Integration with Data Platform v5

IT Asset Management (Cloud)

Data Platform version 5 (formerly from BDNA, and now from Flexera) combines Technopedia, a reference catalog with 120 million datapoints across more than 1.7m products, and Normalize, which provides a unified view of the data applicable to your environment.

To integrate this data for your use in license and asset management within IT Asset Management, release 2021 R1.3 includes a connector that imports normalized data from Normalize v5 into your compliance database. The imported data includes:
  • Records of inventory devices (for both physical servers and virtual machines) found in your environment by the inventory tools (such as Microsoft SCCM or BMC ADDM) that are feeding into Normalize v5
  • Details of applications recognized within your enterprise through those tools
  • Installation records that link the found software to the inventory devices where it is installed
  • Details of end-users who log onto the inventory devices
  • Where available, records of application usage (how often, and for how long, an end-user utilized an application).
Application records are dealt with in the same way as inventory data from any other source. This means that the data representing applications within Normalize v5 is imported into IT Asset Management in the first place as inventory evidence (in this case, as installer evidence). What happens next depends on the details of the software:
  • If the application is already known to the Application Recognition Library (ARL), and therefore has a Flexera ID included in the import from Data Platform, the evidence is recognized by the ARL and a matching installed application record is created (if it did not exist already) and displayed in the Installed Applications page. For such records, the inventory evidence type is set to FlexeraID, and the installer evidence record is linked to the application record.
    Tip: It may happen that the application is only recognized by a later update of the ARL than is currently deployed in your enterprise. If this occurs, a widget on the System Health Dashboard highlights the need to refresh your local, downloaded ARL (or you can wait until the next automated download, which typically happens each weekend).
  • If the installer evidence is not [yet] recognized by the ARL, then following normal system processes, it cannot be linked to an application record, and it remains in the Unrecognized Evidence page, in the listing under the Installer evidence tab. For these cases, the inventory evidence type is displayed as Data Platform. (Future updates to Data Platform and the ARL may mean that the same installer evidence re-imported thereafter may be recognized, and an installed application record automatically created at that time. For this reason, it is best not to manually trigger application creation from such records of public applications, but to wait for Flexera's continuing alignment work to automatically complete the links for you. If you find such a case that is needed in your enterprise with some urgency, you can ask Flexera to prioritize its delivery through a later release of the ARL.)
    Tip: A subset of these unrecognized cases may be application records that you created locally within your enterprise (records that in Data Platform are called "private applications", and in IT Asset Management are called "local applications"). As such records may never be matched by the ARL, you may wish to start from the unrecognized evidence record to re-create your local application record within IT Asset Management. In summary, best practice is to manually trigger the creation of application records only for locally-created, 'private' applications; and to await updates from Flexera for 'public' applications.

Connector, not adapter

The integration with Data Platform v5 is not strictly an "adapter", for the following reasons:
  • It does not require any custom XML file to be maintained through either the Inventory Adapter Studio or the Business Adapter Studio
  • There is no need (nor purpose) for any staging database
  • There is no separate download and installation required (with the possible exception of the initial release, where shipment of the connector is not synchronized with the product release; but in future it is embedded as a standard part of the product).

Instead, this integration is through a connector that is available on any up-to-date inventory beacon. You set up the import in exactly the same way as for any other inventory connection: specifying the details in the new inventory connection dialog on the Inventory systems page on your preferred inventory beacon; and nominating your preferred schedule for the regular imports. Full details are included below in Configuring the Data Platform Connector.

Inventory gaps and limitations

Following topics cover the mapping of data from within Data Platform to the import tables within the compliance database in IT Asset Management. (Hints are also given for tracking data from the import tables to the operational tables within the compliance database, with further information being available in the IT Asset Management Schema Reference PDF, available through the title page of online help.) Within those topics are specific comments about the impact of particular inventory gaps on tracking your license compliance.

At a high level, inventory gathered only from Normalize v5 is insufficient for:
  • Oracle Processor license calculations (missing the partial number of processors)
  • IBM PVU license calculations (missing the partial number of processors)
  • Any licenses that rely on details about the host settings for virtual machines, such as assigned core or processor counts (for VMs, this connector can only import the virtual host, and no other details of the VM, including pools, clusters, capping and the like). Notice, however, that inventory is normally gathered separately both from the virtualization host and from available guest machines, so that records are available for each device's view of its own properties.

Validate your data processes

When there are inventory gaps, the best-practice work-around is to add a second inventory source that fills the gaps, and allow IT Asset Management to merge the sources to produce a unified data set. The risk factor is that record merging may fail (because of different values in key fields), leading to duplicate records in your compliance database that cause over-counting.

Such a case is the possible merging of imports from Data Platform with another source, such as the FlexNet inventory agent. One of the key fields for merging inventory device records is the domain name that the device reports, and currently the values for domain are by default saved differently. Data Platform v5 typically saves a flat domain name (such as flexera); and while IT Asset Management can handle either format, by default is saves and uses the DNS domain name format (distinguished name) that includes the root domain (such as flexera.com). At first glance this difference looks high-risk; but there is a compliance database table that helps to resolve this issue, called the Domain table. Since this stores both the fully-qualified distinguished name for the domain, and also its flat name, it allows reliable matching between the two forms, provided that it has been populated with the appropriate records before a mapping is requested.

So, to prevent duplicate inventory device records, it is important to ensure that the Domain table is populated with all your domain names in both formats before importing from Data Platform (or indeed, any other inventory source that reports the flat name for domains). There are three ways to do this, of which the first is best practice:
  • Run an import from Active Directory. This populates the Domain table appropriately with both domain name formats.
  • Import FlexNet inventory, since the FlexNet inventory agent reports both name formats.
  • Import inventory from Microsoft SCCM 2012 or later, since from that release, SCCM also reported the domain name in both formats.
The first option is clearly preferable since it gives the most complete coverage of all your domains. Therefore, before importing from Data Platform, ensure that your Active Directory imports are up-to-date.
Tip: If you have domains that are outside the reach of your Active Directory implementation, you can create a spreadsheet and write a business adapter to populate the Domain table.
A match between host name, domain, and serial number is sufficient for merging (de-duplicating) inventory device records. Where these high-priority values are not available, IT Asset Management continues checking lower-priority properties including:
  • HostIdentifyingNumber
  • HostType
  • ILMTAgentID.
Since all these properties are unavailable from Data Platform v5 (see Imported Computers (Inventory Devices)), this makes correct mapping between the naming formats of your domains all the more important in avoiding duplicate device records.
Attention: Even when you follow best practice and use the above techniques to populate the Domain table with both the flat name and the distinguished name for each domain, issues with domain reporting may still cause creation of duplicate records for computers or users. This is because some data sources (notably HP-UD and ADDM) report domain properties for users and computers in ambiguous ways, and where overlapping data comes from another source (including coming through Data Platform even from the same original source), duplicate records may result. You may both prevent and repair such duplication simply by setting your Primary inventory source to a known-good choice from the overlapping sources, such as SCCM, FlexNet inventory, or Data Platform. (To find this setting, navigate to the system menu ( in the top right corner), choose Data Inputs and select the Inventory Data tab). To clear duplicate records previously created through this issue, set your good source that's reporting the domain as primary, and wait for (or trigger) a full import and compliance calculation. By default, these full imports and calculations happen overnight, so you can check that your previous duplicates are cleaned up the day after adjusting your primary inventory source.
If you are considering the use of two data paths for overlapping inventory records (such as having a common source imported directly into IT Asset Management on the one hand, and imported through Data Platform v5 on the other), one caveat to be aware of is the need for additional expertise. Suppose that you are trying to analyze a problem with recognition of a particular application. With two data paths, you must first determine which data path delivered the record, because the recognition logic differs between the paths:
  • If the path was direct from the inventory source (such as SCCM) into IT Asset Management, then the evidence rules in the Application Recognition Library (ARL) must be assessed for effective matching.
  • If that path from the inventory source led through Data Platform v5, you first need expertise to analyze the recognition process within that domain, because it is Data Platform (and in particular Normalize v5) that has recognized the application. In addition, you must validate that Data Platform v5 is supplying a Flexera ID for the application it recognizes, and that the same Flexera ID is listed as evidence in your installed ARL — otherwise, despite its initial recognition, the 'application' languishes in the Unrecognized Evidence page within IT Asset Management.
In summary, combining both data paths provides a growth opportunity.

Supported versions

The connector is validated for operations between Data Platform v5 and IT Asset Management 2018 R1. Within that framework, the following recommendations apply:
  • Data Platform: The preferred release of Data Platform (and in particular, Normalize) is 5.5.4 (or later), as this release fixed a problem where, for virtual machines, imported data contained incorrect values for the count of Cores and Threads (or logical processors). Both these values are visible in IT Asset Management on the Hardware tab of the inventory device properties. In the same location, you may also manually override both these values when a correction is needed, and your overridden values are unaffected by future inventory imports (for more details, see the online help for the Hardware tab).
  • IT Asset Management: While formal validation is limited to release 2018 R1 and later, informal spot testing suggests backward compatibility of the connector should extend back to at least release 2017 R1 of IT Asset Management.
    Important: If you are testing with an earlier version of IT Asset Management, be sure that, on all relevant inventory beacons, you remove the superseded folder C:\ProgramData\Flexera Software\Compliance\ImportProcedures\Inventory\Reader\BDNA before distributing the new Data Platform v5 folder as a replacement (full details about the new folder are included in Configuring the Data Platform Connector).

IT Asset Management (Cloud)

Current