A network device inventory is the best way to keep track of all the devices on a network and make sure the network is running smoothly. In this blog, we will discuss the importance of network device inventory and how to implement one in your organization. We will also explore the benefits of having an accurate and up-to-date network device inventory and discuss the best practices for creating one. So, lets explore this topic in a detailed manner.
What is network device inventory? – [Definition]
Network device inventory is a comprehensive list of all the network hardware and software that your organization is using. It includes all the physical components of a network, such as routers, switches, firewalls, servers, and other devices, as well as the software used to control, manage, and monitor the network.
The physical devices are usually listed out with detailed descriptions of their make and model, serial numbers, and other pertinent information. Software should also be listed, including the version number and any associated patches or updates that have been installed.
Why you need to maintain an up-to-date network device inventory?
An accurate inventory helps you understand the network’s physical architecture, allowing you to accurately plan, deploy, and optimize network resources. For example, if you know the exact hardware and software inventory of your network, you can easily and accurately determine the proper placement of devices, and their associated software, to ensure optimal performance and reliability.
Having an inventory of your network devices is also helpful for troubleshooting. If you have a problem with one of your devices, you can easily identify it and take the steps necessary to fix it. It’s also helpful for tracking warranties and repairs in the event of a malfunction.
A well-managed inventory of network devices is a critical part of a comprehensive security strategy. It helps identify potential security risks and helps to reduce the possibility of malicious activity. With a comprehensive inventory, administrators can easily identify and remove any devices that may be vulnerable to attack.
In addition to the security and troubleshooting benefits, having an inventory of your network devices can help you make sure you have the right gear for the job. If you’re planning a network upgrade or expansion, you can quickly determine what you need to purchase and install.
Network device inventory also helps you keep track of any changes to the network, such as upgrades or downgrades of hardware or software, and ensure that your network devices are running the latest software versions. This helps to reduce the risk of security vulnerabilities, network outages, and other issues.
Finally, network device inventory helps you identify areas of potential improvement and cost savings. By knowing exactly which devices are in your network, you can identify which devices are over- or under-utilized and make changes to increase efficiency. Additionally, you can identify areas where you can save on costs, such as replacing old or inefficient devices with newer, more cost-effective models.
What to include in the network device inventory?
There are several components that should be included in a network device inventory:
By compiling this type of information into an inventory, it can help IT teams find the right device faster, as well as keep track of important details such as warranty expiration dates and firmware versions. Additionally, if a device needs replacement or upgradation, you can use the inventory to quickly track down the appropriate replacement device.
When compiling a network device inventory, there are a few key pieces of information that should be included. Here’s a quick guide to what to include:
- Device Type: This includes the type of device, such as a router, switch, firewall, access point, or VoIP phone.
- Manufacturer: The company or brand that manufactured the device.
- Model: The device’s model number.
- Serial Number: You can use it to track the device’s warranty and repair history.
- MAC Address: The device’s MAC address, which is a unique identifier.
- OS Version: The device’s operating system version.
- Firmware Version: The device’s firmware version.
- Date of Purchase: The date that the device was purchased.
- Date of Installation: The date that the device was installed.
- Warranty Expiration Date: The date that the device’s warranty will expire.
- Contact Name: The contact person responsible for the device.
- Notes: Miscellaneous notes or comments that may be useful.
Read more about MAC Address.
When creating a network device inventory, it is important to make sure you include all of the necessary software. When it comes to software, there are a few essential software that you should include in your network device inventory. These are:
- Network Management Software: Network management software is the main component of any network device inventory. This software helps you manage, monitor, and diagnose network issues. Examples of network management software include SolarWinds, Nagios, and OpenNMS.
- Security Software: Security software is an essential component of any network device inventory. This software helps protect your network from unauthorized access and malicious attacks. Examples of security software include Symantec Endpoint Protection and McAfee Security.
- Network Monitoring Software: Network monitoring software is a valuable tool for monitoring the performance of your network. This software helps you detect and respond to performance issues and network outages. Examples of network monitoring software include SolarWinds Network Performance Monitor and PRTG Network Monitor.
- Network Configuration Software: Network configuration software helps you manage and configure your network devices. This software helps you set up and manage network settings, such as IP addresses and routing tables. Examples of network configuration software include Cisco Configuration Professional and SolarWinds Network Configuration Manager.
- Network Automation Software: Network automation software helps automate routine tasks, such as backups and patching. This software helps you save time and effort by automating mundane tasks. Examples of network automation software include Chef, Puppet, and Ansible.
- Patch Management Software: Patch management software helps administrators track and install software updates for each device. This type of software can also detect and deploy software patches that are necessary for the proper functioning of the device.
- Device Management Software: Device management software helps administrators manage the devices in the network. This type of software can control access to each device, configure its settings, and monitor its performance.
In order to have a complete network device inventory, you need to know what cables are used to connect each device, as well as what type of connection (e.g., Ethernet, Wi-Fi, etc.) is used. The connectivity information includes:
- IP Address
- Subnet mask
- Default gateway
- Other connectivity configuration
- Physical location of the device
- Business unit that is responsible for the device
Depending on the type of network device, there may be several accessories associated with the device, such as power cords, power supplies, antennas, mounts, etc. Having this information in the inventory will help you quickly determine if any accessories need to be replaced, or if they are compatible with a new device. This can be mighty useful in troubleshooting.
How to manage network device inventory efficiently?
Collecting and maintaining a network device inventory efficiently can be a tedious and time-consuming task. However, it is an important part of maintaining an effective IT infrastructure. Here are some tips to help you maintain an accurate and up-to-date network device inventory.
Start with an Inventory Database
The first step in creating a network device inventory is to create a database to store all the information. However, you’ll need to make sure that this database is available to authorized personnel only.
Automate Network Device Discovery
Automated network device discovery can help you quickly and accurately collect information about the devices on your network. Software tools such as network scanners can scan your network and collect information such as IP addresses, device types, and software versions.
After collecting all the information, it is important to document everything. This includes not only the device information, but also any changes that are made to the device such as software updates and configuration changes. This can help you keep track of the changes that have been made and make sure that all devices are up-to-date.
Periodically Review the Inventory
To make sure that all of the information is accurate and up-to-date, always review the inventory periodically. This can help you identify any discrepancies and make sure that the information is valid.
Keep a Record of Changes
You must document and review the changes to the network device inventory regularly. This ensures that the information is accurate and up-to-date. Records can also provide a reference for any changes that have been made.
How to store and manage your network device inventory?
Storing and managing a comprehensive inventory of all the components of your network is essential. Here are few handy tips for creating a detailed inventory of your network devices.
Step 1: Make a List
The first step to managing your network device inventory is to create a detailed list of all the components in your network. This list should include not only the devices themselves but also their specifications, such as their model and serial numbers. It’s also a good idea to include the location of each device in your list, as this can make it easier to find and manage them in the future.
Step 2: Use a Spreadsheet
Once you’ve made a list of all your network devices, the best way to store and manage them is to use a spreadsheet. This will allow you to easily track any changes to your inventory over time, and make it easier to reference the information as needed. When creating your spreadsheet, be sure to include the following columns:
- Device Type: This should include the model and serial number of each device.
- Location: Where the device is located on your network.
- Status: Whether the device is active or inactive.
- Date Installed: When the device was put into operation.
- Notes: Any additional information you’d like to include.
Step 3: Store Your Inventory Securely
Once you’ve created your spreadsheet, it’s important to store it in a secure location. This could mean physically locking it away, or creating a password-protected digital copy that only authorized personnel can access.
In conclusion, the network device inventory is an essential tool for network administrators to maintain an accurate and up-to-date record of all their network devices. It allows them to identify which devices are active and functioning, and take appropriate action when devices are malfunctioning. It also aids in capacity planning, simplifies the process of ordering and purchasing new devices, and provides a central repository of data for documentation and reporting purposes. With an effective inventory system in place, network administrators can better manage their networks and ensure that their networks are functioning optimally.