Snow XML as Inventory Source
At Snow Software we can retrieve data from various sources through connectors like SCCM, AirWatch, Altiris and many more. In some cases, customers would like to make use of an inventory source for which Snow does not have a standard connector. This does not mean that this data cannot be added into Snow, just that there are some steps to go through to get the data in. in this post, I will outline the actions that need to be taken to import this data, and help you understand some of the limitations of this approach.
In any SAM project, it is vital to have a complete overview of your estate. Using Snow, you want to have all of your estate visible in Snow. This can be achieved through Snow’s own agent technology and through standard connectors to existing inventory sources.
However, in some cases there may be an existing inventory source for which there is no standard connector, and you can’t install an additional agent. This does not mean that these assets cannot be added into Snow, just that some steps need to be taken to convert the data from the source into a format that Snow can process. The typical method for this is by using SnowXML.
So how is this done?
First, we will ask the customer to export it. Then we will analyze the data.
Together with the customer we will show what data can be imported.
Then create SnowXML files with a PowerShell script based on the CSV file.
This is an example of a PowerShell script
This is an example of a SnowXML file
Using the SnowXML connector we can get the data into Snow Inventory and Snow License Manager.
When using SnowXML you will run into some challenges, like the processing of large CSV files, create recurring tasks to process the files, mapping the data to the correct fields etc.
This is an example of a mapping for SnowXML:
You should also consider that there is no actionable intelligence, the data is static, and you will not always have usage available.
As with any method it does have its limitations.
1. It is not possible to add custom registry keys.
2. Software recognition is limited out of the box.
3. If your one and only inventory source contains only Information from Add/Remove Programs, our Recognition Rules will not work on the normal way, and you have to set the "isrecognised" Flag. Isrecognised means that we need to add the Software recognition in manually.
When it is not possible to install an agent or use the standard connectors, you can use the SnowXML connector to gather the data needed to get an overview of your estate.
I would suggest using SnowXML in the following scenarios:
- Restricted Area of Use - only certified / defined Applications are allowed to be installed or even executed on the System
- Offline Systems where using the Zero-Footprint / USB Configuration will not work
- One-time imports
- VMware vCenter couldn't be reached, only a flat file is available
- Parts of the Environment are Outsourced
The challenge of processing large files we can help with, with customization*.
I have resolved this by creating a new function in PowerShell that speeds up the processing.
For example, a CSV file containing 12000 systems with more than 90000 rows can take up to 9 hours to process with the standard out of the box XML PowerShell script.
By adding new functionality to the script, you can process the same file within 10 mins**.
* The function does require a per customer adjustment as it is based on the input of the CSV file.
**Times of processing can vary depending on the resources the PowerShell script is being run on.
Of course, we can help you with all the challenges.
Contact your local Snow representative to ask for the possibility’s when you want to use the SnowXML option.
Iwan Van Den Hoek