Moffat bakes new inventory

Cooking and baking equipment manufacturer Moffat wanted to complete software licensing checks before the July 31 deadline for Microsoft's Software Assurance scheme.

Cooking and baking equipment manufacturer Moffat wanted to complete software licensing checks before the July 31 deadline for Microsoft’s Software Assurance scheme.

Faced with the task of auditing its PCs, the Christchurch firm turned to Canterbury reseller CSI, which introduced it to Ottawa-based AssetMetrix’s eponymous hosted PC inventory service.

Moffat IS manager Robert Read says the company had been keeping on top of asset management, but when it came to Microsoft’s software licensing changes it decided it was time to thoroughly review all IT assets.

“Like anything, if you stay organised it makes the job easier, which was the case with this.”

Typically AssetMetrix sends an email to the customer’s administrator, which is then distributed to users via email or embedded in a script on the corporate network or by diskette for machines that aren’t connected. Recipients run the attached or embedded message, activating a 170KB utility. The encrypted results are returned to AssetMetrix in Ottawa, which can produce 150 different reports including detailed hardware and software breakdowns, total cost of ownership, disposed assets, repair status, user names and asset lease agreements. Data can be sent to the hosting system via the SMTP mail protocol or HTTP. If a company can’t use either of those, it can be saved to a file for upload. AssetMetrix claims the audit, which takes three or four seconds on each PC, covers 250 hardware elements and more than 60,000 software applications from 10,000-plus vendors.

CSI managed the initial set-up and Moffat ran the audit, either by sending users an email containing a hyperlink to AssetMetrix or placing the audit program on a network drive that users could go to.

Read says the audit of Moffat’s 50 machines, which run Windows 95, NT or 2000 along with productivity software including AutoCAD, Lotus Notes and Microsoft Office, took less than a day. “The time to assemble details of our position with regard to how many licenses we owned took CSI about two weeks of work. With regard to budget it was one of those things that had to be done and we bit the bullet on it, so to speak.”

As well as finding how many copies of programs were installed, Moffat also checked for installation of patches and ran a hardware report to see how much RAM each machine had. The hardware report discovered some PCs which had been overlooked for upgrades.

Prior to using AssetMetrix, Moffat had audited its PCs manually and entered the details into a shrinkwrapped package called Inventory Manager by Microforge. Read says the company will continue to manage its assets with Inventory Manager, as there is equipment such as switches and printers that have to be manually entered. Future audits with AssetMetrix will be done mainly for software auditing purposes.

He says the main benefit is that the company can now easily determine which PCs have not had service packs installed. It also picks up stray PCs, which might have missed an upgrade of a Lotus Notes client, for example.

“Our preferred method of software updates is to do them manually from the user’s desk as we get to interact with the users one-on-one, helping with any other problems they may be experiencing.”

Pricing for AssetMetrix is based on the length of time of the subscription, ranging from $US3 per machine for a month of access to $US15 per machine for a year.

Moffat purchased a licence to use the service for a month and will do so again for a six-monthly audit.

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