Posted tagged ‘Flexera’

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–Post Installation Tasks

August 28, 2013

 

We have successfully prepared the environment and installed all of the components for the Flexera App Portal 2013.  Now we need to set the license file and connect the App Portal to the deployment environment (SCCM 2012 in this example).

Configuring Licensing

  • On the server which has the App Portal Website installed, launch Internet Explorer and connect to http://%computername%/ESD (e.g. http://FLEXAP/ESD).
  • When prompted to install the Internet Explorer Add-On, click Install.
  • You should see an App Portal web page appear with a pop-up window stating that your evaluation expired or that you are missing a license file.  Click the Add/Update license File link.

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  • Click the Browse button, navigate to and select the .license file and then click Open.
  • Click Upload License.  Once you receive Upload Complete, click the Continue button.

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  • You should now be at the Welcome to the App Portal! website.

Performing Basic App Portal Configuration

Now that we’ve added the license file we need to set basic security settings, connect it to our SCCM environment, and select our licensing collections.

Setting App Portal Permissions

Permissions for the App Portal are separated into two groups: Admin Security and Catalog Security.  Admin Security is used to define which users and groups can access and change administrative settings in the App Portal under the Admin tab.  Catalog Security is used to set which users and groups can access and change App Portal catalog items.

  • In the App Portal Menu, under Site Management, select Admin Security.
  • Click Add User / Group.

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  • Enter the user or group you wish to add and then click Search.  Select the group name and set each right to Read / Write / Delete and then click Assign Rights.

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  • Click Save back in the App Portal Website. This has granted full permissions to the user or group you defined.

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  • Now click on Catalog Security, which is located under the Site Management sub-menu.
  • Click Add User / Group. Search for and select the user or group you wish to add.  Under Assign rights, set the following: Browse Catalog (View); Request on Behalf (Yes); Manage All Requests (Remove); Support Tools (View); Reporting (View); New Computer Deployment (Yes); Request Filters (Yes). Now click the Assign Rights button.

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  • Click the Save button back in the App Portal Website.  You’ve now granted the user or group full permissions to the App Portal catalog.

Connecting to SCCM 2012

We are now ready to connect the App Portal to the SCCM 2012 environment.

  • On the Admin tab, under the App Portal Menu, expand Site Management and select Settings.

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  • In the right pane, click the Deployment tab.  Under the Deployment tab, select the SCCM 2012 sub-tab.

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  • Enter the name, database server, database name, and site code of your CAS (or single primary) in the provided fields and then click the Test button.  You should receive a message box stating your settings are valid, click OK.

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  • Under User / Computer relationship set the desired relationship for your environment.  For this example, we will be using User Device Affinity, so I will select Use User Affinity.
  • Click Save and then click on the Common sub-tab.
  • Under Syncing Users and Syncing Computers select SCCM 2012.
  • Select SCCM 2012 for Evaluating collection membership.  Do the same for Inventory.

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  • Click the Save button.  Now click the Sync Data Now button.

Setting the License Collection

  • Under Site Management, select Settings.  Click on the Web Site tab and ensure that the General sub-tab is selected.
  • For Licensed Collection, select the SCCM collection for the devices that will access the App Portal.  Then click the Save button.

We’ve completed the post implementation tasks.  From this point we can begin customizing the App Portal for our environment and populating it will packages, applications, task sequences, etc…

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.

App Portal 2013 Installation–Part 1

August 23, 2013

 

All of our prerequisites are done and we are ready to begin installing the App Portal.  We will be installing the components in the following order: App Portal Web Service; App Portal Platform. 

Installing App Portal Web Service

We will be installing the App Portal Web Service on FLEXCM1, the only SCCM 2012 server in my lab.  Remember, if you have SCCM 2012, this service will only need to be installed on the CAS (or single primary).  If you are installing this on SCCM 2007 then you will need to install this on the CEN and each primary site server.

  • Launch AppPortalWebServiceSetup_2013.exe as an administrator on your target server.
  • Click Next on the Welcome screen.
  • Accept the license agreement and then click Next to continue.
  • Select your Destination Folder and then click Next.
  • The next screen will be labeled Primary Site Server Setup.  This is misleading.  You will want to plug in the information that is relevant for your environment.  If are installing this on your CAS, then you would put that information in here.  In my case, since everything was local, the installer populated the correct information.  Once you have the correct information, click Next.

AP Web

  • Click Install on the Ready to Install screen.
  • The installation should be pretty quick.  Once it has completed click Finish.

Verifying the App Portal Web Service Installation

Now that the web service installation is complete, did it install correctly?  Let’s take a few steps to verify that it is installed and working properly.

  • Launch Programs and Features and look for an entry for App Portal Web Service 2013.  Close Programs and Features.
  • Launch Internet Information Services (IIS) Manager. From the local computer name, navigate to Application Pools.  Locate ESDWebService.  This service should be using v2.0 of the .NET Framework and be running as LocalSystem (Identity).

AP ESDWebService

  • Expand Sites > Default Web Site.  Click on ESDWebService. Under IIS, double click Authentication.  In the Authentication screen Windows Authentication should be Enabled while all other authentication types should be set to Disabled.

AP Web Service Authen

  • Close Internet Information Services (IIS) Manager.
  • Open Internet Explorer and browse to http://%servername%/esdwebservice/esdwebservice.asmx.  You should NOT be prompted for a password and an ESDWebService screen should appear.
  • Click the link for Is2012 and then click Invoke on the next screen.  The value should be set to true (unless you are using SCCM 2007).  Close the results window to go back to the ESDWebService > Is2012 screen.  Click the here link.
  • Click the link for GetPackages, enter the SCCM server name for the strSiteServer value, and then click Invoke.  You should get an XML results screen containing some package information.

ESDWebService GetPackages

  • Close Internet Explorer and launch the Configuration Manager Console.
  • In Assets and Compliance, under Overview, expand User Collections and Device Collections.  Under User Collections you should see a new folder named App Portal Users for Site XXX (where XXX is your site code).  Under Device Collections you should see App Portal Devices for Site XXX.

AP User Collection

AP Device Collection

  • Close the Configuration Manager Console.  We have not validated that the App Portal Web Service has installed correctly and that it has the appropriate access to the SCCM environment.

In the next part, we will install the App Portal Platform…

App Portal Pre-installation Requirements

August 22, 2013

We are almost ready to perform our installation of the App Portal.  Before we do, we need to ensure that we have a few things ready, configured, and installed before we start.

Points of Consideration

  • Active Directory
  • User-Computer Relationship
  • App Portal Web Service Locations
  • Service Account
  • DNS Alias
  • Database

Active Directory: The App Portal obtains data from Active Directory as well as your deployment system (SCCM in our case).  User data is refreshed when AD User Discovery is run.  Be sure that this is set to run at regular intervals.

In SCCM 2012, you can check this by going to Administration > Overview > Hierarchy Configuration > Discovery Methods > Active Directory User Discovery.  Double click and then select the Polling Schedule tab.

User-Computer Relationship: The App Portal supports several methods for user to computer relationship mapping, including custom options.  The built-in options (for SCCM 2012) include: Use SCCM last logon user; Use SCCM Primary Console Usage; Use AD Computer Managed By; Use User Affinity

I’ve selected Use User Affinity for my implementation.

Want to change the user to computer relationship?  No problem.  Connect to the Admin space on the App Portal website and navigate to Site Management > Settings > Deployment > SCCM 2012.  Change the User / Computer relationship setting.

App Portal Web Service Locations: Depending on the deployment technology, SCCM 2007, SCCM 2012, or Altiris, there are different requirements as to where the App Portal Web Service needs to be installed.  For our SCCM 2012 implementation, we only need to install this web service on the CAS (or single primary).

Service Account: The App Portal requires a service account for installation.  This account requires access to SCCM and to the SCCM database.

We will be using sccmService for our service account.

DNS Alias: It is recommended that you have a DNS alias for App Portal.  I’ve setup appportal for my alias (creative, right?).

Database: App Portal only supports Windows Authentication for SQL.  Further the installing/service account requires DBO permissions.

App Portal Installation Files

  • AppPortalSetup_2013.exe: This is the installer for the App Portal Website, Service, and Database.
  • AppPortalWebServiceSetup.exe: This is the installer for the App Portal Web Service.
  • ActiveX Control for Internet Explorer.msi: Use this MSI to create a Package/Program in your deployment system to deploy to your App Portal client systems.  This MSI is used to identify the system connecting to the App Portal Web Site.  Don’t worry if you don’t use Microsoft Internet Explorer, App Portal supports most of the common internet browsers.  The ActiveX control wouldn’t be needed in those instances.

System Requirements

There are a number of requirements that needs to be in place in order for the App Portal to function properly.  Using the AppPortal2013InstallGuide.pdf as my reference, I’ve divided these into the following four areas:

  • Environment Requirements
  • Client Requirements
  • Server Requirements
  • Information Checklist

Environment Requirements

  • Active Directory Requirements: The App Portal requires a minimum of 2003 functional level for Active Directory.
  • DNS Requirements: IF you are going to leverage reverse DNS as a computer discovery method in the App Portal, your DNS environment will require a reverse DNS zone.
  • Deployment Technology: App Portal 2013 supports SCCM 2007, SCCM 2012, and Altiris.
  • Additional Altiris Requirements: Please reference the AppPortal2013InstallGuide.pdf for these requirements.
  • Inventory Requirements: App Portal relies on hardware inventory to function properly.  For SCCM, be sure hardware inventory is enabled.
  • Distribution Requirements: Software distribution must be enabled in SCCM for App Portal to function properly if you want to use it to distribute software in SCCM.  If you want to deliver Operating Systems then you’ll need to have OSD setup as well.
  • Discovery Requirements: Active Directory User Discovery must be enabled.  Additionally, there are several extensions that App Portal relies on.  These include: Mail; Department; Title; distinguishedName; manager; company; l (lower case L – location); postalCode; sn; givenName; physicalDeliveryOfficeName; DisplayName (SCCM 2012 only).
    • Go back into Active Directory User Discovery Properties in the Configuration Manager Console and click on the Active Directory Attributes tab to add the extensions displayed above.  After you make these changes be sure to initiate a discovery in order to collect this data.
  • Database Requirements: App Portal works on Microsoft SQL Server 2012, 2008, or 2005.
  • Mail System Requirements: App Portal needs an SMTP-compatible mail system in order to send notifications.
  • Internet Information Server (IIS) Requirements: The App Portal requires Microsoft IIS 7.0 or greater.
  • Authentication Requirements: App Portal requires Windows Authentication in to validate user credentials in AD.
  • Network Connectivity Requirements: The App Portal Website should be on the same physical network as the SCCM database (or Altiris database) and have a high speed connection (<= 100MB).
  • .NET Framework: App Portal uses .NET Framework 4.0 (or higher) App Portal Website and App Portal Web Service.  All other site servers require .NET Framework 2.0 SP1 or higher.

Still hanging in there?

Client Requirements

This is a MUCH shorter list:

  • Operating System Requirements: For Windows systems, App Portal supports Windows XP and higher.  App Portal can support any system which is an SCCM client.  We will show that with the Application Model at a later time…
  • Browser Requirements: For the ActiveX control to function, App Portal requires Internet Explorer 8.0 or higher.  App Portal also supports FireFox, Chrome, and Safari.  If you use these browsers you will need to use a different discovery method (or Alternate discovery method).
  • Trusted Sites: The App Portal website (DNS alias) should be added to Trusted Sites in Internet Explorer.

Server Requirements

App Portal Server Requirements are broken down in the following sections:

  • App Portal Web Service
  • App Portal Installation Platform
  • App Portal Service Account

App Portal Web Service

This requirement is for SCCM only, skip this for Altiris.

For SCCM 2007, the App Portal Web Service needs to be installed on the CEN as well as each primary site server.  For SCCM 2012, the App Portal Web Service will need to be installed on the CAS (or single primary) server.

App Portal Installation Platform

The server that will be hosting the App Portal Web Site and the App Portal Service must have IIS 7.0 or greater and must be Windows Server 2008 or greater (Windows Server 2008 R2 or greater is preferred).

App Portal Service Account

The App Portal service account will be used to interact with SQL and AD.  The APP Portal service account will require administrative permissions on client workstations if you with for the App Portal to successfully initiate machine policy evaluation to accelerate software deployments.

The  App Portal service account must have Read permission on the deployment system’s database and Read/Write permission on the App Portal database after installation (The install requires DBO).

Information Checklist

Almost ready to begin our pre-installation work, just need to ensure we have the following information available.

  • Deployment Server Name: This is going to be the CAS, CEN, or single Primary Site Server in SCCM.
  • All Primary Site Servers (SCCM 2007 only)
  • SQL Server Name
  • SQL Instance Name (if any)
  • SQL Installation Type
  • Service Account
  • Verify AD User Discovery Enabled
  • Verify AD Group Discovery Enabled
  • Verify AD System Discovery Enabled
  • SMTP Server Name

Preparing the App Portal Server

This is our last step before we begin our installations.  This work will be performed on the server that will host the App Portal Website, Service, and Database.  If you recall, that would be FLEXAP1 in my configuration (Windows Server 2012).

On the App Portal Server we will be performing the following tasks:

  • Install Required Roles
  • Configure IIS
  • Enable Computer Browser Service

Install Required Roles

We will be installing the Application Server and IIS roles.  If I were installing this on a Windows Server 2008 system , I would have to install .NET Framework 4.0 BEFORE I installed these roles.

  • In Server Manager, on the Dashboard, select Add roles and features.
  • If prompted with a Before you begin screen, click Next.
  • On the Select installation type screen, ensure that Role-based or feature-based installation is selected, and then click Next.
  • Validate that the local server is selected on the Select destination server screen and then click Next.
  • On the Select server roles screen select Application Server and Web Server (IIS), click Add Features when prompted, and then click Next.
  • Click Next on the Select features screen.
  • Click Next on the Application Server screen.
  • On the Select role services screen, leave .NET Framework 4.5 enabled, select Web Server (IIS) Support, click Add Features when prompted, and then click Next.

AP App Server Role Services

  • Click Next on the Web Server (IIS) screen.
  • On the Select role services, leave all the defaults and then check the following: IIS 6 Management Compatibility (and all sub-features); Management Service; .NET Extensibility 3.5; ASP; ASP.NET 3.5; Application Initialization.  Click Next.  PS, don’t worry if you miss one, the installer will let you know!
  • Click Install on the Confirm installation selections screen.

Configure IIS

Since my installation was done on Windows Server 2012, there is an additional step that I need to take in order for App Portal to function properly.  If you recall, App Portal relies on Windows Authentication.  IIS 8 in Windows Server 2012 has this locked by default…. so we need to enable that.

  • Open Internet Information Services (IIS) Manager.
  • Expand Sites from under the computer name and then click on Default Web Site.
  • In the middle pane, under Management, double click Configuration Editor.
  • In Configuration Editor, in the Section drop down, select system.webServer > security > authentication > windowsAuthentication.
  • In the Actions pane, under Section, click Unlock Section.

AP IIS Configuration Editor

  • Close Internet Information Services (IIS) Manager.

Enable Computer Browser Service

The Computer Browser Service is used during installation to validate that the service account works properly.  Check to ensure that the service is running (services.msc).  If it is disabled, enable it for the installation.  If you are not able to enable this service, uncheck the “Verify” setting during that portion of the installation.

We will begin installing the App Portal environment in the next post!

Flexera App Portal Components

August 22, 2013

 

There are several components that make up the App Portal environment: App Portal Web Service; App Portal Web Site; App Portal Service; App Portal Database.

App Portal Web Service: The App Portal Web Service (ESDWebService) is an IIS web service that is used to interact with the host SCCM environment (2007 or 2012). The web service is configured to run as the Local System account on the SCCM server in which it is installed. In SCCM 2012, this web service needs to be installed on the CAS (or Primary Site Server in a single server hierarchy). In SCCM 2007, the web service needs to be installed on the CEN and each Primary Site Server.

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App Portal Website: The App Portal Web Site (ESD) is an IIS website that both the users and administrators connect to in order to generate requests, perform administrative functions, and check status on existing requests. This website can be installed on the SCCM server, or on its own web server. The App Portal Web Site is the single point to connect for both administrators and users.

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App Portal Service: The App Portal Service (ESDService) is installed on the same server as the App Portal Web Site. This service is used to interact with the App Portal Web Services installed on the SCCM environment. This Windows Service runs as the service account specified during installation.

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App Portal Database: The App Portal maintains its own SQL database. It is recommended that this database exist on the same SQL server as the “primary” SCCM database (e.g. CAS, CEN, or primary depending on version and hierarchy).

The App Portal can be deployed as a single, two, or three tier application. The web service, website, service, and database all exist on one server as a single tier application. Two servers split the App Portal components in a two tier configuration. This is usually accomplished by the website and service existing on one server while the web service and database are present on the second server. In a three tier model the website and service exist on one server while the web service and database are split out onto two additional servers.

The following diagram displays the App Portal as a single tier application.

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The following diagram displays the App Portal as a two tier application.

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The following diagram displays the App Portal as a three tier application.

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Introduction to Flexera App Portal

June 28, 2013

In today’s world, people have the ability to connect to an online store to purchase and download content for their devices.  Most corporate environments currently do not provide this experience for their users.  You may know this as an example of the Consumerization of IT.

The Flexera App Portal provides a single location for users to connect to request software, operating systems, and more.  Some key features of the App Portal include:

  • Support for SCCM Task Sequences: Distribute an Operating System (OS) intelligently to your organization by enabling the end user to schedule their deployment.  Extend the built-in functionality within SCCM to perform role-based application deployment.  Automatically communicate to your end users through email to notify them that their system is ready for migration.  Enable scheduling constraints to further control your rollouts.
  • Actions Based on Group Membership: You can use the App Portal to add users or computers to one or more security or distribution groups.  This extends the possibilities outside of native SCCM quickly and easily.  Imagine granting access to a network share or virtual application at a click of the button (once approved of course).
  • Integration with External Systems: App Portal integrates with more than just FlexNet Manager Platform.  It has built in features to enable integration with Orchestrator and WorkFlow Manager.  Also, App Portal can trigger external commands through the request process by leveraging APIs with other systems.  This enables the App Portal to integrate with help desk ticketing systems.
  • Robust Approval Workflow: Approvals can be implemented granularly for any item.  Approvals can contain multiple levels (e.g. manager, purchasing, etc…).  There are multiple approval actions available.  Finally, there are multiple ways to review approval requests (e.g. email notifications, web view, etc…).
  • Software Leasing: Enable users to lease a software title for a period of time, and then automatically reclaim that license at the end of the lease.  This is a great way to reduce cost of expensive software that your users need infrequently.

Further, with integration with FlexNet Manager Platform (FNMP), App Portal provides

  • License Availability Check and Reservation: When integrated with FNMP, App Portal checks for available licenses for your organization.  If a license is available, App Portal will reserve that license during the approval and fulfillment processes.
  • License Reclamation: App Portal can utilize installation and usage data from FNMP to perform license reclamation for your organization.  This enables you to eliminate unused software in your organization, which ultimately, helps towards lowering the operational costs of IT.

I do want to mention that SCCM 2012 introduces the Application Catalog that provides a mechanism for the user to select available software through a website.

As you can probably tell, there are a great number of ways in which App Portal can extend the capabilities of your SCCM environment.  I look forward to providing some “how to” on the next installment of this series: Introduction to Flexera App Portal.