Nearly every business enterprise involves office computers, and usually they are connected to a local network. In order to systematize the configuration and accounting of computer hardware and software, it’s necessary to periodically take their inventory. This includes conducting SAM, the process of streamlining the management of the company’s software assets.
In every company, physical assets on the local network are equipped with special software, usually licensed. And licenses, especially for specialized software packages, often cost a lot.
This means that even if such a software package is installed on just one “extra” PC, it can be quite an expensive oversight. SAM methodology is used precisely in order to control what exactly this kind of software is used for and to make sure that the license renewals are done on time.
So, what are the main tasks of SAM?
• collection and structuring of information about the purchased software;
• optimization of software asset management processes;
• preparation of software sets classified by type or purpose (e.g. intended for particular employees/levels/departments);
• accounting of funds allocated for the acquisition of software.
In this article, we’ll discuss conducting SAM using Total Network Inventory (TNI).
Methods of conducting SAM
There are two methods of conducting SAM: manual and automated. The former method of software audit is used when the total number of computers on the local network does not exceed a few dozen units. If there are more PCs, and therefore more licenses, then an automated solution such as TNI would be better suited for the task.
Below we’ll describe how to manage your software assets with the help of our product.
TNI 3 consists of:
• An admin unit and
• A network storage.
TNI 3 SAM Guide: Working with the Network storage
The centralized TNI storage contains detailed information about each local network node. With TNI 3, system administrators can add various data fields for each PC, assign inventory numbers, as well as view, change and supplement license information for installed software. In addition, TNI automatically gathers basic information such as MAC and IP addresses, current OS, network state (online/offline), accessible admin shares, etc. All these key parameters allow you to quickly navigate hundreds of computers, eliminating the possibility of long downtimes.
TNI 3 can scan various OSes, among them Microsoft Windows XP and up, including server versions, OS X, Linux, FreeBSD and ESX/ESXi hypervisors.
Scanning user hardware
To begin the process of scanning network nodes, you will only need access to an account with administrator rights (i.e. domain administrator, if the computer is part of the domain).
You won’t need to perform additional procedures on remote PCs (like installing local agents). It’s enough to allow intermediate local firewalls to pass traffic via the SMB or RPC protocol from Total Network Inventory.
Also, you can create your own schedule to make scans regular and automatic. Such a solution will help avoid the expiration of software licenses and facilitate the timely inventory of recently installed software tools.
Working with the SAM module
The software audit process is simple. After the network computers are successfully scanned, TNI will analyze the software and license keys found on them, and as a result, a list of all discovered programs will appear on the Software accounting tab. Once you select one or more programs in the list, the details panel will show which computers they are installed on and the installation date.
Auditing PC software is an important part of SAM. You can configure which computers must have certain software, and on which it should not be installed by going into the Tracking mode. As soon as you set a specific policy, computers that violate it will be highlighted directly in the details panel, and you’ll also be able to monitor the number of violations for each software from the main list. You can also see a list of computers that violate the tracking policy for at least one program by filtering the network tree using the “Tracked software” assistant.
If you own a TNI Professional license, then you have access to software license audit functions. License management is available for each program detected during scanning. When creating a license, you can specify its cost and dates of acquisition and expiration. Different license types are supported, including standard licenses with a limited number of installations, unlimited licenses, and even unwanted pirate licenses. You can read about various licenses that you can create in TNI here.
You can monitor the license status from the list of licenses. You’ll be able to see which software has insufficient licensed copies, and which has extra, and also whether the license has expired.
Let’s sum it up. Total Network Inventory 3 is a special application that simplifies the management of network devices and licensed software within your company. Thanks to this solution, the administrator responsible for the network can easily keep track of hundreds of nodes, providing timely software updates, making it possible to accurately count the number of available licenses, and removing the possibility of illegal use of individual software products.
Not everyone knows and uses such a killer feature of Total Network Inventory as table conditions, so today we would like to remind you about it and provide some usage examples, so you can see how it can make your work much easier.
First one is simple: imagine that you need a list of computers with less than 10GB free space left on the C drive before installing some huge OS update or a new software product. This can be achieved rather quickly:
Open the Table reports tab, copy the existing Logical disks template or create a similar one. Then click edit and add two simple conditions:
That’s it, now you can see which computers may cause you trouble during the update or new installation.
Now let’s try something a bit more complicated. For example, we need a condition to find all Intel computers running 64-bit Windows OS that meet the recommended system requirements of 64-bit Windows 10 (4 GB RAM). Is it possible? Easy!
Create a new template and add the following fields: “Operating system: Name”, “Operating system: Architecture”, “Processor: Name”, “RAM total capacity and modules” and “Network name”.
Then add the following conditions:
And how about software reports? Can we add conditions to filter them too? You bet! Let’s try finding outdated software without using the Software accounting tab. Let’s look for Adobe product installations that haven’t been updated this year as well as obsolete Skype installations. We can use the “Installed software” template this time, and, again, we’re going to need some conditions:
Part 2: “Filters”.
And we are continuing our series of tutorials. As we promised, today we’re going to describe the most popular filters and advise how to apply them best.
All filters are located right under the “Software” and “Licenses” tabs and have the following form:
While filters are not enabled, the main list will display all of the software from all scanned workstations.
Use “Asset filter” to display a list of software on specific workstations. Select a device, several devices (make sure that the “Multiple selection” box is checked) or a group in the network tree to use it.
Another important point is filtering software by publisher or title. It allows for considerably faster tracking of workstations with outdated software versions. Simply enter software title or select a publisher from the list:
If you frequently monitor the same software, try adding it through the “Saved searches” option found in the list of filters instead of typing the software titles every time. It will save you time on each subsequent search.
That’s all for now. We hope our simple tips would prove useful in practice.
See you next time!