Again, another customer question prompted me to post some information.
Asset Intelligence versus Asset Inventory Service
Asset Inventory Service (AIS)
AIS is offered as a service, inventory data is securely hosted by Microsoft, so there are no servers for you to maintain. Clients upload their data directly to Microsoft via an agent installed on the client.
AIS captures inventory information for hardware and software applications installed on each machine. The the inventory data is then reconciled against the AIS Application Knowledgebase, which contains hundreds of thousands of software titles, to create a detailed inventory of the software that is deployed on the desktops in your organization.
Using browser-based reports you can manage software assets and forecast future needs. The service also analyses how Microsoft Volume License agreements are deployed to help you more easily manage true-ups, renewals, and license reallocation.
- Simple to deploy
- No Infrastructure Required
- Clients upload data directly across the WAN to Microsoft
- Another agent on devices
Asset Intelligence (AI)
AI is part of System Center Configuration Manager 2007 and extends the number of WMI classes queried during Inventory and offers additional reports and manage software in use and software license management in the organisation.
With Service Pack 1 for ConfigMgr further functionality to the Asset Intelligence feature was added to allow custom editing of the Asset Intelligence catalog. In addition, customers can connect to System Center Online and the same catalogue as AIS to dynamically update the Asset Intelligence catalog with the most current information available. ConfigMgr users can also reconcile enterprise software license usage with purchased software licenses in use by importing software license information into the Configuration Manager site database.
- Re-uses ConfigMgr Client
- Gain extra benefit of ConfigMgr features if not already implemented
- Data contained within the organisation
- Requires ConfigMgr Infrastructure
To use either of these solutions you need to obtains some licenses:
- AIS requires the MDOP licensing
- AI requires ConfigMgr Licensing
So in short, if you have nothing, and either don't mind having all your clients go directly out to the internet or are possibly sub 500 devices then I'd suggest taking a look at AIS as you can be up and running very quickly and only have to worry about running the reports.
If however you're a large organisation, have constraints around devices accessing the internet (I hope so anyway) or have already implemented ConfigMgr then I would recommend turning on AI and connecting it to the online sync point.
If you're not already a ConfigMgr user, what are you waiting for? Not only do you gain a greater insight and level of control over your hardware and software inventory, but you gain software deployment, OS deployment, better software update control and many more features.
AIS Further Info: http://www.microsoft.com/en-gb/windows/enterprise/products-and-technologies/mdop/ais.aspx
AI Further Info: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc161988.aspx