Doing a Windows 7 Assessment in the Real World

Last night I talked about how I needed to use ConfigMgr to help with my MAP assessment.  Today, I had to drop MAP.

I have to be realistic with this project.  The site has a mix of PCs.  Some are old and some are new.  There are 32-bit and 64-bit processors.  Some users require 4 GB RAM or more (and thus 64 bit processors).  And as with everyone, money cannot just be thrown at a problem.  In this project, PCs with what we see as inferior processors will be recycled (or donated) after being securely wiped.  New PCs will be purchased, prepared, and given to power users.  Their old PCs will be reconditioned and re-used.  PCs with not enough RAM or disk will be upgraded where possible.  64-bit operating systems will be used where possible but it is likely that most will be 32-bit (unless more than 3 GB RAM is required).

And this is where MAP fails:

  • It doesn’t tell me what size a disk is, only that it has a certain amount of free space.
  • It doesn’t give me information about 64-bit processor functionality.
  • It doesn’t give me hardware model information so that I can check if I can put more than 2 GB RAM into the chassis.

I also had another problem with MAP.  Remember that this is a site where there are lots of old machines with old builds.  Remote access of WMI (even with all the permissions and policies configured) doesn’t seem to work.  Plus people are in and out with laptops so I have to time my scan perfectly.

So I went back to ConfigMgr and its reports.  The benefit is that an installed agent will do the hardware inventory and report back to the ConfigMgr server.  No remote WMI required.  This makes it more reliable.  I also get a scan when the agent is installed.  And I’ve done that 3 ways:

  1. ConfigMgr push.
  2. Start-up script.
  3. Sneaker-net: This is a crusty network and I noticed that the agent push was not as successful as it should have been.

There are some basic reports for Vista and Windows 7 assessments.  I stress basic.  The same problems exist here.  But the reports gave me a template that I could work with.  I started off by creating a report that queries for the number of each of the different models of computer on the network.  That gives me the information I need to check hardware maximum capacities.  I then created a collection that contains all agent managed desktops and laptops.  I took the Windows 7 assessment report, cloned it, and rewrote the SQL query for the report.  I then ran that report against my new managed client computer collection.  It gives me the following for each computer:

  • Computer name
  • Computer model
  • CPU model, speed, and 64-bit support
  • Physical memory
  • Physical disk size

I’ve enough information there to plan everything I need.  I can dump it into Excel and work away to create my reports.  I can price hardware component upgrades and computer replacements.  I can plan the OS deployment.  It would have been nice to do this with MAP but unfortunately the basic nature of the reports and the lack of an agent (for circumstances such as those that I’ve encountered on this project) did not help.

ConfigMgr continues to rock!  Plus I was able to show it off to some of the folks at the site.

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