How to configure Location Services (Part 3)

In part 1 and 2 we have shown how to configure the Scense 8 location services. We’ve seen how using pattern matching will significantly enhance accuracy. As with any location system there are limits to what can be achieved. Checking the IP-subnet will not give you much accuracy, but it will work without the need for an external administration for both static desktops and mobile laptops, which is an advantage over the pattern matching method. The pattern matching has the potential to give you great accuracy, but it depends on an external (manual?) administration which makes it perfect for mostly static desktop environments, but hardly usable for environments where laptops are carried around.

Luckily you don’t have to choose between the two methods, they complement each other and can be used simultaneously. After logging on, the Scense Client will first perform the pattern matching (if a pattern was configured) and if this produces a match the location for the workstation is determined and set. If the pattern matching fails to produce a match, or there’s no defined pattern, the location will be determined using the scopes and criteria on location objects. The current location, if it was in fact detected, will be shown on the Info-page in the Scense Client.

Using the locations

After having configured the location services we’re able to assign applications, printers and tasks to specific locations. To do this we need to use the ‘Computer Location’ criterion which is available in any scope or condition.

In this (farfetched) example we like the Skype application to only be available in Room 2 on the 2nd floor of Building 1. To make this happen we first imported the Skype MSI with Scense Easy Delivery and we did not specify an Active Directory domain group. As a result, the Skype application is visible in the Scense Explorer but it’s not yet available to any users. We want this application to be available to any user at the aforementioned location, so we have to configure the scope of the Skype application with the correct criteria. To do this we should open the property page of the Skype application and navigate to the Scope page. On the scope page we click the ‘Add’ button and the criterion selector pops up. In the criterion selector we check the ‘Computer location’ criterion and click ‘Ok’. Now the computer location criterion shows up in the scope and we can configure it. In the ‘Edit criterion’ section we see two items; Conditions and location. The default setting for condition is already ok, so the only thing we need to do is to set the location. Clicking the location link will open the location browser.

The location browser will show the contents of the location root as we built it in part 1. Our computer is located in Room 2 on the 2nd floor of Building 1, so that’s the location we select and we OK our way out.

That’s it. Now all we have to do is logon and let Scense Client determine where the computer is and then execute the dynamic logon script so we will indeed get our Skype application.

Any scope can contain more than one criterion, so the computer location criterion can be combined with e.g. the AD group membership criterion, so only members of the specified group that are in the specified room will get the application.

Hierarchical location rules

Now we assigned Skype to a specific room, but we can just as easily assign it to a floor, so all rooms on that floor will get the app. Or assign it to a building so all rooms on all floors in that building will get the app. Scense, of course, knows that when you’re in Room 2 on the 2nd floor of Building 1, you should get all applications, printers and tasks for that floor and building as well.

When we assign Skype to a room, then any computer that’s not in the external location administration used by the pattern matching will most probably never get the Skype application. This is because the location of e.g. a laptop cannot be determined at this accuracy level. The laptop can be located in Building 1, but that’s as far as it goes. The Skype application is specifically assigned to this room and Scense is unable to determine if the laptop is in this room, so it will not get the Skype application. It will get any applications, printers and tasks that are assigned globally or to the building.

Conclusion

After having gone through the trouble of setting up the Scense location services we can see that this is something that needs planning, accuracy and persistence. We’ve also seen that in order to get the pattern matching to work we need to be able to do some script programming. All and all it’s not the easiest thing to do. We’ve also seen that once it’s all configured it has become extremely simple to make use of the location system. The configuration of the location services also seems to be a one-time effort and once it has been setup it is very low maintenance. The only thing you need to keep doing is keeping the external location administration up to date.

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