This is the second post in our “ConfigMgr Problems You Didn’t Know You Had” series. This series of deep dives and webinars hopes to uncover some of the situations you might unexpectedly find yourself in. The best part is that we’re going to tell you how you can fix these problems! Today we’ll be discussing Asset Intelligence.
Check out more ConfigMgr problems and solutions, along with a webinar recording discussing common issues and how to fix them here.
Asset Intelligence in ConfigMgr
Gathering all the information you need on your asset intelligence details can be a a difficult and time consuming task. Asset Intelligence (AI) is one of the underused features of System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM) that can help you save time and effort to find detailed reports on your information.
In Asset intelligence you can add custom information to the AI catalog – such as custom software categories, software families, software labels, and hardware requirements. Use AI to help reconcile your enterprise software license usage. Import software license information into the Configuration Manager site database to view it against what software is being used. You’ll find over 60 reports in the easy-to-use format.
AI is comprised of two basic elements: Asset Intelligence Synchronization Point and Asset Intelligence Inventory Classes. This blog post will discuss both elements and I will show you how to setup and configure each of them.
How to Configure the Asset Intelligence Inventory Classes
Once enabled this feature allows SCCM’s hardware inventory cycle to collect additional AI details. To give you an idea of its scope, these details range from what software is installed (using the Asset Intelligence catalog) to what USB devices are connected to a computer.
This feature does NOT require the Asset Intelligence Synchronization Point to be setup in order to inventory these details. Instead, when needed, the Asset Intelligence Inventory Classes use SCCM’s built-in Asset Intelligence catalog. In order to get the most up-to-date details about what software is installed on a computer, however, you should enable and configure the Asset Intelligence Synchronization Point.
Configure the AI Inventory Classes by right-clicking on the Asset Intelligence node and selecting Edit Inventory Classes.
On the Edit Inventory Classes window, I recommend enabling everything except the SMS_SoftwareShortcut. This will allow you to inventory the most useful details without causing any problems.
Remember that in order to collect the SMS_SystemConsoleUsage and SMS_SystemConsoleUser details, you will need to enable the GPO to allow their collection.
The reason why I don’t enable SMS_SoftwareShortcut is because it is known to cause problems by increasing the inventoried file size beyond what SCCM can handle (50 MB). This issue is particularly true for Citrix servers.
For more information about each AI reporting class, please see the MSDN description of each item.
What Does the Asset Intelligence Catalog Do?
The Asset Intelligence catalog, in its simplest form, allows you to detect software that is installed on each computer. In addition, it normalizes this information and assigns software to a category and family. All of this makes it easier for you to tell what each application does.
If you didn’t know what X-Lite was you can tell from the results above that it is a Telephony Application in the Communications family. You can also see how the Asset Intelligence catalog normalizes the product name. Now you don’t have to run separate reports for each product sub-version!
Since new software titles come out every day, it’s important to have a current Asset Intelligence catalog. This is where the Asset Intelligence Synchronization Point comes into play.
What Is the Asset Intelligence Synchronization Point?
There are two major parts to the Asset Intelligence Synchronization Point. The first part is the AI catalog itself, and the second part is an optional feature that allows you to submit software title details to Microsoft.
Enabling the AI Synchronization Point allows you to download from Microsoft the latest software catalog. This is a great example of a simple cloud feature that can add value to your SCCM environment without any cost. Who wouldn’t want to use the most up-to-date catalog instead of the outdated one that was created back when SCCM was first published?
As I mentioned earlier, there is no requirement for you to submit software titles to Microsoft in order to use the AI catalog, but later on I will show you how!
How to Setup Asset Intelligence Synchronization Point
Installing the AI Synchronization Point is similar to installing any other site sever role. This site server role, however, is NOT resource intensive at all! It must be installed on a server with access to the internet, but you don’t need to worry if the server has other roles installed on it. I generally recommend that the AI Synchronization Point be installed on the primary site server.
In this example, I will install the AI Synchronization Point on an existing primary site server. Within the Administration node, expand Site Configuration | Servers and Site System Roles. Right-click on the primary site and select Add Site System Roles.
Enter the proxy details and click Next.
Select Asset Intelligence synchronization point and click Next.
Out of personal preference, I always change the Simple schedule from 7 days to 1 day, and then click on the Next button.
Click Close. With that last step completed, your AI Synchronization Point will start to update the AI catalog.
How to Submit Asset Intelligence Titles
This is an optional item. I like to submit all of the Unidentified and not pending titles to Microsoft to be cataloged. This will benefit everyone and not just me! After the software titles are submitted, Microsoft normalizes the product names, publishers, and version information. Each software title is also assigned a software family and category. Once this is done Microsoft updates the AI catalog for everyone to use!
The simplest way to start is to begin by clicking on the list of Unidentified and not pending titles (see the purple arrow above).
A list of Unidentified and not pending titles is displayed.
I’d recommend selecting no more than 100 titles at a time, then right-click and select Request Catalog Update.
Select the, I have read and understood this message, check box and then click on the OK button.
If you would like to see what details are sent to Microsoft, click on the Details >> button.
Once this information is submitted to Microsoft it may take several weeks or months before the results are updated within the catalog.
Now with both the Asset Intelligence Synchronization Point and Asset Intelligence Inventory Classes features enabled, you can get the most out of your SCCM environment. The best part is that there is no additional cost to use either one!
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me @GarthMJ.