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SCE Tasks & Inventory: Systems Composition Enumeration

Use Systems Center Essentials to find out what your networks are made of.

Last time we looked at how proactive management using Microsoft's Systems Center Essentials can improve the lives of administrators in the smallest of networks. This time, let's look at the how to handle the inventory process with SCE. With its regular inventory along with its reporting capabilities, you'll immediately get an understanding of the composition of servers and workstations on your network.

Once you've installed SCE into your network, one of the first things you'll want to do is run its discovery and agent installation process. That process will locate servers and workstations on your network and install the SCE client. Also possible under Advanced Discovery is the enumeration of network devices that have known "read" SNMP strings configured. The benefit here is the ability for SCE to notify you when network devices go down.

Once clients have been installed onto target computers, you'll find a set of tasks that you can perform on those clients. Those tasks range from typical command-line tools you would normally run on the console of each system like running an "ipconfig," listing processes on a system or forcing an inventory refresh. If a task isn't available natively, simply create one through the authoring node.

Tasks are useful tools in that they allow admins to run actions as if they were at the client machine, but doing so from the comfort of their own chair. Remote control capabilities are similarly possible through the interface. This means that a single administrator can single-handedly deal with more problems, as they aren't forced to travel the hallways and sit at client machines to solve problems.

Specific to inventory, the clients pull hardware and software inventory data through each client's WMI store. Useful reports that can be pulled using inventory information include software installed on managed machines, the hardware capabilities of each machine (which is useful for Vista upgrades), and the status of software installations and updates.

For example, if you want to see a list of software installed on systems in your environment, select a computer group and in the right pane choose the report titled Software Inventory. In the resulting screen, select the computers to run the report against and click Run. The resulting report will show you the installed software for each selected computer.

Similar reports are available for performance history, hardware inventory, and any configuration changes that may have occurred over a period of time. For small environments that fall under compliance regulations, these reports are handy for helping pass those nasty annual audits.

About the Author

Greg Shields is Author Evangelist with PluralSight, and is a globally-recognized expert on systems management, virtualization, and cloud technologies. A multiple-year recipient of the Microsoft MVP, VMware vExpert, and Citrix CTP awards, Greg is a contributing editor for Redmond Magazine and Virtualization Review Magazine, and is a frequent speaker at IT conferences worldwide. Reach him on Twitter at @concentratedgreg.

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