Help me keep track of all the machines.
February 9, 2011 5:56 AM   Subscribe

Recommendations for a server inventory tracker?

I'm looking for recommendations for a server inventory tracker.

We're suffering a bit from virtual machine sprawl, and the Google Docs spreadsheet is no longer cutting it. We'd like to keep track of properties like the allocated RAM, disk space, versions of Ruby, the list of projects/websites hosted on a given machine, whether it's a staging or production box, etc., and let us search for all machines that, say, are using Ruby 1.8.7 or are nginx servers.

Does anyone have any suggestions? The last time I thought about this sort of thing was in the early 2000s, and we found a LAMP app that kind of does that, but I don't recall the name of it.
posted by chengjih to Technology (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
OCS Inventory NG
posted by zamboni at 6:08 AM on February 9, 2011

Tracmor, GLPI and OCS are open-source inventory management tools; OCS in particular does automated in-device inventory, and though I haven't personally worked with it you should be able to deploy it to virtual machines without too much hassle.
posted by mhoye at 6:11 AM on February 9, 2011

OCS won't prevent you from clicking "Post Answer" when you should have clicked "Preview", though. I neglected to mention that.
posted by mhoye at 6:12 AM on February 9, 2011 [1 favorite]

If you want a lightweight solution, you can whip up some scripts to collect all those inventory information via some devops tools like:
posted by lahersedor at 6:33 AM on February 9, 2011

If I were you, I wouldn't use any "server inventory" tool to do this. They're frequently tied to configuration management systems, or snmp monitoring systems, or they expect to manage your whole inventory acquisition or provisioning process - automatically doing this, or assuming you naturally also wanted them to do that. You shouldn't have to struggle with your tools. You've been using Google Docs, now you want to move up, that doesn't mean you have to get married to someone's swiss army knife. You want something that can do exactly only what you need without renaming your children.

Another route you don't want to go is pumping your GDoc into a SQL database. This will require specifying a schema, and writing SQL queries to get data out, and pretty soon you'll have referential integrity between like 9 tables (because you will have properly normalised), and your server inventory project will have taken over your life.

From my perspective, what you want to do is track unique sets of associations between strings. Don't think of it as a problem that relates to the fact that the strings are hostnames and software versions. So a hostname is just a string, and a version of Ruby is just a string. They can be associated 2 ways, because you'll likely want to look up all hosts with a given ruby, and the reverse.

A great tool for tracking unique sets of strings is Redis: You can set it up immediately, do some quick awk to move your google doc to it, and very quickly whip up a few 3 line command line scripts to do things like insert a host, update a host's attributes, or query something about a host (this will also be great for ad hoc integration with any other tool you get in the future).
posted by doteatop at 9:41 AM on February 9, 2011

Spiceworks. Free. Just needs a Windows box (spare/recycled workstation works just fine) to run from. Tell it your Windows/SSH/ESX credentials and it will scan, inventory, organize, and report on whatever IP range you point it at, from switches to VM hosts to physical boxen to VMs themselves.

Set some if/then criteria and it'll group items for you automatically, make your own custom groups, or type 'Ruby' in the search box and it'll list all the machines with Ruby installed and the version. Or look at a particular machine and find Ruby 1.8.7 under 'Software' and click on the button that says 'Others Like This /Others Not Like This' and it'll show you a printable report, or you can output it to csv. You just got a free intern to do all your inventory and documentation for you.
posted by bartleby at 4:37 PM on February 9, 2011

Seconding Spiceworks. It solved the inventory need here, and there are some customizations you can do, too.
posted by schnee at 4:19 AM on February 10, 2011

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