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Best Tools For Network Inventory Management? 251

jra writes "Once every month or so, people ask here about backups, network management, and so on, but one topic I don't see come up too often is network inventory management — machines, serial numbers, license keys, user assignments, IP addresses, and the like. This level of tracking is starting to get out of hand in my facility as we approach 100 workstations and 40 servers, and I'm looking for something to automate it. I'm using RT (because I'm not a good enough Web coder to replace it, not because I especially like it) and Nagios 3. I've looked at Asset Tracker, but it seems too much like a toolkit for building things to do the job, and I don't want my ticket tracking users to have to be hackers (having to specify a URL for an asset is too hackish for my crew). I'd prefer something standalone, so I don't have to dump RT or Nagios, but if something sufficiently good looking comes by, I'd consider it. I'd like to be able to hack a bit here and there, if I must. Perl and Python, along with C, are the preferred implementation languages; least favorite is Java. Anyone care to share their firsthand experiences with this topic, and what tools they use (or built) to deal with it? "
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Best Tools For Network Inventory Management?

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  • I have a crap excel spreadsheet I inherited from my predecessor.
    If I ever have time I have been thinking about a database backend with a web frontend.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Red Flayer ( 890720 )
      God help you?

      You've got an excel spreadsheet? You're a lucky bastard.

      I have a customized Peoplesoft implementation for asset tracking, designed by three blind goatherds, one of whom also had leprosy (I may be exaggerating a bit. I suspect it was more like twenty, ~since having more people design a system is always a good idea~).

      Seriously... Search for asset. Find asset. Enable correct history mode. Click through four forms to get to custodian details. Update custodian details. Run asset update pro
      • I'll send you a copy. That way there will be two of us using it and that is enough people to start a support group.
        The first step is to admit you have a problem.
        I forget steps 2 through 11, but I am sure:
        12. Profit.
  • OpenNMS (Score:5, Informative)

    by spun ( 1352 ) <loverevolutionar ... m ['oo.' in gap]> on Tuesday July 21, 2009 @05:58PM (#28775571) Journal

    It's open source, it's free, it's a complete network management system, and you can import existing asset information as well as populate through network discovery. We use it here at the New Mexico Child Youth and Family Development Department, with 53 offices, 2500 workstations, and 80 servers. []

    • Re:OpenNMS (Score:5, Informative)

      by Z00L00K ( 682162 ) on Tuesday July 21, 2009 @08:21PM (#28776883) Homepage

      I can agree that OpenNMS is a good choice. It contains most of the features you want for IT administration.

      The only disadvantage I have discovered with OpenNMS is that it is a bit heavy on resources, so I would recommend a dedicated server for the monitoring.

  • by GPLDAN ( 732269 ) on Tuesday July 21, 2009 @05:58PM (#28775573)
    Open Source use OpenNMS: []

    Want commercial software?: Solarwinds Orion with IP Monitor.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by spun ( 1352 )

      Haha, beat you to it by mere seconds. OpenNMS in the hizzouse! :)

      • 4 digit uid...

        in the hizzouse!

        Daaaaaaad! That's embaaaaaaaaaaaarasing!

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by jra ( 5600 )

          And his 4-digit number is even lower than mine. :-)

          Yes, I prefer open source, though I guess that wasn't necessarily discoverable from the "I'd like to be able to hack on it" comment.

          I hadn't realized OpenNMS did that much inventoryish work; a dedicated server is no problem. I'll add that to my list.

        • by spun ( 1352 )

          Look, we old folks may seem 'wiggity-wack' to you young whippersnappers, but let me assure you, we are dope, fresh and fly.

    • by inKubus ( 199753 )

      We just purchased LanREV [] which has been pretty good. We have a ton of Macs and this is the only one I could find that could do Macs and PCs (and they have a Linux client coming soon). It has a lot of stuff for handling special cases (such as Adobe software, etc) which makes it worth the money. With OpenNMS you're going to spend a lot of time hacking since there's a lot of different software installers out there, plus the client will have to be deployed manually or you have to write or find a deployer. W

  • Roll your own... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Fallen Kell ( 165468 ) on Tuesday July 21, 2009 @06:00PM (#28775601)
    We finally made our own. We created a mysql database and table schema storing the hardware information along with the schema for locations in the facility (typically cubicles, offices, labs, and server rooms). Wrote up a website using PHP with proper forms to insert new hardware, move hardware from one location to another, or remove hardware, and search functions to find hardware. We went a little further as well by getting floor and building plans and made clickable image maps for all the locations so that you can just browse to the building/floor/cubicle, see what is in there already, and add new stuff or move existing stuff etc., as well as have a way to highlight the location of a particular piece of hardware if you looked for it based on hostname, etc.

    It really isn't that hard to do. And if you setup your database tables and schema correctly so that you can easily expand for new hardware types, buildings/locations, it isn't too hard to maintain. The hardest thing that we deal with is when we move into a new building and we have to generate the floor map, but it doesn't usually take more then a few hours at most.
    • by Spyder ( 15137 )

      Have you looked at releasing your in house app?

  • GLPI (Score:4, Interesting)

    by ZERO1ZERO ( 948669 ) on Tuesday July 21, 2009 @06:01PM (#28775613) []

    This might be the sort of thing, coupled with the OCNS agent it'll scan your network and log all the data into a myql database. Ticket system which allows users to report stuff attached to an asset, reporting, contracts, and stuff. Worth a look.

    • I have used this set up successfully to catalog 100's of workstations, servers, and network devices across 5 states.

      I also added NetDisco for tracking and discovery of network gear.

  • There must be a million of them. Yeah, you can get autodiscovery as well.

    Google is your friend.

    • by jra ( 5600 )

      Google doesn't really know *what actual users think of the program*, generally, which I thought it was obvious was the point.

      IE: "LMGTFY" isn't a particularly helpful response.

    • by Ironica ( 124657 )

      There must be a million of them.

      I'll bet that's EXACTLY why the OP is asking for recs.

  • OCS (Score:3, Interesting)

    by vinn ( 4370 ) on Tuesday July 21, 2009 @06:03PM (#28775629) Homepage Journal
    We use OCS and really like it: [] It's one of those things that tends to just work well. In fact, our version is about 2 years old now and we haven't had a need to upgrade it at all because it's just doing what it need to do.
    • by IMightB ( 533307 )

      Yeah I like OCS Inventory + GLPI, for network monitoring I use Nagios, though I'm seriously considering checking out OpenNMS to replace my Nagios 2.9 installation.

      • by jp10558 ( 748604 )

        We use OCSNG + GLPI for inventory, though for network monitoring I had decided to go with Zenoss Core over Nagios as I just didn't understand how to set Nagios up. OpenNMS does look interesting though.

  • by f8l_0e ( 775982 ) on Tuesday July 21, 2009 @06:03PM (#28775633)
    who keep tagging stories like these and especially 'Ask Slashdot' submissions with the domyjobforme tag, please STFU. Quite often, the submitter has done extensive research on the matter and shared his or her observations and is looking for people to share their ideas or experiences. Your attitude does not fit in with the open source spirit that the readers of Slashdot enjoy being a part of. If done as a joke, it is no longer funny.
    • by the_weasel ( 323320 ) on Tuesday July 21, 2009 @06:09PM (#28775701) Homepage

      Amen. Unfortunately there will always be elitist arses who think that just because they know a little bit about some obscure topic, anyone who doesn't is a lazy slacker. I don't have any need for asset tracking of this nature at the moment, but i found the topic interesting, and learned something from the few comments that have appeared so far. The politics and YRO topics bore me to tears. These topics are why I still bother to visit this site.

    • Your attitude does not fit in with the open source spirit that the readers of Slashdot enjoy being a part of.

      Yes it does! NOW STFU RTFM N00b

    • by mcrbids ( 148650 )

      It's easy to to tag "domyjobforme" because so many of the "Ask Slashdot" stories are just awful. There was one a day or so ago which was something like "I take my laptop places, and it might get stolen, how do I encrypt a disk with Windows XP" which could have been answered in .08 seconds a la Google. There was a clear winner that had high ratings, was open source, etc.

      No, I'm not the tagging culprit that you speak of, but so often, you just think: WTF?

      I'll agree with you on this point: sometimes there are

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Red Flayer ( 890720 )
        I welcome these "obvious" Ask Slashdot articles. They are what enables me to convince my employer that slashdot is a work resource that needs to be whitelisted.

        Not really... but in case I hear those dreaded words ("What is") come review time... I'll have some defensive ammunition.
        • by jra ( 5600 )

          You're welcome. :-)

          In fact, I'm getting a lot of useful answers out of the responses (even if some of them amount to "please! Add me to your block list! :-).

          And, like you, it does make "reading Slashdot" a more defensible addition to my daily task list.

    • by onkelonkel ( 560274 ) on Tuesday July 21, 2009 @06:54PM (#28776171)
      There is a right way and a wrong way to ask for help in an open source forum.

      Wrong way..

      Q. How do I get my HP all-in-one printer to work in Red Hat?
      A. STFU Noob. RTFM.....

      Right Way..

      Q. Red Hat Sucks. It won't even print to my HP all-in one printer. I'm going to install Windows XP. At least it works.
      A. Oh my god, don't do that. All you need to do is edit foobar.print.cfg and change edrtflg$ = 0 ...PM me if you need any more help...
    • Your attitude does not fit in with the open source spirit

      Wait, what does software licensing have to do with getting annoyed at gits who don't know their job?

  • Open-AudIT (Score:3, Informative)

    by bman1978 ( 983407 ) on Tuesday July 21, 2009 @06:04PM (#28775649)
    Open-AudIT is pretty good for cross platform but it doesn't cover all of your requirements. I'm yet to find anything that is an IP database plus complete system inventory. Open-AudIT is very good at the inventory side. I run it in Windows since I was trying to replace TrackIT. There's a Linux agent and it'd be pretty easy to customize it for other OSes. It does licensing as well. Want to know how many computers have Office and what version? Who has outdated Antivirus? It even gives you license keys used. Getting it up and running with XAMPP for Windows is quick for testing. I haven't used it as much on the server side. We use IBM Director for that.
  • by falzbro ( 468756 ) on Tuesday July 21, 2009 @06:04PM (#28775657) Homepage

    Your description of AT is completely off. I'm an active user of RT and Asset Tracker (AT). It's not a toolkit at all, it's a clean modification that adds an 'Assets' link in the nav bar where you hold assets. From there you create and manage custom fields and custom field values from within the standard locations of RT. At no point must you know a URL to do anything in RT or AT. There are simple or complex searches, linking assets to others (depends on, requires, etc) is simply typing a few letters into a box to search on, then choose the appropriate action from a dropdown box.

    Unfortunately there have been no releases of AT in a while, but it still cleanly applies even to the latest version of RT. It does have a new home for its code on google code [] and is getting updates, just not a new release for a few years.

  • we use it and to say I am less than impressed would be an understatement. It is slow, goes offline for an hour each day and isn't overly cheap.
  • But expect to pay a pretty penny for it [].

    The application does more than remote control system, it can also do inventory scans of software and hardware.

    Beyond that you got me...

  • Nagios? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Darth_brooks ( 180756 ) * <clipper377&gmail,com> on Tuesday July 21, 2009 @06:10PM (#28775715) Homepage

    Nagios? For asset tracking? "I was trying to check my e-mail using using apache, and it just wasn't living up to my expectations at all...." I guess when all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. [] does a nice job of tracking on the windows side. Set up xampp, unzip the contents of the openaudit zip file into the htdocs directory, visit the side, move on with your life. Open Audit as a project is a little hackish and informal for my tastes, but it does pass the JFW (just fucking works) test. Tracks assets, installed software, license keys. It's just a PHP frontend for WMI results, so if WMI is acting funny, then open audit will be funny too. I also doubt it'll do much for network device inventory other than identifying approximately what the device is. (Printers show up ok, I doubt switches or routers will appear as anything other than "other".)

    My suggestion for integrating Nagios would be to set an action URL for each of your hosts that in turn points to the Open Audit page for that particular host, unless you're already using the action URL for PNP (and if you're not, you should be for some of your hosts.)

    • forgot to mention, if you've got linux boxes, you can do inventory for those devices using the Hardware Abstraction Layer and an easily Cron'd script.

    • 2nd for Open Audit. It passes the JFW test rather well. Version 1 looks a little primative, but it does the job well. Version 2 is looking very promising, most of the extra functionality requested out of V1 is coming in V2. Works with AD using LDAP, get waranty info at the click of a mouse for the bigger brands (dell, Ibm etc). Support is pretty impressive and the Lead developer does cruise the forums.

      Does windows/linux (vb script and bash script respectively), random devices (using nmap) etc. Run it at wo
    • by jra ( 5600 )

      So, no, I'm not trying to use Nagios for inventory; merely pointing out that I already use it for monitoring, so integrated inventory/monitor software needs to be enough better to make ditching it worthwhile.

  • I need a job. Inventory is my background.

  • Java is a walk in the park compared to these two to maintain...

    • by jgrahn ( 181062 )
      He also mentioned Python, which you conveniently omitted.

      I don't know. Maybe he's a Unix guy and knows those three well. Maybe the rest of his coworkers do, too. Etc.

    • by jra ( 5600 )

      Not if you don't know it.

  • using a simple Access database for many years. One table for hardware, one for software, tied together. Every time I'd get a group of licenses for software I'd bang them in there, then gradually assign the software to machines. The software table had fields to invoice numbers and dates, so I could always prove, in an instant, that any given copy was legit.

    The commercial stuff, especially for your size, is really overkill. I tried some over the years and they were just too complex for what is a fairly simple

  • We've been using GLPI for several years now. It's web-based, customizable to a fair degree, and free.

    Can be found here [].

  • Kwok and Open-AudIT (Score:2, Informative)

    by Snowhare ( 263311 )

    I have found Open-AudIT [] to be a good tool for tracking the 'soft' side of the house with minimal pain while
    Kwok Information Server [] was a better tool for tracking 'hard' assets. Both are open source.

  • To do the same thing (and much more) in my position I use Symantec's Altiris [] product.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Bigjeff5 ( 1143585 )

      Oh god, not Altiris!

      My company, a huge multinational company, recently switched to Altiris for inventory tracking, license management, and software delivery.

      From what I can tell, on a global network with somewhere in the neighborhood of 500,000 machines, it's ok for inventory, great for controling licenses, and terrible at software delivery.

      Using Altiris it takes upwards of ten times longer to install applications that reside on the same servers that our old in-house scripting team used. Servers didn't mov

  • It's a command line utility written in .net that cranks out system information into a comma delimited file on a shared directory on each machine. Have a batch file that copies the output to a single directory on my machine and merges the lot. I suppose I could tweak it to update an sql database and put together a nice front-end for others, but for my teeny 100 system kingdom, it's sufficient. Free too, since I wrote the thing.

  • OpenNMS has fields for serial number, location, asset number, etc. etc.

    Or if your hardware is all HP-branded you can use their free HP SIM software. We managed to get HP SIM to work with dell machines too, by loading up a custom SNMP MIB.

  • Surely i will be modded down for suggesting a microsoft solution, but your problem is pretty simple to solve with a sharepoint server. Its free (there is a pay version as well), and if you have office and don't mind using IE, it integrates nicely. Plays OK with firefox, just cant do some advanced editing (spreadsheet view, some imports). Sharepoint is a bitch sometimes as its a microsoft product and thus designed badly, but there is certainly alot of support out there in the form of plugins and templates. I

    • If you have the money a MS SMS server (or what ever they are calling the new version) may be worth looking at.
    • by rrhal ( 88665 )
      By the way the Microsoft solution for this is SCOM 2007. The next version will have support for network devices. Doesn't scale very well. This reminds me - SMARTS is an excellent product.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    100 workstations and 40 servers? Spreadsheet.

    Don't over complicate this until you need to.

    When you have 200 workstations and have completed your virtualization consolidation project and are down to 8 servers, then you'll have time to worry about all this again.

    Ask again in 3 years.

  • OCS Inventory-NG (Score:3, Informative)

    by Nimey ( 114278 ) on Tuesday July 21, 2009 @09:28PM (#28777341) Homepage Journal

    I've been using it on an old Linux box for over 3 years now and I'm pretty pleased with it. You need a Unix or Windows computer to act as a server; on Linux it's a basic LAMP stack plus some specific PHP and Perl modules, and on Windows it comes as one package that includes everything you need. Then you install the client software on each computer that needs to be inventoried. There are clients for Windows and generic Unix (Linux, *BSD, Solaris, Mac OSX, etc.).

    It'll track IP address, hostname, MAC, what software's installed, username, whether it's on an Active Directory domain, subnet, all hardware including serial number. You can also configure it to use Nmap to have an auto-elected client in each subnet do a quick scan to determine what other devices are on that subnet and optionally try to detect what it is (Linux box, Windows box, printer, switch). It can also push out packages to clients.

    If you want to expand some more, OCS also integrates with GLPI to provide helpdesk ticketing, license tracking, etc.

    • by jra ( 5600 )

      The auto-discovery sounds interesting to me, and you're the 4th or 5th person who's mentioned GLPI...

  • 100 workstations and 40 servers...

    Not worth the hassle of implementing some high tech solution. The data sound like stuff that changes rarely if ever, stuff you need for accounting reports or such once a year, not stuff you need on a moment's notice. So I'd just use:

    Loose leaf binder.

    Text file.

    Or, if I could be bothered, Excel worksheet.

    • by jgrahn ( 181062 )

      Loose leaf binder. Text file. Or, if I could be bothered, Excel worksheet.

      A text file can be placed under revision control using e.g. CVS so it can be safely used by many people and from many places. (You also get an audit trail for free).

      Excel doesn't work well with that. Plus, you need Windows machines to read it. So I'd vote for text file (although I'd prefer Excel to a web application/relational database monster).

      • by 1u3hr ( 530656 )
        Once in Excel it can be exported to any kind of database, or HTML table, should that become necessary -- I'm assuming it is just flat data, basically read only, no macros and such.

        Not that I have any love of Excel, but it's ubiquitous and easy to throw a small table of data like this in and get it out if you need it.

    • by jra ( 5600 )

      No, actually we tend to do 4-6 MACs a month.

      But I've been a database programmer for 20 years. Data doesn't belong in (30 different copies of) a spreadsheet; it belongs in a database.

  • I've had good experiences with AlterPoint. We did a very large network with it...> 10,000 devices. That was only the routers, switches, ASAs, and such. Server Support and PC Support used LanDesk.

    Did some customization with PERL with no problems. Expensive, but rock solid.

  • ...that I wrote in PHP. We have over 140 servers and 70+ workstations. Never mind the switches, mobile phones, monitors, demo machines and loaner equipment. Keeping track of all that in a spreadsheet was getting a little tedious. It worked but it wasn't the best solution. I wrote something up in an afternoon using php and apache that allows us to add/delete/edit equipment if you log in using apache. If you don't log in you get a ready only view of everything sorted by asset tag number.

    A friend of mine recen

  • The complete list (Score:3, Informative)

    by jra ( 5600 ) on Friday July 24, 2009 @09:45AM (#28806317)

    of sites for suggested packages is below. It will take me about a week to go through them all, but I'll try to get a posting up here next weekend closing the loop; thanks y'all.

"Conversion, fastidious Goddess, loves blood better than brick, and feasts most subtly on the human will." -- Virginia Woolf, "Mrs. Dalloway"