Methods for gathering inventory

Article:HOWTO63500  |  Created: 2011-12-16  |  Updated: 2012-04-20  |  Article URL http://www.symantec.com/docs/HOWTO63500
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Methods for gathering inventory

You can use different methods for gathering different types of inventory data. Each method has some advantages and possible disadvantages.

Table: Methods for gathering inventory

Method

Description

Advantages and disadvantages

Basic inventory

The basic inventory method is performed automatically when the Symantec Management Agent is installed on managed computers. This feature is a core function of the Symantec Management Platform and does not require any additional inventory components.

Basic inventory data includes computer name, domain, installed operating system, MAC and IP address, primary user account, etc. This information is updated on a regular basis as long as the Symantec Management Agent is running on the computer.

For more information, see the topics about the Symantec Management Agent and recommended Symantec Management Agent data update intervals in the Symantec Management Platform User Guide.

The advantages are as follows:

  • Inventory data is automatically collected when the Symantec Management Agent is installed on the client computer. No other components or steps are needed.

  • Inventory data is updated at regular intervals.

  • Can be used on different platforms.

The disadvantages are as follows:

  • Basic inventory data is limited in scope.

  • Target computers must be managed using the Symantec Management Agent.

Standard inventory on managed computers

To use this method, you must install the Inventory Plug-in on your managed computers, and then run inventory policies.

The Inventory Plug-in works with the Symantec Management Agent and uses scheduled policies to gather standard inventory data that is more detailed than basic inventory. By default, standard inventory data is gathered through more than 100 predefined data classes.

Standard inventory data includes the following details about client computers:

  • Hardware components, operating system, and user accounts and groups.

    For example, processors, memory devices, partitions, operating system versions, total swap space size, primary users, installed local accounts, membership of the local admin group, etc.

  • Software and virtual software layers

    For example, the names of the applications that are installed, etc.

  • File properties.

    More detailed information about the software, such as manufacturer, version, size, etc.

When the Inventory Plug-in is installed on managed computers, all inventory policies are remotely managed from the Symantec Management Console. Inventory policies can be scheduled to run at the configurable intervals that provide up-to-date data. They can also run at the times that do not affect your network performance.

You can use the Inventory Plug-in on Windows, Linux, UNIX, and Mac platforms.

See About gathering inventory on managed computers.

The advantages are as follows:

  • You can gather a broad range of inventory data.

  • Inventory data is automatically collected and updated using scheduled policies and tasks.

  • You can configure policies to report only changed data (deltas) from the previous inventory.

  • This method can be easily used on multiple platforms.

The disadvantages are as follows:

  • Target computers must be managed using the Symantec Management Agent.

  • Target computers must have the Inventory Plug-in installed.

  • Maintaining current inventory data can be difficult on the computers that are not regularly connected to the network.

Stand-alone inventory

To use this method, you must create stand-alone packages from the Symantec Management Console. Then you distribute the packages using email, network shares, login scripts, etc. and run the packages on your target computers.

The stand-alone inventory method lets you gather standard inventory data on the computers that are not managed through the Symantec Management Agent and do not have the Inventory Plug-in installed.

You can gather detailed information about hardware components, operating system, local users and groups, software, and virtual software layers.

See About gathering inventory using stand-alone packages.

The advantages are as follows:

  • You can gather a broad range of inventory data.

  • Target computers do not need to be managed using the Symantec Management Agent.

  • Target computers do not need to be connected to Notification Server.

  • Target computers do not need to have the Inventory Plug-in installed.

The disadvantages are as follows:

  • External delivery of inventory package is required.

  • Inventory schedule is not centrally managed.

  • Inventory data may not be current.

  • If target computers are not connected to Notification Server, the data must be posted manually.

  • Only Windows-based computers are supported.

Custom inventory

To use the custom inventory method, you must install the Inventory Plug-in on your managed computers.

This method lets you gather additional data beyond the predefined data classes in Inventory Solution. You can create the custom inventory data classes that may be unique to your environment. You then run the custom inventory scripts that collect the custom inventory data classes.

See About gathering custom inventory.

The advantages are as follows:

  • You can extend the type of inventory you gather by adding the additional data classes that may be unique to your environment and are not included by default.

  • You can use a sample script task to create or configure a custom inventory script task.

  • This method can be used on different platforms.

The disadvantages are as follows:

  • Target computers must be managed using the Symantec Management Agent.

  • Target computers must have the Inventory Plug-in installed.

  • You must create custom inventory data classes and include the data classes in your custom scripts.

  • You must create and run the custom inventory scripts that collect your custom inventory data classes.

Application metering

To use the application metering method, you must install the Inventory Plug-in and Application Metering Plug-in on your managed computers.

This method lets you gather the data about application usage. You can monitor application start, stop, and deny events data that is sent to the CMDB and the summary data of monitored applications.

With application metering, you can perform the following tasks on your managed computers:

  • Control the availability and meter the use of applications at the file level by running predefined or custom application metering policies.

  • Monitor and meter the use of the managed software at the product level by enabling the software-based usage tracking option.

  • Deny multiple applications from running by configuring the predefined Blacklisted Applications policy.

See About metering and denying applications.

See About metering and tracking usage of the managed software products in the enhanced Symantec Management Console Software view.

The advantages are as follows:

  • You can control the availability of applications. You can deny applications from running. You can also configure deny events to be sent to Notification Server when a user tries to run a denied application.

  • You can benefit from the usage tracking option that helps you track software usage at the product level and lets you know how often an application is used, not only if it is installed. This feature can help you manage your application licenses.

The disadvantages are as follows:

  • Target computers must be managed using the Symantec Management Agent.

  • Target computers must have the Inventory Plug-in and Application Metering Plug-in installed.

  • Only Windows-based computers are supported.

  • Symantec recommends that you do not install Application Metering Plug-in on Windows servers.

Baseline inventory

To use the baseline inventory method, you must install the Inventory Plug-in on your managed computers.

This method lets you gather the data about files and registry settings on computers.

You can generate a baseline that identifies the files or registry settings of a standard configuration computer. You can later run the compliance scans on your client computers to compare their current files or registry keys with those in the baseline. The differences between the baseline scan and compliance scan are reported to the CMDB.

See About baseline inventory.

The advantages are as follows:

  • You can track the files and registries that deviate from the corporate standards.

  • You can verify the accuracy of rollouts and upgrades.

  • System administrators or the help desk can get automatic notifications when a computer is non-compliant.

  • You can view a compliance level summary of the computer and reports of the changes in file.

The disadvantages are as follows:

  • Target computers must be managed using the Symantec Management Agent.

  • Target computers must have the Inventory Plug-in installed.

  • Only Windows-based computers are supported.


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