Automate Your Hardware- And Software Inventory Process [Extra Quality]
Hardware and asset management is not easy even in relatively small organizations with 20 or 30 employees. As the size of the organization increases, it becomes difficult to keep track of all the laptops, printers, and other hardware used by the employees. This is where a detailed hardware inventory of IT assets becomes useful. A hardware inventory can help you keep track of all devices and equipment owned or used by your organization.
Automate your hardware- and software inventory process
A hardware inventory is a detailed list of all the hardware used in an organization. This includes the laptops, phones, and other devices used by the employees, common equipment like routers, printers, and just about all electronic devices that belong to the company. The list will also have details such as who is using it, when it was purchased, warranty info, software update status, and other information for maintaining the device.
Most organizations usually use an IT asset management software or a hardware inventory software to maintain this. Besides maintaining a database, the software will also help an organization rollout updates and ensure the devices are functioning properly. InvGate Insight is one such tool, providing companies with an easy-to-navigate view of all their assets.
Asset management solutions are designed to augment the IT team and reduce their workload. Modern solutions come with automated asset discovery and tracking features and even help you manage your purchases and expenses.
The information must also be constantly updated. New devices may get added, old devices may be replaced, new software updates may be rolled, and for best results, the inventory must reflect the latest data.
Automation is your friend when maintaining a detailed inventory of IT assets. Modern hardware inventory software comes with a whole host of automation capabilities. Even the process of creating the inventory can be automated. Asset management solutions such as InvGate Insight can scan through the network to produce a detailed list of all hardware connected to it, along with information like software used, devices status, and even the financial information related to the device.
Besides asset discovery, you can also automate software updates, hardware purchases, and more. With automation, the IT team will be available for more important tasks instead of doing boring or repetitive things. Automation will also ensure quality service, as you are less likely to miss something, such as security patches or maintenance.
To get the best results, integrate your hardware inventory with other tools and software your IT team uses. For example, by connecting your hardware inventory with your service desk solution, you can keep your inventory updated, and at the same time deliver a better experience through your service desk. By integrating the asset management software with your ERP solution, the stakeholders can plan accurately for future projects.
Budget planning is an important activity in maintaining a hardware inventory. With careful planning, you can ensure that your organization has the right hardware in the required quantities. It can help you deliver quality IT service to your organization without exceeding your IT budget.
While preparing the IT budget, take account of the complete hardware inventory in your organization and the resources required to maintain them. This includes hardware replacements, acquisitions, and repairs, software licenses, etc.
Advanced hardware inventory management software comes with financial planning tools that will help IT managers accurately plan their budgets. For example, software metering tools can help ensure that software licenses are utilized efficiently in the organization. Asset management software can also show the upcoming expenses in terms of hardware and software lifespans.
Most hardware inventory management software provides a ton of information that can make asset management more resource-efficient. It can show you trends and patterns such as how long a certain type of device will last or the number of software licenses you may have to purchase in a year. You can also use this data to plan repair or maintenance activities without shutdowns or equipment downtime.
A hardware inventory management software is used to maintain detailed information about all the hardware available in an organization. More than just a detailed excel sheet, these software can automatically compile a list of all devices connected to a network and collect all the information related to them. They can also run maintenance tests and install software updates automatically on these devices, and even let IT admins remotely control them.
The most common mistake would be not investing in a hardware inventory management software or an asset management software. This is particularly the case with small organizations, but even some mid-sized organizations or large organizations rely on excel or google sheets, or in some cases, on paper records.
And in the case of asset inventory, it includes other assets like software, while hardware inventory is limited to, well, hardware alone. In some ways, hardware inventory could be described as a component of asset management.
Network inventory management and monitoring is a critical part of ensuring your network stays healthy, well-planned, and functioning as well as possible in your enterprise. Network inventory management allows you to keep track of what network devices you have and all their relevant software and hardware. It also helps you to know when to acquire new assets, or to decommission old ones, which can help with general performance and uptime management, and capacity planning.
Network inventory tools should always be used to complete network inventory processes in large enterprises, as manual approaches will simply not be enough to keep track of everything efficiently. Network inventory software is widespread in the network management tools marketplace, and there are many options for you to choose from.
One of the best ways to keep on top of network inventory is to use network inventory tools, as these greatly free up your time and resources (leaving you available to deal with more pressing issues). These tools scan and map your network, determining exactly what devices you have, their configurations, and the operating systems and software installed on them.
My top choice for network inventory tools is SolarWinds Network Configuration Manager (NCM). NCM is a network configuration management and mapping tool designed to help you stay on top of changes happening in your environment.
One of the other great features of NCM is you can create network reports based on device information, so you can quickly view a network overview of your entire inventory. NCM can be set up to scan regularly, so your device list is updated as frequently as you like. For your contracts and end-of-life information, NCM regularly polls for device data on these points, and can notify you when a device or asset needs to be replaced, or if a contract needs to be renewed.
NCM is a great piece of network device inventory software, and it offers a free trial for up to 30 days. I recommend trying it out, so you can see how comprehensive and easy to use it is. SolarWinds offers subscription and perpetual licensing options available.
For those looking to automate mapping and inventory report creation using one solution, SolarWinds Network Topology Mapper (NTM) is a comprehensive, yet easy-to-use mapper, device discovery, and network reporting tool. SolarWinds NTM can help you more easily track inventory and network information with its multi-layer discovery technique leveraging:
NTM can discover your entire network in typically just a few minutes. In addition to automating network discovery, you can also edit node details of map objects, connect network devices manually, and use the other customizability options to ensure you gain the views of your network inventory most helpful to you. NTM can also help address reporting needs to demonstrate PCI compliance, FIPS 140-2, and other regulatory requirements. NTM is built to be FIPS 140-2 compliant.
Another good piece of network inventory software is Network Inventory Advisor. Network Inventory Advisor also allows you to track installed software, what versions you have, and the licenses included. With license aggregation, collection, and management you can easily see how your licenses compare to the purchased contracts you have.
In addition, you can scan for network device metrics, including CPU, memory, system details, and audio, visual, and peripherals. You can roll out mass upgrades or troubleshoot hardware problems. Network audits can be performed regularly with automated scanning, and reports produced will contain up-to-date software and hardware information for each asset. All devices can be tagged with statuses, and then assigned to a particular user or technical owner for management.
Data from TNI is stored on your primary hard drive, so you can move, store, or archive inventory data. Devices can be grouped and commented on. Reporting in TNI requires you to select a group of computers in the file, and then select the type of report you want to produce. You can also create complex or customized reports by choosing particular objects or metrics in the TNI list of assets.
Finally, you can create and view a map of your entire network, then organize it in a logical or business-focused way. You can drag and drop assets throughout your map and organize them how you want. While TNI is a great tool, many of the processes require manual setup, and it can be a little time-consuming to get a full scan completed.
Spiceworks provides a free network inventory tool with basic functionality, so you can get up and running quickly. You can use Spiceworks to automatically discover your device information, with out-of-the-box scanning capabilities for Windows and Mac computers, routers and switches, printers, and other devices. It presents all information including the manufacturer, MAC address of the device, hardware details, installed software, and open ports. You can also see how much storage a device has, or whether it has antivirus software installed.