SCCM-Software Metering

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Hi All,

Every time I go to customer, majority (if not all), do not use this feature. This is really frustrating for me, because this is one of the features that I love. I normally understand why and I can summarize in the following list:
1- Customer does not know this feature even exist
2- Customer does not need this feature
3- Customer has already other software that does the same thing

So let’s detail each point
1- Customer does not know this feature even exist
This is a common scenario, SCCM is a huge, massive product with lots of features, not everyone know every single feature. So if you (or your company) does not know, this is what Software Metering is: “Use software metering in System Center Configuration Manager to monitor and collect software usage data from Windows PCs.”

2- Customer does not need this feature
Not a common scenario, but exist. customer has site license for all their software or they don’t use any 3rd party paid software or everything they use is like SaaS (Software as a Service, so it is like a subscription), they normally live with Windows and Office and with some management. 3rd party solutions, like AutoCAD, acrobat, etc. normally not used. Again, in today’s world, not a scenario that I’ve ever seen in companies.

3- Customer has already other software that does the same thing
This is a really common scenario, as SCCM is not used for monitoring apps and they normally buy another solution that does that and don’t want SCCM to do that as well.

So now that we have some background information, lets go a bit dipper on the 3rd scenario, and this is why I created this post.
Every time I go to customer and they have a 3rd party solution to monitor software utilization, I ask, why?!!? And I normally get: “SCCM does not monitor everything, you need to add every .exe that you want to monitor. We have hundreds of apps and we don’t want to add each one”. This is a difficult one, SCCM does not do that, you need to add every .exe you want to monitor and you need to know what you want to monitor. The problem with this approach:
1- it is a site policy so each rule you create apply to the site, you cannot control who will get the policy, all clients will.
2- sccm has a limit, as far as I can remember it is about 1000 rules. You cannot create more
3- Amount of data, this is a huge limitation for many companies

When comparing SCCM with 3rd party vendors, I always ask. Why do you need to monitor everything? And the answer always surprise me. Customers want this because they don’t have a proper management of the environment, they don’t know what end-users are installing and they want to be prepared for anything when the manager asks.

The solution I always propose is to have a proper management of the environment, of course, this will require a good (and maybe bigger) IT team, a change of what they are doing (and this is a big one, who likes to change?!?!)

The idea for software metering is simple, you monitor what you need to monitor, not everything. Do you want to monitor who open mspaint.exe?!?! no, it’s a free product. Do you want to monitor winword.exe?!?! probably not, you should have a license for Office for every user, via site license or maybe office 365. Should you have a rule for Chrome.exe??!!? hell not, it is a free product. If the software should not be used, you should not monitor who uses, you should block its installation, block its utilization (maybe via applocker) or even better, remove it.

Now, should be have a rule for visio?? Project?? Yes, those are paid software and normally you have only few licenses and you don’t need more than that. So this is where you should start. Create the rule for each of paid software that you need to monitor.

But we always know, even when we have a good management, only deploying licensed software to someone that needs it, he/she will only need for a short period of time. This is where Software metering come in hand. Imagine that you have a way to allow users requesting software (well, sccm does have this feature). You allow the user to install the software, he/she uses once, and what happen? Create a collection that has every single computer in the organization that has the software installed that has not being used in the last 30/60 days. Create a uninstall deployment, so if the machine gets added to the collection, the software will be uninstalled. if the user needs that software again, he can request again.

I’ve already blogged about this before, so good place to start.

Another option, instead of automatically removing it, would be just to identify, in this case, don’t use the collection, use reports and provide a user-case for management to implement this solution. Now imagine, you implement this solution, you will be shocked how much money you (if the owner, or your company) is throwing away.

You (your company) could also implement a solution that check for licenses, and you could integrate with software metering and application approval requests, so the manager needs to approve the request, but the software only gets installed if there is enough free license. Unfortunately SCCM does not do this integration, but you can accomplish this using powershell and the SCCM SDK.

well, hope you liked this post and until next time


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