Software metering in System Center Configuration Manager

Applies to: System Center Configuration Manager (Current Branch)

This topic contains a reference for all of the operations you might perform when using System Center Configuration Manager software metering.

Important

Software metering is used to monitor Windows PC desktop apps with a filename ending in .exe. Software metering does not monitor modern Windows apps (such as those used by Windows 8).

Prerequisites for software metering

Software metering has no external dependencies, only dependencies within the product.

Dependency More information
Client settings for software metering. To use software metering, the client setting Enable software metering on clients must be enabled and deployed to computers. You can deploy software metering settings to all computers in the hierarchy, or you can deploy custom settings to groups of computers. See Configure software metering in this topic.
The reporting services point. You must configure a reporting services point before you can view software metering reports. For more information, see Reporting in System Center Configuration Manager.

Configure software metering

This procedure configures the default client settings for software metering and applies to all computers in your hierarchy. If you want these settings to apply to only some computers, create a custom device client setting and deploy it to a collection that contains the computers on which you want to use software metering. For more information about how to create custom device settings, see Configure client settings.

  1. In the Configuration Manager console, click Administration > Client Settings > Default Client Settings.

  2. On the Home tab, in the Properties group, click Properties.

  3. In the Default Settings dialog box, click Software Metering.

  4. In the Device Settings list, configure the following:

    • Enable software metering on clients: Select True to enable software metering.

    • Schedule data collection: Configure how often software metering data is collected from client computers. Use the default value of every 7 days or click Schedule to specify a custom schedule.

  5. Click OK to close the Default Settings dialog box.

    Client computers are configured with these settings the next time they download client policy. To initiate policy retrieval for a single client, see Manage clients.

Create software metering rules

Use the Create Software Metering Rule wizard to create a new software metering rule for your Configuration Manager site.

  1. In the Configuration Manager console, click Assets and Compliance > Software Metering.

  2. On the Home tab, in the Create group, click Create Software Metering Rule.

  3. On the General page of the Create Software Metering Rule wizard, specify the following information:

    • Name - The name of the software metering rule. This should be unique and descriptive.

      Note

      Software metering rules can share the same name if the file name contained in the rules is different.

    • File Name - The name of the program file that you want to meter. You can click Browse to display the Open dialog box, in which you can select the program file to use.

      Note

      If you type the executable file name in the File name box, no checks are carried out to determine whether this file exists or whether it contains the necessary header information. When possible, click Browse and select the executable file to be metered.

      Wildcard characters are not permitted in the file name.

      This box is optional if a value for Original file name is specified.

    • Original File Name - The name of the executable file that you want to meter. This name matches information in the header of the file, not the file name itself so that it can be useful in cases where the executable file has been renamed but you want to meter it by the original name.

      Note

      Wildcard characters are not permitted in the original file name.

      This box is optional if a value for File Name is specified.

    • Version - The version of the executable file you that want to meter. You can use the wildcard character ( * ) to represent any string of characters or the wildcard character ( ? ) to represent any single character. If you want to meter for all versions of an executable file, use the default value ( * ).

    • Language - The language of the executable file to meter. The default value is the current locale of the operating system you are using. If you select an executable file to be metered by clicking the Browse button, this box is automatically filled if language information is present in the header of the file. To meter all language versions of a file, select Any in the drop-down list.

    • Description - An optional description for the software metering rule.

    • Apply this software metering rule to the following clients – Select whether you want to apply the software metering rule to all clients in the hierarchy or to the clients that are assigned to the site specified in the Site list.

  4. To continue, click Next.

  5. Review and confirm the settings and then complete the wizard to create the software metering rule. The new software metering rule is displayed in the Software Metering node in the Assets and Compliance workspace.

Configure automatic software metering rules

You can configure software metering in Configuration Manager to automatically generate disabled software metering rules from recent usage inventory data held in the site database. You can configure this inventory data so that only for applications that are used on a specified percentage of computers metering rules are created. You can also specify the maximum number of automatically generated software metering rules allowed on the site.

Note

By default, software metering rules that are automatically created are disabled. Before you can begin to collect usage data from these rules, you must enable them.

  1. In the Configuration Manager console, click Assets and Compliance > Software Metering, and then, in the Home tab, in the Settings group, click Software Metering Properties.

  2. In the Software Metering Properties dialog box, configure the following:

    • Data retention (in days) - Specifies the amount of time that data generated by software metering rules are kept in the site database. The default value is 90 days.

    • Enable the option Automatically create disabled metering rules from recent usage inventory data.

    • Specify the percentage of computers in the hierarchy that must use a program before a software metering rule is automatically created - The default value is 10 percent.

    • Specify the number of software metering rules that must be exceeded in the hierarchy before the automatic creation of rules is disabled - The default value is 100 rules.

  3. Click OK to close the Software Metering Properties dialog box.

Manage software metering rules

In the Assets and Compliance workspace, select Software Metering, select the software metering rule to manage, and then select a management task.

Use the following table for more information about the management tasks that might require some information before you select them.

Management Task Details
Enable

Disable
Enables or disables a software metering rule. This setting is downloaded to client computers according to the Client policy polling interval in the Client Policy section of client settings (by default, every 60 minutes).

See Configure client settings .

Monitor software metering

Software metering in Configuration Manager includes a number of built-in reports which allow you to monitor information about software metering operations. These reports have the report category of Software Metering.

For more information about how to configure reporting in Configuration Manager, see Reporting in System Center Configuration Manager.

Additionally, you can create queries and collections based on the data stored in the Configuration Manager database by software metering.

For more information about collections in Configuration Manager, see Introduction to collections.

For more information about queries in Configuration Manager, see Introduction to queries.

Security and privacy for software metering

Security Issues for Software Metering

An attacker could send invalid software metering information to Configuration Manager, which will be accepted by the management point even when the software metering client setting is disabled. This might result in a large number of metering rules that are replicated throughout the hierarchy, causing a denial of service on the network and to Configuration Manager site servers.

Because an attacker can create invalid software metering data, do not consider software metering information to be authoritative.

Software metering is enabled by default as a client setting.

Privacy Information for Software Metering

Software metering monitors the usage of applications on client computers. Software metering is enabled by default. You must configure which applications to meter. Metering information is stored in the Configuration Manager database. The information is encrypted during transfer to a management point but it is not stored in encrypted form in the Configuration Manager database.

This information is retained in the database until it is deleted by the site maintenance tasks Delete Aged Software Metering Data (every five days) and Delete Aged Software Metering Summary Data (every 270 days). You can configure the deletion interval. Metering information is not sent to Microsoft.

Before you configure software metering, consider your privacy requirements.

Example scenario for using software metering

In this section, you'll create an example software metering rule that can help you solve the following business requirements:

  • Determine how many copies of a particular app are in your company

  • Discover any unused copies of an app

  • Determine which users regularly use a particular app

    Woodgrove Bank has deployed Microsoft Office 2010 as its standard office productivity suite. However, to support a legacy application, some computers must continue to run Microsoft Office Word 2003. The IT department wants to reduce support and licensing costs by removing these copies of Word 2003 if the legacy application is no longer used. The help desk also wants to identify which users use the legacy application.

    John is Woodgrove Bank's IT Systems Manager who uses software metering in Configuration Manager to achieve these business objectives. He performs the following actions:

  • John checks the prerequisites for software metering and confirms that the reporting services point is installed and operational.

  • John configures the default client settings for software metering:
    He enables software metering and uses the default data collection schedule of once every seven days.
    He configures software inventory to inventory files that have the extension .exe by configuring the software inventory client setting Inventory these file types.
    He adds a new software metering rule, named woodgrove.exe, to monitor the legacy application.
  • John waits for seven days, after which the client computers begin to report usage data for the woodgrove.exe executable.
  • John uses the Configuration Manager report Install base for all metered software programs to see which computers have the application woodgrove.exe loaded.
  • After six months, John runs the report Computers that have a metered program installed, but have not run the program since a specified date, specifying the software metering rule and a date six months in the past. This report identifies 120 computers that have not run the program in the past six months.
  • John makes some further checks to confirm that the legacy application is not required on the identified computers. He then uninstalls the legacy application and the copy of Word 2003 from these computers.
    John runs the report Users that have run a specific metered software program to provide the help desk with a list of users who continue to use the legacy application.
  • John continues to check the software metering reports weekly and takes remedial action if necessary.

    As a result of this course of action, IT support and licensing costs are reduced by removing the applications that are no longer required. In addition, the help desk now has the list that it wanted of the users who run the legacy application.