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Softinventive Lab is raffling off two licenses, each worth $1,490 USD, of its software and hardware inventory solution Total Network Inventory(TNI). The license allows you to scan an unlimited number of nodes nationwide. The deadline of this contest is October 26, 2011. If you want to have a chance to win this license, please send an email with the subject "TNI" to .
Inventory Software - Total Network Inventory 2
Version 2 of TNI was released just a few weeks ago. If you have worked with a previous edition, you will notice quite a few changes and enhancements. Most noteworthy is that you can now not only scan Windows machines but also Macs, Linux, FreeBSD, and generic devices that support SNMP. This makes TNI a complete inventory software that allows you to keep track of all the hardware and software in your network.
Installing Total Network Inventory
What I like about TNI is that the installation is very fast. Essentially, you only have to start the setup file and tell TNI where to store the data, and you are done. The database can be located on a desktop or, if multiple admins need access, stored on a file server.
Once TNI is running, you can immediately start scanning machines without further preparations. That is, you don't have to take care of the deployment of agents. TNI automatically installs the agents on remote computers; this is so fast that I first thought that TNI is an agent-less inventory solution.
Inventory Software - Total Network Inventory - Scanning
Agent-based vs. agent-less inventory
The main advantage of agent-based inventory software is that they can retrieve the inventory data much faster and more reliably than inventory software that just leverage the RPC protocol to connect to the client's WMI service. The reason is that once the agent is installed on the client, it can collect all inventory data first and then send the compressed data to the server.
By contrast, a remote WMI connection generates significant network traffic and also increases the load on the inventory server. And if the network connectivity is slow or unreliable, the inventory process will suffer as well.
A downside of agent-based solutions is that you have one more piece of software on all your machines that has to be updated or removed when you change your inventory software. However, with TNI, this problem doesn't exist because once the data is collected the agent is removed automatically. This leaves the machine in the exact state it was in before the scan. TNI is therefore as easy to manage as an agent-less inventory solution and as reliable and fast as an agent-based tool.
TNI 2 still supports remote scanning through RPC for environments where the deployment of the agent via SMB is not possible, but the agent-based inventory approach is certainly the preferred method in most scenarios.
Both methods have one common disadvantage. They only work for clients that are online when you start the scanning process. For these situations, TNI allows you to install and run the agent through logon scripts. The inventory data is then stored at a central location and can be imported manually or automatically into TNI's database. The data on machines with no network connection or Windows XP Home computers can be imported in a similar way by starting the agent manually from external media.
Linux machines, FreeBSD computers and Macs are scanned in a way similar to scans performed on remote Windows computers. The difference is that Total Network Inventory uses SSH instead of the SMB protocol to deploy the agent.
In my next post, I will explain how you can scan computers and view software and hardware inventory details.