a very important role within the enterprise. But there’s often a fundamental misunderstanding among decision makers (and sometimes other groups within organizations) as to what capabilities SCCM was designed to deliver and the potential drawbacks of relying on it for more than it’s intended.
While users generally agree that SCCM is a fantastic deployment and patch management tool, we frequently hear that it falls short when it comes to calculating, managing, and optimizing their license positions. According to our own customers, challenges exist in several areas:
1) Reporting: SCCM’s reports are inflexible and lack a user interface for easily implementing advanced filtering capabilities; in fact, asset managers often report they need to rely on SCCM experts to manipulate data in such a way as to be useful for software asset management purposes.
2) License reconciliation: While it’s possible to import basic license counts, the import process is very onerous unless it happens to be a Microsoft Licensing Report. Additionally, it’s not possible to import or track other purchasing data or attributes related to deployed software.
3) Data presentation: Microsoft SCCM presents data from an “application view” rather than from a “license view.” This means, for example, every version of any given software title will be listed separately with no built-in mechanism allowing the application to be viewed as a single licensable entity.
4) Software recognition: Microsoft SCCM sometimes has trouble properly differentiating between closely related applications (such as Microsoft SQL Server 2008) due to limitations with the type of data collected by the SCCM client.
To help organizations with these challenges, we recently released an SCCM connector, which, when used in conjection with Express Software Manager, allows hardware and software inventory data residing in your SCCM database to be extracted, run through a normalized catalog of application titles, enriched with your own purchasing information, and presented in intuitive, reliable, and license-centric reports. This product is most appropriate for organizations that aren’t able or willing to invest in specialized license compliance software, but rather wish to extend computer inventory data collected by the SCCM client for their asset management efforts.