Numara Track-It! 8
Track-It! is an integrated suite whose main purpose is the discovery, management and audit of the "assets" in your organisation. In this context an asset will generally be a piece of hardware or a software licence.
The package is a fair size – a hefty 324MB download – and can take some time to install. It needs a database for data storage, and while it ships with a copy of SQL Server 2005 Express Edition, it's equally happy to install on an existing SQL Server 2000/2005 server if you have one.
Once you're up and running, you'll see modules covering the various functions of the system: hardware and software discovery/management/auditing, purchasing, helpdesk and training. The first step you'll generally take is to run a discovery process over your network to allow the system to find the various bits of kit that are attached. When it finds new pieces of equipment it doesn't just dump them into the master asset collection, but instead retains them in a holding area so you can choose what to do with them. This is a very neat idea because it lets you choose whether you really want to include each item (it may have found a visitor's PDA on the wireless LAN, for instance) and if so, you get the chance to reconcile the new items with other parts of Track-It! – more about that later.
The auditing element is, as you might expect, concerned with the configuration of systems and, most importantly, the software installations thereon. There's a little client agent (which can be hidden from the user) which, in addition to finding what software is installed where, can do other stuff such as running IPCONFIG and returning the results to the central station. The audit process is an ongoing concept, by the way: everything has a history, so you can monitor when packages are added, removed or updated. Items of software that are found can be categorised as you see fit as "prohibited" (i.e. not allowed), "approved" (supported), "permitted" (allowed but unsupported) and "unidentified".
Now, a moment ago we mentioned reconciliation of hardware against other parts of the system. Actually the story's much better than that: because it's a properly integrated system, you can reconcile something in one part to an item in the other. So you could, for instance, link a user to a computer. More sneakily, if you use the purchasing bit of the system you can relate the physical items of kit/software back to the purchase order they were bought with. The marketing chaps at Numara told me (and I believe them, as it's a kind of cool feature) that many companies that don't actually use Track-It! to purchase kit do still use the purchasing function to help them keep track of warranties and maintenance contracts.