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Microsoft Management Summit 2006: Microsoft Acquires AssetMetrix, could it be foundation for CMDB/ITIL asset management?

AssetMetrix Acquisition

This morning, Kirill Tatarinov announced that Microsoft bought AssetMetrix in his keynote. To put it in low-level terms, AssetMetrix maintains a huge database of applications “fingerprints” and provides services to both query those fingerprints and search through your network to inventory all the applications you have installed, based again on fingerprinting all those applications. They have 300,000 different
applications (including variants by version and packaging, e.g., OEM, retail, MSDN) fingerprinted, and they provide access to that data
over a web service.

So the idea is that you run the AssetMetrix “agent” (I’m guessing) on your
network, and it digs around on all the machines, profiling the
software deployed. It identifies the deployed software by comparing the fingerprints against it’s library.

The end result is that you have a very human friendly and informative
report. For example, it can not only tell you that you have 623 copies
of Office installed, but that 23 of those are retail, versus 9 from
MSDN, or 591 from your enterprise license.

With this data, you can see if you’ve paid for all the software
you’re running, or, see if you’re using all the licenses you’ve
already purchased. Of course, you could also use it to see if people
have installed rouge software.

The demo showed how AssetMetrix’s reports were pulled it into SMS so that you can see what you have installed on how
many machines. Furthermore, SMS
mashes this data up with the official licensing numbers from Microsoft (which your sales rep will be happy to give you ;>) so you can get a side-by-side view to see if you’re in compliance with your licensing terms.

The word was that it’ll be 6-9 months to fully integrate this functionality into SMS and provide it, of course, under the Systems Center brand.

Analyst Day Reactions

We talked with them about AssetMetrix during analyst day. The
concencous of the room was, of course, cynical: it’s a way to extract
more money from people, and it has a big brother aspect since there’s
a web service involved.

Those concerns were addressed by saying that Microsoft has heard
from several customers that they want to inventory their software, but
that there aren’t good tools available to do it. Indeed, the demo of
AssetMetrix integration into SMS proved this technical point:
AssetMetrix’s reports were much more human friendly and detailed than
the default functionality in SMS. As an analogy, if you’ve ever walked
the installed application tables in HOST-RESOURCES-MIB, you know what
I’m talking about.

300,000 Configuration Items Out of the Box

From the demo I saw, it seems like nice software to me. As
Microsoft hinted at, they were more excited about the catelog of
300,000 fingerprints than the here and now functionality of license
checking. Indeed, that’s where the medium- and long-term value comes
from. You can see that AssetMetrix’s 300,000 fingerprints and profiles
would provide a great foundation to build up Configuration Items in a
CMDB. Indeed, if the same methodology was applied to hardware, and
“soft assets” like people and processes, the AssetMetrix aquisition
could pay off by becoming the founding architecute and data pool for
System Center asset management.

A huge disclaimer on all this is that I haven’t talked to
AssetMetrix customers or even drilled deep down into their
documents. It’s all utopia “reporting” rather than the analysis that
would come after spending more time looking at it.

Disclaimer: Microsoft is a client.

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Categories: Conferences, Enterprise Software, Systems Management.

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