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CMS 7.1 - First Time Setup - Great when it works

Created: 22 Mar 2011 | 5 comments

Hi all,

I really didn't wanna gripe about the First Time Setup as I am sure it should do what it says on the tin, but I am having huge huge troubles getting it to work, and when it doesn't, I'm having huge huge troubles finding out why.

So basically of course it happily find the sever you install it on and also install the Agent, this ( I think) is part of the installation anyway. So my next task was to try to discover and install the Agent to my own machine. So I ran the discover computers wizard, put in only the IP of my machine, it ran (could see the icon turning in the left hand pane) and then nothing. No report popping up to say, hey I ran but did not find anything and this is why. So you have to go to the network discovery tasks in the right hand pane and click through to see how many computers the task discovers. It was zero, but no explanation as to what happened (i.e. no ping reply recieved).

I figured that my PC was blocking ping, so I opened up the firewall to accept these requests. Having run the dicovery wizard again, my PC still did not appear in the discovered computers list. So I again looked at the discovery task and the task had found 1 device. However that's as useful as that report got, I could not assertain what the device was it had found. No network name, no IP, no MAC no nothing, just a 1 next to discovered computers.

So off I went to the reports section. After a while searching around I founs the discovered devices report. It had an entry for my PC under its IP address. So my immediate thought was a) why wasn't the First Time Setup showing my PC in the discovered devices list and b) why couldn't I find this information directly from the discovery tasks?

Having mulled this briefly, I then remebered that I had set the Discover Computers wizard to automatically install the agent to discovered computers. Now my PC clearly does not have the agent installed on it and it is showing as such on the First Time Setup page (as you would expect as it isn't even showing as discovered even though a report in says it has). The wizard did not say at any point that it had failed to install the wizard on discovered computers, it did not say if it had tried to and I cannot find a report anywhere confirming or denying if an installtion attempt was made and if so, what happened when it tried.

This is my biggest issue with CMS. Everything feels extremely disjointed and smoke screens (in the form of missing or hard to find information) seem to be in place at every step. Is it just me, am I being blind and missing the point, or is CMS basically a pretty shell with no substance and it's up to the user to it up in entirety to get anything meaningful out of it. At the moment I feel like there's a masssive barrier to entry and what should be a fairly straight forward product to use is actually an extremely powerful backend engine with some window dressing to pretend it's easy to use. I wish I could harness it's power, it's clearly got a lot to give, but at this rate I just wanna say "you know what, I like the stand alone DS, it's light weight, it does what it says on the tin, it's easy to use and the non web interface is quick and eficient to use. It's frustrating, but there you go!

Feedback would be most appreciated and I sincerely hope it me being a muppet, not CMS 7.1 being bad.

Cheers,

Cukie

Comments 5 CommentsJump to latest comment

mclemson's picture

Sorry to hear about your frustrations.  Honestly I never used the First Time Setup page.  It is helpful in outlining the basic tasks (discover, roll out agents and plug-ins, collect an inventory), but it's a far cry from everything you need to know.  I'd recommend stepping through the User Guides for the Symantec Management Platform and each of the solutions.  It's a lot of reading but I find it worthwhile.

If task shows 0 or fewer than expected, the cause is that the device did not respond.  If a device does respond to a network discovery, it will be added to the list of Discovered Computers (in the center pane of the First Time Setup page).  It will also appear under Step 2 - Rollout Agent under Unmanaged computers.  You can then choose Rollout Agent , add it to a targeted list of discovered computers, and roll out the agent.

Instead, I'd go to Settings > Agents/Plug-ins > Symantec Management Agent, expand Settings > Symantec Management Agent Install, and enable the Scheduled Push to Computers policy, on the bottom half of the right pane.  The policy automatically applies to 'Windows Computers with no Symantec Management Agent installed,' which would include whatever you've discovered using network discovery.  Here you can define a schedule and enable the policy (changing it from Off to On), then Save changes.

The push install used by this policy is the same as the push install as the 'Rollout Agent to Computers' portion in the top half of the right pane, so you can use the 'Status Report' button on this page to view details of how the scheduled policy push went.  Alternatively, in the very top, right-hand corner of the console, type 'Agent Installation' and click the search icon to pull up a list of results.  Under Reports, select the Agent Installation Status report any time.  This is a quicker way to get to a report than navigating the report folder structure, in my opinion.

Does this help at all?

Mike Clemson, Senior Systems Engineer, ASC
Intuitive Technology Group -- Symantec Platinum Partner
intuitivetech.com

Cukie's picture

Hi mclemson,

Well to be honest I already knew of these settings, but they're tucked away in setting where honestly I think they are managemnet tools, not settings at all. That tree view is ok, but it's not exactly arranged in either a particulalrly intuitive manner (some bits are, some bits aren't) and it's full of Symantec's non descript, buzz wordy, confusing language (in fact I find 99% of Symantec's literature to be so full of buzz word nonsense that half the time I think they could reduce their manual sizes by about half just by using plain English. I mean is anyone really impressed by someone who can turn a simple scentance in to a paragraph which can be interpretted in several different way depending on your understanding of the buzz word used?).

Anyway, the discovery task is finding my PC, but it is not putting it in the list as mentioned, nor is it installing the Agent as asked. There is no clear reason why it is finding my PC but not adding it and the logging of events is difficult to find in order to diagnose how far the process managed to get.

The First Time Setup wizard is the window of the CMS shop. People are looking into it to see how good CMS is, but it seems it is unfinished and buggy to say the least and why bother including it if the way forward is just to use the management tools manually through the setting folder. From what I've heard, v6 was not pretty and a bit clunky, but worked pretty well. It seems that pulling all the techs together under one roof has actually been a step backwards and a very imature product has been born, version 7 is really version 1 of a brand new product.

I honestly believe it would be better to stop lumping all the products together in a list of folders under the generic sections Manage, Actions, Reports and Settings. It would be better to split into all the various components and have an easy way to switch between each. Have the various general heading within the component. This would reduce the clutter and reduce the need for a tree system. Each section can then have neat and concise front ends with helpful wizards.

I've now tried to test CMS 7.0 and 7.1 and both products are making me say to my bosses that it's too hard to train on and configure CMS quickly and cheaply enough. We could hire Symantec to consult and set it up, but that's just throwing money away needlessly when really there's not a great amount of expertise is required to deal managing devices, the expertise is required to use the tool.

Truth is I know the potential and power within CMS, harnessing it is just very frustrating.

Cheers,

Cukie

mclemson's picture

That's interesting.  I've never experienced any of the issues you mention.  Agent roll-out has been very smooth for me.

I tend to think the integrated console, with everything you would want to do to a computer on the same screen, is very handy.  Symantec, in its buzzism, has called it the Activity Center, but you can get to it by going to Manage > Computers.  In the top, right-hand pane, you can cycle through information about a computer gathered by inventory by clicking the blue links on the silver header.

Below that is a Jobs/Task overview (what did/is/will run on this computer), Policies (what policies apply), and Sofware (where you can see what is installed or deploy software from the same area).

Moving to the right (I sound like a tour guide), there's a flyout pane (look for the tab in the top-right) that has a list of common actions and a scrollbar for selection.  And obviously the whole thing can be resized like a 32-bit app.  This same activity view can also be pulled up from the bottom, left-hand corner (Office 2010 rip-off) to manage other types of resources.

There are some areas that, as you said, could be more integrated.  If you've tried yet to set up patch management, you'll find it's not all in one place.  Obviously no interface is going to take the place of learning the product.  I'd recommend reading the 7.1 documentation that interests you at this link:
http://www.symantec.com/connect/node/1525181

Regarding the issue in the First Time Setup, does the correct data show up eventually, or not at all?  I wonder if you're having an issue with low-powered evaluation hardware or something.

Mike Clemson, Senior Systems Engineer, ASC
Intuitive Technology Group -- Symantec Platinum Partner
intuitivetech.com

Cukie's picture

Thanks for the tour mclemson :)

No the data never appeared using the discover computers wizard. Strangely, I could select my PC when doing the push Agent install in settings, so it had been recoreded. Still annoyingly though, when the Agent installer failed, it just said it was unale to copy the install service to my machine. Well yes i know that can be caused by firewall and authntication issues, so i knew which settings to change both on CMS and in Windows on my PC, but seriously, it's not hard to know which part of the process failed, so why CMS can;t provide a more clear answer, I'm not sure (or it does, but it's tucked away somewhere that's made clear on the report.

 

So any way I've got the Agent pushed down and had a play with more parts sections of CMS. The activity centre is nice addition and a good step in the right direction on first impressions, but my major grip from the last version which was that reporting on policies is not easy to find, is still present and why there isn;t an option to attach a default report to a policy so yo can jump to straight to the detail of the policis progress baffles me somewhat, especially on the policies that come as standard.

Yes you're right, a lot of thngs will be solved if I sit with the documentation, but I really think the concepts are not hard to grasp, especially for someone who's used DS for many years and therefore I expected there to be very few barriers to getting up to speed with CMS.

Cheers,

Cukie

mclemson's picture

Double-clicking will get you detail in most places.  And you can right-click on any software item to select an Installed Software Report, or right-click any Managed Software Delivery to get a Software Compliance Report or Software Execution Report, etc.

So the information and actions in 7.1 are really a lot closer to you than in previous solutions, and the integration is infinitely better, it just takes a little learning to find out how to get around.

Mike Clemson, Senior Systems Engineer, ASC
Intuitive Technology Group -- Symantec Platinum Partner
intuitivetech.com