Pulling Building and Room Info into Inventory
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Posted: 19 Feb 2004
Recently we ran this Open Call Q&A, and have gotten some great suggestions.
Question: At our University we have all of our workstations in our ZEN Inventory and we are trying to brainstorm ideas on how to pull building and room from the machines and be able to have those in the ZfD inventory. What ideas do you guys have? (We realize there are some downfalls but it beats manually maintaining multiple databases.)
Answer: OPEN CALL: Anyone got some bright ideas for this?
- Jeff Ferris
- Eric Ho
- Mike Edwards
- Joseph Mayes NEW
- David Bussenschutt NEW
- Brian Davis NEW
- Greg Pott NEW
Someone was asking how to put building and room info into ZENworks. Well, we tried this, and it didn't work for our organization because our PCs got moved a lot.
Instead of a separate database, consider making the computer name reflect the location. For example, A3C123X, where A is the building, 3 is the floor, C123 is the cube, and X can designate the machine if there is more than one in the cube. We did this for a while, and we still use this as our printer name designation so customers know where a print queue may be.
Otherwise, if the workstation moves a lot, use the IP address IF each building has its own subnets. Then you could query on the IP to determine at least the building.
Extend the NDS schema. Put extra fields in workstation object. Enter buildingID and Room number into fields.
Enter data in location field in user property. Query user's data cross referenced with workstation object. Assuming user has been assigned to their workstation.
Burn location and room number in workstation BOIS. For example you can burn asset tag code into BOIS.
Like BuildingID&Room_Number. Try to burn it into a single field. Export data as text file. Extract data in SQL or Access.
You have to have the building and room information on the computer somewhere in order to be able to pull it. We use a two-letter building abbreviation, and a four-digit room number plus a five-digit unique property tag number as the workstation NEBTIOS name. We also register our workstations by NETBIOS name. This way, our workstation container contains a list of workstations sorted by building and room.
My idea would be to 'code' IP addresses with location information. Assuming you're using the private IP address range of 10.0.0.0, the second octet could be used to represent the building and the third octet the floor of the building. So, for buildings A, B and C, building A could be 10.1.0.0, building B 10.2.0.0 and building C 10.3.0.0. This way, IP address 10.2.3.144 could be easily decoded to be the third floor of building B.
An advantage of this scheme is that it works for all IP devices on the network, whether they are intelligent PCs or less sophisticated devices. Traffic management (ACLs, etc.) can also be delivered to floors this way.
Desire: Building/Room <-> computer association
Problem: storing a computer's location on the computer itself is unreliable because computer equipment seems to move around.
Solution: Network infrastructure is MUCH more static than computers.
- Determine IP address from workstation object in eDirectory, or other method as relevant.
- Determine network switch/device and port which that IP address exists on (eg. via SNMP queries, or Networking dept database, etc.)
- Look up your custom/local Database that determines where each network device actually is (eg. its building), unless you have downstream CAT5 running between buildings -- this tells you the bldg of your machine too.
- If you need the per-room lookup, then your networking people need to have an accurately maintained database of switchport <->outlet location. Looking this up gives you the outlet number.
- If your outlet numbers don't already match room numbers, then you need ANOTHER lookup table to match outlet numbers to room numbers, or consider re-labeling your outlets to be based on room number. (Eg. outlet 3.45C is the 3rd outlet in room 45 of the 3rd level.
We simply use the building and room number in the machine name with the asset number. Of course you need to somehow prevent the average Joe from changing the pc name. Also if you move pc's you want to change names to reflect the new location. But this solution helps us immensely in tracking assets, people doing bad things etc. Combined with workstation info in the object, there's not much we can't find out.
I use Netbios name to ID machines. Format is as follows:
Building Code, Room Number, computer number in room.
The computer number is (usually) the number or id of the data point in the room, unless a more obvious naming convention can be used.
In buildings where there are more than 9 rooms or rooms with more than 9 computers, I ensure numbers 1-9 are named 01,02,03 etc. (so they will list properly in ConsoleOne).
As our machines are not generally moved unless they are out of lease and being disposed of, this works well.
In addition, I import the W/S using Nebios name and MAC Address. What other way to ensure a unique asset ID for a workstation? And it makes it easier to sort machines into similar hardware groups, as the MAC addresses in a roll out of computers will be in a close sequence. I have found that after a while I will know the hardware and machine type by looking at the MAC address in the W/S object in eDir.
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