Modern Network Inventory Process

By: Dmitriy Y. Stepanov


Above all, the network inventory allows optimizing the hardware and software expenses that can be rather high. For instance, software licenses can be duplicated by users (this is out of the Copyright Low), some license keys can be expired and the IT manager can forget to renew them. Sometimes, vice versa, expensive software might be never used by employees. Moreover, the information on the antvirus software updates can help to evaluate the network protection. The inventory database analysis allows the system administrator to detect the unlicensed software installation on users' computers. All the mentioned aspects must be under the constant administrator's control.

The inventory process

The level of detail in the inventory database depends on the company size and the aim of inventory process. Here are the main items that should be constantly audited:
- All installed applications on remote computers, their versions and update dates.
- License information (license keys availability).
- Operation Systems that are installed on remote PCs.
- Installed antiviruses and update date.
- Hardware (for instance, memory size, monitors' models, HDD capacity, and so on).

Manual network inventory

After you have decided what kind of information you need to have in your inventory database, you need to choose a method of performing the network inventory. There are two of them. The first one is manual. It suits best for collecting data in small companies with a dozen of PCs. Usually, it is easier to inventory couple of dozen computers manually than to install and configure specialized inventory software. If you manage the manual data collecting it is recommended to write down all the information in MS Excel or Access files. It can help to sort the information more easily, generate reports, and compare gathered information with the already existing one.

Automated inventory

In big companies, it is more preferable to use the software for automated network inventory. There are dozens of programs that help to automate the software and hardware inventory process. If you have never used such programs, there are a few pieces of advice, which will help you to choose the most suitable for your company and network variant:
1. The program has to inventory all the items you need.
2. The inventory program has to detect the availability or absence of license keys of software that is used on remote computers.
3. The inventory program has to give the system administrator an opportunity to view the inventory information about each single PC.
4. Before making the decision about the program purchasing, check online comments and reviews on the software you are going to buy. This measure will help you to keep out the faulty or unfinished program.
5. Pay attention on types and amount of reports that the inventory software allows to generate. The more reports the system administrator can create, the wider his opportunities in managing the network in the operable and up-to-date state.

Conclusion

Network inventory is not just a creation the software and hardware database but it is the constant and complex network audit process. It includes the keeping in order of all the purchased documents and repairs' notices.
In general, it does not matter what kind of inventory process you prefer: automated or manual. All that is worth to keep in mind is that this process is not easy and you should not take it lightly. In any case, it is very important to identify the scope on the first step.

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