A company's managers have to be aware of what hardware and software is on hand, where it is situated, know its quantity, and what is necessary to increase the employees' effectiveness and the whole network’s stability. If the managers or system administrators do not have such information, it can lead to certain problems. First of all, it can be the cause of huge expenses on unnecessary software that is never used. Secondly, without inventory database, the system administrator can miss the date of antivirus software updates or hardware upgrades that can be dangerous for network safety. Thirdly, cracked programs or duplicated licenses can be installed by users, which is out of the Copyright Law. To prevent all these and many other problems, the system administrators have to manage the constant network inventory process.
For this purpose, the specialized software can be used. The program collects all the inventory data on the remote computers, keeps it, updates, notifies the system administrator on the network hardware and software changes, and allows him to generate a lot of various reports on the collected information.
All the inventory programs use approximately one scheme: the main program's module is to be installed on the administrator's computer, then the network scanning process starts. When all the network hosts are found, the program starts polling the remote PCs, collecting the necessary data, and creating the inventory database.
But different network inventory programs can use different polling methods:
1. Using WMI technology (Windows Management Instrumentation). WMI is the computer system management tool that has a lot of advantages. This method does not require additional software or settings on remote computers. Besides, WMI does not create any additional load on monitoring PCs, and users without administrative rights cannot prevent the computers' polling. The main disadvantage of using the WMI is that the system administrator has to have the administrative rights on the remote machines to configure the security politics.
2. Using agents. This method is used if the security politics do not allow the system administrator to use WMI or if he does not have the administrative rights on the remote computers. In this situation the IT manager has to install agents on each computer on the network. However, the network inventory programs allow doing it remotely without distracting the employees.
3. Using clients. This method has the same disadvantage as the previous one - the system administrator needs to install clients on all the network PCs. But clients are used to poll the computers that are not on the network. Clients collect data automatically when users switch on their machines. The system administrator just exports the inventory database to a USB flash drive and then imports it in the main program's database.
Ideally, the network inventory program should give an opportunity to use all these three methods. It increases its reliability and widens its usability.
There is one fundamental fact: the network inventory process and its constant audit allows the system administrator and company's managers to make effective decisions on purchasing software and upgrading hardware. So in general, it helps to keep the network in actual and operable state.
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