What is the network inventory ?
According to the Gartner Group, companies renew almost 20% of their IT equipment every year. The network inventory tool is therefore an indispensable tool for IT managers or general services departments who want to have an exhaustive and precise view of their IT assets.
A few years ago, inventory was seen as a natural evil that had to be carried out in an emergency. Since then, the concept has evolved to be grafted more and more onto that of asset management. As a result, companies have to admit that it is in their best interest to carry it out as seriously as possible to avoid losing time and money.
Performing a network inventory tool, allows you to query all the IT equipment connected on the network as Servers, computers, Laptops and network equipment as Printers, Switches, copiers, ….
For Servers, computers, Laptops, the system provides complete information on the operating system, service packs, patches, hardware, software, current processes, etc.
Why use a Network inventory tool ?
In large companies, the volume of IT equipment to be managed can become very large. Note that not only “classic” IT has to be taken into account, but also everything that will serve the company’s purpose, for example in terms of machines and robotization systems. The latter are often operated via servers that will themselves use dedicated operating systems and software suites, whose compatibility with the rest of the system is important.It then becomes quite complex to keep a permanent record of all installed and connected elements.
Fortunately, dedicated Network inventory tool is very useful to improve the management of IT infrastructure. The IT Asset Manager can have a comprehensive database with all systems, and automate certain tasks, such as notifications to warn of imperative updates.
Typically, a system of access hierarchy will also allow him to assign access to machines to different members of his team.
This makes it easier to implement a security strategy in the company, with greater flexibility in obtaining access rights to a particular workstation.
Also note that the network inventory tool allows you to keep a detailed record of each action carried out and the dates on which the machines were purchased or put into service. This data becomes particularly important over time, in order to know when it is necessary to consider a renewal of IT infrastructure and workstations.
How to improve the efficiency of the IT asset inventory?
Although the software has many advantages, it is essential to implement strict user processes within the company.
Indeed, the reliability of the system also depends on the human elements that will inform and update within the system all changes made.
While several tasks can be fully automated by the software, in the case of a company that does not have a single network, for example, it is necessary to manually add computer components that are separate from the main network.
Generally, these procedures are set up by the IT asset manager, who will ensure that the asset inventory software has all the information it needs to function properly.
Can a network inventory tool include several networks?
What about a network scan?
If your company manages networks across multiple sites, you need to ensure that you can get a network inventory tool overview. Including using a simple agent-less scanner via a VPN connection, or by using remote scanners that will report to a central facility.
Scanning via a VPN can significantly slow down the traffic on your network.
If you wish to perform scans during office hours, make sure you use a remote scanning solution.
The network inventory tool distinguishes between the scanning of PCs and servers (WMI/Linux/Apple protocol) and the scanning of network equipment via the SNMP protocol.
As far as laptops (Sales Reps, teleworkers) are concerned, which are not remotely connected via VPN on the network.
It is necessary to install an agent that will send back the information by mail, FTP and network connection script.
Choose between semi-automatic and automatic asset Inventory
it’s necessary to analyze precisely the IT objects that we wish to manage (PCs, laptops, servers, peripherals,network equipment as Switches, Printers, …) and to define the time that the inventory will last. It is also a question of determining its nature: it can be a simple update.
- Manual: it can be automated or manual and require the presence of inventory managers on the workstations. Your analysis also allows the implementation of work rules and procedures for updating the database. The IT department will thus be able to determine whether it has sufficient human and financial resources to carry out the inventory internally, or whether it would be preferable for it to be assisted by an external service provider. The means and objectives are very different, depending on whether one is managing an infrastructure of 1000 workstations alone or 1,000 workstations with a team.
- Semi-Automatic: this is the case of an inventory with agent. A computer program called agent is installed on each PC to be inventoried. Then this agent performs the inventory of hardware and software components and sends a scan file containing the recovered data to the server. Many software use this technology because it works well and it can recover more information from the workstations compared to a network scan. The main downside is that you have to install this agent which will sometimes slow down the computer and compete with other installed agents.
- Automatic: Automatic inventory consists of installing a service (software) that will ping the network, detect all connected IP devices and scan them. This is great because the process is automatic and there is nothing to do. Actually, we rely on protocols such as WMI for PC and Windows Servers, SNMP for network devices. It is also necessary to have access rights to the machines to scan; this requires therefore well architected networks.
For companies that have mobile PCs (Sales Reps, teleworkers) that are not remotely connected on the network via VPN, a mix system automatic and semi-automatic needs to be used by installing an agent that will recover return the information by mail, FTP, network connection script.
Define job profiles in order to standardize your IT Equipment
The definition of job profiles helps you to validate standard configurations on all the machines used by your employees. This method is efficient and facilitates the management of IT infrastructure and workstations, the application of updates and the acquisition of workstations.
Indeed, the choice of job profiles must be made according to the needs and usage of each job. It is therefore possible to set up a job profile adapted to each department: management, accounting, marketing, production workshop, etc.
To effectively define the job profiles for your IT equipment, you must first know their needs in terms of computer equipment. Don’t hesitate to ask your staff for their opinion on the types of effective equipment that correspond to their needs and skills.
Some positions require the use of specific, more efficient machines. You must also take these special cases into account to increase your company’s productivity.
Knowing the job profiles makes it easier to buy new computers and control your computer equipment. This practice contributes to the smooth running of IT infrastructure and minimizes its management costs.
Respecting the life cycle of workstations for better performance of your IT equipment.
IT equipment has a different life cycle, depending on its specific characteristics:
- 3 years for a laptop
- 5 years for a Desktop
- 5 years for a server
Beyond the specified time, the performance of your IT equipment gradually decreases and the risk of breakdowns increases. It is important to specify that the guarantees for workstations or servers cannot exceed the life cycle. It is therefore strongly recommended that you respect the life cycle of the workstations in order to benefit from a high-performance computer system.
Why is it so important to deploy an inventory management software?
With the growth of its activities and its staff, there comes a time when it becomes necessary to audit a company’s corporate network to improve its efficiency and verify its profitability. This Global IT asset inventory, an annual legal obligation, is an opportunity to see if obsolete equipment needs to be renewed, to improve the general architecture of the network by simplifying it or reorganizing information circuits.
Changes in the number of workstations, the integration of mobile terminals or the extension of data traffic are consequences of the development of any company. And having a real-time overview of one’s IT equipment and communication network is a strategic advantage in terms of security, efficiency and optimization of operating costs.
Identifying underused workstations, overloaded servers that slow down data flows… Spotting over-consumption of electricity, unnecessary printers or obsolete software are all crucial information that an IT inventory provides to improve a company’s operational results.
This complete audit of computer equipment, if entrusted to an external company, must be the subject of a
detailed assignment order, because, in addition to a precise inventory management of all the hardware and
software used; it must also make it possible to have employee feedback on the daily use of the computer network.
So why is it so essential to automate your network inventory?
Because it is a legal obligation to inventory your fixed assets.
It is required to report any new equipment detected on the network. This is a matter of security.
Automating your network also makes it easier to standardize your equipment and software management.
It is also a good way to ensure the conformity of its professional software licenses by monitoring the statistics on
the IT asset composition obtained via the automation of the network inventory.
By automating your network, you can identify security problems and additional maintenance costs related to
your software management.
You save time and your company is more productive.
In manual mode, it is not easy to trace errors related to software and hardware already installed.