Home > Network Inventory Made Easy: 5 Simple Steps
Network Inventory Made Easy: 5 Simple Steps
Network Inventory is the best way to keep track of all components of a network. Without network inventory, it is difficult to keep the network functioning effectively.
License renewals, connections between devices, security update schedules, IP addresses, the location of devices and much more can be monitored by using a network inventory solution. In the absence of an accurate inventory, several infrastructure maintenance procedures could slip through the cracks. Expired licenses, outdated security systems, faulty connections, unauthorized access to the network, and so on can eventually add up until an entire system failure takes place.
With a network inventory, it is much easier to keep track of everything that needs to be done and do it at the right time to keep the network up and running.
Now that the importance of a network inventory has been established, it is important to know the best way to go about compiling a network inventory.
The five steps discussed here are easy to implement and ensure that the inventory is created for maximum efficiency, improved security, and better infrastructure management.
The Five Steps for Network Inventory
1. Identify the use of the inventory:
A network inventory can serve several purposes including; maintaining records of networked devices, protection of network assets, security, infrastructure maintenance and more. Individual businesses can use a network inventory for single or multiple purposes. Once the purpose of the network inventory has been identified, it becomes much easier to choose how the inventory will be created.
For example, a network inventory that is purely for maintenance purposes can prioritize devices based on dates of license renewal or upgrade schedules. A network inventory that focuses more on security can be designed to be refreshed every time there is an upgrade in security device configurations. Security inventories can also immediately alert the admin of any unauthorized device that is trying to connect to the network or any changes in remotely connected devices. The purpose of the network inventory is what will determine what inventory tools are required and how the inventory is collected.
2. Find a network inventory management software:
Manually maintaining a network inventory might work for small networks but is not viable for larger networks. For large businesses or businesses planning to scale up in the future, automating the network inventory processes is a good idea. To automate the process, a software feature needs to be installed. There are a number of different types of software for network inventory. Some of these features need to be installed on multiple devices to work, while others can be installed on a central device and connect to the whole network.
The network inventory software feature can automatically connect to all devices on the network and account for them. The feature should be able to collate the information it receives into a format that is easy for the user to read and understand. Spreadsheets and network maps can make inventory information easier for a user to get a 360o view of the network. Armed with the network inventory information provided by the software feature, the user can then make management decisions relevant to the network.
3. Collect network inventory:
Using an automated system, the network inventory can be collected. Network inventory is collected by first scanning the network. Every device on the network is scanned, and information about those devices is collected. The information is then analyzed by the software, compiled, and recorded. The information collected can then be further processed depending on the company’s priorities. Once the process of information collection and processing is complete, it is compiled into a readable format.
Information that can be collected during network inventory can include the total number of hardware devices on the network, how many of each type of device are on the network, IP addresses of devices and nodes, license keys, expiry dates and so on. The types of devices on a network include CPUs, RAM, storage devices, security devices, cables, routers, hubs, switches and more. DHCP clients list can also add to network inventory information by providing IP addresses, hostnames and so on assigned by the DHCP server.
4. Discover additional hardware:
A network inventory does not remain constant. New devices are added to the network as the business expands. The network inventory software should detect and scan all new devices that connect to the network as and when they connect. Also, there are devices that might be powered-off when the initial scan and information collection takes place. The network inventory should get updated when these devices get powered on, and their information needs to be included in the inventory.
When software is installed that discovers new and additional hardware automatically, the system is more secure. Every time a new device tries to connect to the network, the inventory gets refreshed, and an alert can be sent to the admin. Unauthorized devices can be detected in real-time and can be blocked as soon as they try to connect. On the other hand, a new device that is authorized might also get blocked if the software does not recognize it, and admin can then manually update the system to include the new device.
5. Refresh inventory according to backup schedules:
Backups and upgrades can result in configuration changes within the network. The network inventory should be refreshed every time there is a backup or upgrade to ensure that the information is current and relevant. Refreshing of the inventory can be simplified if it is synced with the backup and upgrade schedule.
By syncing the schedules, the inventory can automatically get refreshed whenever any activity results in a configuration change. Users can also be alerted to network inventory being refreshed so that any unauthorized configuration changes can be noted and corrected if required.
By implementing these five simple steps, network inventory can effectively and efficiently be collected. By keeping the inventory up to date with configuration changes, renewed licenses, new devices and so on, it becomes easier to track changes in the network and know exactly what maintenance and security measures are required when and where.