Scanning with Agent Utility

What is an Agent Utility?

The Agent Utility offers additional scanning code which can operate independent of the main Network Inventory Advisor software. The Agent Utility can be used to accomplish the following tasks:

  • Scanning assets from a Logon script with later direct upload of received data into Network Inventory Advisor
  • Scanning assets from a Logon script with later saving of received data in the Central Repository
  • Manual scanning of selected nodes if they are not connected to the network or there are peculiarities which prevent regular remote scanning methods

The Agent Utility is accessible directly from the ribbon menu located under the Inventory tab.

Please, note, the agent supports scanning only Windows systems at this stage, however we will be introducing cross-platform agent-based scanning options in newer versions.

Running the Agent Utility produces 2 files which can be deployed manually to offline or otherwise-inaccessible systems: iadvisoragnt.exe – the agent utility itself; and iadvisoragnt.xml – the configuration file, which defines the agent’s behavior.

Network Inventory Advisor is designed primarily as an agent-free solution. However, scanning some nodes directly via WMI may produce less accurate results than using the agent. WMI is a Microsoft’s product, and is a part of Windows OS. This ubiquity, however, does not guarantee 100% accuracy. Generally speaking, while Network Inventory Advisor first tries to scan your assets, it does so using the agent if possible. It only then scans them directly in case of failure of the first method (a behavior which can be changed in Settings browser.) For general purposes, we recommend using an agent utility, as it provides better control of the scanning procedure.

Whenever you want to enable agent-based scanning, you need to export an agent utility first. To do this, simply select the “Export audit agent” option on the ribbon. This will launch the export wizard.

You will then be able to select the type of agent to export by selecting the correct radio button. 

If you want the inventory data collected by the agent to appear in the network tree of your Network Inventory Advisor immediately when the remote nodes are scanned, you should select the first option. Here’s how it will work then: 1) you add the call to the agent into your Logon script, 2) once the user logs on to the domain – the agent is run and 3) having aggregated the inventory data it connects to your host PC using the given TCP port which is listened to by Network Inventory Advisor and 4) uploads the data collected.

It’s convenient, but may require additional firewall tuning. Note that your host PC where Network Inventory Advisor is installed and where the agent utilities will upload the inventory data has to be turned on and available via network so that the data is added successfully.

Once you selected the first option, click “Next”. In the following dialog you will need to specify the destination folder where you need the agent utility to be exported to.

There are no additional tweaks here, as the agent will store inventory data in the same folder where it would be run from, and then connect to your main PC via TCP, and it already knows your IP address. So simply select the path, and click “Export agent utility now”. That’s it, the agent is exported, and you are ready to modify your Logon script. Simply add the call to this agent utility like in the following sample:

start /WAIT \\SERVER\iadvisoragnt.exe

Another sample will also be offered in the last dialog after the export is complete.

Scan and save data in Central Repository

If you don’t need direct data upload in Network Inventory Advisor, or cannot allow it for a certain reason, you can collect all the inventory data provided by the agent utility in the Central Repository. It is just a network folder, where all the collected data is sent to by the agents on your network. To configure the agent utility to save inventory data in the Central Repository, simply select the corresponding option when exporting the agent utility. To enable Network Inventory Advisor to monitor Central Repository, simply specify the path to it and the timeout to check it in Settings. Please, note, that Central Repository path has to be specified in UNC format, so that the agent utility itself can access this folder remotely. When exporting the agent, simply specify the path to export it to, and modify your logon script afterwards.

Modify your Logon script

A very profound Logon Scripts FAQ can be found here. Note: if your network is based on workgroups, you can still use the logon script features, please, refer to the following Group Policy configuration: gpedit.msc -> User Configuration -> Windows Settings -> Scripts -> Logon. Otherwise, you just need to create a new logon script, or modify your existing one. Please, note that you have to specify the path to the agent utility in your logon script in UNC format, so that all your users can access it. The folder where it is launched from should be available to all your network users.

Almost the same result can be achieved without Logon script. Instead you can import inventory data directly into Network Inventory Advisor with an agent or save it in Central Repository simply placing the exported agent utility in the Startup menu of your Windows nodes. Depending on the option you selected when exporting the agent utility, it will either upload the collected data directly into Network Inventory Advisor on your host PC, or save it in the Central Repository. If not launched automatically by being located in the Startup menu, that agent will need to be initiated manually by a user.

Manual assets scanning

For inventorying completely offline nodes , or nodes with excessive fire-walling, there’s also the option to export the agent utility in a manner which can collect the inventory data into a file for later manual importation into Network Inventory Advisor. This agent software is exported by selecting the third radio button on the Wizard’s main screen, which is labeled “…manual scan without central repository”.

The Agent Utility code which this generates must then be copped to some form of media and transferred to the target asset. Then run the agent utility in the remote system, and it will prompt the scanning log and generate an inventory file. This file should then be copied, returned to the main inventory system and imported into Network Inventory Advisory using the corresponding option on the ribbon menu. The assets imported will appear in the end of the network tree with the new asset’s icon marker.

When you scan the network with an agent utility not all information is collected, as the agent is taking Reports Categories into consideration and does not collect data sections which are not listed as the ones in the report. The number of categories enabled can have a direct result on the efficiency of the reporting.

.updated: February 6, 2014 author: jeff