IT Service Management Blog
Follow information regarding IT Service Management via this blog.

CI = Asset?

In my presentation on the CMS value chain at Software Universe I tried to demystify some of the confusion around the CMS, and the CMDB in the CMS (yes you still need one in ITIL V3) . For example, how does the CMS relate to an "Asset"? As it turns out, there are multiple definitions and positioning. It's sometimes unpleasant.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Florida shares their solution to managing IT assets in a complex virtualized environment

Victor Miller, an IT Senior Manager at Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS) of Florida provided a great presentation April 27th about managing IT assets in a complex virtualized environment from the context of Service Asset and Configuration Management (SACM).  Many customers attended, representing various business segments such as retail, global delivery services, entertainment, financial, food services, and software solution consulting.  Their job descriptions ranged from C-level executives, Vice Presidents, Directors, and Lines of Business Managers.


 


Victor described his main business challenges as tracking IT assets and related configuration components from multiple sources of record, and managing software assets deployed in both physical and virtual environments. He talked about each challenge in detail and described the evolution from where they were to where they are today, and how they addressed those opportunities.  He focused much of the presentation on the challenges virtualization brings through server sprawl, identification, software licensing and compliance. Next he talked about how they integrated ITAM and CM processes through SACM and the challenges of adding virtualization into the SACM solution.   His evolutionary goal:  provide on-demand provisioning.


 


Most of the customers attending still use manual processes, such as spreadsheets, to manage hardware and software assets.  Over 50% don’t track virtual IT at all.  That was an eye opener to me especially with all the major software vendors threatening audits every year!  What do you think?


 


The webinar was recorded and is definitely worth listening to.  You can access it at https://h30406.www3.hp.com/campaigns/2010/events/1-8K6H1/index.php?rtc=3-3ER0SYB&jumpid=ex_r11374_us/en/large/eb/vanity_april27_virtualization_wave_sdr_ptr/rtc_3-3ER0SYB/20100310.

ISO 19770-2 SWID update

I know, I have been very tardy – sorry, but things like this happen and will continue to happen.  I am starting to like blogging, but there will be times when I will simply not be able to do this, when my “day job” will get in the way.  Some say that this is a part of my day job now – but I prefer to think about this as a way to “spread my wings”.  But enough about that…


Let’s get back to my thoughts about the Software Identification tags.  I have been waiting for some more news from Steve Klos from Tagvault.org.  Unfortunately for me (and you), Steve went on vacation and truly “unplugged” (I hope it wasn’t simply because cell phones don’t work under water J).


So, here is what I know now:


1.       GSA should have their policy established sometime in June (it would be nice if it was just before HP Software Universe).


2.       Tagvault.org held a contest to promote the use of tags.  Unfortunately, HP did not participate at this time, but believe me – not being the first out of the gate does not mean we are not interested (or else, why would I be writing to promote this topic).


If you go to the Tagvault.org website, you can watch a video of the contest results – if you are not familiar with the tags – it is a great way to get introduced to them.

IS ISO 19770 going far enough?

OK, I think everyone following my posts knows by now that I believe these tags are an important step in solving the challenges associated with Software Asset Management.  But, I really haven’t talked about whether this is enough or not.


Before I go further, let me review the different parts of this standard:


-1 – Established a set of best practices for implementing SAM


-2 – Created a first industry standard mechanism for identifying software installations


-3 – A proposed extension of the -2 standard focused on providing license model information


This is all I am aware of at the moment.  But, is this enough?  I don’t think so.  This is a series of great steps.  We are defining a set of best practices, which is great.  We are standardizing the collection of data, that’s awesome.  All of these are important in solving the SAM challenges.  But, we are not yet collecting enough data to make asset management truly simple.


The -2 and -3 standards will tell you items such as the name of the vendor, software title and version and type of licensing the application uses.  But, one very important piece is still missing.  We still don’t know how many licenses we are consuming.


I am not going to go into the details about some of the wild and crazy licensing schemes vendors have come up with.  All justified, at least in their minds.  Inventory Discovery tools, such as HP DDMI, do good job collecting all the data that is available – ISO 19770 standards will help, of course.  But, the existing standards will still not help the SAM professionals to reconcile licenses in use for many applications.  How do you get data for “per user” licenses?  That’s where I believe we will need a “-4” standard.  Only then we will have information about the software and manufacturer, type of licenses used and number of those licenses CONSUMED.

Meet The Experts: A series of webinars on managing a virtualized IT environment

HP recently sponsored a series of virtualization roundtables, run by CIO magazine, titled "What your team's not telling you about virtualization". Over the course of these virtualization roundtables, we heard from more than 100 IT executives (C-Level, VP…) about what’s on their minds regarding the management challenges around virtualization. They were very interactive discussions between the HP speakers and the customers, and regardless of the industry or city they were in, a set of common needs were expressed by these IT executives, including the need to:


• Automate change across physical and virtual environments that make up the business service


 • Become more cost efficient


• Increase IT operations efficiency and delivering high-quality services


• Better enable business continuity and compliance


• Manage asset and software entitlements, contracts and deployments


• Learn from their peers and from HP about the best practices around virtualization


 As a result of this feedback, we scheduled an April web event series (six one-hour virtual discussions) that drills down to answer these common needs. They are called the ‘Meet the Experts’ presentations where virtualization experts discuss best practices. Some of the speakers are from HP, some are customers. The dates and topics are:


 • April 13 - Optimizing service modeling, discovery, and monitoring for VMware environments


 • April 14 - Protecting Virtualized Environments from Disaster with HP Data Protector •


 April 21 - Testing Smarter and Faster with Virtualization


• April 22 - Improve customer satisfaction and maintain service levels in virtualized environments


• April 27- BCBS of Florida builds a foundation for virtualization with HP Asset Manager


• April 29 - Virtualization: Compliance enforcement in a virtualized world


If you are interested in listening to any of these presentations you can attend by registering at: https://h30406.www3.hp.com/campaigns/2010/events/1-8K6H1/index.php?rtc=3-3ERQKL8&jumpid=ex_r11374_us/en/large/eb/adv3_virtualization_wave_sdr_ptr/rtc_3-3ERQKL8/20100310.  I think they will be interesting and insightful if you want to learn more about how to manage a virtualized environment!


 

How important is Services Asset and Configuration Management (SACM)?


One of HP's enterprise customers thinks it’s important!  This large insurance company has consolidated their asset management, human resource, and configuration management system data to calculate inventory data reports for several departments. They are looking at SACM from different perspectives and ensuring that the data accuracy and calculations are consistent between the different views. I don’t think this company is alone.  Companies seem to be increasingly challenged by the complexity of their IT environment and are looking for better ways to manage control of their infrastructure.


 


The ITILv3 definition of Service Access and Configuration Management is:


- The SACM process manages the service assets in order to support the other Service Management processes.


- SACM objective is to define and control the components of services and infrastructure and maintain accurate configuration information on the historical, planned and current state of the services and infrastructure.


 


It’s vital to provide integrated, accurate and current data across IT and it requires rigorous processes to achieve this federation of data. A goal of SACM is to establish Asset Manager as the reference source of assets from the point assets are procured to the time they are retired. But what’s best method of federating data?  


 


HP’s Asset Manager integrates with the UCMDB to automate the ITSM process without requiring a monolithic repository and it ensures all hardware and software assets supporting business services are effectively managed.  It also provides a clear illustration of dynamic enrichment of CI by federating attributes from an external authoritative source of data.


 


Is your company tangled up in confusing asset reports and CMDB's?  Is your data federated across your IT environment?  I want to know your thoughts...

Important week for Software Asset Management

You may have read my recent posts about Software Asset Management, where I have been promoting the ISO19770-2 software ID tags.


This is an important week for the future of Software Asset Management.  This week, US General Services Administration (GSA) is meeting with some of the people involved in passing the ISO 19770-2 standard and TagVault.org.  They will be discussing whether US Government will adopt ISO 19770-2 software tags as a requirement for all future software purchases.


I for one, hope the GSA adopts this requirement and forces software companies to include these tags with all software  I also hope the GSA will adopt an aggressive and realistic date for the requirement to be mandatory.  I also hope this is a “hard” requirement, because otherwise adoption rates may be low, or may take a long time for these tags to become common.  The tags are relatively easy to create and TagVault.org can provide assistance and, perhaps more importantly, is becoming a central tag certification and signing authority.


In other words, I hope the outcome of the meeting will be a statement like this “in order to sell software to US Government, your software must include ISO 19770-2 tag.  The requirement is effective January 1, 2011”, as opposed to “US Government will prefer to use software which includes ISO 19770-2 tags from today on”.


I will be waiting for the results of the meeting.  I hope the GSA decides to require these tags and soon.


If you are involved in Software Asset Management this could be like Christmas in March.  And if all goes really well, then maybe the requirement will come into effect in time for Christmas this year.

How far will your tires take you?


When you are getting ready for a long drive, you make sure your car is in good working order.  One of the things you check is tires.  After all, you won’t get far without tires, and you don’t want to get stuck in the middle of nowhere because you blew your tire and have no spare, or had an accident because your tires were bold and the car skidded in the rain.


Discovery is like tires for different IT solution.  Whether you are talking about managing end points, implementing CMDB or an Asset Management solution, you need to be able to discover the environment relevant to your needs.


We tend to focus today on “higher level” solutions.  CMDB and CMS are hot!  Software Asset Management is up there as well.  Everyone spends lots of time selecting and evaluating the right products in those areas.  We make sure they can handle the size of our environment, have the functions that we need to assist in our daily jobs.  That’s great – choosing the right product is paramount – I recall working with one of the large IT industry analyst companies a few years ago.  They rated the product I was selling at the time as the best in the market.  But, when we tried to get them to adopt it internally, they were very quick to point out that what is best in the market, may not fit their specific needs.  Yes, they implemented our product in the end, but the point was made – choose products that meet your needs, not the ones that are marketed the most or evaluated as the best.  But I digress…


Let me focus on Asset Management, since that is what I am most familiar with these days.  You evaluate Asset Management products and choose the best one (of course, I hope the winning product is HP Asset ManagerJ).  You choose the right product for asset management, but how do you populate inventory data?  Many customers simply choose to use existing products for feeding data to the Asset Manager product.  Why?  Because they are already deployed and, well, data is data, right?


If you buy a car, you make sure it looks good, it feels comfortable and handles well.  When you get into an IT solution, like Asset Management, you pick the right product that fits your needs.  But, when it comes to data collection many people say, I will just use whatever I have.  It’s cheaper and data is data.  Except that in many cases data has to be transformed into information.  And that will cost time, effort and money.  It will require ongoing maintenance as the environment changes.  Do you want to maintain a custom solution?  In majority of situations IT does not want to have a “custom” implementation of any products anymore.  Do you just stick whatever tires are the cheapest?  Would you put 14 inch tires on a Hummer? No.  And you shouldn’t pick the cheapest discovery tool either.  You should make sure it meets your needs, and one of the criteria must be “does it provide the data the consuming products need” and “is the data in a format that is easily consumed”.  It is true that you will likely end up with multiple tools that collect overlapping data.  It will cost you some storage and it will cost some resources to collect and transfer to the destination.  But, the cost of the overlap should be quite small.  And the value of the right data in the right format is that the overall solution will work as intended and required.


If you buy a Hummer, don’t skimp on the tires.  Make sure the discovery product you use delivers the data you need with little or no customization.  It will be safer, more comfortable and cheaper in the long run.


 


The complex world of Software Inventory

In my previous blog, I promoted the concept of ISO 19770-2 tags.  But, I did not get deep into the reasons why I think they are so important.  Let me fill in some of the blanks.


In my many conversations with IT professionals, I noticed that outside of Software Asset Managers, few people understand why Software Asset Management (SAM) is so difficult.  And I am not surprised.  And the reason is rather obvious – we know what software is on our own machines.  By extension, we think that IT should also be able to find out what is installed on all IT managed machines.


Here is why this is not so.


1.       There are no universal standards to enable a reliable and complete discovery of software.  Not all applications report themselves to the OS – even on Windows. The file header information, the registry, WMI and Add/Remove Programs information in Windows is not consistent and reliable, although still miles ahead of Linux and UNIX.  I do have to give some kudos to Microsoft for having the most effective standards.


2.       There is no universally standard way to install applications.  There are many installers, and there no universal way to extract information from the installer – again, the situation is the better on Windows than other OSs.


3.       There is no single approach that can discover all software.  Some applications can be identified using file-based recognition, others require scripts, etc.


I have seen various attempts at solving this challenge.  Just talk to different asset management vendors.  You will hear about thousands of recognition entries (or signatures, footprints, etc).  You will hear about pulling data from OS sources and custom modules for identification of individual applications, but I bet that not one company can say they can discover all applications (unless they mean to provide a list of all files on each file system, but that is not exactly what we are interested in, is it?).


And here is another thing – none of us want to spend any time or money in the trenches.  We want Software Asset Management; we want it now and at a minimal cost. But, how do you manage your assets without proper discovery?  It’s like trying to drive a car with no wheels.  It may feel great to sit in it, but it won’t get you far.  Software discovery or inventory is the foundation – without it, you cannot do SAM.  But if we don’t want to invest in it, means we must find a common way of collecting the information.  This has to be something that is OS independent, it has to be something that is vendor independent.  It also has to be something that is quick and easy to do, because everyone, customer and vendor, is watching their expenses these days.


And that, my friends is why I am so passionate about promoting the ISO 19770-2 standard.  It is vendor and OS independent.  It is quick and easy to adopt (relative terms of courseJ).  There is even an organization that can help create and sign these tags – TagVault.org. It is a standard that can be universally adopted.  And it is time we had an adopted standard.  Trust me, I would much rather think about how to create an innovative user experience, or look for ways to adopt some new wiz-bang technology, than spend my days creating file-based software recognition entries.


I recall a conversation I had with one of my customers about SAM.  This particular gentleman is a manager of a large IT shop that has in-sourced its asset management.  His customers don’t understand how difficult it is to collect software inventory information.  He knows there is no magic bullet to solve the problem.  But, until this standard, he did not see much hope.  He thought that the only way to get software vendors to provide a way to track their software was through courts.  I am not sure if you have noticed, but many software vendors are now investing resources in license compliance audits.  Reason is simple – they are not selling as much as they used to before the recession (everyone is tightening their budgets and software expenditures are finally being scrutinized).  So, how do you make up a revenue shortfall?  One word – Audits.


His wish may yet come true – I think that if ISO 19770-2 gets adopted, it will force all vendors to compliance – the legal system that is fully behind the license agreements today may suddenly wake up to the fact that in some cases software identification is incredibly difficult, almost as if the vendors were purposely making it difficult.  I am not saying that is so by any means, but our legal system may decide that it is unfair that a particular vendor is not adopting a common standard and therefore putting undue pressure on the customer to track their software installations.  And I have yet to meet a customer who is not bewildered by the challenges that software discovery/inventory presents in their daily lives.  Like a real life Sisyphean task (even though they cannot tell me what they are being punished forJ).


But anyway, let me get off my soap box – I am getting long winded (and I know those who know me aren’t surprised).


But, ISO 19770-2 is only a part of the Software Asset Management challenge – it’s a start.  But then, we will need to get behind ISO 19770-3.  But that is another topic, for another time.   Hope you enjoyed this post – I promise/threat to write more.


 

Can Software Asset Management Become Easier?

We are now living in 2010, computers are everywhere....so why is it so hard to track license compliance?  After all, we can all see the applications in Add/Remove programs…


I have been managing HP DDMI (Discovery and Dependency Mapping Inventory -our asset and inventory discovery software) for a couple of years now.  Before I took on managing this product, I knew it had hardware and software inventory capabilities and I was impressed with its software recognition capabilities. Then, as the world entered the global recession at the end of 2008, I started hearing a lot of complaints about gaps in DDMI’s software inventory.  I was a little surprised…I mean I knew we had some limitations, but I thought most of them were because we were not providing all of the results we were capturing and that we could improve the level of automation.


But, as it turns out (hindsight being 20/20) the issue is much bigger than I thought.  Is DDMI behind the competition?  Are we in danger of becoming irrelevant in the market place?  The answers I found comforted and shocked me at the same time!


First of all, I began to realize how incredibly complex the world of Software Asset Management really is.  Having gained CSAM certification from IAITAM, I validated that realization. I also learned about the many daily challenges of an IT Asset Management professional.  I realized there is a big difference between reporting what is installed and being able to track licenses.  There are also differences between tracking desktop software and server software, Windows software and Linux/UNIX software.


My conclusion?  There is no way to be able to automatically track license compliance across the board today.  You may be able to do it for specific titles, or perhaps vendors.  But there is no way to do it across the board!!!


Is there hope for the future? Yes!  It is a faint hope, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel (hopefully it is sunlight and not a train lightJ).  We now have a first global standard that promises to improve the current situation - ISO 19770.  ISO 19770-1 provides information about best practices for performing effective Asset Management.  ISO 19770-2 provides a description of a standard asset tag that will identify installed software.  That means, you will be able to read the tag information rather than relying on software recognition or other complex and potentially inaccurate and incomplete methods of identifying software.  Then, if and when ISO 19770-3 is approved, you will be able to use the same method to collect license entitlement information.


Yes, it will take time for vendors to adopt these standards.  This is where each of you come in – vendors listen to their customers.  So, here is my call to action to all of youstart asking for ISO 19770-2 compliance on every RFI and RFP from today on!  It doesn’t matter what the software is – if you buy it, you have to track it, so ISO 19770-2 compliance should be mandatory for all vendors.


Then, once you get the ball rolling, it will be easier to require ISO 19770-3 compliance.  And that will provide you with the license entitlement information – making software license compliance easier.


And don’t worry – you will not put me out of work and you will not lose your jobs either.  As much as I would like to be an optimist, I don’t think for a second that every vendor will fully or correctly implement these standards.  But if we can only solve 80% of the problem, or even 50% of the problem - that will help you deal with the other issues.


What issues?  There will be lots – have you looked at the licensing terms lately?


Stay tuned....more to come... a topic for another one of my posts...COMING SOON!

DDMI 7.61 Available Now! - my first post ever!

I was thinking about what my first blog entry should be…I always believe I have much to learn from others, so perhaps this is a good ice breaker for me.


I would like to let you know that HP has recently released Discovery and Dependency Mapping Inventory (DDMI) 7.61.  This is a maintenance release and a follow up to the 7.60 release, meaning it is focused on small changes and product fixes for issues found since the 7.60 release.  If you are a DDMI customer, with a valid support contract, you can download it from our Software Support Portal by choosing Patch Download option.


In this release we have added:


-          Agent and scanner support for Microsoft Windows 7


-          Agent and scanner support for Microsoft Windows 2008 R2


-          Agent and scanner support for MAC OS 10.6


-          Enhancement to the SAI editor which allows you to separately see Package rules and Version Data rules that exist in the SAI.  This makes it easier to work with rule-based SAI entries, available since the 7.60 release.


-          Support for autofs file systems on Linux and UNIX systems.  This allows you to configure scanner to exclude auto-mounted file systems, which will reduce the amount of time to complete a scan, eliminate “looping” (some customers have reported that scan files effectively “hang”, since they can never complete the scan).  This means scans will be smaller and complete faster.


-          Identification of Primary IP address of a device.  This allows DDMI to consistently select the same interface when identifying and communicating with the device.


-          Improves identification of new CPU types.


-          Support for SMBIOS 2.6.1


Since Discovery and Dependence Mapping for Inventory (DDMI) is a product that interacts with target devices, it is important to keep it up to date.  I recommend that customers take advantage of the latest capabilities by upgrading their installations to the current release.  Our product team works to ensure that upgrades are highly automated to minimize possible disruptions in production environments. 


 

Search
About the Author(s)
  • HP IT Service Management Product Marketing team manager. I am also responsible for our end-to-end Change, Configuration, and Release Management (CCRM) solution. My background is engineering and computer science in the networking and telecom worlds. As they used to say in Telcom, "the network is the business" (hence huge focus on service management). I always enjoyed working with customers and on the business side of things, so here I am in ITSM marketing.
  • David has led a career in Enterprise Software for over 20 years and has brought to market numerous successful IT management products and innovations.
  • Gil Tzadikevitch HP Software R&D Service Anywhere
  • This account is for guest bloggers. The blog post will identify the blogger.
  • Jacques Conand is the Director of ITSM Product Line, having responsibility for the product roadmap of several products such as HP Service Manager, HP Asset Manager, HP Universal CMDB, HP Universal Discovery and the new HP Service Anywhere product. Jacques is also chairman of the ITSM Customer Advisory Board, ensuring the close linkage with HP's largest customers.
  • Jody Roberts is a researcher, author, and customer advocate in the Product Foundation Services (PFS) group in HP Software. Jody has worked with the UCMDB product line since 2004, and currently takes care of the top 100 HP Software customers, the CMS Best Practices library, and has hosted a weekly CMDB Practitioner's Forum since 2006.
  • Software technical product manager for HP Strategic Analytics--Executive Scorecard (XS) and Financial Planning & Analysis (FPA). Generate technologically sophisticated IT Performance Analytics use cases in collaboration with fellow HP product managers and design partners. Liaison for XS & FPA product managers, customers, and development team. Draw upon experience and industry pulse to influence the definition of product strategy and roadmap. Primary implementer of POCs for key elements of the company's offering including executive scorecard, financial planning and analysis, and process analytics..
  • Mary is a member of HP’s ITSM product marketing team and is responsible for HP Service Anywhere. She has 20+ years of product marketing, product management, and channel/alliances experience. Mary joined HP in 2010 from an early-stage SaaS company providing hosted messaging and mobility services. She also has product management experience in the ITSM industry. Mary has a BS in Computer Science and a MBA in Marketing. Follow: @MaryR_Colorado
  • Michael Pott is a Product Marketing Manager for HP ITSM Solutions. Responsibilities include out-bound marketing and sales enablement. Michael joined HP in 1989 and has held various positions in HP Software since 1996. In product marketing and product management Michael worked on different areas of the IT management software market, such as market analysis, sales content development and business planning for a broad range of products such as HP Operations Manager and HP Universal CMDB.
  • Ming is Product Manager for HP ITSM Solutions
  • Oded is the Chief Functional Architect for the HP Service and Portfolio Management products, which include Service Manager, Service Anywhere, Universal CMDB & Discovery, Asset Manager, Project and Portfolio Manager.
  • Olivier is Product Line Manager for the HP Configuration Management System (CMS) which is comprised of UCMDB, UCMDB Configuration Manager, the UCMDB Browser, and Universal Discovery.
  • I am Senior Product Manager for Service Manager. I have been manning the post for 10 years and working in various technical roles with the product since 1996. I love SM, our ecosystem, and our customers and I am committed to do my best to keep you appraised of what is going on. I will even try to keep you entertained as I do so. Oh and BTW... I not only express my creativity in writing but I am a fairly accomplished oil painter.
  • WW Sr Product Marketing Manager for HP ITPS VP of Apps & HP Load Runner
  • Vesna is the senior product marketing manager at HP Software. She has been with HP for 13 years in R&D, product management and product marketing. At HP she is responsible for go to market and enablement of the HP IT Performance Suite products.
  • A 25+ year veteran of HP, Yvonne is currently a Senior Product Manager of HP ITSM software including HP Service Anywhere and HP Service Manager. Over the years, Yvonne has had factory and field roles in several different HP businesses, including HP Software, HP Enterprise Services, HP Support, and HP Imaging and Printing Group. Yvonne has been masters certified in ITIL for over 10 years and was co-author of the original HP IT Service Management (ITSM) Reference Model and Primers.
Follow Us
Twitter Stream


HP Blog

HP Software Solutions Blog

Labels
The opinions expressed above are the personal opinions of the authors, not of HP. By using this site, you accept the Terms of Use and Rules of Participation