Leveraging your Microsoft SCCM investment

24 Aug 2016

What is Microsoft SCCM? How can you leverage your investment in SCCM?


With Microsoft SCCM being offered free (or at heavily discounted rates) to volume licensing customers, it is a popular choice for inventory and distribution. Certero looked at the problems of software inventory with SCCM in an earlier article. So today we are going to look at some of the other problems you can expect using SCCM and how to overcome them.


What is Microsoft SCCM?

Firstly, we need to ensure you know what SCCM is. Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM) formally Systems Management Server (SMS) is widely used for discovery and inventory, of hardware and software, in the Windows environment. It can also be used for software deployment and removal, again only on the Windows platform.


Accessing Processor Information

Microsoft SCCM uses WMI to gather the processor information. So, on older OS’ e.g. Windows Server 2003 running on newer hardware the processor and core information may be incorrect. This could be picked up in a software vendor audit (e.g. by Oracle or IBM who license their products by processor) and cause compliance problems.


Leveraging Application Monitoring/Software Metering and Reporting

Microsoft SCCM does have the ability to monitor software usage, but this can only be achieved with the skills of a trained SCCM expert setting up and configuring the software. It does not work out of the box, which straight away causes issues in knowledge, resource and potential additional costs. Furthermore, the data from this configuration can take many days to produce.

Once your SCCM expert has configured the software and waited for the data to be produced, you face a further task. The data output is complex, lacks intelligence and needs the skills of an expert to analyze and make sense of it. These individuals will tend to analyze this data for their purpose, which is often very technical and detailed.

Other stakeholders within the organization therefore struggle to view this data unless they have asked an SCCM expert to create a report for them. How can stakeholders make critical business decisions if they can’t digest the data? Consequently, many organizations purchase an expensive third party product to transform SCCM’s raw and complex data into simple and easy to understand reports without the need for SQL expertise.


Non-Windows Hardware and Software

Microsoft SCCM is strong in its ability to inventory Window-based hardware although providing an inventory for non-Windows based equipment is still unreliable and therefore hinders accurate SAM. There have been some improvements adding support for Mac, UNIX and Linux, although it is still limited in its ability to audit some of the more commonly used platforms.

Specifically, it struggles to inventory the software on non-Windows devices. It offers almost no information on Oracle products, including database and middleware. This leaves a large black hole in your Oracle licensing compliance.

There is limited information available from SCCM in regards to IBM products. In addition to this, PVU values (see processor information above) still need to be calculated manually which can be time consuming. This is because software is installed and indexed differently on non-Windows devices such as Mac OS Linux and UNIX.

As a result, organizations need a secondary tool to get clear and accurate visibility of software and hardware for/on non-Windows devices. Gaining this full visibility can ensure that you can have control over your software licensing as you cannot manage what you can’t see.


What does Microsoft SCCM Miss?

SCCM fails to identify clusters, virtual machines and physical hosts in virtualized environments

Virtualized technologies are being increasingly implemented as organizations begin to see the benefits. These virtual technologies include Microsoft Hyper-V, VMware, Citrix and many more. With the introduction of virtual technologies software licensing becomes much more complex. Devices must be configured correctly to ensure organizations are not at risk of license non-compliance, if they were to be audited.

Microsoft SCCM fails to identify hosts running VMware or Citrix hypervisors and therefore gives an inaccurate measurement of software usage across your enterprise.


Leveraging your SCCM Investment

Having made an investment in SCCM, you do not want to have to throw it away to obtain the rich information you need to implement SAM and software license optimization. Fortunately, you don’t have to. Tools like Certero for Enterprise SAM integrate seamlessly with SCCM and give you all the advanced features you need to discover and manage all your hardware and software with accuracy.

Interested in finding out more?

Get in touch with Certero to find out how you can integrate your Microsoft SCCM with Certero for Enterprise SAM.

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