Posted tagged ‘2013’

Introducing: New Catalog Item Wizard

September 12, 2013

 

If you have ever worked with previous versions of App Portal you know that creating a new Catalog Item can de a daunting task.  If you squint just right you swear that you may be looking at the controls of the International Space Station.  There are just so many text boxes, check boxes, drop downs, gizmos and gadgets that many people just don’t know where to start.  Flexera has recognized this and has introduced a New Catalog Item Wizard in App Portal 2013.

Before we dive into using the wizard, I think it is important that you are introduced to the types of Catalog Items that you can create.  There are three types of Catalog Items you can create in App Portal: Software Catalog Items; General Catalog Items; and Group Catalog Items.  Also, I want to introduce you to Categories.

Software Catalog Items

A Software Catalog Item connects to your deployment system (SCCM or Altiris) and allows you to select any number of deployment types to become available in the App Portal.  The types that are available to a Software Catalog Item are as follows:

  • Applications (SCCM 2012 only)
  • Packages
  • Virtual Applications
  • Task Sequences (SCCM only)
  • Software Products (Altiris only)
  • Policies (Altiris only)

General Catalog Items

This is one of my favorite Catalog Item types.  Why?  Because the limitations of this catalog type is tied to your creativity.  I have seen the General Catalog Item be used for a wide variety of requests.  Some of those include: ordering new hardware; add someone to a group in Active Directory; requesting an application be packaged.  Did any of those catch your attention?  I hope so.

Group Catalog Items

This Catalog Item type is used to group multiple Catalog Items together.  This is a great way to provide a suite of products or bundle sets of Catalog Items together (e.g. Headset request bundled with Microsoft Lync).

Catalog Categories

Each Catalog Item is assigned to at least one Category.  Think of Categories sort of like folders.  You could create a simple Category structure (e.g. Hardware, Software), publisher based (e.g. Flexera, Microsoft, Adobe), or role based (e.g. Marketing, Engineering, Sales).  There isn’t a limitation on the way you create your Category structure, these are just a few examples.  A Catalog Item can belong to more than one category.  This is especially useful if you implement a role-based structure.

Creating a Category

Let’s try and make a few categories.  I will add the following categories for now: Software; General; Task Sequences.  Under Software I will create three additional Categories: Applications; Packages; Software Suites.  Under Task Sequences I will create two Categories: Operating Systems; Non-OS Task Sequences.  Under General I will create two Categories: Hardware; Other.  This will give me a good framework to demonstrate other features down the road.  When we are finished, my Category structure will look like the image below.

To create our first Category we need to be on the Admin tab of the App Portal Website.  Once there we should have the Site Management section expanded.

  • Expand Categories and select Catalog Categories.
  • Click the Add Category button in the right-hand pane.

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  • Enter the Category name in the provided field (e.g. General) and then click the Add button.  Repeat this until you have each of the root level Categories: Software; General; Task Sequences.  Once finished, click off of the New Category Name window.  Your layout should look similar to the image below.

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  • Now we are ready to add our sub-categories.  Let’s start with the General Category.  Select the General Category and then click the Add Category button.  Enter the Category name (e.g. Hardware) and then press the Add button.  Repeat this for each root level category until you have added all of the sub-Categories that we are creating.  Now we should have a Category list similar to the following image.

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Now that we’ve created our hierarchy for Categories let’s add a Catalog Item to the App Portal.

Creating a Catalog Item

Now we are ready to use the wizard to create a new Catalog Item.  For this example, I have chosen to create a Software Catalog Item for an SCCM 2012 Application.

  • Connect to the App Portal website and ensure you are on the Admin tab.
  • Under Catalog Management, choose the New Catalog Item Wizard.   This will launch the New Catalog Item Wizard.

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  • For this example, I will select Software Catalog Item as I plan to add an SCCM package to the App Portal.  Click Next to continue.
  • Now, because I am using SCCM 2012 as my deployment technology, I am prompted with a question asking if I plan to publish an Application or a Package into the App Portal.  If you are using SCCM 2007 or Altiris, you will not get this screen.  I will select Package and then click Next.

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  • I will need to locate my package on the next screen.  Take note that only the first 100 packages are displayed in the list.  Use the column filters to locate the package you are looking for.  I will be publishing a Microsoft Corporation package, so I will use the Manufacturer filter and search for Microsoft.  Once I’ve found the Package I wish to publish, I will select it and then click Next.

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  • Now I need to give my Catalog Item a Title, select a Category (or multiple Categories), enter Descriptions, select a Template if I want (we will review these later), and enter additional Keywords.  I can also select an image icon that will be present with the Catalog Item when it is published in the App Portal.  Once I’ve done all of that I will click Next.

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  • Now I am ready to select my deployment settings.  There are a lot of options here.  Use your corporate deployment standards to determine what options to select.  Once you are complete, click Next.

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  • Review your settings and then click Create.  You will receive a Results Summary popup window giving you the status of your publication.  Notice the Load advanced view after creating the catalog item?  That will launch the details window/screens that legacy App Portal users are accustomed to.

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Do you feel confident in creating a few Categories and Catalog Items?  Give it a try.  Have you tried the other Catalog Types?  Don’t wait for me to show you, jump in there and see what you can come up with.  Try to come up with a great use of the General Catalog Item that I didn’t list in this post.  I love to hear about new uses of the General Catalog Item, so please share!

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App Portal 2013 Installation–Part 2

August 27, 2013

 

Up to this point we’ve prepared the environment for the App Portal end have installed the App Portal Web Service (ESDWebService).  The next step is to install the App Portal Platform, which consists of the App Portal Website, Service, and Database.

App Portal 2013 Platform Installation

  • On the server where you are installing the App Portal Platform, launch AppPortalSetup_2013.exe as an administrator.
  • Click Install when notified that Microsoft ReportViewer 2012 will be installed.

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  • If you receive a Missing Roles error message that most likely means that you’ve missed an IIS component.  Thankfully the installer tells us which IIS component we are missing.  Visit http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc280268(VS.85).aspx to look up the reference ID.  In this example, I’ve missed IIS: 148 which is ASP.NET.  Exit the installer, correct the missing component, and return to the installer.

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  • Click Next on the Welcome screen. Accept the license agreement on the next screen and then click Next.
  • Set the Destination Folder and then click Next.
  • In the Specify Site Alias screen, enter the DNS alias in the provided field and then click Next.  Did you forget to create an alias?  No worries, you can change this later.  In that instance use the server name and click Next.

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  • Enter the Database Server Name in the provided field, enter a Database Catalog (e.g. AppPortal), and then click Next.
  • On the Logon Information, enter the service account details that has access to the SQL database and then click Next.  If you receive an error it is most likely because the Computer Browser service isn’t running.  Simply uncheck the Validate Account and Password and then click Next again.

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  • Enter the name of the Global Catalog Server and the SMTP information.  For the email prefix and suffix setting an email address of appportal@flex.com would be appportal for the prefix and flex.com for the suffix.  Do not include the @ symbol.  Click Next.
  • On the Computer Discovery Method screen, leave the defaults (especially the Populate Sample App Portal Data checkbox) and click Next.
  • Click Install. Setup will now install the App Portal Platform.  This may take a little time.
  • Once setup has completed click the Finish button.  Now we need to verify that the App Portal Platform installed correctly.

Verifying App Portal 2013 Installation

  • Navigate to the root of C:\ and open the ESD_Upgrade_Log file.  Scroll to the bottom and locate the following entry: Database schema synchronization finished successfully.  Close the log file.
  • Launch Internet Information Services (IIS) Manager.  Click on Application Pools and locate SelfService.  This should be running on .NET Framework 4.0 and be set to use the service account.  Expand Sites and click on ESD.
  • On ESD, double-click Authentication.  Receive an error (shown below)?  That means that you forgot to remove the authentication lock so that App Portal can configure the authentication types.  Go back to the Default Web Site node and correct this using Configuration Editor (system.webServer/security/authentication/windowsAuthentication).  Verify that Windows Authentication is Enabled and that all other authentication types are Disabled on the ESD node.  Close Internet Information Services (IIS) Manager.

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  • Launch Services.msc.  Locate ESDService and verify that the service is running as the service account.  Close the Services Window.

The App Portal 2013 Platform is now installed.  Next are post installation tasks to integrate the App Portal with your deployment system, which is SCCM 2012 in this example.