IT Asset Management (Cloud)

In IT Asset Management, inventory beacons are used as staging posts between the application server and target inventory devices. Inventory devices retrieve data from the distribution locations on inventory beacons, and upload data to reporting locations on inventory beacons. Notice that all communications (regardless of the perceived 'direction') are initiated by the installed FlexNet Inventory Agent. Each of these processes is atomic, meaning that the agent components may reassess which inventory beacon to use for each individual operation.

Details of accessible distribution locations and reporting locations in your inventory beacon hierarchy are stored on each target inventory device. These locations are "accessible" when the target inventory device can successfully communicate with the inventory beacon. In the main, this means that the inventory beacon is configured for anonymous authentication; although an inventory beacon using Windows Basic Authentication may also be included, if it is known that the target inventory device already possesses the credentials to use for that inventory beacon. The mechanism works like this:
  • A source list of inventory beacons configured for anonymous authentication is automatically maintained on the central application server.
  • The source list is distributed to all inventory beacons as a resource, and updated (when needed) as part of the inventory beacon policy update.
  • An installed FlexNet Inventory Agent chooses an inventory beacon and requests an update to its device policy. It may happen that the FlexNet Inventory Agent makes this request to its bootstrap inventory beacon (the one it contacted first after installation), for which it may have been provided credentials as part of its installation.
  • In response, the inventory beacon prepares a list of available inventory beacons, making it ready to download to the requesting target inventory device. If this inventory beacon itself uses Windows Basic Authentication, it knows that the requesting inventory device possesses the appropriate credentials (just used to make the policy update request), and therefore inserts itself into the list of available inventory beacons. This is the only standard way that an inventory beacon that does not accept anonymous authentication is included in this "failover list" of available inventory beacons.
    Tip: To maintain backward compatibility with legacy versions of the FlexNet Inventory Agent, the failover list references server names for the inventory beacons, rather than IP addresses which might be in the IPv6 address family (not supported by legacy versions of FlexNet Inventory Agent).
  • When the policy update for the target inventory device includes a changed list of available inventory beacons, the inventory device saves all the details in its registry (on Microsoft Windows) or its registry-equivalent config.ini file (on UNIX-like platforms).

As some inventory beacons are better suited to a given inventory device than others, the inventory device can prioritize the list of inventory beacons. (You may also override this capability by setting a fixed priority.) To determine which inventory beacon to use for upload and download activities, inventory devices use a set of rules, called algorithms, to assign priorities to each inventory beacon. Thereafter the inventory beacon with the highest priority (lowest numeric value) is used. This is commonly referred to as determining the closest inventory beacon, although the inventory beacon may not be the one physically closest to the inventory device.

In the event that the highest priority inventory beacon cannot be used (for example, because of network problems), the inventory beacon with the next highest priority is used, and so on until the download or upload activity can be performed. It is also possible to configure the number of, and period between, attempts to connect to each inventory beacon before switching to the next one in its prioritized failover list (see NetworkRetries and NetworkRetryPeriodIncrement).

IT Asset Management (Cloud)