Exercise Overview:

Scouting for devices and applications

The ActiveEfficiency Scout is the component that discovers information from an external data source and stores it in the ActiveEfficiency database in a common form that can be used by other 1E solutions. In the previous lab, you installed the scout with the ConfigMgr mode selected, which enables the scout to collect data from Configuration Manager.

In this lab, you will execute the Scout manually to observe the process of getting data from ConfigMgr into ActiveEfficiency. Later you will install AppClarity and the use the ActiveEfficiency Synchronization Manager to create a Windows Scheduled Task to complete the end-to-end synchronization process that includes running the scout first followed by the AppClarity synchronization.

Getting data from ConfigMgr

In this exercise, you will run the ActiveEfficiency Scout manually to find computers in ConfigMgr and retrieve a number of properties of these devices, including details of installed applications and when they were last run.

Run the Scout in ConfigMgr mode

In this task you will execute the scout directly from a command line so you can observe the data gathering process.

  1. On 1ETRNAP, open a command prompt and change directory to C:\Program Files (x86)\1E\ActiveEfficiency\Scout
  2. Run the following command line
  3. scout.exe modes=configmgr
    Note that the scout outputs activity to the command window. The activity is also written to the scout log (C:\ProgramData\1E\ActiveEfficiency\Scout.log).

Observe the data returned by the Scout

The data retrieved in the previous task is stored in various tables in the ActiveEfficiency database. It can also be viewed through the ActiveEfficiency web service. In this task, you will observe the basic data that has been discovered by running the scout in ConfigMgr mode.

  1. On 1ETRNAP, open Internet Explorer and browse to http://localhost/activeefficiency to open the ActiveEfficiency web service interface
  2. Click the URI link to the right of Devices and observe the devices that have been discovered in the ConfigMgr database. This information corresponds to the data in the Devices table in the ActiveEfficiency database
  3. Click on the link in the Identity column that corresponds to the 1ETRNW71 device to view detailed properties of the device in the Single Device resource page
  4. Click the System properties for this device link. This displays the system properties that were obtained by the scout from ConfigMgr and corresponds to the data in the DeviceSystemProperties table in the ActiveEfficiency database
  5. Click the back button in the browser to return to the Single Device resource page and click the Tags attached to this device link. Device tags are fully extensible "name/value" definitions, with the addition of Category, which can be associated with a device to enable identification of the device by properties other than those defined in the Devices, DeviceSystemProperties and DeviceIdentities tables in the ActiveEfficiency database
  6. The DeviceIdentities table is not exposed through the ActiveEfficiency web service pages, however you can look at it in SQL Server Management Studio. It also uses a "name/value" format (although the column names are Source and Identity). When the scout is executed in ConfigMgr mode, it will create rows for the FQDN and SMBIOS for each device it discovers.
  7. Note there are several device tags that the scout will collect by default from ConfigMgr. The information on this page corresponds to the data in the DeviceTags table in the ActiveEfficiency database
  8. Click the back button in the browser to return to the Single Device resource page and click the Installations for this device link. This shows all the installed software that the scout discovered from data in ConfigMgr. It corresponds to the data in the Installations table in the ActiveEfficiency database. You can click on the link in the Id column to view specific details of any Installation
  9. Click the back button in the browser to return to the Single Device resource page and click the Usage types for this device link
  10. There are currently three types of usage that the ActiveEfficiency scout will discover. Application Usage provides information about when applications were last run locally on the device. This information is readily available from ConfigMgr as long as you have Software Metering enabled, so you'll see data (corresponding to the ApplicationUsage table in the ActiveEfficiency database) if you follow this link. SQL Usage and Oracle Usage provide information about activity in Microsoft SQL Server and Oracle database installations. This information is not available from ConfigMgr, so running the scout in ConfigMgr mode will not provide any information on SQL Server or Oracle usage. This course is focused on workstation clients - SQL Server and Oracle usage will not be covered.
  11. Click the back button in the browser until you return to the 1E ActiveEfficiency web service page and then click the URI link to the right of DiscoveryHistory. This shows the start and end time of the last scout execution and corresponds to the DiscoveryHistory table in the ActiveEfficiency database
  12. In most environments, the scout will be installed just on the ActiveEfficiency server. However, the architecture allows multiple scouts to be installed, in which case you would see a row for each instance of the scout (identified by the InstanceId).
  13. Click the back button in the browser to return to the ActiveEfficiency page and then click the URI link to the right of Applications. Note that there are no Applications discovered by the scout
  14. You'd be forgiven for expecting the Applications table to include details of Applications that have been discovered. However, this table is actually populated and used by AppClarity, not by the scout.

Getting App-V Application and Installation data

ActiveEfficiency gathers and stores information about App-V applications that are available in the environment and information about installations of these applications. Information about the virtual applications is gathered by the VirtualAppExporter. Information about installations of these applications is gathered from ConfigMgr by the Scout. In this exercise, you will run the App Exporter on a library of App-V virtual applications to discover the metadata about the virtual applications we are likely to encounter in the environment. You will then install and execute a virtual application on a workstation, ensure the inventory data is returned to ConfigMgr, then run the Scout and observe the results of each of these actions.

Run the VirtualAppExporter

The VirtualAppExporter scans a folder (defined in the command line) recursively for virtual applications. It then gathers information from the data files that make up the virtual applications that it finds and exports these to an XML file.

If your App-V packages are stored in multiple locations, you will need to run the VirtualAppExporter for each location, and also specify a unique XML filename (adding the PackageXml command line parameter) each time it is executed so as not to overwrite the previous exported XML file.
  1. On 1ETRNAP, open a command prompt and change directory to C:\Program Files (x86)\1E\ActiveEfficiency\Scout\Exporter
  2. Run the following command line (all on one line)
  3. N1e.ActiveEfficiency.VirtualAppExporter.exe scanonly packagefolder=\\1ETRNDC\ConfigMgrSource\VirtualApps
    The VirtualAppExporter logs to the screen as it executes, in addition to logging to the VirtualAppExporter.log file in C:\ProgramData\1E\ActiveEfficiency.
    The VirtualAppExporter only needs to be executed when new virtual applications are introduced into the environment. You can choose to do this step manually as part of the application release process, or you can use a Windows Scheduled Task to run it every week or so.
  4. Open C:\ProgramData\1E\ActiveEfficiency and note the PackageXml folder. Open this folder and note the Packages.xml file that was just generated by the VirtualAppExporter
  5. Open Packages.xml and observe the Packages that the exporter identified. Note that the Adobe2_CS5 package (Adobe Creative Suite 5) includes a number of Applications

Install and run a virtual application

A virtual application (Microsoft Office Word Viewer 2003) has been made available to the lab clients through ConfigMgr. In this task, you will install the viewer on 1ETRNW71 and run it (to generate 'last used' data).

1ETRNW71 and 1ETRNW72
  1. Log onto 1ETRNW71 as 1ETRN\User. You should see a pop-up notification that new software is available. Click on the notification to open Software Center (if you don't see the pop-up, you can start ConfigMgr Software Center from the Start menu)
  2. From Software Center (Available Software tab), select Microsoft Office Word Viewer 2003 and click Install
  3. When the installation has completed, run the Microsoft Office Word Viewer 2003 (from All Programs in the Start menu). Word Viewer opens with a dialog box to select the Word document you want to open – just cancel this dialog box and close the application (we only need to start the application to register usage)
  4. Repeat steps 17 - 19 on 1ETRNW72, logged in as 1ETRN\User

Send inventory to ConfigMgr

Before the ActiveEfficiency scout can discover the newly installed and executed virtual application, we need to ensure the necessary inventory data has been sent and processed by ConfigMgr. In this task you will run the ConfigMgr Hardware Inventory process on the client and confirm the required data is in the ConfigMgr database for the scout to find.

1ETRNW71 and 1ETRNW72
  1. On 1ETRNW71, double-click the Configuration Manager shortcut on the desktop to open the Configuration Manager Properties dialog box and select the Actions tab
  2. Select Hardware Inventory Cycle from the Actions list and click Run Now
  3. Even though we're inventorying software, the inventory data used by AppClarity is captured via the hardware inventory module.

  1. The Hardware Inventory collection activity on the client can be monitored in C:\Windows\CCM\Logs\InventoryAgent.log and entries like the entries below will indicate that the information has been sent to the ConfigMgr server

    You may see an entry in the InventoryAgent.log that states _Inventory: Message \[Type=InventoryAction, ActionID=\{00000000-0000-0000-0000-000000000001\}, Report=Delta\] already in queue. Message ignored{_}. This means that an inventory cycle is currently running. If this is the case, restart the SMS Agent Host service to force the inventory agent to recycle and process the Hardware Inventory.
  1. Repeat steps 21-23 on 1ETRNW72, logged in as 1ETRN\User
  2. If you are unable to get the Hardware Inventory cycle to execute by restarting the SMS Agent Host service on either machine, go ahead and move on to the next Lab. Sometimes, the ConfigMgr client will just not be rushed and as there are no dependencies in later exercises for this step to complete, we can come back at a later point and revisit this step.

  1. Log on to 1ETRNCM as 1ETRN\SCCMAdmin and open the Configuration Manager Console from the Start menu
  2. From the Assets and Compliance workspace (console bottom-left), select the Devices node (console top-left) and then right-click either 1ETRNW71 or 1ETRNW72 (whichever one successfully sent up a hardware inventory) and select Start > Resource Explorer
  3. There may be a Red X on the icon for 1ETRNW71. This is a result of restarting the SMS Agent Host service earlier. Give it a couple of minutes and refresh the view until the icon has a Green Check and then open Resource Explorer
  4. In the Resource Explorer, expand the Hardware node and scroll down to Virtual Applications. Confirm that Microsoft Office Word Viewer 2003 is listed with the Last launch on system (UTC) column showing the time you ran the viewer on 1ETRNW71 (you may need to refresh the display a couple of times if the latest inventory information hasn't yet been processed)

Execute the scout to gather virtual application data

We now have the necessary data in the Packages.xml file and ConfigMgr database for the ActiveEfficiency scout to discover installations and usage of virtual applications in the environment. In this task, you will execute the scout in ConfigMgr mode again to collect this information and observe the results.

  1. On 1ETRNAP logged on as AppInstaller, repeat the process in steps 75-76 to run the scout in ConfigMgr mode
  2. Open the scout.log file and note that the first task the scout did this time around was to process Packages.xml
  3. Use the ActiveEfficiency web service pages to navigate to the Application Usage page for 1ETRNW71 and/or 1ETRNW72
  4. Note that Microsoft Office Word Viewer 2003 is now listed as an application (the File Description identifies it as Microsoft Office Word Viewer), along with the last run time

Lab Summary

In this lab, you have learned how the ActiveEfficiency Scout can be used to gather data from ConfigMgr relating to properties of devices that are managed by ConfigMgr as well as physical and virtual applications installed in those devices. 
You have learned that discovery of Virtual Applications requires the application packages to be scanned for metadata using the VirtualAppExporter before the scout can use this information and create the associated installations in the ActiveEfficiency database.
You have also used the ActiveEfficiency Web Service (through the respective web pages) to view data from the ActiveEfficiency database, and identified the underlying tables used to store this data.

In this lab, you executed the scout and VirtualAppExporter interactively as the logged-on user, who had the required permissions on the ConfigMgr database and virtual application folder. In a production environment, you would use the Windows Scheduled Task, created by the ActiveEfficiency Synchronization Manager and executed in the context of a user that has the required permissions. You will be introduced to the ActiveEfficiency Synchronization Manager shortly.

Next Lab

Ex 3 - AppClarity 5.2 - Getting data from a restored CM database.