MAP Toolkit, SWID, and UAL: Ahead of the Curve
The MAP Toolkit 9.0 Beta features two emerging technologies to simplify inventory data collection. Neither Software Identification Tags nor User Access Logging is common yet, but MAP includes features around them – getting ahead of the curve – so that when they do become commonplace, MAP is already there to take advantage of the capabilities they bring.
Software Identification (SWID) Tags
In 2009, the ISO published a standard for software identification tags, or SWID tags (rhymes with “squid tags”). The SWID tag standard is part of a series on best practices for software asset management – which goes hand-in-hand with MAP! For the first time, organizations using the MAP Toolkit 9.0 Beta will be able to inventory software based on these tags.
A SWID tag is an XML file that provides specific information on an installed software product. This information includes:
- The software product name and version
- The software creator and licensor
- A unique software ID
- Optional information, such as
- Licensing details
- Installation and packaging details
- Serial numbers and SKUs
- Validation information
If a product features a SWID tag, the tag is installed along with the product.
The number of applications that include SWID tags is small, but it’s growing. Microsoft, for one, has already adopted the standard with several of its products, including:
- Office 2013
- Visual Studio 2012
- Windows 8 and 8.1
- Windows Server 2012
- MAP Toolkit 8.5 and 9.0 Beta
As additional products start using SWID tags, this feature in MAP will become more significant and may eventually replace searching the registry for this information.
Using the SWID tag inventory scenario by itself replaces the data on the Application Summary sheet in the Windows Environment report with information found in SWID tags instead of registry data.
Try it out in your own environment:
- Do an inventory using the new Software ID (SWID) tags option.
- When the inventory finishes, select the Windows Environment scenario tile and generate the Windows Environment Report.
- Open the report and switch to the Application Summary sheet.
If any of the products in your environment have SWID tags, these products will appear here. You should have at least one, since the MAP Toolkit itself features a SWID tag!
The three right-most columns specifically are filled with data discovered only in SWID tags. If you select both the SWID tag and Windows computers inventory scenarios, MAP will merge the products found through registry data and SWID tags; those products with SWID tags will have information in the right-most columns, while those without SWID tags won’t.
You can find out more about SWID tags here: http://tagvault.org/frequently-asked-questions-about-swids/
User Access Logging
Another emerging technology in Microsoft is User Access Logging, or UAL, which is a feature that provides information to help determine your software licensing needs. This feature will be required on many future releases of Microsoft products.
Today, MAP uses many different methods to find information needed for making licensing decisions on installed products, including sifting through parsed logs and combing the registry. Every product has its own way of exposing this information to MAP. The purpose of UAL is to standardize the interface for gathering this information, creating a one-stop shop where applications like MAP can easily find all of the information they need.
Currently, UAL is included as a feature in Windows Server 2012 and later (but since it’s a tool for enterprise software, it’s not included with client editions of Windows).
The MAP Toolkit already supports client access tracking via UAL for Windows Server 2012 (including R2 in MAP 9.0 Beta) and SharePoint Server 2013. SQL Server 2012 is the newest member of the UAL family in MAP, being introduced in the MAP Toolkit 9.0 Beta.
In the brand-new Client Access Tracking for SQL Server 2012 inventory scenario, MAP uses UAL to collect and report almost the same information as in the usual SQL Server inventory scenarios. However, since it uses UAL, the environment doesn’t need to be set up for log parsing, which can save the system admin a lot of time and trouble. (For a reminder of how tedious this process can be, see the instructions here.) The hope is to eventually eliminate the need for log parsing altogether, as newer products featuring UAL gradually replace older ones that do not.
If you have an environment that features SQL Server 2012 instances running on Windows Server 2012, you can try out this new scenario just by using the Client Access Tracking for SQL Server 2012 inventory scenario instead of the SQL Server inventory scenario. The information will be in the SQL Server Usage Tracking report, the same location as log-based data.
Find out more about user access logging here:
- TechNet: http://technet.microsoft.com/library/hh849634.aspx
- MSDN: http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=255466
Just as MAP helps its users migrate to the latest, up-to-date technologies to meet current and future demands in this rapidly evolving technical landscape, SWID and UAL will ensure that MAP will provide more relevant information about these technologies with greater accuracy and speed.
Be sure to sign up today for the MAP Toolkit 9.0 Beta program if you haven’t already: http://connect.microsoft.com/site297