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Lesson 2: Configuring Hardware and Software Inventory

Configuring inventory collection starts at the site server using the SMS Administrator console. Inventory activation is initiated through a three-step process: discovering computer resources, enabling installation methods, and configuring the inventory client agents. Resource discovery and installation methods were discussed in Chapter 2. Configuring the inventory client agents is the subject of this lesson.

After this lesson, you will be able to Estimated Completion Time: 35 minutes

Configuration Procedures

The inventory client agents are configured using the Client Agents node in the SMS Administrator console. Configuration settings apply to all client computers within the site boundaries. When the the Client Agents node is selected, hardware inventory is configured from the Hardware Inventory Client Agent in the details pane. Software inventory is configured from the Software Inventory Client Agent in the details pane. Both inventory client agents are enabled and scheduled from the General tab contained in the properties dialog box of each client agent.

Configuring Inventory Collection Frequency

Inventory scheduling works similarly for both hardware and software inventory collection. Scheduling is designed to control how often inventory is collected from a client computer. In order to minimize the use of network resources, inventory agents run locally and collect inventory based on a schedule. When the client computer connects to the network, the inventory client agents copy previously collected data to the CAP for processing. This process separates inventory data collection from network logon. The result is network logon unencumbered by inventory collection processing.

There are two methods of scheduling inventory client agents, using either the simple schedule or the full schedule. The simple schedule instructs the inventory client agent to collect inventory data at specific hourly, daily, or weekly intervals (for example every 4 hours, once a day, or once every three weeks). A full schedule instructs the inventory agent to begin inventory on a specific date and at a specific time, after which a recurrence pattern is configured. Recurrence patterns can be:

Figure 3-1. Inventory is configured to occur on the last day of every third month effective at 7:01 p.m. on Monday, November 30, 1998.

Inventory collection should be scheduled to occur at regular intervals to keep the site database current. However, if inventory components rarely change, it is a good idea to set inventory collection to take place occasionally rather than frequently.

In large networks, occasional rather than frequent inventory collection is particularly important. If you are configuring SMS for a large network, pay close attention to Chapter 9, "Planning for SMS" and the planning section of the SMS Administrator's Guide.

Software Inventory Collection

The settings under the Software Inventory Client Agent - Inventory Collection tab are used to modify the data retrieval characteristics of software inventory collection (Figure 3-2). File types (application files, EXE by default) or file names are inventoried based on the settings under this tab. The level of product reporting detail is also configured from the Inventory Collection tab. File reporting details are categorized by known products, files associated with known products, and files not associated with known products.

Figure 3-2. The Inventory Collection tab in the Software Inventory Client Agent Properties dialog box.

To gather file reporting details, the Software Inventory Client Agent reads the header of the files you instruct it to collect. Known product information includes company name and product name, product version, and product language. For known products, renaming a file to be inventoried will not conceal the identity of the file. If the Software Inventory Client Agent is configured to report on files associated with known products, it will collect information on files that support the product, such as dynamic link libraries. If product information cannot be determined by inspecting file header data, software inventory can still be collected, but the software will not be categorized by manufacturer in the site database.

The settings under the Software Inventory Client Agent - File Collection tab are used to configure the file names or file types that should be collected and sent to the site server (Figure 3-3).

Figure 3-3. The File Collection tab in the Software Inventory Client Agent Properties dialog box.

File names longer than the 8.3 format can be specified on computers that support long file names (LFN). File names using wildcards other than *.* can be used for file collection. Using wild cards for file collection or collecting large files from client computers is not advisable, since doing so can quickly fill up the site server's hard disk. In most cases, only small files should be collected. However, you can control the maximum amount of data that may be collected on each client computer by file collection.

Inventory Component Installation and Configuration

After the inventory client agents are activated in the SMS Administrator console, they are installed via an installation method. Installation methods were discussed in Chapter 2. The configuration settings of the inventory client agents are communicated by the site server to the CAP; they are then transferred from the CAP to the client computer when the Client Component Installation Manager runs. The Client Component Installation Manager (CCIM16.EXE for Windows 16-bit client computers and CCIM32.EXE for Windows 32-bit client computers) manages all SMS client agent installations and reconfigurations. It also synchronizes all SMS data between the client computer and the CAP. Threads of the SMS Executive pass the data back and forth from the CAP to the site server. When the inventory client agents run, they perform their work based on settings dictated by the Client Component Installation Manager.

Except for Windows NT/2000, installation and configuration of a client computer is always performed in the context of the logged-on user. A user logged on to a Windows NT/2000 computer may not have sufficient rights to perform an installation or reconfiguration of client components. In this case, the Client Configuration Manager, a thread of the SMS Executive, performs the installation or reconfiguration of client components. The Client Configuration Manager connects to the Windows NT/2000 client computer using the SMS Client Remote Installation Account. If this Windows NT/2000 user account is not created, the Client Configuration Manager uses the SMS Service account to install and reconfigure client agents.