How can I easily get info on our networked computers?
October 2, 2006 7:00 AM   Subscribe

What is the best enterprise quality software & hardware inventory solution?

I have been looking all over trade journals, Google, etc to no avail. The solution needs to be as follows:
-"Server" that can run on non-server OS...preferably WinXP pro, but if it needs to run on Linux or Win2k3 Server, that will be fine.
-Client needs to run on Win2k, WinXP Home (don't ask) & Pro

It needs to provide the following info:
-Machine name
-MAC address
-IP address
-Full OS version (w/ key used)
-hardware specs: processor, ram, video, hard drive, etc
-hardware system ID (such as Dell support code/#)
-software installed (w/ license keys)

The goal is to be able to have a good picture of our company's computers and software. That way we can see what hardware needs to be replaced first, what OS's need upgrading, what software needs to be upgraded, and to see if we are compliant with our purchased software license keys.

Although I could setup a database to house the info and could use something like the free Belarc Advisor to go to each machine and gather info, I am faced with a large work load, so going to each machine and manually inputing data is not an option.

Our network consists of approx. 30 "clients", 5 "servers", plus a handful of networked printers.

And since I do have a long list of links to products, I am looking for info from users who have actually implemented and used a solution to give me examples of how it worked and whether or not you would suggest I try it.

Much appreciated in advance!
posted by criticman to Computers & Internet (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Since you seem to be operating a Microsoft-centric network, you might want to check out Microsoft Operations Manager (MOM) Workgorup Edition, which seems to be targeted at scenarios like yours. There's a free trial available. The only catch is that is seems to require some version of Windows Server 2003. I'd be interested if this works out for you.
posted by Herr Fahrstuhl at 8:10 AM on October 2, 2006

Oops, seems I missed the part about you not wanting product pointers. Sorry.
posted by Herr Fahrstuhl at 8:10 AM on October 2, 2006

I had a good experience using LANutil (which has since been rebranded as Vector Inventory). It does exactly what you're looking for, and the included rollout tools made deploying it a reasonably simple affair. The server component was just a database as I remember - we used SQL Server, but I'd imagine you could use whatever you have to hand to collect the data.
posted by whoojemaflip at 8:31 AM on October 2, 2006

I know you don't want product recommendations but I don't know if you have this one on your list.

At my last company we used iLient. You could add the client install into the network logon script for every machine and then all of the information you are requesting above would be pulled into a central database. Anytime some adds or removes a program it changes in the central database. Remove a memory chip? The central DB changes. And so on.
posted by dgeiser13 at 11:48 AM on October 2, 2006

I will recommend Steel Inventory. It is free, and does a very good job of everything you should need or want for Hardware and Software inventory.

We decided on Steel, after trying a number of other solutions, and finding none that were easy, performed well, and gave us the features we wanted.
posted by stovenator at 5:01 PM on October 2, 2006

Best answer: Thanks for all of the input. I tried out PC-Duo Enterprise (formerly LANutil, rebranded by Vector Inventory) as suggested by whoojemaflip.

I also looked into a lot of other offerings.

The biggest thing they all lacked was actual license key information on the software installed on client machines, as well as software metering to show who used what, when, and how often.

So, after careful research, we're going with Altiris SAMS. It will do all we need for a very affordable price. List price is $35/managed client. I will suggest you contact a reseller though, as you will end up with a substantial price drop as we saw when going through Dell.
posted by criticman at 4:57 AM on October 3, 2006

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