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How to Install BDNA Normalize CM in a Simple Hierarchy

You’ve seen the cool skull tattoo logo, you’ve heard of BDNA and you may have even attended one of their Guru series webcast but you are quite possibly asking yourself, “What is it that these guys do?” Well, I’m about to answer that question for you.

I’ve been using BDNA Normalize CM for a while now and I am finding it quite useful. It simplifies the tasks of SCCM Administrators whether they are beginners or seasoned veterans. In short, this is accomplished by scraping all the data in SCCM, comparing that info to an enormous database of known software and hardware then cleaning the titles and publishing them back into the SCCM database all in two simple custom views. This process eliminates tons of funky SQL joins normally required for reporting or collection creation.

This is part one of a multi-part blog. In later blogs I will go into more detail about how Normalize CM is beneficial. In this, the first of the series, I am going to walk you through installing Normalize CM in a simple single server environment. As with any SCCM add-in the installation can be a bit tricky due to all the installation variations available in a SCCM hierarchy.

Obviously the first thing you need to do is download the installation media. You can get that from http://sccm.bdna.com/ The demo version allows you to normalize up to 1000 clients. I wouldn’t hesitate to install into production and doing so is fully supported by BDNA.

Once you have to download go ahead and run the installer, I suggest doing so on your primary site server.

On the first two screens simply click next and “I agree” to the standard licensing agreements that come with all software. After you agree to the license terms you are prompted for an install location. Personally I never install anything in the default C:\Program Files\… so I just select E:\BDNA but I’m sure if you are reading this you know where you want to install software on your server.

Now to the good stuff. On the 4th screen you will see a list of pre-reqs that will be installed if needed. This is where some people start getting a little confused. Being that we are utilizing SCCM data we already have SQL running somewhere, likely even on the server we are installing Normalize on, so I suggest you select “Use Existing SQL server”. If you do not the installer will automatically install SQL express which I wouldn’t recommend doing on your SCCM primary site server.

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The next screen will ask for your registration info. BDNA most likely sent you that when you registered to download the demo but just in case you don’t have it handy you can request it from this screen. It’s important that you enter the company name and activation key exactly like they were sent to you from BDNA. I believe this is case sensitive.

Next you will be asked to download the catalog. This is the heart of Normalize CM. It uses the Technopedia catalog that BDNA has been compiling for years in order to normalize over 190,000 software titles and 200,000 hardware models. Once you have completed the catalog download proceed to the next step.

This step asks where to create the BDNA database. This is the database used by BDNA in the background of processing the normalization. You’ll never need to query this database for anything because Normalize CM puts everything back into the SCCM database once it’s done.

Of course you need to have rights to create a SQL database.You will be prompted for those credentials on the following screen.Where you should enter your SQL server name which is most likely locally on the server you are running setup since this is a “simple hierarchy”. You’ll also need to enter user credentials of an account that has rights to create a SQL database. Lastly you need to enter an account that has access to SCCM. You can use your SCCM Admin account if you’d like. In my case I’m just using a service account that I use for many various tasks in SCCM.

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Once you have entered the information about your SQL server you’ll need to enter some info about your SCCM server. Again in this case it’s most likely the server where we are installing BDNA. Also you need an account that has local admin rights on the sccm server. You can most likely use the same SCCM Admin or service account used in the previous step.

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You’ll need to enter your SCCM database info. This is your SQL server name and your database name. The database name is generally SMS_xxx where xxx = your site code. Once more you need to provide a user name that has at least db_datareader. I’m using the same SCCM Admin account here as well. Once you have all that info “test” the connection before proceeding.

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Now you going to be presented with the server configuration page. There’s a lot going on here but don’t get intimidated. It’s not difficult really, this is how BDNA is making the solution fit into any SCCM environment.

The first thing you’ll need to do is click “install certificate” and follow the simple instructions there to install the BDNA certificate file into the SCCM console. You can simply leave setup on this screen, hop over into the SCCM console, import the certificate and come back to this setup.

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After you have the certificate installed and you are back at the server configuration screen you simply select your server, validate the settings and click install selected servers. As shown here. After the install has completed you will see that it’s done and you continue to the next step.

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On this step the installer is simply letting you know what it’s about to do. You just need to execute it and wait. It can take quite awhile for this step to complete. You’ll see it making progress along the way. Once it has completed setup gives you a nice little message letting you know it’s done.

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Now that setup has completed the Normalize CM console is automatically opened. It’s here that you’d setup a schedule to normalize your data. I do it each night. On the first run Normalize can be fairly intensive on your server so I’d suggest you do that off hours if possible. On subsequent normalizations only deltas are processed so the load is much lower.

It’s also on this screen where licensed users can schedule catalog sync. That’s not available in the demo version. From what I’ve seen BDNA updates the catalog several times per week.

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That’s all there is to it. Look for my upcoming blogs that will detail how the normalized data has made my job as an SCCM Admin easier.

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