The big choice for gathering inventory: the FlexNet inventory agent or tool "XYZ"?

ChrisG
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A common question that needs to be considered when deploying FlexNet Manager Suite is what technology to use to gather hardware and software details (aka "inventory") from computers and virtual instances in your environment. This is often a choice between the FlexNet inventory agent and existing tools that are already deployed. Common tools you may have in your organization include Microsoft Endpoint Configuration Manager (formerly SCCM), IBM License Management Tool (ILMT) or BigFix, and BMC Discovery (formerly ADDM).

There is no one right or wrong answer to this choice - each option will have pros and cons. Different alternatives will also come with different trade-offs in terms of what data they are able to gather, and the level of effort required to deploy and support the solution. A common significant pro for using existing tools is that these tools are already deployed and in use within the organization - it is easier to use them than introduce something new. Read on below to understand some specialized data that the FlexNet inventory agent gathers and that are not covered by many other technologies.

What factors have driven your decisions on inventory gathering tools and technologies to use? Leave a comment on this post to share your experiences and insights.

Data that is common between tools

Most tools that FlexNet Manager Suite imports inventory from (including the FlexNet inventory agent) will gather some or all of the following basic hardware and software information:

  • Computer identification properties like name & domain
  • Operating system
  • Currently logged on user
  • Common hardware properties (serial number, CPU information, memory, disk space, etc)
  • Details of installed software packages (such as package name, version & publisher details from the Add/Remove Programs registry area on Windows)
  • Details of executable files found on the filesystem

Specialized data gathered by the FlexNet inventory agent

The FlexNet inventory agent includes a range of specialized data gathering capabilities targeted at providing additional data to support several software license management use cases. It is not common for other tools to gather similar data that will support these use cases as robustly.

The following table lists examples of such data, with an indication of which are most relevant to server and desktop (end user) type environments.

Gathered data Servers Desktops
Data related to Oracle software:    
Granular Oracle Database & Middleware data X  
Granular Oracle Java version information on UNIX-like operating systems X X
OracleVM virtual machines running on a host X  
Extension information for OracleVM VirtualBox X  
     
Data related to Microsoft software:    
Edition information for Microsoft SQL Server, Exchange Server, SharePoint Server and BizTalk Server X  
Microsoft Hyper-V virtual machines running on a host X  
Who can and has accessed selected software requiring a Microsoft CAL (including SharePoint, Lync and Exchange) X  
     
Data related to IBM software:    
Hardware changes to support measurement of IBM sub-capacity license consumption X  
Details about various IBM server products, such as live WebSphere MQ Queue Manager state via dspmq, and Tivoli Storage Manager/Spectrum Protect X  
     
Other data:    
Inventory of software installed in Docker containers X  
Edition information for Adobe Acrobat DC   X
Edition information for Toad for Oracle   X
Details of Symantec Storage Foundation installations X  
Citrix VDI details (logged in user & VDI template) X  
Details of software installed using non-Windows platform-specific installation technologies: RPM, DEB, PKG, LPP, SDUX, IPS X X
Details of software installed using specialized 3rd party installer technologies: Oracle Universal Installer, InstallAnywhere, InstallShield Multiplatform, BEA, and IBM Installation Manager X X
ISO 19770-2 software tag details X X
AWS and Azure instance identity information X  
UNIX partitioning & virtualization information on LPARs, Zones, nPars/vPars and Linux KVM X  

 

NB. This list is current as of April 2021, and is likely to evolve over time.

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Principal Engineer // Managed Services Leipzig, Germany