Managed applications can be collected by using built-in integration for connecting to System Center Configuration manager database or policy based deployments thru Active Directory. AppDNA connects to Active Directory and SCCM database online or by using offline client. Offline client is most useful in cases where access to target environment is limited for any reason, usually networking limitations or user privileges.

Offline client is simple windows executable and can be downloaded from AppDNA server and handed over to someone with necessary access to target servers. Client is executed on Domain Controller or SCCM server in scope. Client then collects the required information and creates an archive, which in turn can be delivered to AppDNA administrator for importing the data to database. Collected data includes information related to application deployments, ie. SCCM collections, programs and advertisements, or their next relatives starting from SCCM 2012. In addition to different deployment configurations, SCCM 2012 allows some extra functionality from AppDNA perspective, ie. incremental imports which is particularly useful for managing application changes during given time frame.

Usually SCCM distributions are related to machine accounts, user accounts or user groups in Active Directory, which is essential for managing applications in scope of the organization. Active Directory based distributions are handled similarly by default.

These distributions can be application advertisements or mandatory installations, which means that it is not necessarily in any relation to actual application usage. As mentioned before, from portfolio rationalization and license cost optimization point of view, it would be essential to know if the applications are really used or not. This means that using a distribution system does not make usage information irrelevant, rather combining these two systems gives the optimum starting point for the project.

Even though SCCM has features for measuring application usage, it is not utilized by current version of  AppDNA (6.3), which is one good reason for using SysTrack in any case.

For importing the applications from SCCM, there is two options.

  • Use “Direct Import” if distributions are standard MSI files. In that case, location of each MSI is provided by the SCCM programs configuration and applications can be directly imported without capturing by selecting “Use direct MSI import”.
  • Capture applications using SCCM advertisements. This is particularly useful if applications are not standardized MSI files (scripted installations, executables, etc…). In that case, applications are captured using “Install Capture” feature.

After the list of managed applications is filtered and rationalized, selected applications can be moved to more familiar “Import Applications” screen by selecting “Add to Import List”.

Note that direct import is not always recommended even though it might be possible. For example chained installations would be hard to manage if the relation is broken by importing them individually. Depending on the scenario, it should be considered if capturing the full chain or grouping the MSI files would be the best option for next actions, ie. App-V sequencing.

Capturing the applications will be covered separately as it is wide topic and may include complex technical considerations.

Active Directory data is equally important as we need it for matching managed applications with users, user groups or organizational units. If your customer is security oriented, they would be asking what kind of information we actually export from their database? Usernames, yes. Passwords, no.

Like i mentioned earlier, it is all about users which makes Active Directory information vital for later steps in the project. We will use that information as connecting point to XenDesktop project, but it is also needed for fitting applications to organizational structure, planning the implementation rollout, progress forecasting, status reporting, application prioritization and portfolio rationalization. I could continue the list forever…

Illustration below describes how the above mentioned systems works as a basis for well structured application management.