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ITIL :: View topic - Best Tool/Software to create and maintain a DSL
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Best Tool/Software to create and maintain a DSL

 
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Silencer001
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 29, 2014 5:06 am    Post subject: Best Tool/Software to create and maintain a DSL Reply with quote

Hello everyone,

Since this is my first post on this forum, I would like to introduce myself. I started working 3 years ago in IT after I succesfully completed my bachelor.

At first I was into Server Maintenance, so started at a small business so I could be an allround IT-guy. Since our biggest customer was 50 employees big, I did the IT myself (going from servers, desktops, firewalls, migrations to support).. At that moment, I wasn't aware of any procedures, changes, incidents or operations.. When the customer called, I just solved the problem or tried to Smile

After a year and a half, I switched jobs and became an IT-consultant.. At the moment I work for a customer with 4000 employees. The IT-staff is around 30-40 people big where me and my collegue do "Configuration Support/Management". At first it didn't look interesting, but now, I am really into it! I also passed my ITIL Foundation exam and I must say that ITIL really opened my eyes and I am recommending it to everyone Smile So I think that I will move my carreer to a desktop engineer with desktop management en hope that the knowledge of flows an procedures will help me in setting up a technical environment.

Now for my question.. At the moment, we are using a really old ticketting system which is not supported anymore by the vendor so we are moving to a new tool. The old system holds an CMDB, but doesn't have much information. We keep track of our users, computers and software (Managed By IT), but just a small amount of information.

Since we wanted to extend our DSL to all software used in the company, we implemented a sharepoint site where we have added around 1500 softwares which is in use by our employees (vendor, compatibility, License required, application owner, location of sources,...) . This goes from standard software (MS Visio, Project,..) that ICT provides to small calculation programs which the users can install for themselves..

This DSL is really becoming our guide into our workplace management where we will document all of the rights, softwares and hardware the users can/may install. In the future we will also use this site so the users can create their personal configuration of their workstation. So this will provide a point of self service for the customer.

But I wanted to ask you guys if this is the good approach? Do you know any other softwares on the market which provide the same functionallity (DSL + Software documentation)? Is it wise that this DSL is not directly linked to our ticketting software?

I really want to compare our solution with other standard programs/applications on the market which are being used as a DSL + software inventory.

I hope you can help me thanks to your experience!

Kind regards,

Silencer
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ChangingMan
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Joined: Apr 28, 2014
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PostPosted: Thu May 01, 2014 6:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Silencer001.

Interesting question and something I will be tackling soon in the business I work for. We currently have 5700+ pieces of individual software installed on our estate and the number is so large because version control and an definitive media library (or DSL as you've called it) has not previous existed.

My goal here will be to create a single location for installation of all approved software installers, ensure that we a licensed for that software and to track what is deployed and where.

Thankfully some of the work has already been done, we use a ManageEngine tool called Desktop+ to audit what is installed on our estate and for the automation of the addition, upgrade or removal of installed software assets.

In terms of the CMDB a deployment of a piece of existing software stored in the DML to the estate would not create a new CI, the addition to the DML of a new piece of software would.

Personally I would shy away from storing documents with user right etc on sharepoint. But that doesn't mean it isn't the right approach, how many different users configurations do you have?
What granularity of detail are you storing there? For example are you listing users network shares, file and folder permissions etc?

There are a lot of different pieces of software out there which might be able to speed up your processes, it's just a case of trailing them and seeing which one is the best fit for your requirements.
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Silencer001
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PostPosted: Sun May 04, 2014 10:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi ChangingMan,

Thanks for your reply! It's indeed an interesting goal you have there. It comes really close to what we are doing.

Like you have ManageEngine Desktop +, we have SCCM to audit, deploy, remove and update current software installations. The thing is that we can only deploy software of which we have created an automated installer. In our company this is not always done. In some cases, the user receives the right to install this software himself or a 2nd level technicien needs to install this software.

I think I have badly explained our sharepoint solution which we have developed at the moment. It's not just a sharepoint site where documents are stored but it's actually a workplace management site with a full "search" interface where applications can be added/viewed/removed/changed.. So it's actually an SQL-database which is viewed in sharepoint. For instance, I can query all this information with questions like "which software is depended on java?", "which software is not compatible with XP", "which is the software of 1 specific application owner". You could see it as a database with different tables linked to each other, so we can manipulate and view it really quick.

In the near future we would like to extend this software library to the point where users can create their own configuration of their workstation so when their computer needs to be replaced, we known exactly what they need (and this goes further than all the software we manage).

To answer your questions:
*We have around 5000 users and every configuration is different. I only think that 10% of our users has enough with our base image (W7, Office 2010, PDF Tools, archiving tools, .NET components,...). These are mainly administrative people. For the rest, it's a complex structure since a lot of companies where bought by the main company with different activities,
*The idea is to create several configuration profiles based on company + department. We will let the business create them by themselves so they will have control and refer to it in the future. This way, ICT knows exactly what needs to be installed on the computer and can do it in a controlled, documented way
*We are not listing users network shares. When it's an installation by ICT, we will hold the executable on a file share and refer to it in the DSL. An installation manual can also be attached to the software. File and folder permissions are also not listed. When, for example, a software needs specific rights under "Program Files", we will add this into the remarks of this software. Since this is only in rare cases, no additional field was created for this.

But which software do you use to create and view your DSL? I have asked around and these are mainly just excel files on a share/sharepoint site with only a little bit of information. I'm really searching for alternatives to create a DSL to see where we can improve our solution and learn from the rest.

Thanks for the effort you have put into replying on my post.

Kind regards
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WhiteKnight
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PostPosted: Fri May 09, 2014 2:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hello

I've got the same problem. I'm working on setting up a 'Definitive Media Library' (DML), which I understand is the new term under ITIL V3 for DSL.

At the moment I'm just considering a simplistic directory structure accessible to read via a web interface, and nfs/samba mount for use (read/execute only), but with controlled access to write.

I'm considering cmdbuild with Alfresco for document management to manage these software assets. I already use these for some other assets.

The version control and expiry aspects have started to be a concern. I've been contemplating whether I should use a repository manager like Artifactory, or even Git for version control - except that some of the assets are large binary files. I've been contemplating Artifactory because I also need to manage some Eclipse P2 repositories as assets, but could also use this to manage a simple 'distribution' repository.

I've been trawling the internet but not yet found any concrete examples of DML, nor supporting software tools, but plenty of interpretations of what ITIL means. I'd be grateful for any helpful guidance or pointers to example implementations.

As might be obvious from some of the references above, I work with both Linux and Windows in a large software engineering company and need to get some better control over a large quantity of development tools.
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ChangingMan
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Joined: Apr 28, 2014
Posts: 26

PostPosted: Fri May 09, 2014 5:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Silencer001 wrote:
Hi ChangingMan,

Thanks for your reply! It's indeed an interesting goal you have there. It comes really close to what we are doing.

Like you have ManageEngine Desktop +, we have SCCM to audit, deploy, remove and update current software installations. The thing is that we can only deploy software of which we have created an automated installer. In our company this is not always done. In some cases, the user receives the right to install this software himself or a 2nd level technicien needs to install this software.

I think I have badly explained our sharepoint solution which we have developed at the moment. It's not just a sharepoint site where documents are stored but it's actually a workplace management site with a full "search" interface where applications can be added/viewed/removed/changed.. So it's actually an SQL-database which is viewed in sharepoint. For instance, I can query all this information with questions like "which software is depended on java?", "which software is not compatible with XP", "which is the software of 1 specific application owner". You could see it as a database with different tables linked to each other, so we can manipulate and view it really quick.

In the near future we would like to extend this software library to the point where users can create their own configuration of their workstation so when their computer needs to be replaced, we known exactly what they need (and this goes further than all the software we manage).

To answer your questions:
*We have around 5000 users and every configuration is different. I only think that 10% of our users has enough with our base image (W7, Office 2010, PDF Tools, archiving tools, .NET components,...). These are mainly administrative people. For the rest, it's a complex structure since a lot of companies where bought by the main company with different activities,
*The idea is to create several configuration profiles based on company + department. We will let the business create them by themselves so they will have control and refer to it in the future. This way, ICT knows exactly what needs to be installed on the computer and can do it in a controlled, documented way
*We are not listing users network shares. When it's an installation by ICT, we will hold the executable on a file share and refer to it in the DSL. An installation manual can also be attached to the software. File and folder permissions are also not listed. When, for example, a software needs specific rights under "Program Files", we will add this into the remarks of this software. Since this is only in rare cases, no additional field was created for this.

But which software do you use to create and view your DSL? I have asked around and these are mainly just excel files on a share/sharepoint site with only a little bit of information. I'm really searching for alternatives to create a DSL to see where we can improve our solution and learn from the rest.

Thanks for the effort you have put into replying on my post.

Kind regards


Hello again,

Seems a strange policy to allow the users to install their own software, even if they only had access to software that was authorised for them to install it must make inventory for software licensing a total nightmare because you are always aiming at a moving target.

With differing configurations comes complexity and with complexity comes difficulty in managing and maintaining a DSL/DML and accurate asset management for what is deployed.

We have similar problem but not to the same extent with deployed versions of common software. We recently began a program to clean up our office installs as we had users on the estate running enterprise and pro editions when they were only licensed to run standard.
Luckily we were able to bundle this up in an upgrade to office 2010 so the users didn't complain about being "downgraded".

In answer to your question around what software we use for the DSL/DML - put simply we don't.

We have a secure network share with the installers for authorised versions of each application. When a request for an application comes in our 2nd line technicians can point Desktop Central at the target machine and select the application from the network share.

We audit what has been deployed weekly and we plan our license buying according to trend analysis plotting future demand.

We've cleaned up our builds so that all new machines being deployed have the correct and licensed version of the required software. We've even tailored some of our builds for certain departments in the company based on their requirements.
Getting it right first time on machine build/deployment saves a lot of hassle further down the line.
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WhiteKnight
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Joined: May 08, 2014
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PostPosted: Fri May 09, 2014 6:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

ChangingMan wrote:


Hello again,

Seems a strange policy to allow the users to install their own software, even if they only had access to software that was authorised for them to install it must make inventory for software licensing a total nightmare because you are always aiming at a moving target.


Re users installing their own software - not necessarily 'strange', it depends on the environment. Yes, in something like financial services or health, it may be 'strange', or more than that, simply disastrous; in 'state-of-the-art' systems and software development it's possible that the users know far more about what they need and any 'IT' is there to provide a support service, not to dictate what they have. You don't have the tail wagging the dog! Of course, there have to be some rules to get consistency for project development, but if a project demands those tools, sometimes contractually, then the requirement is to provide them. That means that some users may be authorised to install their own software to tailor and verify the project's configuration - and assist IT in rolling it out to other users. It is always a moving target, but that's where automated inventory management software comes in.
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ChangingMan
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Joined: Apr 28, 2014
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PostPosted: Fri May 09, 2014 10:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

WhiteKnight wrote:
ChangingMan wrote:


Hello again,

Seems a strange policy to allow the users to install their own software, even if they only had access to software that was authorised for them to install it must make inventory for software licensing a total nightmare because you are always aiming at a moving target.


Re users installing their own software - not necessarily 'strange', it depends on the environment. Yes, in something like financial services or health, it may be 'strange', or more than that, simply disastrous; in 'state-of-the-art' systems and software development it's possible that the users know far more about what they need and any 'IT' is there to provide a support service, not to dictate what they have. You don't have the tail wagging the dog! Of course, there have to be some rules to get consistency for project development, but if a project demands those tools, sometimes contractually, then the requirement is to provide them. That means that some users may be authorised to install their own software to tailor and verify the project's configuration - and assist IT in rolling it out to other users. It is always a moving target, but that's where automated inventory management software comes in.


I see your point, I have to admit that software development is not a sector I have experience of; retail, pharmaceutical and financial services making up my industry experience.

I'd love to know how you license that software, are you running daily audit inventories?

How do you forecast your licensing requirements or do you make the end users responsible for purchasing the license they require directly and making a central entity aware?
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WhiteKnight
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PostPosted: Mon May 12, 2014 7:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

ChangingMan wrote:

I'd love to know how you license that software, are you running daily audit inventories?


Depends on the software. Major software by key players is licensed by flexlm or similar, so, given necessary rights, anyone can install that software and get a license key within the organisation when they use that software. Control might be over the versions deployed - legacy work may require older versions, even those out of support; new work may require the absolute latest. This means that the DML must keep several versions available together with a CMDB providing an appropriate description and history.

Other software may be 'free' - but you have to check that it is free to use within the organisation (IP, copyright, license, etc.). Some licenses are restrictive, whilst some impose additional criteria on development. You need to check. It shouldn't be a problem to evaluate new tools. Saying 'no' isn't a good management solution when you're herding cats - but you can lead them to the correct path!

Some software may be licensed per installation, typically office solutions, so you just ensure that you buy enough licenses. Other software may use a network token.

Re monitoring - my practical problem is whether one lives in an 'IT bubble' or works in 'engineering'. IT monitor daily, but IMHO ineffectively. Engineering also monitor what they have setup and control to keep it to the project's requirements. Free auditing software isn't really a problem; it's all down to how you analyse the information.

ChangingMan wrote:

How do you forecast your licensing requirements or do you make the end users responsible for purchasing the license they require directly and making a central entity aware?


Where possible, and flexlm is easy, you monitor user usage of a tool every 5 mins and collect information in a Round Robin Database (RRD). Rule-of-thumb trends, or Poisson statistics are typical predictors, but you also have to know about expected workload.

Where you need to know usage of other tools, as engineering, you invent some way of monitoring usage. Worst case you respond to users' complaints!

If a project needs specific software, then it's up to that project to fund it - at least initially, but you support it on a base infrastructure. In time it may become de-facto and some central, or off-central, entity may become responsible.

The problem is to provide control and management together with flexibility to enable innovation. These are the last things that you want in some areas such as health, retail, finance, etc., although even there you might expect to manage pilot developments, which are not the current standard.
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