If you are managing more than one equipment in your organization, it is very important to document and track ALL information about the servers effectively. In this article, I have listed 36 attributes that needs to be tracked for your equipments, with an explanation on why it needs to be tracked. I have also provided a spreadsheet template with these fields that will give you a jumpstart.
Before getting into the details of what needs to be tracked, let us look at few reasons on why you should document ALL your equipments.
- Identifying What needs to be tracked is far more important than How you are tracking it. Don’t get trapped into researching the best available asset tracking software. Keep it simple and use a spread sheet for tracking. Once you have documented everything, later you can always find a software and export this data to it.
- Sysadmins hates to document anything. They would rather spend time exploring cool new technology than documenting their current hardware and environment. But, a seasoned sysadmin knows that spending time to document the details about the equipemnts, is going to save lot of time in the future, when there is a problem.
- Never assume anything. When it comes to documentation, the more details you can add is better.
- Don’t create document because your boss is insisting on it. Instead, create the document because you truly believe it will add value to you and your team. If you document without understanding or believing the purpose, you will essentially leave out lot of critical details, which will eventually make the document worthless.
- Once you’ve captured the attributes mentioned below for ALL your servers, switches, firewalls and other equipments, you can use this master list to track any future enterprise wide implementation/changes. For e.g. If you are rolling out a new backup strategy through-out your enterprise, add a new column called backup and mark it as Yes or No, to track whether that specific action has been implemented on that particular equipment.
I have arranged the 36 items into 9 different groups and provided a sample value next to the field name within parenthesis. These fields and groupings are just guidelines. If required, modify this accordingly to track additional attributes specific to your environment.
(1) Description (Production CRM DB Server) – This field should explain the purpose of this equipment. Even a non-IT person should be able to identify this equipment based on this description.
(2) Host Name (prod-crm-db-srv) – The real host name of the equipment as defined at the OS level.
(3) Department (Sales) – Which department does this equipment belong to?
(4) Manufacturer (DELL) – Manufacturer of the equipment.
(5) Model (PowerEdge 2950) – Model of the equipment.
(6) Status (Active) – The current status of the equipment. Use this field to identify whether the equipment is in one of the following state:
- Active – Currently in use
- Retired – Old equipment, not getting used anymore
- Available – Old/New equipment, ready and available for usage
(7) Category (Server) – I primarily use this to track the type of equipment. The value in this field could be one of the following depending the equipment:
- Power Circuit
- Firewall etc.
For tracking purpose, different vendors use different names for the serial numbers. i.e Serial Number, Part Number, Asset Number, Service Tag, Express Code etc. For e.g. DELL tracks their equipment using Service Tag and Express code. So, if majority of the equipments in your organization are DELL, it make sense to have separate columns for Service Tag and Express Code.
(8) Serial Number
(9) Part Number
(10) Service TAG
(11) Express Code
(12) Company Asset TAG – Every organization may have their own way of tracking the system using bar code or custom asset tracking number. Use this field to track the equipment using the code assigned by your company
(13) Physical Location (Los Angeles) – Use this field to specify the physical location of the server. If you have multiple data center in different cities, use the city name to track it.
(14) Cage/Room# – The cage or room number where this equipment is located.
(15) Rack # – If there are multiple racks inside your datacenter, specify the rack # where the equipment is located. If your rack doesn’t have any numbers, create your own numbering scheme for the rack.
(16) Rack Position – This indicates the exact location of the server within the rack. for e.g. the server located at the bottom of the rack has the rack position of #1 and the one above is #2.
(17) Private IP (192.168.100.1) – Specify the internal ip-address of the equipment.
(18) Public IP – Specify the external ip-address of the equipment.
(19) NIC (GB1, Slot1/Port1) -
- Tracking this information is very helpful, when someone accidentally pulls a cable from the server (If this never happened to you, it is only a matter of time before it happens). Using this field value, you will know exactly where to plug-in the cable. If the server has more than one network connection, specify all the NIC’s using a comma separated value.
- In this example (GB1, Slot1/Port1), the server has two ethernet cables connected. First one connected to the on-board NIC marked as GB1. Second one connected to the Port#1 on the NIC card, inserted to the PCI Slot#1.
- Even when the server has only one ethernet cable connected, specify the port # to which it is connected. For e.g. Most of the DELL servers comes with two on-board NIC labeled as GB1 and GB2. So, you should know to which NIC you’ve connected your ethernet cable.
(20) Switch/Port (Switch1/Port10, Switch4/Port15) – Using the NIC field above, you’ve tracked the exact port where one end of the ethernet cable is connected on the server. Now, you should track where the other end of the cable is connected to. In this example the cable connected to the server on the GB1 is connected to the Port 10 on Switch 1. The cable connected to the server on Port#1of PCI Slot#1 is connected to the Port 15 on Switch 4.
(21) Nagios Monitored? (Yes) – Use this field to indicate whether this equipment is getting monitored through any monitoring software.
(22) SAN/NAS Connected? (Yes) – Use this field to track whether a particular server is connected to an external storage.
(23) Total Drive Count (4) – This indicates the total number of internal drives on the server. This can come very handy for capacity management. for e.g. Some of the dell servers comes only with 6 slots for internal hard-drives. In this example, just by looking at the document, we know that there are 4 disk drives in the servers and you have room to add 2 more disk drives.
(24) OS (Linux) – Use this field to track the OS that is running on the equipment. For e.g. Linux, Windows, Cisco IOS etc.
(25) OS Version (Red Hat Enterprise Linux AS release 4 (Nahant Update 5)) – The exact version of the OS.
(26) Warrenty Start Date
(27) Warrenty End Date
Purchase & Lease
(28) Date of Purchase – If you have purchased the equipment, fill-out the date of purchase and the price.
(29) Purchase Price
(30) Lease Begin Date - If you have leased the equipment, fill-out all the lease details.
(31) Lease Expiry Date
(32) Leasing Company – The company who owns the lease on this equipment.
(33) Buy-Out Option ($1) – Is this a dollar-one buy-out (or) Fair Market Value purchase? This will give you an idea on whether to start planning for a new equipment after the lease expiry date or to keep the existing equipment.
(34) Monthly Lease Payment
(35) URL – If this is a web-server, give the URL to access the web application running on the system. If this is a switch or router, specify the admin URL.
(36) Notes – Enter additional notes about the equipment that doesn’t fit under any of the above fields. It may be very tempting to add username and password fields to this spreadsheet. For security reasons, never use this spreadsheet to store the root or administrator password of the equipment.
Asset Tracking Excel Template 1.0 – This excel template contains all the 36 fields mentioned above to give you a jumpstart on tracking equipments in your enterprise. If you convert this spread sheet to other formats used by different tools, send it to me and I’ll add it here and give credit to you. I hope you find this article helpful. Forward this to appropriate person in your organization who may benefit from this article by tracking the equipments effectively. Also, If you think I’ve missed any attribute to track in the above list, please let me know.
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