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Step 2: Inventory

The purpose of inventory is to capture platform configuration information and to extract a complete list of all its software.

Inventory - The questions you need to ask yourself

  • How do you compile discovery data?
  • What reporting tools do you have?
  • What confidence level do you have in the coverage and accuracy of your Inventory data?
  • If you're using SCCM, do you have software inventory enabled? What about metering? 
  • Do you review your inventory data? How often? 
  • What processes do you have which are fed by inventory data?

 

The goal of the inventory stage is to identify all the software installed or executed on every platform in your network - and how multiplatform technology can help you present this information back in one single place. The identification of these software installations is foundational to any software asset management solution.
Understanding the various ways software publishers license their software, is critical in developing an effective SAM practice. A complete inventory solution should help identify the various metrics that drive license requirements. Inventory of hardware configuration is also important to SAM as many licenses define specific hardware configurations such as CPU & Core. Some inventory technologies also gather detailed software usage metrics, which can help business decisions about deployed software and are often required to optimize software spending.
Usage is also critical to identify software that isn't installed on user devices such as web applications, Software as a service (SAAS) applications or Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI). This inventory stage helps customers to have a clear view of all their software investments across their network, removing risks associated with IT blind spots and preventing necessary IT spend.

 

Inventory using Snow

 

Of course it is possible to inventory by using our tools. We provide the Snow Inventory Agent for several operation systems such as Windows, Linux and Unix, and macOS. We do also provide a solution to scan Oracle databases with our Snow Inventory Oracle Scanner.

 

If you use an alternative solution to inventory your environment, our Snow Integration Manager may be your choice - by offering various Snow Connectors for 3rd Party Inventory Sources, we are able to join the retrieved data into Snow License Manager.

 

The following third party integration connectors are available out-of-the-box:

 

  • BMC Atrium Discovery and Dependency Mapping (ADDM)
  • BMC Discovery
  • Dell KACE
  • Discovery data from file
  • FrontRange Discovery
  • HEAT Discovery
  • HP Discovery and Dependency Mapping Inventory (DDMI)
  • HP Server Automation
  • HP Universal Discovery
  • IBM BigFix Inventory
  • IBM License Metric Tool
  • IBM Tivoli Asset Discovery for Distributed (TAD4D)
  • iQuate iQSonar
  • Ivanti Endpoint Manager
  • LANDesk
  • Microsoft Intune
  • Microsoft Intune (SCCM Hybrid)
  • Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM)
  • Miss Marple
  • MobileIron
  • ServiceNow Discovery
  • Snow XML
  • Symantec Altiris (7.x - 8.x)
  • VMware
  • AirWatch

Note that this list might be updated in the future.

 

           

Step 1: Discovery

Discovery is the act of interrogating TCP/IP networks to identify network-attached physical and virtualized platforms upon which software executes.

Discover all platforms across the network and categorize these into those which have the potential to run Enterprise Software (i.e Oracle) and those which do not with minimal impact.

This is to ascertain potential financial exposure from licensing requirements.

 

Discovery - The questions you need to ask yourself

  • What tools do you use to monitor your environment?
  • Are there platforms for which you don’t have discovery? (MAC, Virtual, Cloud, UNIX/Linux)
  • What percentage of your estate is covered by discovery tools?
  • What processes do you have which are fed by discovery data?

 

Discovery is the process of finding and identifying all platforms on which software resides. This first step is essential in developing a complete Software Asset Management strategy.
As the use of technology has evolved so has the requirement in the inventory of new technologies - often virtual or off network like Software as a service (SAAS), Infrastructure as a service (IAAS) and mobile devices. Organizations will see more of their technologies spent in cloud services and mobile assets. It is specially important as many cloud and mobile technologies are onboarded with little or no involvement of IT which results in lack of visibility making it increasingly difficult for SAM and security teams to fulfill their roles. It is critical to have an internal solution that provides appropriate discovery capabilities for the different technologies used within the environment. Essential for effective SAM is the ability to discover every asset
in the estate, that consumes software. A good inventory solution provides complete asset discovery as well as revealing the blind spots in the IT network. This means computers, servers, mobile devices, tablets, all connected network devices like routers printers and firewalls. Many customers invested in these capabilities like SCCM. It is critical that you have 100% visibility into the entire estate.

 

The Snow Way

With Snow Inventory, Computers and devices can be discovered using LDAP lookups in an Active Directory, or by using the following technologies for network discovery on specific IP address ranges:

  • SNMP (SNMPv1)
  • SSH
  • WinRPC/WMI
  • ICMP (“ping”)
  • TCP/IP fingerprinting
  • DNS lookup
  • NIC manufacturer lookup.

When TCP/IP fingerprinting is enabled, discovery will attempt to identify the type of OS installed on the device.For details about the discovery criteria and the columns included in each discovery view, see the following tables.

 

It is also possible to configure the Snow Inventory server to perform an Active Directory discovery using LDAP or secureLDAP for both devices and users. Multiple LDAP paths can be configured (for i.e. different subnetworks).

 

You can then check the result of there in the built-in report in Snow License Manager named "Discovered assets that are not inventoried". In the column "Source" you will be able to see the origin of the discovered asset.

 

           

 

DINROS - Create your SAM roadmap

The purpose of the framework DINROS is to understand current SAM tool capabilities, using that baseline to plan how and where to make improvements within six critical SAM activities.

 


DINROS - The six SAM activities

 

  1. Discovery

    Discovery is the act of interrogating TCP/IP networks to identify network-attached physical and virtualized platforms upon which software executes. Discover all platforms across the network and categorize these into those which have the potential to run Enterprise Software (i.e Oracle) and those which do not with minimal impact.

    This is to ascertain potential financial exposure from licensing requirements.

  2. Inventory

    The purpose of inventory is to capture platform configuration information and to extract a complete list of all its software.

  3. Normalization
    Enterprises often have multiple discovery and inventory solutions. Normalization is the consolidation of discovered inventory datasets to remove duplicated or conflicting information.

  4. Reconciliation
    The goal of reconciliation is primarily to harmonize contract, purchase and entitlement information with normalized inventory data to establish an ELP - the balance of licenses purchased to licenses consumed. ELP forms the basis of compliance, risk-reduction, audit defense, contract (re)negotiations, license "true ups" and optimizing software spend. Given the variety of SAM stakeholders, to accomplish these tasks, reconciliation merges normalized asset data with related information from other, often external, sources.

  5. Optimization
    The goals of license optimization are to optimize software spending, keep track of changing software license structures and better manage vendors. Optimizing license position means being able to reduce the number, type and expense of licenses needed and in use, as appropriate.

  6. Sharing

    SAM tools both consume and produce data and information, which they must share to be useful. Gathering technical, financial and contractual data in a central system of record for IT assets enables I&O leaders to manage vendors effectively, and software assets from requisition through retirement. Implicit is the need for an integrated workflow and data persistence, driving the need for a centralized information repository in which to store and make available the results of activities. 

 

           

 

Are you new to Snow? Be sure to check out the landing page:

Welcome to Snow – Where to start and things to know

The intention of this blog is to prepare you for a smooth Snow License Manager 9 Upgrade, with some useful hints to raise the awareness and the knowledge about the process.

Please note that we strongly recommend to run the upgrade guided by either professional services or a qualified Snow partner. Please contact your account manager or your local Snow partner for further information and assistance. If you are unsure who your account manager is, please submit a ticket to support.

Please be advised that any resulting issues during the upgrade from uncertified resources is not covered by the Support Agreement and therefore needs to be remedied by Snow Professional Services or certified Snow Partners.

 

  1. Prerequisites

    1. License Key

      To get your Snow License Manager 9 Key, please contact your account manager or your local Snow partner. In some cases you may contact the Backoffice directly.

      Please be aware that the company (organization) name should not exceed 35 characters as described in KB0017826.

    2. System Requirements

      Verify that the servers meet the system requirements for this product. System requirements and
      information on dependencies on other Snow products are gathered in the document System
      Requirements for all Snow products, which is available for download on this Knowledge Base Article.
    3. Software preparations

      Use Microsoft SQL Server 2012 Standard or later (recommended version 11.0.7469.6 - SP4).

      Use Microsoft Windows Server 2012 or later.

      Install ASP.NET 4.5 with all features enabled as a role on your server.

      Install .NET Framework 4.7.2 or later on your Snow License Manager application server.

      Have Snow Inventory version 6.0.3 which is the minimum database version supported by SLM 9.0.0.

      If you are using the IIS (Internet Information Services) to host other web applications, make
      sure you have a web hostname or a specific port assigned to the Snow License Manager
      website.

      SQL Server Database compatibility level: The minimum version is 100 (corresponding to SQL Server 2012). This setting is configured per database in SQL Server and must be manually checked if the database has been migrated from SQL Server 2008.
  2. Readiness Upgrade Checks

    1. Checking minimum DB Size and Growing Policy

      By default, our setup packages create the databases not specifying a minimum size or a growing policy. The growing policy impacts performance because Microsoft keeps 1MB as default. Please, add the following content to check these settings:

       

      SLM Data File: Growing 4096MB, (Recommended maximum: Unlimited)
      SLM Log File: Initial size 4096, Growing 1024MB, (Recommended maximum: Unlimited)

      Please, respect the values for Log file. SQL Server creates something called “virtual disks” in that file. The formula applied by mixing 4096MB + 1024MB keeps those virtual files in a reasonable number (300-600 hundreds) for large DBs what improves performance. The partner will need to shrink log files using the SQL Server Management Studio tool to reduce any existing Log file to 4096 if the current size is higher.

      The growing policy is one of the most common problems while talking about performance in our customer base.
    2. Administrative accounts for in-scope Snow application server and SQL server

      Please verify that the used accounts do have enough permissions; Ensure the SQL user account with database  does have administration privileges (sa or equivalent account with sysadmin rights).

      Verify that the LicenseManagerUser SQL account belongs to the db_ower role in SnowLicenseManager and SnowInventory databases. This account is used to perform the upgrade process.

      This role could be lost due to security restrictions, after a migration from SQL Server 2008 or while recovering a database in a Test Environment.

      LicenseManagerUser should also have SQLAgentOperatorRole, SQLAgentReaderRole and SQLAgentUserRole.

      This is default applied settings when upgrading to SLM8.

       

      SQL version, If SQL 2016 by default, Microsoft does not apply optimized code unless and Administrator allows that. Please, check that:

      Database (SnowInventory and SnowLicenseManager) > Properties > Options > Query Optimized Fixes = 0N
    3. Additional Information for Inventory Sources in the SMACC settings
      All Inventory databases configured in SMACC with "Enable data update job" to active must be on Inventory 6.0.3.
      The data update job in SLM 9 requires that no configured Sites in any Inventory Source in any CID for the same Inventory database overlap. Example of an overlap:

      Inventory Source 1, site: Company%
      Inventory Source 2, site: CompanyUK

      Snow Management and Configuration Center checks for Site overlap when adding a new Inventory Source but existing overlaps must be fixed before upgrading to SLM 9.0.0.

    4. Backup

      Verify in scope backup/restore procedures for SQL DB's and application server(s) request full backups to be completed in line with the planned upgrade.

      Microsoft SQL Server
      Full backup of SnowInventory and SnowLicenseManager database

      Also request full application settings backups of the following locations on the SLM8 server:

      Snow License Manager Compliance Settings
      ..\Snow Software\Snow License Manager\Services\Licensing\SnowSoftware.LicenseManager.Licensing.Service.exe

       

      Event Store
      ..\SnowSoftware\LicenseManager\EventStore\*.*

       

      Import Settings
      ..\Snow Software\Snow License Manager\Services\ImportTool\DataImport\Import\*.*

    5. Calculating space requirements

      Snow Inventory Server
      The database will grow a 20% and must have enough space in the transaction log before starting the upgrade. Use the following formula to estimate its size (temporarily, it can be reverted to the original size after upgrade):

      (Total SnowInventory DB size) * 0.5 +
      (SnowInventory.inv.DataMetering size + SnowInventory.inv.DataMeteringConcurrency size) * 2.85

      Snow License Manager
      Total size of the SLM database will grow up to 30-40% after upgrade and first initial DUJ run.

    6. Checking custom procedures and reports

      Several database changes may or will impact custom procedures and reports. All existing customizations must be analyzed to check compatibility by professional services.

      How to identify existing custom procedures:
      USE SnowLicenseManager
      select * from tblSystemCustomProcedures

      How to identify existing custom reports:
      USE SnowLicenseManager
      select * from tblReport where IsCustomReport = 1
    7. Checking the current logs to identify any existing errors

      In order to facilitate troubleshooting if an error appears after the upgrade, all existing logs should be checked looking for any existing issue before upgrading the products

       

      Snow Inventory Server Checks:

      %PROGRAMDATA%\SnowSoftware\Inventory\Server\*.log

       

      Snow License Manager Server Checks:

      %PROGAMFILES%\Snow Software\Logs

       

      %PROGAMFILES%\Snow Software\Snow License Manager\Web\Logs

       

      %PROGAMFILES%\ Snow Software\Snow LicenseManager\Services\ImportTool\DataImport\ErrorRows

       

      Snow License Manager Database Server:
      USE SnowLicenseManager
      select * from tblErrorLog order by LogDate desc


  3. New features which have been implemented with SLM 9

    – Tracking of licensing model changes

    – Manual exclude computers during the Compliance calculation

    – Hypervisor Technology and high availability of datacenter and cluster

    – Reports for cost estimation of Microsoft Windows Server

    – Inkremental Data Update Job (DUJ 2.0) – Performance optimization

    – Direct access to the UserGuides

    – Discovery of Google Cloud Computer Engine

    – Different Oracle optimisations (needs the latest version of the Snow Inventory Oracle Scanner)
    Processing of Oracle Datenbase Data
    License determination of Oracle Databases
    Detailed lifetime support information about Oracle Datenbases
    Oracle WebLogic Server investigation and inventory
    Tracking of Oracle Database inventory



    When you have upgraded to Snow License Manager 9, be aware that the first run of Data Update
    Job will take a considerable amount of time to run; subsequent runs of Data Update Job will take
    considerably less time.

    We recommend to always use the latest version of Snow License Manager in order to stay updated
    with the latest features and corrections. Please read the Release Notes for details.

  4. FAQ

Are Snow Inventory Clients (3.x) compatible with Snow License Manager 9?

Yes, however it is highly recommended to update them to the latest version of the Snow Inventory Agents 6 as there have been lots of improvements.

Note that the macOS 6.x Agents requires Inventory Server 6.0.0 or higher.

If you want to check which Agents are compatible with which OS checkout this blog:

Using earlier Snow Inventory agents to scan older operating systems

 

Can I upgrade to Snow Inventory 6 and continue running Snow License Manager 8?

Yes, INV 6 and SLM 8 are compatible. However, this compatibility is by design, as Inventory 6 is a prerequisite for SLM 9. We do not recommend this configuration to persist longer than it takes the customer to carry out the SLM 8/9 upgrade. 

Can I run Snow License Manager 9 with Snow Inventory 5?

No, SLM 9 and INV 5 are not compatible.

Can I upgrade from Inventory 3 to Inventory 6 directly?

Yes. We recommend doing this for users who plan to update to SLM 9.

Why are we rolling out INV6 & SLM9 in two phases?

The 6/9 update involves changes to the Snow Inventory and Snow License Manager databases, with new tables, and new structures for data processing.

 

This blog may be continuously updated.

For various reasons (described at the end of this post), compatibility with older operating systems is sometimes broken when we release a new inventory agent version. In these cases, we will still support the older operating system, but you  would need to use an older version of our agent in order to inventory the system.

 

The most recent example is our macOS agent version 6.0.0, which does not support macOS 10.7, so to scan computers with macOS 10.7, you need to use the prior agent version which is 5.1.0.

 

Our colleagues in R&D created the following list of all older operating systems that we still support as of today, by using an earlier version of our Snow agents:

 

Operating system

Agent version

Microsoft Windows 2000 (x86)

Windows Agent version 3.7 (EoS July 2019)

Microsoft Windows XP (x86, x64)

Windows Agent version 5.2.4

Microsoft Windows Server 2003 R2 (x86, x64)

Windows Agent version 5.2.4

Microsoft Windows Server 2003 (x86, x64)

Windows Agent version 5.2.4

10.6 - Snow Leopard

macOS Agent version 2.3 (EoS July 2019)

10.7 - Lion

macOS Agent version 5.1.0

Debian 5.x

Linux Agent version 5.2.0

Debian 6.0.00-6.0.10

Linux Agent version 5.2.0

Debian 7.0-7.6

Linux Agent version 5.2.0

Oracle Enterprise Linux 4.x

Linux Agent version 5.2.0

Red Hat Enterprise Linux 4.x

Linux Agent version 5.2.0

Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5.0-5.11

Linux Agent version 5.2.0

SUSE 10

Linux Agent version 5.2.0

Ubuntu/Kubuntu 10.x

Linux Agent version 5.2.0

Ubuntu/Kubuntu 11.x

Linux Agent version 5.2.0

IBM AIX 5.3

Unix Agent version 5.0.4

IBM AIX 5.4

Unix Agent version 5.0.4

Solaris 8

Unix Agent version 5.0.4

Solaris 9

Unix Agent version 5.0.4


All this information can be derived from the System Requirements, but as this has been requested a few times, R&D created this summary for a better overview.

 

So why do we even break compatibility at all?

The main reason is that we need to keep the agents up-to-date with the latest libraries, and these libraries in-turn may lack support for an older OS. The benefit of these newer libraries is often improved security and/or bug fixes.