Open-AudIT: How it came to be and what’s next!

Open-AudIT: How it came to be and what’s next!

(FLASHBACK) It’s 1998, The Foo Fighters are playing in the background and updating your Windows NT and 98 desktops meant writing a batch script and copying it “BY HAND” onto individual devices, then running things one…at…a…time.

 

Working in a small financial institution the expense of using Microsoft SMS Server to manage your Windows PCs was far too expensive. So, when my manager would ask: “How many installs of MS Office do we have?”  I’d end up driving to every branch to record by hand, the MS Office installs on 100+ PCs * shivers *. Being the kind of guy who has always liked writing code, I set out to find a solution…and I DID.

 

Today the world’s leading network discovery, inventory and audit program turns Open-AudIT 21. Wow! I’m not entirely sure how that happened! If you haven’t already read my previous blog post about how Open-AudIT came to be, it’s worth a quick read. You can find it here.

 

So as projects age, things happen. Nothing stays the same – the project’s goals, the code, the infrastructure, the dependencies, the users, the features. It all changes. It all evolves. Not least of all, the project team changes. People come and people go. People want different things. I’m staying around, let’s not get too silly – but things are definitely changing.

 

Opmantek and the Open-AudIT customer base have enabled Open-AudIT to reach another level.

 

Moving forward, I’m excited to say we’ll have a big new announcement coming shortly about another version of Open-AudIT that will help customers yet again.

 

We’re able to push and pull data from other systems. Open-AudIT has had a JSON restful API for quite a while now and most of the Enterprise customers are using it for data import and export. Now we’re making moves to enable this “out of the box” for certain other systems to give everyone the benefit. It’s now ready for connecting to ServiceNow. If you would like to be able to use Open-AudIT as a discovery and data feeder into ServiceNow, just contact us at Opmantek and we can make it happen.

 

Everyone knows we’ve always had a great discovery tool because if you don’t know what’s out there, you can’t manage the risk associated with it. Even our competitors are challenged by Open-AudIT, despite their huge development budgets and big brands. Again, we couldn’t have got there without the support of our user base. In short, Opmantek, customers and dedication get us there.

 

All I can say at this point is that it’s been an entertaining ride and one that I have no plans to get off at any time soon. Stay tuned for more features, more performance, more options and more of everything you’ve come to know and love about Open-AudIT.

 

Onwards and upwards,

Mark Unwin.

[Webinar] Open-AudIT Top 10 Features & Functions You Need

[Webinar] Open-AudIT Top 10 Features & Functions You Need

Join Mark Henry as he details the Top 10 Features and Functions for Open-AudIT, the free and open-source software used by over 10,000 customers.

Mark will also explain some key concepts regarding troubleshooting your discovery process, how to determine which level of the product best suits your network and the different hosting options for Open-AudIT. Mark his Top 10 feature and function list for Open-AudIT, this will include an in-depth demonstration of what they do.

Main points;

  • Differences in licensing from the Free and Open-Source Community edition to Professional and Enterprise
  • Deployment and hosting options for Open-AudIT, including server sizing
  • Discovery and Audit troubleshooting
  • Top 10 Features and Functions

Download the slides in PDF form

20 Years of Open-AudIT

20 Years of Open-AudIT

A long, long time ago, in a town far, far away, I used to work for a financial institution. A small financial institution. Quite small. As in no IT management software small. As in if we wanted to update our desktops, we had to write a batch script and copy it “by hand” to individual devices and run it one at a time.

Once upon a time, my manager approached me and asked: “How many installs of MS Office do we have?”. I could not reliably answer the question, so I set about finding out how I would find out. At the time Microsoft had a product called SMS Server. Its purpose was to manage your Microsoft Windows PCs. It was also expensive. Well, it was expensive for a small financial institution. Expensive enough that my manager denied the funding and put me in a car to drive from north to south and record by hand the MS Office installs on 100 PCs across 12 branches and 200 kilometres. Good times!

I’ve always been the kind of guy who likes to write code. I think I first wrote some basic back in about 1982. Damn, I’m showing my age now! Obviously, I was thinking – well, if Microsoft can retrieve the information, then how? How are they doing that? That lead me to VBScript and WMI. For our Windows NT machines, these were optional components, but for our new Windows 98 machines, it was built in, yay! Yes – Windows NT and 98. Things are a little different now, but back then a lot of businesses looked at IT as a simple expense that they didn’t want. Hence as little money as possible was spent on it. Windows NT and 98 it was. And no management software for you.

OK, so I found VBScript and WMI. So what? I somehow need to write a script to retrieve details from PCs and actually store it somewhere. The obvious answer is in a database. We were a Microsoft shop, so SQL server. Uh oh – that costs money. No way. Funding denied. Sigh. Well, guess what? Further research turned up this software called “Open Source”. I could have a web server, a database and even an entire operating system FOR FREE. What? What is this voodoo? Oh, and the kicker – it would run on an old desktop PC we had retired. Call me sold.

I was so enamoured with the idea of open source that when requesting the project approval I stated that the code should be licensed under an Open Source license. I would write it by night at home and use it at work. The copyright would stay with me, but the business would benefit from having a tool to be able to list what software was on our machines. It would cost the business $0. Project approved!

And so was born WINventory. Windows Inventory. It was designed first and foremost to retrieve details from Windows machines. Along the way came a name change to Open-AudIT, a healthy community, the ability to audit network devices (routers, switches, printers, etc) as well as computers running various operating systems (Windows, Linux, MacOS, AIX, Solaris, etc). Open-AudIT has grown and grown.

We added the ability to run reports on the data. Even to make your own reports. To “discover” a network as opposed to running the audit scripts on individual PCs and so much more.

Today, almost 20 years later, I couldn’t be more proud of how far this little spare time project has come and what we’ve achieved. Nowadays I work for Opmantek and develop Open-AudIT for a full-time job. Since arriving at Opmantek, Open-AudIT has gone from strength to strength and shows no signs of slowing down. Indeed we have so many ideas that I don’t know how I’m ever going to realise them all!

So many ideas, so little time.

So that’s how Open-AudIT came to be. We’re not slowing down so get in, sit down, shush up and hang on!

Onwards and upwards.

Mark Unwin.

 

Network automation for configuration and change management.

Network automation for configuration and change management.

The act of automation can greatly improve the efficiency of any network team. With regards to managing network infrastructure, Gartner suggests that any manual task performed more than 4 times a year should be automated. These mandates are usually answered by the more proactive teams and remain a fancy for most teams struggling with limited resources. However, the initial cost, in time or budget, is minor compared to the ability to leverage the opportunity costs of reducing human error, improving compliance and increasing work availability of staff.

 

Process automation is becoming a requirement because humans may no longer be able to manually keep up with real-time configuration changes. The prioritization of automation technologies enables a business to become more agile and responsive to shifting market/customer requirements.

 

The fast-approaching addition of the GDPR compliance standard to existing standards, PCI or HIPAA for example, will require businesses to be less passive with risk management. Risk should be managed and not avoided, GDPR acts as an invitation to change traditional business protocols because there is no avoiding the GDPR. To mitigate the risk of the GDPR improved compliance and accurate reporting is required, both rewards to successful network automation.

 

A common misconception regarding automation is that the outcome reduces the size of a team. This can occur in a reactive business, but a proactive business will transfer the workload from one project to another. The ability to cross train or upskill staff will make your team more valuable. There is the added benefit of becoming more agile in your approach to transitioning workflow from administrative tasks towards managing infrastructure or increasing client satisfaction.

 

Configuration and Compliance Management is now easier to implement with opConfig. opConfig will continuously monitor the configuration of devices discovered by Open-AudIT Enterprise or managed by NMIS, track the changes and store a complete history of configuration information. opConfig can leverage NMIS’ business policy engine, opEvents, to provide instantaneous correlation and notification when device configurations change or stray from enterprise policies. The combination of these systems will aid in your network automation, assist in the quick resolution of problems and compliance with standards.