FlexNet Inventory Scanner: Implementation on Windows

IT Asset Management (Cloud)
This process covers obtaining, configuring, and deploying the FlexNet inventory core components in the FlexNet Inventory Scanner configuration on Microsoft Windows platforms. Two forms of deployment are covered:
  • A one-off manual deployment for testing, evaluation, or simple infrastructures
  • A repeatable process for deploying the FlexNet Inventory Scanner to multiple devices.
Tip: It is best practice for a user account with local administrator privileges to execute the FlexNet Inventory Scanner. While the agent still runs with lesser privileges, it only collects the full range of inventory when executed with administrator privileges. Therefore, if you are about to do a one-off, manual deployment, it is helpful to log into the target device using a local administrator account.
You can conveniently begin this process on a server where you want to deploy the FlexNet Inventory Scanner.

To install and run the FlexNet Inventory Scanner:

  1. Use your browser to access the Flexera Customer Community.
    1. On https://community.flexera.com/, use the account details emailed to you with your order confirmation from Flexera to log in (using the Login link in the top right).
      Tip: Access requires your Customer Community user name and password. If you do not have one, click the Let's go! button on the login page to request one. Your credentials are configured for access to content you have licensed.
    2. Select Find My Product and choose FlexNet Manager from the top menu. Now click the button PRODUCT RESOURCES - PRODUCT INFORMATION which will expose the Download Products and Licenses link. Click on this option.
      A routing page appears to let you Access Product and License Center, displaying lists of products from Flexera.
    3. In the lists of products, identify FlexNet Manager Platform, and immediately below it, click LET'S GO.
      The Product and License Center site displays.
    4. In the Your Downloads section of the Home page, click the link for FlexNet Manager Platform.
    5. In the Download Packages page, click the link for FlexNet Manager Platform 2023 R2.5 to access the downloads.
  2. Select the Flexera Inventory Scanner for IT Asset Management 2023 R2.5 archive (Flexera Inventory Scanner for IT Asset Management 2023 R2.5.zip), and download to a convenient location (such as C:\temp).
  3. Expand (unzip) the archive and save FlexeraInventoryScanner.exe to your preferred path.
    A typical path is in the temp folder for the logged-in account (or, if you prefer, a subfolder such as temp\FIS). When the self-installing executable is run, it installs the operational code into the current user's temp folder, making it convenient if both the self-installing executable and the operational code objects are in the same folder (or one closely related).
    Tip: Optionally, you may save FlexeraInventoryScanner.exe to a file share that is accessible from many target devices.
  4. Optionally, customize the WMI classes used for inventory collection on this device.
    The inventory tool within the FlexNet Inventory Scanner provides defaults for normal operation. You may override and extend these default behaviors by providing a customized wmitrack.ini in the same folder where the self-installing executable is saved (suggested: the temp\FIS folder). Notice that this is not the operational folder where the tools execute, but the storage location of FlexeraInventoryScanner.exe. If a customized wmitrack.ini file is present, it replaces all the default values used by the inventory tool when it is installed, so be careful not to omit any settings that you may require from your customized file. To customize:
    1. Log into an inventory beacon, navigate to %ProgramFiles%\Flexera Software\Inventory Beacon\Tracker, and take a copy of wmitrack.ini to the device where you are working.
    2. Edit your new copy of wmitrack.ini to suit your requirements.
      For more information, see WMI Configuration File (wmitrack.ini).
    3. Save the modified file with the same wmitrack.ini file name in the same folder where you stored FlexeraInventoryScanner.exe (suggested: the temp\FIS folder).
  5. Optionally, extend the inventory-gathering of the FlexNet Inventory Scanner with additional functionality you have licensed.
    Functionality extensions are embedded in the file InventorySettings.xml, which may be updated from time to time in the ARL download process. Your current license terms are integrated with the same file on the central application server, and the result is automatically downloaded to your inventory beacons after each update. On the inventory beacon, the file is saved in %CommonAppData%\Flexera Software\Beacon\InventorySettings. Particularly if
    1. You have licensed the FlexNet Manager for Datacenters product, and
    2. You want this instance of FlexNet Inventory Scanner to collect Oracle inventory, or Microsoft SQL Server inventory, from the target device,
    copy InventorySettings.xml from an inventory beacon to the target device, into the same folder where you stored FlexeraInventoryScanner.exe (suggested: the temp\FIS folder).
    Important: Do not edit this file!
    Tip: Take note of the revision number in the first line of the InventorySettings.xml file for future reference. Set a reminder for yourself in your preferred tool to check the revision number of InventorySettings.xml after future updates of the Application Recognition Library. If the revision changes, you should manually update all the copies you manually deployed. These changes allow the inventory tool to stay abreast of inventory changes necessary to support the latest Oracle or SQL Server licenses.
  6. To run a test and inspect the resulting inventory files, double-click the self-installing FlexeraInventoryScanner.exe in Windows Explorer.
    Remember: For complete hardware and software inventory collection, you should be logged in with local administrator privileges.
    The installer copies the executables, together with any co-located configuration files (wmitrack.ini and InventorySettings.xml), into the temp directory of the current user account on the target device, and immediately initiates inventory collection. When started in this way, there are no settings for uploading the result, and the uncompressed inventory (.ndi) file(s) are left in the user's temp directory. You may open an .ndi file in a text editor to review its contents.
  7. To run once and upload the resulting inventory files:
    1. Using your account with administrator privileges, open a command window on the device.
    2. Navigate to the folder containing the self-installing executable (suggested: the temp\FIS folder).
    3. Execute the FlexNet Inventory Scanner with command-line options for inventory upload, such as the following (all on one line):
      FlexeraInventoryScanner.exe 
          -o UploadLocation="http://InventoryBeacon/ManageSoftRL"
          -o Upload="true"
      substituting the fully qualified domain name of your inventory beacon for the placeholder InventoryBeacon. (ManageSoftRL is the name of a web service on the inventory beacon that receives the uploaded inventory and saves it by default to %CommonAppData%\Flexera Software\Incoming\Inventories.) Keep in mind that the -o Upload="true" option (including enclosing the value in double quotation marks) is mandatory for uploads by this executable on the Windows platform.
    Any command-line options you provide to the self-installing executable are passed directly through to the inventory tool (ndtrack.exe). For details of other available options, see ndtrack Command Line. Immediately after completing the inventory collection, the inventory tool attempts to compress and upload the inventory file(s) to the inventory beacon you identified.
    Tip: Because the FlexNet Inventory Scanner does not include the separate ndupload component, there is no retry in the event of the failure of this one-time upload attempt.
    When the initial upload attempt is successful, the inventory file(s) are collected with all others uploaded to this inventory beacon, and join the standard process of upload to, and resolution on, the central application server. When the process is complete, the executables (and any optional configuration files) are uninstalled from the user's temp directory. As always, uncompressed copies of the .ndi files are saved in the temp directory of the executing account on the target device, and replaced at each future repeat of this process.
    Note: The purpose of the FlexNet Inventory Scanner is as described above: one-time use in special circumstances, including for testing during infrastructure development. It is not intended for full-time production use, as it lacks facilities like upload retries, policy updates, self-updates, and the like that are needed in a production environment. For production use, best practice is to deploy the full FlexNet Inventory Agent (in either the Adopted case or the Agent third-party deployment case). At the very least, it is preferable to deploy the FlexNet inventory core components (in the Core deployment case) to avoid the repeated overheads of installation and removal of the executable code by the self-installing executable FlexeraInventoryScanner.exe. The following steps, then, are not recommended, but provided only as thought starters if you intend to deploy FlexNet Inventory Scanner.

To deploy the FlexNet Inventory Scanner more widely:

  1. If you choose to deploy the FlexNet Inventory Scanner more widely:
    1. Package the FlexeraInventoryScanner.exe, along with the optional wmitrack.ini and InventorySettings.xml files (when applicable), in your preferred deployment tool.
    2. Deploy these to known locations on target devices.
      One location to consider is on a file share accessible from many target devices.
    3. As part of the deployment process, set up a scheduled task in your preferred scheduling tool (such as Microsoft Scheduler) on each target device:
      • The task should run under an account with administrator privileges, preferably the local SYSTEM account.
      • The command line must include parameters to attempt uploads to an inventory beacon (preferably a high-reliability server and network, since there is no catch-up from failed upload attempts), such as the following (on a single line, and inserting your inventory beacon server's domain name in place of the place-holder):
        drive-and-path\FlexeraInventoryScanner.exe 
            -o UploadLocation="http://InventoryBeacon/ManageSoftRL"
            -o Upload="true"
      • The command line may include other parameters discussed in ndtrack Command Line.
      • You may need to vary (or randomize) the scheduled time for inventory collection, to spread the load on either the file share hosting the self-installing executable or the inventory beacon accepting the subsequent uploads.

IT Asset Management (Cloud)

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