Appendix A: Taking Inventory of the Network
Taking an inventory of the network is a process that relies on the automated collection of information. This process is illustrated in Figure 9. It uses the following logic:
If a system management tool such as Microsoft Systems Management Server (SMS) is in place, simply use it to obtain inventories, and then use the information provided in the “Planning” section of this guide to query the inventory database for the appropriate information.
If no system management tool is in place, the organization may decide to put one in place in support of this process. The advantages of having a system management tool in place after deployment of the operating system often outweigh the cost of acquisition of such a tool. A deployment project is often the ideal time to introduce a system management tool, because it provides full support for the deployment and then for the support of deployed computers after the deployment is complete. If the organization chooses to introduce such a tool at this time, closely coordinate the deployment of this tool with the BDD 2007 project.
If the organization decides not to put a system management tool in place, it must use a different method to perform the inventory. Several methods are available—running scripts (see “Education and References”), using a manual process, using a dedicated inventory tool—but one of the best methods for obtaining this information is to rely on the ACT. The ACT generates a database that includes some elementary hardware and detailed software information about each computer. As a best practice, run this tool against each computer in the organization before deployment, because doing so also provides remediation recommendations for each application chosen for redeployment with the new operating system. Rely on the Application Compatibility feature team to generate the queries required to obtain inventory information from this database. For details on querying the Application Compatibility database, see Application Compatibility Feature Team Guide.
The Windows Vista Hardware Assessment (WVHA) may be considered as an alternative tool when conducting hardware inventory. The WVHA is designed to create an inventory of hardware and device drivers, provide analysis on hardware and device driver compatibility, and generate detailed PC-by-PC reporting and upgrade recommendations for Windows Vista. It does not install any software agents on individual PCs and the detailed inventory report is generated automatically without any manual querying of the database.
After the queries are generated and the reports are available, verify that all systems have been included in the report. If systems are missing because the automation tool cannot reach them or because they are in isolated or remote environments, ensure that this additional information is collected before producing the final inventory.
Use the flowchart in Figure 9 to run through this process.
Figure 9. The inventory process
Software Inventory Tools
Application Compatibility Toolkit. See Microsoft TechNet: Windows Application Compatibility at http://www.microsoft.com/technet/desktopdeployment/appcompat/toolkit.mspx.
Windows Vista Hardware Assessment. See Microsoft TechNet: Windows Vista Hardware Assessment at http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkID=78038&clcid=0x409.
Microsoft TechNet Script Center. See Microsoft TechNet: The Script Center Script Repository at http://www.microsoft.com/technet/scriptcenter/scripts/default.mspx. This center includes several scripts that can be modified to provide both hardware and software inventories.
Microsoft Software Inventory Analyzer (MSIA). See Software Asset Management (SAM): Microsoft Software Inventory Analyzer at http://www.microsoft.com/resources/sam/msia.mspx. MSIA is a free tool with which users can generate an inventory of Microsoft software on a network.
SMS. See Microsoft Systems Management Server at http://www.microsoft.com/sms. SMS is a full-fledged system management tool that includes inventory features.