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Collecting Hardware and Software Inventory

By collecting hardware and software inventory data with Microsoft® Systems Management Server (SMS) 2003, you can build a rich database containing detailed information about the computers in your organization.

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Distinguishing Between Hardware Inventory and Software Inventory
In This Chapter


You can employ several SMS features to use the data that SMS collects by using hardware inventory and software inventory. For example:

  • You can build queries that include computers based on their hardware configuration or installed software. The queries are useful to technical analysts and others who want to proactively prevent problems by checking for computers with configuration problems, such as insufficient disk space.

  • You can build collections with queries that include computers based on their hardware configuration or installed software. Those collections can then be used to advertise software packages to computers that require the software and are capable of supporting it.

  • You can produce reports that display useful hardware configuration or installed software details. The reports are useful to managers, systems analysts, and others who need to make decisions based on information about the current computer infrastructure.

  • You can use the SMS Resource Explorer to view the complete inventory data for individual computers. This view of individual computers is especially useful when remotely troubleshooting computer problems.

SMS software inventory can also collect files, not just details about the files, from SMS client computers. With file collection, you specify a set of files to be copied from clients to the SMS site that the clients are assigned to.

Chapter 3, "Understanding SMS Features," of the Microsoft Systems Management Server 2003 Concepts, Planning, and Deployment Guide introduces hardware and software inventory in more detail. That chapter also explains inventory resynchronization, delta inventory collection, and similar topics that are key to the successful use of the SMS inventory features.

This chapter prepares you to implement and use SMS inventory. In the future, you might have some special requirements when using the Resource Explorer, or you might want SMS to collect information about your computers that requires special extensions to the inventory collection processes. At that time, you should read Chapter 3, "Advanced Inventory Collection."

Distinguishing Between Hardware Inventory and Software Inventory

When working with SMS inventory features, remember the distinctions between hardware inventory and software inventory. The primary distinction between the two inventory mechanisms is how they work.

Software inventory works by scanning the disks on each computer to find files and gather information about files. You can also configure software inventory to collect specific files when it finds them.

Hardware inventory works by querying Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI) for all data from certain WMI classes. For more information about WMI, see Appendix B, "Windows Management Instrumentation." WMI includes classes for operating system configuration and entities (such as user accounts), installed software, software configuration, and other objects (such as for the logged on user). These classes are supplements to hardware classes. Hardware inventory collects information about many things besides hardware. For example, it can inventory software by collecting details about programs listed in Add or Remove Programs in Control Panel or programs that have been installed using Windows Installer.

Because hardware inventory collects a wide variety of data, you might determine that most of your inventory needs can be served by hardware inventory collection alone. Also, with hardware inventory, you can customize inventory to collect more data or different data, as described in Chapter 3, "Advanced Inventory Collection." Software inventory is useful when you require information about the files on the disks, not necessarily about the software that has been installed. In that sense, software inventory could be called "file inventory."

Examples of commonly used inventory classes and the inventory methods that must be enabled to collect them are included in the "Reviewing the Inventory Data" section later in this chapter.

In This Chapter

  • Hardware Inventory Administrative Tasks

  • Software Inventory Administrative Tasks

  • Using Resource Explorer to View Inventory Data

  • Other Considerations for Collecting Inventory

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