Symantec Software Management 7.1 Best Practices, Part 6
The Activity Center
The name has changed, possibly to "Enhanced Console Views", but due to the ease of use I will call the new Silverlight interface available in 7.1, the Activity Center. This interface provides a fast, easy to use console that is reminiscent of Outlook®. It allows a user to quickly jump between common areas in the console, such as Policies, Computer lists, Software lists, Tasks and Jobs, etc. Due to the Silverlight technology, these sections are cached locally and take virtually no time to switch between.
I used to keep my most used tabs in the old 7.0 console open and running in separate pages in order to speed my management of NS. Save for Settings, this is no longer needed as the most common functions are all encapsulated within the Activity Center interface. This console can be accessed via the following methods:
- Manage > Computers
- Manage > Software
- Manage > Jobs and Tasks
- Manage > Policies
There is one other method, but it will also open the Software Catalog interface within the Activity Center:
- Manage > Software Catalog
The following screenshot shows the layout, with the section Software selected:
Each of the sections highlighted above are also targeted using the Manage tab, but once you have the Activity Center loaded it is quicker to switch using the large buttons, and virtually instantaneous.
Each of the sections has its own features and options in the 3 main panes within the activity center. As this guide covers Software Management, I will focus on the Software section as shown in the above screenshot.
In the left-most pane software is split into different categories. This allows ease of management and quick filtering. When a category is chosen on the left, the middle pane will list the applicable software. You can further filter the results using the search field at the top. Beyond that you see additional information or actions in the right pane, depending on what category on the left is chosen.
The following example shows a flow using this interface to interact with software that is configured to be rolled out via Software Management.
- In the Symantec Management Console go to Manage > Software, or, if already in the Activity Center, click on the Software link in the lower left.
- In the left pane select Software Releases. This contains all deliverable software resources that are not of the types Update or Service Pack.
- In the middle pane type "antivirus". This should bring up the Antivirus Inventory Package.
- There are several actions or details you can execute or obtain from the right pane.
- Manage this software - This allows you to setup a Product or assign the software to an existing Product. Please see the subsequent section Managing Software Products for more details.
- Computers with software installed - This lists all computers that have reported this software either through the Software Discovery process (Windows Add Remove Programs options shown in any Inventory Policy), or a Targeted Software Inventory Policy.
- Policies installing this software - This shows all Policies that have this software assigned by name and by target's name.
Where is my software?
Using "Newly Discovered Software", "Managed Software", and the options under Deliverable Software, you will see a subset of all Software Resources in the environment. So how do you see all Software Resource, regardless of state or type?
One area to view many of your Software Components is the Software Catalog. This can be accessed by going to Manage > Software Catalog. This opens an inset pane over the main Activity Center interface, as shown in this screenshot:
Note that the option "Show all software" is checked. Normally this option is unchecked and you will only get recently discovered resources in this list. Also note that the upper right pane is labeled "Managed software products". This changed in the SP1 release of 7.1 as this used to show a list of Managed Software, not Products. But note that not all resources are still shown. The Activity Center's Software Catalog has criteria for showing software. That criteria is important!
Only Software that has been discovered in the environment via Inventory will show in the undefined software list! Even so I have seen even discovered software not show up in this list.
So what is to be done? Where can I see a comprehensive list of everything in the database, whether it be managed, deliverable, discovered, or imported via a data provider? Fortunately the old views are available in this scenario if software you are looking for does not appear in any of the Activity Center's enhanced views.
- In the Symantec Management Console go to Settings > Console > and select Views.
- In the left-hand pane expand Software and select Software Catalog.
- In the interface use the search field to find the resource you are interested in, as shown in this screenshot:
Drag and Drop
The Activity Center gives the option to use drag and drop. This works well for quick one-off deployments, enabling an administrator to drag a particular Software Component to a single computer. This also works dragging software to a predefined filter. The filters must show under User Created Resources within the All Computer Views section under Computers. There are some caveats to be aware of when using drag and drop with Software Management. Also there are some methods suggested when rolling out software in this manner.
The following walkthrough takes you through the process:
- In the Symantec Management Console browse under Manage > Computers.
- In the All Computers view, use the Search field to filter out until you have the computer desired.
- Now click on the Software section to switch over to the Software section.
- Highlight the Software Releases section in the left pane so all software that is deliverable is shown.
- Use the search field to filter down until you select the software desired.
- Once the software is highlighted, left-click and hold down on the icon to the left of the name.
- The last computer view you had selected under the Computers section will fly out, as shown in this screenshot:
- When you let go of the selected Software on top of the desired computer, you will get prompted for how you want to deliver the software, as shown:
- The first option will deliver the software via a Managed Software Delivery Policy, while the second option will use a Quick Delivery Task.
- As an alternative, if you wish to target a filter, instead of dragging the option to the computer list, drag the icon down to the section header for Software. Holding the pointer over this section will expand it, then allowing you to navigate through the User Created Resources. Hovering allows you to open subsections, etc.
- Drop the software on the desired filter to complete the process.
NOTE! When you use this method a single Managed Software Delivery Policy is generated, along with a target for that one system. If this method is used a lot, the system will begin to be flooded with these one-off policy requests. This issue will be addressed in 7.1 SP2 where it will look for an already existing Managed Delivery Policy to service the request to avoid excessive duplicates.
Managing Software Products
The emphasis on Software Components in 7.0 created some logistical or management nightmares when it came to tracking what software was out in the environment. By taking a step back to the Product level, most of these issues have been made moot. Software Components, whether captured during Inventory or created manually by an administrator, will now by manually or dynamically assigned to a Product. This removes any need to reconcile duplicate resources as the Product rules will automatically assign them to the correct Product.
Reviewing known Products
You can view Products under the Resources screens. The following provides the full steps of how to review Software Products:
- To view what Products are available, in the Symantec Management Console browse under Manage > All Resources > and select the "Default" node. The following steps will add the category if it is not already available in the tree list.
- In the right pane click the Filter... button.
- In the list, find the entry for Software Product and ensure it is checked, as shown in this screenshot:
- Click OK to add the category.
- In the resulting left-hand tree, browse under Default > All Resources > and select Software Product.
- You can now search through what Software Products are available.
Note that you cannot edit Products from this location. You can open Resource Manager, which will give you additional information than what is displayed in the grid. Products can be created and managed through Asset Management, or through the Software Catalog. Since not everyone will necessarily have Asset, I will focus on the Software Catalog.
To access the Software Catalog, in the Symantec Management Console browse under Manage > and select the Software Catalog. This will load the Catalog interface as a pop up window. Note that all active Products will be shown in the upper right pane, as shown in this screenshot:
From here you can assign, create, or edit Software Products using a simple UI provided by the Software Management Framework. However in 7.1 SP1 this field has been removed, which pushes you to use the Silverlight Catalog area for assigning, editing, and creating Software Products. This ensures the correct method and details are used/provided.
First, you can search for existing Software Products using the search field.
You will notice that not all Software Products are shown in this list. Only manageable Software Products will show. For a Product to be managed it needs to be associated with a Software Component.
I wanted to point out that there is a significant change in the edit mode for a Software Resource between 7.1 and 7.1 SP1. This was in an attempt to let the NS automatically manage discovered Software Products. This ensures that the assignment is done correctly. As previously shown, in 7.1 you had the ability to manipulate the Product directly from the Software Resource Edit/Creation screen. Now you must use the new UI.
Creating Software Products
To create a Software Product, follow these steps. These steps can also be observed when editing a Software Product.
- In the Symantec Management Console browse under Manage > and select Software Catalog.
- When the Manage Software Catalog window appears, click on the Add Product button.
- The top section of the dialog is for labeling and identification purposes. It will not be used when calculating or auto-assigning Software Components to the Product. Provide your Product's details, as shown for an example in this screenshot:
- Provide one or more values in the provided three fields. This will automatically search for Software Components that match the criteria, as shown in this example:
- Note that it found one match based off the criteria I provided.
- Check the box "Include components associated with other products" to ensure you are not missing components based on previous associations (whether made manually or automatically).
- You should fine-tune the values so it includes, and excludes, the software resources you want. Review these examples:
- In the above example, if I only wanted the ActiveX components and not the actual flash player, I could change the Software name to: Adobe Flash Player 10 ActiveX.
- If I only wanted the 10.2 versions of the ActiveX to be associated here, I would change the Version value to 10.2, thus excluding any other 10.x versions.
- If Adobe had a release of this software that had a misspelling in the Company name (i.e. Adobe) I could remove the Company designation altogether, if I trust the other two criteria/values.
- Click OK to make the change.
- Note that the associations will be made immediately for the software that shows up in the lower list. When new software comes in that matches the criteria, the association is made during the following Scheduled Task:
- NS.Nightly schedule to associate Software components to software product...
Additional information on using the Identify Inventory filter fields:
Quotation marks limit your search to an exact match.
- "Adobe Acrobat" = EXACTMATCHAdobe Acrobat.
Omitting quotation marks allows for matching search text anywhere in a string.
- Adobe Acrobat = LIKE Adobe Acrobat anywhere in the name.
You can use the following search operators to express various arguments:
Use the Pipe ( | ) sign
This operator does not require leading spaces.
Adobe|Microsoft= software manufacturer LIKE Adobe ORLIKE Microsoft
Use the Plus ( + ) sign
This operator requires a leading space.
Adobe+Microsoft= software manufacturer LIKE Adobe AND Microsoft
Use the Minus ( - ) sign
This operator requires a leading space.
-Adobe -Microsoft = software manufacturer NOT LIKE Adobe and NOT LIKE Microsoft
Once you have made the associations you are done as far as assigning Products go.
NOTE: It has been noted that only certain Products are displayed in this user interface. If a Product does not show up, it can only be modified if Asset is installed. If it doesn't show in the list, it does not have enough criteria and a new one should be generated.
You may have noticed that in the Software Catalog Add Product interface the default tab is Identify inventory. The Inventory that this ties into is the Software Discovery module. This is captured during the Software Inventory Policies. The specific option within the Inventory Policy interface is shown in the screenshot below, namely Software - Windows Add/Remove Programs and UNIX/Linux/Mac software packages:
This is the process that provides the Inventory needed to make the associations between Software Components and Products.