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Network Asset Inventory Best Practices
Network Asset Inventory is important because it helps users keep track of the types of devices on the network, the versions of those devices, serial numbers, licenses etc.
Networks are made up of both hardware and software components. The hardware components include CPUs, RAMs, storage devices, security devices, routers and more. The software components include firewalls, operating systems, applications and the like. All these components are called network assets. Together, both types of components form a complex system which can be difficult to monitor manually.
Without network asset inventory, it is next to impossible to ensure the smooth running of the network. Because all devices on the network are interconnected, it is important to know how each one is connected and what the status of each device is.
With an inventory, it is easier to know when licenses need to be updated, the tracking of warranties, and other infrastructure asset information. There are best practices that can be followed to ensure that network asset inventory is the most effective and has maximum impact.
The best practices for Network Asset Inventory
Manually keeping track of networked devices can be tedious, time-consuming, and prone to errors. Devices can not only be overlooked but backup schedules can be missed, new devices not added to the inventory immediately, and it is impossible to get real-time visibility of the network. The very first practice for more effective network asset inventory is to automate the processes. Automating the process requires the installation of a network asset inventory feature.
Once the network asset inventory process has been automated, it will speed up considerably making real-time tracking of the network possible. With the backup schedule being monitored, the inventory can be automatically refreshed with every backup so that it is kept current and relevant. Outdated information can be done away with, and new information is populated into the system as and when changes occur. An automated network asset inventory system makes full visibility of the system possible for users ensuring every device is accounted for.
Once the network asset inventory has been automated, the remaining best practices can fall into place a lot easier. The next practice is Discovery. Discovery is the process where each and every device on the network is discovered and added to the inventory. Only when all devices have been discovered can the user get a complete map to view the whole network. Discovery also extends to the interaction between devices.
When all the devices have been identified, it can then be discovered how they interact with each other. The network asset inventory focuses on the hardware connections between devices like cables, routers, input and output devices, hubs, bridges and so on. Inventory of these network components gives users a clear idea of how information flows through the network and what might get affected first if there is a configuration change in one or more devices. Discovery can also include remote devices that should also be added to the inventory because they are part of the network.
The next best practice in network asset inventory is prioritizing devices. Some devices by nature of their function are more important to the network than others. Prioritizing devices in order of importance in the inventory makes it easier for the user to make more impactful infrastructure management decisions. Certain components would require updating or replaceing more urgently than others, and these can be prioritized based on budgets and time.
Similarly, licenses that are due for renewal can be prioritized over those that are still current. This will help the user see those tasks as pending on the top of the list and ensure that licenses are renewed on time. The same also works for security upgrades. If a security device is due for an upgrade, this can be prioritized in the inventory so that the schedule is not missed. Prioritization of devices within the inventory can only be done when the system is automated.
Networks are not static but are constantly changing. From new devices being added and old devices being removed or replaced to configuration being upgraded, networks are undergoing change regularly. A network asset inventory also needs to be updated whenever a change takes place so that the information continues to remain relevant and useful. A best practice of network asset inventory is dynamic tracking.
Dynamic tracking monitors every time there are changes to the network. With every backup or upgrade, the inventory gets refreshed. The inventory also gets refreshed every time a new device is detected on the system. Without the function of dynamic tracking, undetected changes can build-up until the existing network configuration is quite different from what is in the inventory. This could prove disastrous if a problem occurs on the network but can’t be resolved in time because the network asset inventory is outdated.
Any business that intends to grow needs to ensure that its network asset inventory is scalable. As businesses get more profitable and start to expand, their networks also grow. Networks can extend to offsite locations that are all linked back to the central system. As mentioned earlier, it is important that every component on the network is accounted for. As networks grow, so also should the network asset inventory to include all new devices and connections.
A network asset inventory needs to be scalable so that growing networks can be accommodated without needing to change the inventory software feature. As a best practice for network asset inventory, it is best to think long-term for when the business expands and being prepared with a scalable inventory feature right at the start. A feature that can handle larger amounts of information will work well on growing networks.
Network asset inventory is intended to keep track of, and monitor networked devices for better infrastructure management. The best practices discussed in this article help make the process of network asset inventory more efficient and complete. When employed, these best practices ensure that the network asset inventory is always up to date and can be used more efficiently.