What Is an Inventory Beacon?

IT Asset Management (Cloud)

An inventory beacon is a computer located within your enterprise that gathers software inventory and other information that you specify, and uploads the data to IT Asset Management.

The software to install on an inventory beacon server is downloaded from IT Asset Management, and called FlexNet Beacon. After installation, you use the FlexNet Beacon software to download and install a configuration file that has been customized for this inventory beacon (do not share these files between inventory beacons).

An inventory beacon allows you to securely manage data-gathering connections within your own environment. The resulting data files are then pushed to your chosen cloud instance of IT Asset Management.

The inventory beacon combines several different kinds of functionality:

  • Third-party inventory: An inventory beacon can collect data from third-party systems including Microsoft Endpoint Configuration Manager (previously Microsoft SCCM), IBM ILMT, and many others. These tools collect their inventory data in their own databases. You can use the inventory beacon interface to specify connections to those third-party databases to extract inventory information for upload. Because this third-party inventory may be in different formats, IT Asset Management uses inventory adapters to make connection with those databases and massage their data for import to your central operations databases. Several inventory adapters are provided as part of the system, and you can write additional inventory adapters for other inventory sources. Inventory adapters are edited, managed, and scheduled from the inventory beacon.
  • Discovery: An inventory beacon can be instructed to scan your network and identify computing devices that may be targets for inventory gathering. This is controlled by rules that you edit and manage in the web interface.
  • FlexNet inventory: An inventory beacon can also cause the collection of hardware and software inventory from target systems. Like discovery, these methods of inventory gathering are also largely controlled by rules you create in the web interface. The inventory beacon can set up inventory collection in one of three ways:
    • It can "adopt" a target inventory device by installing the FlexNet inventory agent on it. Like the inventory beacon itself, the installed FlexNet inventory agent is self-managing, so that after adoption, it is no longer controlled by inventory-gathering rules defined in the web interface, but gathers inventory according to a universal schedule.
    • The inventory beacon can use zero footprint inventory collection, which does not leave a permanent installation on the target device.
    • In the case of Oracle Database servers in particular, the inventory beacon can connect directly to the listener for an Oracle database instance, and gather database inventory directly (which is why we call this the direct inventory method).
  • Business data: An inventory beacon can also collect ancillary information from your business systems. This information is not directly software or hardware inventory, but can be very important in calculating your compliance or liability. Examples include details of purchases, or the structure of your enterprise.
  • Infrastructure data: The inventory beacon can gather information from Active Directory to help you manage your sites, subnets, users, and computers, automating what would otherwise be considerable data input.
  • Upload management: An inventory beacon manages the upload of all collected data to your central operations databases. Separate import processes then finalize the data imports.
  • Self-management: Beacons are intelligent, and once configured, update their own rules and can even update their own software.

IT Asset Management (Cloud)