Skip navigation
All Places > Snow Product Hub > General Licensing Forums > Blog > Authors Sophie.Newman

Microsoft SQL Server is a relational database management system developed by Microsoft.

As a database server, it is a software product with the primary function of storing and retrieving data as requested by other software applications—which may run either on the same computer or on another computer across a network (including the Internet).

Editions

There are various editions of SQL server:

               SQL Server Enterprise

   SQL Server Standard

   SQL Server Business Intelligence

The number of editions and their names and capabilities varies by version, Enterprise and Standard are available at a minimum. Depending on the version, there may also be some of the editions below available.

SQL Server Datacentre

SQL Server Web

SQL Server Business Intelligence

SQL Server Express

SQL Server Developer

                         NOTE:         Developer edition is functionally equivalent to Enterprise Edition

         It is FREE to use for Test & Development under the existing licensing for your SQL licensing, but          you are NOT allowed to use it for production work or for disaster recovery (DR)

       

Can I use SQL Server Express for Snow installation?

To answer this question, read below for the pros and cons of SQL Server Express.

 

SQL Server Express is a free version of Microsoft’s SQL Server.

SQL Server Express is the most basic offering available. It is a full database engine you can deploy to a server or embed into an application. Express is free and comes with many of the same features as the enterprise edition. SQL Server Express is probably most suited to supporting production applications for smaller to midsize businesses. A typical SQL Server Express use case would be a deployment by developers who do not want to create applications with a database hosted on a server. Using Express, they would be able to develop apps with their SQL Server database.

 

SQL Server Express Benefits

Some benefits come with an SQL Server Express deployment.

  • Cost: One huge advantage of SQL Server Express is that it is free. Your only outlay is the time investment you make downloading and setting up the system. If you only want to learn how to use SQL Server, then Express is for you.
  • Scalability: SQL Server Express is an ideal starting point for smaller independent software vendors since it can be used with any smaller application. The licensing allows Express to be included as part of an app or product.
  • Security: Within SQL Server Express there is the option of free online backup that will help to protect your valuable business data if anything goes wrong.
  • Features: While Express is the “lite” version of SQL Server, there is still an impressive range of features that you would have to pay for with other systems. Express supports native XML, and the SQL Common Language Runtime.

 

 

SQL Server Express Limitations

  • 1GB maximum memory used by the SQL Server Database Engine

  • The maximum size of each relational database is 10GB

  • SQL Agent is not included in Express. The SQL Agent is a background tool which enables administrators to automate tasks like backing up data, database replication setup, job scheduling, user permissions, and database monitoring.

  • The limit on the buffer cache for each instance is 1MB of RAM.

  • The relational database engine is restricted to the lesser of 1 socket or 4 cores.

 

The answer to this question is no, Express cannot be used. Snow products require the SQL Server Agent to run the overnight Data Update Job.

Additionally, the 10GB database limitation is far too restrictive for the size of database most customers. An example of this database size would be under 1000 units the estimated size of the Snow License Manager database would be in the region of 15GB.

 

For guidance on which edition to use, please refer to the Snow System Requirements document which can be found here 

 

Further edition functionality comparisons can be found at the following links:

Editions and supported features of SQL Server 2017

Editions and supported features of SQL Server 2016

Editions and supported features of SQL Server 2014

THIRD-PARTY INVENTORY CONNECTORS 

 

Snow Integration Connectors (SIC) can automatically consolidate audit data from multiple inventory tools into a single view of all software and hardware assets from across the network and beyond.  

 

All audit data imported through a Snow Connector is automatically processed through the Snow Software Recognition Service to ensure the accuracy of software titles, versions and more.  

 

In some cases, there are limited requirements, or customers are using a 3rd party tool / ITSM / Helpdesk, where Snow does not have a standard connector to date. In this scenario Snow offers a generic file and database inventory connector or bespoke integration options.

 

One scenario I am often asked by customers is, that they have a 3rd party tool in place and are looking into capabilities of visualising normalised data that’s been gathered by Snow in a tool they have already heavily invested in.

 

From a tool perspective, Snow has a few options available to customer using the tool.

  • Calling the Snow API to return specific data;
  • Utilising the Stock Reports within Snow License Manager and exporting these on a schedule for import into a 3rd party tool;
  • For those on-premise customers, from within the Snow Inventory console, exporting reports containing un-sanitised / ”raw” data

Where there is a need for specific data to be exported in a set format or data from more than one report this is where the above measures become redundant.

 

 

Why implement a 3rd party connector?

Snow can provide ITSM solutions and 3rd party tool integrations, with the valuable SAM intelligence required to both maximize the efficiency of a service desk function and ensure high user productivity.  


In a service desk function, clean and accurate data from Snow License Manager can be used to help: 

  • Accelerate problem resolution by providing accurate and normalised software data, including vendor name, title, version number and patch level
  • Facilitate new software deployments by confirming if the organisation holds appropriate licenses to fulfil requests;
  • Support change management processes by identifying software and hardware that does not comply with standards, or requires upgrading

 

Combining the power of Snow’s SAM platform with service management solutions provides organisations with a complete and integrated solution for managing software and hardware use across the network.  

 

REAL WORLD EXAMPLES

 

FOCUS: Snow License Manager / Snow inventory data visible in 3rd party tool

 

Business requirement

IT Support Desk receives calls from users detailing an issue. The IT Support Desk analyst needs to know further information about that users machine such as RAM, what processor they are using.

 

Despite providing instructions for the end user to provide this information, this is either “lost in translation” and the end user is unable to supply this OR they take so long to gather the requested information the ticket site unresolved for weeks.

 

Solution

The customer alongside Snow Services individuals undertake conversations that identify what information should be displayed in the 3rd party tool from Snow combined with any other sources.

 

This is translated into a project with a solution design being created detailing the data flow and requirements.

 

Currently the 3rd party tool is an unknown tool and no official Snow connector exists. In this case, Snow would create a series of scripts and configuration to collate the data reports into an export(s) ready for the customer to configure their tool to import in this data.

 

Pre-deployment, there will be several development and rigorous test cycles undertaken on local Snow environments that are similar in size / complexity to the customers to ensure the solution stands up within the end customer environment.

 

During the deployment into the customer environment, subject to the specifics of the project, scripts and configuration are deployed and the end to end solution is tested.

 

Detailed technical documentation is provided to cover the specific integration project.

Project is handed over to the customer for any outstanding actions and signed off.

 

A further example of some of the project that have been scoped is where information from an external source is imported into Snow License Manager.

 

FOCUS: 3rd party tool outputs enrich Snow License Manager content

 

Business requirement

HR system contains information relating to individual’s department service desk queue owners

This information needs to be cross referenced to a static list of teams to service desk queue owners held locally which is looked up based on a code held within an existing custom field ‘Desk Queue’ along with other information.

 

            

               Example of ‘Desk Queue’ contents

   

            

            Example of customer supplied spreadsheet with team number to match to ‘Desk Queue’

 

Solution

This information cannot be extracted via API calls but can be exported manually from the system once a month as a .csv file.

 

Information cannot be pulled out the system as a list detailing which user belongs to which service desk queue owners, but a field associated to each user that contains desk queue code + department name can be cross referenced against a team list.

 

The team will utilise Snow License Manager Web Configurator functionality to import a spreadsheet detailing each user and the Team number which populates into a custom field called

 

The first two/three characters of the custom field ‘Desk Queue’ is to be used to join to the customer supplied spreadsheet on the “Team Number” field with the service desk queue owners being populated from the lookup below.

   

This queue owner is updated within a custom field ‘Queue Owner’ as seen below.

 

               

 

In summary, the below flow diagrams highlight what is considered as part of any scoping when importing or exporting from Snow or a 3rd party tool

 

  3rd party tool export for import into Snow

     

Snow export for import into 3rd party tool

 

               

 

To ensure a successful integration, the scenario is fully scoped out with each customer so all elements of the solution are considered and tested before implementation into a live environment. 

 

Please contact your local Account Manager for further information regarding custom integrations.