One Inventory Beacon or Many?

IT Asset Management (Cloud)
You may need multiple inventory beacons for:
  • Load balancing
  • Network access.

Load Balancing

For good performance, limit each beacon to about 10,000 devices that it will inventory directly or through the installed FlexNet Inventory Agent. (This limit does not apply to inventory collected from third-party systems.)

Manage this load by assigning individual subnets to each inventory beacon through the settings in the compliance browser.

Network Access

You may require multiple inventory beacons because of your network configuration. For example, you may want one inventory beacon in a 'demilitarized zone' facing the Internet to collect inventory from road warrior laptops (with inventory agents installed); or you may have multiple separate domains.

You may deploy inventory agents (that will report to these inventory beacons) by several means:
  • You might use an existing deployment tool, such as Microsoft Endpoint Configuration Manager (previously Microsoft SCCM).
  • For a small number of instances, you might install manually
  • You can allow IT Asset Management to automatically complete either of these tasks that you specify in the web interface:
    • Install inventory agents on target devices for local inventory gathering (this process is sometimes called adoption), with subsequent inventory upload to an inventory beacon
    • Use remote execution to take 'zero-footprint inventory' that leaves no installation footprint on the target device.

Any process for inventory gathering by IT Asset Management (either by remote execution or by installing an inventory agent) requires that each target device is (initially) discoverable by an inventory beacon. Discoverable means both that it must be visible on the network, and there must be some way to tell what the device is. Because many unmanaged devices like printers and routers may also have IP addresses, the address alone is insufficient evidence to prove that the discovered item is a computer. To allow gathering of additional evidence to support the creation of a computer record, either:

  • An inventory beacon must be in the same subnet from which it gathers inventory (this allows it to use ARP requests to also determine the MAC address of discovered devices), or
  • An inventory beacon must have full DNS entries visible for all devices discovered on separate subnets, so that it can look up a device name.

Notice that these conditions must be met each time that zero-footprint inventory is to be executed. For adoption, these conditions must apply only for the automated roll-out and local installation of the FlexNet Inventory Agent. Once the agent is installed, it can report to the appropriate inventory beacon like any other installed agent (regardless of the installation method), and can use that same beacon channel for updates of agent updates, inventory rules, and so on. Even when the device (such a laptop) is moved around the network, or its inventory beacon is inaccessible across the network, its inventory agent can fail over to any other available inventory beacon that was known when it last made contact (remembering that 'available' inventory beacons are those configured for anonymous authentication).

IT Asset Management (Cloud)