Better control of file evidence

IT Asset Management version 2018 R2

The Discovery & Inventory > Settings page, called Inventory Settings, now gives significantly better control of paths searched by the locally-installed FlexNet Inventory Agent for file evidence and ISO-standard software identification (SWID) tags. By default, FlexNet Inventory Agent does not collect any file evidence, and collects SWID tags only from the ISO-defined locations. However, some kinds of application recognition can be improved with selectively-gathered file evidence.

New controls let you specify a number of search paths, separately for each of the Windows, macOS, and Linux/UNIX platform families. These are automatically shared with the installed FlexNet Inventory Agents on each platform through downloaded policy (and so they work for any installed agent communicating through a connected inventory beacon). Your paths are searched recursively, starting from each one you specify and continuing down through all its child folders. To better manage those search patterns, you can now similarly declare a set of paths to exclude from the descendent folders.

Both kinds of definitions (include and exclude paths) may include the * or ? wildcards, Windows environment variables (like %ProgramFiles(x86)%), and FlexNet preference variables (like $(ProgramFiles)), as well as plain text.

You now use the same groups of settings to manage searches for both file evidence and SWID tags. The online help contains full details.

Additional information

While the settings allow customers to search everything for file evidence, this is not good practice. Settings that are too broad slow down inventory gathering, load the network with potentially massive inventory files, and drag down performance on the inventory server (or application server on smaller on-premises implementations). Encourage your customers to be selective with these settings, targeting the minimum searches necessary in their environments.

The path settings from the web interface are saved on target inventory devices in the following pre-existing settings:
  • For file evidence:
    • IncludeDirectory
    • ExcludeDirectory
  • For SWID tags:
    • EmbedFileContentDirectory
    • ExcludeEmbedFileContentDirectory.
(Of course, local per-device values can still be entered in the registry or equivalent config.ini file, or used for testing in command lines.)

Now that the web interface 'include' settings (and similarly, the 'exclude' settings) are copied for both file evidence and SWID tags, be careful not to accidentally remove the ISO-standard paths for SWID tags. Follow the guidelines in the online help to restore those values when defining include paths.

Another corner case to note is that on Microsoft Windows platforms only, the system folder $(WindowsFolder) (or as a Windows variable %windir%, most commonly C:\Windows) is always excluded for file evidence and SWID tags (no matter what settings you enter), because this folder alone can contribute millions of file inventory records that are unrelated to installed licensable applications.

Network shares can never be included in scanning for file evidence. However, local, external drives (such as those connected by USB) may be scanned. Thoughtful settings for the include paths are very worthwhile to prevent inventory bloat!

Fortunately, if you accidentally collect too much file inventory, you only need to correct the paths on the Inventory Settings page. At the next import of FlexNet inventory to the inventory database, any previously-collected file evidence that is no longer present in the inventory is automatically cleaned up, and removed from the inventory database. After that, the next full import and license compliance calculation similarly cleans up the records in the compliance database.

IT Asset Management (Cloud)