Question

How do companies create a server inventory?

Answer

Companies create server inventories to better manage their IT assets, and to keep tabs on server and system performance. They may build a server inventory manually, or use automated server inventory tools, or combine some hybrid approach.

In the effort to build a consistent server inventory, companies may rely on best practices while adding servers, such as specifying roles, or avoiding a particular kind of server status. For example, mandating a server status of “managed” or “unmanaged,” rather than “unspecified,” can help. Planners also often build a server profile to know more about each piece of hardware in a distributed system, with details including the IP address, model, manufacturer, CPU and memory capacity, and disk size of the server. Additional strategies may include working with IP address data, or only adding servers to the system in specific ways that are more trackable later.

In today’s heterogeneous systems, companies may also have to consider the location and ownership of servers when they are building the server inventory. With cloud systems, a company may or may not include certain servers in the inventory, according to their status, although in general, to be accurate, an inventory should include all connected servers that add capacity.

Companies may also look at how servers are configured. Another common practice is to tag servers according to some criteria to better organize them within a system. Often, planners look in detail at workloads and capacity for each server, as they consider things like CPU bottlenecks and proper resource allocation.

Companies can use a variety of tools to assist with building a server inventory. They may use items like a Microsoft Asset Planning (MAP) toolkit, or other automation tools to help to build a server inventory with less manual work. These automation tools can also provide key updates on servers according to things like vendor support or patches, upgrades and the use of removable media. These tools can track elements like build or install date, warranties and much more. They are, in many ways, central asset management tools, as well as tools for building an effective server inventory.

Companies may also face various challenges in trying to construct a server inventory, either manually or with automation. Cost can be an issue, where the firm needs the specific asset management tools that fit into a budget to provide the right level of support. Training can be an issue, where a resource may have too much of a learning curve for a particular deployment. Change management and the standardization of data are other challenges that may be involved in server inventory creation. Companies have to take a methodical approach to asset management and system administration to really know what is in their server networks.

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Justin Stoltzfus
Contributor

Justin Stoltzfus is an independent blogger and business consultant assisting a range of businesses in developing media solutions for new campaigns and ongoing operations. He is a graduate of James Madison University.Stoltzfus spent several years as a staffer at the Intelligencer Journal in Lancaster, Penn., before the merger of the city’s two daily newspapers in 2007. He also reported for the twin weekly newspapers in the area, the Ephrata Review and the Lititz Record.More recently, he has cultivated connections with various companies as an independent consultant, writer and trainer, collecting bylines in print and Web publications, and establishing a reputation…