Deploying and upgrading FlexNet inventory agents

IT Asset Management version 2019 R1
The Inventory Settings page has been enhanced to help you manage the versions of FlexNet inventory agent deployed to those inventory devices where the agent is managed by downloaded policy (that is, where FlexNet inventory agent communicates automatically with an inventory beacon, both for inventory uploads and policy or configuration downloads).
Tip: The same version of FlexNet inventory agent that you specify for automatic upgrades is also used for all adoptions (automatic deployment of the FlexNet inventory agent to newly-discovered devices).

This new control enables you to:

  • Prevent any automatic upgrades of FlexNet inventory agent (for example, because you are managing upgrades with third-party tools), or
  • Choose one of the versions available from the application server, and specify any combination of the supported platforms that should self-update to your approved version.

You can also choose whether the FlexNet inventory agent will upgrade automatically, or whether you prefer to use a manual upgrade process, which is the default option. To help you decide whether automatic deployment of upgrades is suitable for your organization, a help link provides information on situations where automatic deployment is not recommended.

On platforms that you do not select at this time, operational FlexNet inventory agents are completely unaffected by the current setting, and continue using their existing version of FlexNet inventory agent for the time being. This means that in a stable environment, it is possible to use (and re-use) these controls to work through scenarios such as:

  • Releasing versions to specific platforms as you complete testing; and have a different timing for other platforms.
  • Where you may have approved one version globally, but then find an issue affecting one platform (for example Solaris). Choosing only Solaris platforms, and assigning an earlier (known good) version of FlexNet inventory agent, automatically rolls back the FlexNet inventory agent on all devices running Solaris. Later, when a repaired version is available, you can authorize that repaired version for the Solaris platforms, as well as for any other platforms you wish.
However, be mindful about scenarios like this one:
  1. You specify 13.1.1 as the upgrade version for AIX and Windows platforms. This policy is distributed, and the installed FlexNet inventory agents self-update to this version on the two specified platforms.
  2. Next, you deselect AIX, and specify 13.2.0 for Windows platforms only. The new policy is distributed. On Windows devices, the FlexNet inventory agent self-upgrades, but the AIX agents do nothing (because they are not mentioned in the current policy).
  3. A new AIX device is deployed, and falls within a target that specifies adoption. Because the version specified for all adoptions (as well as selected upgrades) is currently 13.2.0, the newly adopted AIX device gets version 13.2.0, unlike all other AIX devices that (by previous policy) are stable at 13.1.1.
Therefore, in a more dynamic environment where new devices are deployed and discovered relatively frequently, it is safer and easier to use this control as intended:
  • Specify the version to be used both for all adoptions and for self-upgrades on selected platforms
  • Identify the platforms where you allow self-updates, and use your third-party tools to manage upgrades on all other, unselected platforms
  • Keep the settings stable until you are ready to deploy, and update to, a new version of FlexNet inventory agent .
A new management view called FlexNet Inventory Agent Status has also been added (accessible from Discovery & Inventory > FlexNet Inventory Agent Status, in the Inventory group). This shows you all of your inventory devices that have been identified as either:
  • Having the FlexNet inventory agent installed
  • Being specified in a target (for a discovery and inventory rule) that includes the option of adoption (note that simply being included in the target is enough, and it is not necessary for the target to be in use within any rule).
The list excludes any inventory devices that have been ignored.
Note: Due to a known issue in FlexNet Manager Suite where the version of the FlexNet inventory agent cannot be identified on Mac OS X devices, these devices do not appear in this list.

Installations of FlexNet inventory agent in custom locations on either AIX or Linux operating systems now support automatic upgrades and downgrades, once the 13.2.0 (or later) FlexNet inventory agent is installed and running (and a later version is the intended upgrade).

Additional Information

FlexNet inventory agents are managed on the Discovery & Inventory > Inventory Settings page.
  • The Version to deploy selection is used for both adoption of new devices, and for automatic upgrades/downgrades when applicable.
    • By default, versions starting from 13.1.1 are shown in this list for upgrading customers (although of course new installations only show the current version 13.2.0)
    • If a cloud customer has previously requested that automatic upgrades be enabled for a version earlier than 13.1.1, then that requested version also displays in the Version to deploy list for that tenant.
  • When the Upgrade mode is set to Upgrade selected platforms to specific version, specific platforms must be selected in the Platform options list.
    Note: Only the one version, as selected in the Version to deploy drop-down list, can be deployed to all selected platforms.
  • If a listed version of FlexNet inventory agent at some future time gets deprecated by Flexera, an alert is displayed next to the drop-down list. If the customer then selects another version, the deprecated version is removed from the list and is longer be available for selection. Deprecation of a version will be used if there is a serious issue with a particular version of FlexNet inventory agent, which should be a very rare case.
The timing of policy distribution is:
  • Each inventory beacon checks for any changes to policy every 15 minutes. In a hierarchy, the updated policy and associated installer packages must trickle down to the lowest level.
  • Each installed copy of FlexNet inventory agent checks for device policy updates at a random time every 12 hours.

IT Asset Management (Cloud)