Common: Choosing Values from Multiple Inventory Records

IT Asset Management (Cloud)
This topic applies to all forms of gathered inventory:
  • All forms of FlexNet inventory gathering, including all the cases covered in this document
  • Inventory imported from third-party tools, such as Microsoft Endpoint Configuration Manager (previously Microsoft SCCM), IBM ILMT, and others
  • Inventory imported in spreadsheets or CSV files.

Once sets of imported inventory records that relate to a single device have been identified (see Common: Identifying Related Inventory), it is still necessary to decide, if the records have different values for any properties, which value should be used to update the "golden record" in the compliance database. Since it is possible that one property will be selected from imported record A and a different property from imported record B, this process is called data merging.

The process of data merging is relatively straight-forward:
  • All data from the primary inventory source is used. If there are two data sets from the primary source (for example, last week's inventory and this week's inventory), values from the record with the most recent date/time stamp are used. (To select the primary data source, go to the Data Imports page (Data Collection > IT Assets Inventory Tasks > Data Imports) and select the Inventory Data tab.)
  • For any individual property values missing from the primary source record:
    • If a missing property appears in any single secondary source, it is inserted to augment the data from the primary source (however, existing values taken from the primary inventory source are never modified)
    • If missing properties appear in multiple secondary sources, values from the record with the most recent date/time stamp are used (secondary sources cannot be prioritized relative to one another by any means other than the inventory collection date).

In these ways, information gathered from primary and secondary inventory sources is merged to produce a single record in which data from the primary source is always dominant.

The fact that values are merged individually means that data from a previous inventory collection may still "show through" in an updated record. For example, imagine this scenario:
  • ADDM is used as your primary inventory source, and its inventory is imported daily.
  • FlexNet Inventory Agent is installed on selected long-running servers, and inventory is taken weekly. This inventory contains values not available in ADDM.

On Monday, inventory of an AIX system is imported from both sources. The merging process (described above) inserts into the primary record (from ADDM) the missing value of the host type (8202, collected by FlexNet Inventory Agent). On Tuesday, new ADDM inventory is imported, and the fields collected by ADDM are updated. Because there is no new inventory from the secondary sources on this day, the value of the host type previously collected is left unchanged. The inventory device record displayed in IT Asset Management remains complete.

IT Asset Management (Cloud)