Inventory tool uses e-mail

If you’re having difficulty tracking down all of your PCs or just doing your inventory accurately, there may be a new software solution for your business.

With AssetMetrix Inc.’s auditing tool an administrator can inventory PCs at a rate of 1,000 per minute using e-mail, according to the company. Initially, AssetMetrix will send a company an e-mail, asking if they would like to use the system. If the company replies yes, the 130KB application is downloaded and remains in the system without having to download again. AssetMetrix claims that its software is able to gain access to all PCs and desktops because it uses e-mail to inventory software and hardware. The system is not restricted to PCs that are in the local network. The data is then collected and sent back to the AssetMetrix system.

Steve O’Halloran, vice-president of AssetMetrix in Ottawa, said “We can, within minutes, inventory a company of thousands of people across time zones without IT people even getting out of their cubicles, and so it becomes a matter of convenience.”

AssetMetrix is easy to use, according to the company, because it doesn’t require companies to install any software on the client, thus avoiding the need to purchase a database or to modify severs at log-in, which are methods O’Halloran said were previously used to do inventories.

Bill Kirwin, an analyst at Stamford, Conn., Gartner Inc., said AssetMetrix’s e-mail approach is “non-intrusive” and the “idea is (a) much more effective method in attaining higher penetration.” Kirwin also noted the advantages of not requiring a program to be installed on devices.

He argued that there has been a long-standing need for better asset management practices. He pointed to two specifics that makes this approach more effective: a good set of intelligence and management reports “that show what’s happening in the infrastructure. And because of the desktop, small changes can create big problems.” Secondly, because it is modelled as an ASP, “the client doesn’t have to dedicate a lot of resources to do the job.”

He went on to say, “most organizations don’t know how many PCs they have, where they are, and how they’re changing, so if you’re only tracking assets that you know of you’re not getting all the assets.”

With AssetMetrix, O’Halloran said, customers can predict their needs.

“We can look three years into the future, graph it, and tell customers when they will need to change their PCs without it drastically effecting their business or productivity.” The primary concern then is not the inventory but with life cycle asset management. He cited one customer, Expanets, as an example: “Fifty-three per cent of their machines had to be replaced by 2002, and it took us an hour, with thousands of machines across nine time zones and three countries.” Expanets is a network communications firm and provides Web-enabled solutions to businesses.

Justin Housner, a senior manager of associate services with Expanets in Denver, recently began using AssetMetrix. “As far as asset management, it is a low-cost, low-management system, and it works well for any company that is spread out over more than one city in size,” he said. But he did encounter one problem with the software. AssetMetrix isn’t compliant with Lotus Notes, he said.

For the end user, gaining access to AssetMetrix’s management service provider (MSP) is as simple as clicking the mouse once, the company said, and paying an annual fee of $22.50. Visit AssetMetrix’s Web site for more information at