Setting up scans

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Getting Started with Spiceworks

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by Darren Schoen Nitish Kumar | September 2013 | Open Source

In this article by Darren Schoen and Nitish Kumar, authors of the book Getting Started with Spiceworks, discusses setting up of Spiceworks to scan your network.

(For more resources related to this topic, see here.)

Setting up a scan in Spiceworks

The first thing Spiceworks tries to do to scan a network is contact Active Directory(AD); it also uses AD to populate the People portion of your Inventory. Let's set up AD first, as everything else we will be configuring is on the same page. We are all about saving your time and not going back and forth between pages.

If you do not have AD in your environment, you can just skip to the Configuring IP range scans section.

Scanning and Active Directory

There is a wealth of information within AD that Spiceworks uses. We are going to need to configure Spiceworks to log into AD and get that information.

OK, we need to get to the Active Directory Configuration screen in Spiceworks in order to do that. As with most things within the app, it is just a couple of clicks. From anywhere in the app, mouse over the Inventory link at the top of the page; a menu will open up. Click on Settings.

This will take us to the Settings screen. You will be spending a lot of time here so you can either get very used to these clicks or just have a separate tab open with these settings already set up.

The top section is called Getting Started and the first link is Active Directory Configuration. That is our destination for this section so click away. It will take you to the Active Directory Configuration page:

There are three sections that are highlighted. Let's go over each and what they do:

  • The area highlighted as 1 is where you are going to enter the credentials that allow Spiceworks to log into your AD and get information. You specify the Active Directory Server (Domain Controller), username and password. Usernames must be in either domain/username or username@domain.com. If you have SSL enabled for AD inquiries, check the Use SSL box.

  • The area highlighted as 2 shows the frequency at which Spiceworks retrieves information from your AD environment. When Spiceworks queries AD, it does not cause a huge amount of traffic or load. Shortening these times should not cause undue stress on your AD servers. This is useful because when you add a user in AD, it will automatically get loaded into Spiceworks at the next scan.

  • If you want any changes you make to users in Spiceworks to be uploaded into your AD environment, the section highlighted as 3 is for you. Just click on the box and any modifications you make in Spiceworks will automatically be synchronized with your AD.

There is one more section that is not in the screenshot. This deals with your user portal and help desk.

Setting up AD in your Spiceworks really makes a lot of difference with scans and filling in information. It is recommended that if you are running AD, hook this up. If you are wary about Spiceworks writing data into your AD environment, just set up the user that Spiceworks uses to connect as read-only and don't check the box that writes changes back to AD. Easy enough.

Since you are convinced that you should connect your AD to Spiceworks, just fill in the ActiveDirectory server, User, and Password fields and click on Save. Spiceworks will automatically test the credentials and let you know immediately if it can connect.

If you have some challenges with Spiceworks connecting to your Domain Controller with just the server name, another method is to put the IP address directly into that field.

Let's move on to setting up an IP range scan and get some devices into your Spiceworks install.

Configuring IP range scans

Remember the Settings page that we have been to a couple of times? We are going back! In case you have forgotten, just mouse over to either Inventory or Help Desk and click on the Settings link at the bottom of the left column.

Once on the Settings page, we are going to click on the Network Scan link. It is in the first section of links titled Getting Started. This takes us to the main Network Scan page. The first section is where we are going to set up our IP ranges.

Since you will not have any ranges in here as you just installed Spiceworks, let's get one configured so you can get some information into the app. To do this, just click on the Add IP Range button and this window will pop up.

There is a lot of flexibility that Spiceworks gives you regarding how it scans IP ranges. You can put a fill range (192.168.1.1-254) with or without exclusions, or just a single IP if you so wish. The next box is for exclusions, if you so choose. If you decide you want to scan a range that has both servers and desktops, you can exclude server IP addresses. This is handy.

The last options are for scheduling this IP range scan. If you choose the Daily at… option as we have seen in the screenshot, you can also select the time of the day to run this scan. Other options in this drop-down list are every 4, 6, 8, or 12 hours. If you do decide that you want to scan on an hourly basis, the time of the day magically disappears. The bottom of the window lets you select what days of the week you want to run the scan.

When Spiceworks runs an initial scan, it can take a bit of time as there is a ton of data that it is collecting. Spiceworks tries a multitude of credentials and reads all information from devices, which it then writes to the database. Once Spiceworks has scanned and written the data to the database, any subsequent scans just write delta data into it.

Enter what range you want to scan, any exclusions you choose, and the scan frequency, and click on the Add button.

Congratulations! You have just added an IP range scan!

Scanning credentials

As we have covered, Spiceworks uses a multitude of credentials to try and figure out what is on your network and put those devices into the inventory.

This has been completely overhauled in Spiceworks. In this easy-to-use interface, you can enter all the credentials that you are going to need to have a successful scan. Here you can configure multiple usernames/passwords for the following protocols:

  • WMI

  • SSH

  • SNMP

  • Enable

  • ESX/vSphere

  • HTTP

  • iLo

  • SNMP v2c/v3

  • Telnet

  • Intel vPro

As you can see, if you need to put device-specific usernames and passwords into Spiceworks, you can do so using the format, Domain\username.

So if you have a server that uses a unique username/password combination, it is easy to set all that up through this interface. The preceding screenshot shows an example of this. Something new in Spiceworks is the section where it shows devices that the credentials were successfully used on. This is really helpful for troubleshooting any scan errors!

To add your own username/password combinations, just use these easy-to-follow directions:

  1. Click on the protocol you want to add credentials to on the left column (WMI, SNMP, and so on).

  2. Click on +Add Account in the middle column labeled Existing Accounts.

  3. Enter all the pertinent information on the left pane labeled Edit Account.For usernames that have passwords, there is a Show Password button as well, so you can make sure that you didn't fat finger it!

That's it. Just fill in any credentials that will let Spiceworks access your devices on your network, and as far as permissions are concerned you should be good to go!

Best practices and kicking off your first Spiceworks scan

You have everything you need to start your first Spiceworks scan. It might be best to read the following best practices before you kick it off, though. They will guide you through some potential pitfalls.

Scanning best practices

For initial scans, be aware of the number of IP addresses you are scanning and the amount of information that Spiceworks is going to pull out of those devices.

  • If you put in a full IP range on your first scan, do not expect Spiceworks to be completed in 10-15 minutes. The initial scan is the most network traffic intensive and will take the longest duration of time.

  • Do full initial scans during nonbusiness hours. Though running an initial full scan shouldn't flood your network, depending on your network configuration, it is always best to run full initial scans during nonbusiness hours just in case. If you are running a 24 x 7 business, break up your IP ranges into smaller chunks and scan that way.

  • Expect some unknown devices. Unless you are a super administrator with a team of hundreds behind you to make sure that every aspect of your network is 100 percent buttoned down, there will most likely be a few devices that Spiceworks cannot connect to. One of the biggest culprits is that WMI has been disabled, or that there is a firewall of some sort blocking Spiceworks from connecting to the machine. Don't get down on yourself if the scan doesn't work 100 percent the first time.

  • If you are really worried about traffic that Spiceworks might cause, what information it collects, or how it will affect workstation performance, just set up a test environment and run a scan there. Whether it be 5 machines or 500, Spiceworks does the same to each one; so test away.

  • Spiceworks is not designed to scan 10,000 devices at one time without a performance hit. If you have a very large network, break it up into smaller chunks for best performance. Spiceworks could get through a 10,000 device scan, but it would hurt performance until the scan is complete.

  • If you have multiple sites linked either by WAN or VPN connections, drop a remote collector at these to run local scans and then send the data back to your main Spiceworks installation. You can find more information at http://community.spiceworks.com/help/Remote_Collectors

OK, now that you have read the required best practices, you can set up your IP range on the Network Scan settings page, check the box associated with that range and click on Start Scan. Away you go!

Depending on the IP range you set and the time of the day, your scan could take just a few minutes or several hours.

If you are having some serious issues trying to get a successful scan, open a browser and hit this site: http://community.spiceworks.com/support.

There are in-depth articles and even real-live support folks that can dive into the specifics of your environment, and they won't give up until you are successful.

Let's assume that even if you did have an issue, it is resolved and you have got your first scan under your belt.

Summary

We were provided with details on how to set up a scan in Spiceworks. Also, we got to know how to run the scan we set up and the best practices.

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Getting Started with Spiceworks Install, configure, and get real results from Spiceworks in just a couple of hours with this book and ebook
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About the Author :


Darren Schoen

Darren Schoen has always been passionate about technology. He realized this the first time he logged into Prodigy with his DeskPro (through DOS of course). He has come a long way since those amber screens. Although he spent 16 years in another career, in 2001 he decided to pursue this passion and jumped into the IT field. Today, he is the Director of Technology Infrastructure at Broward Center for the Performing Arts in Ft Lauderdale, FL along with being an official Spice Trainer where he travels around the U.S. educating users on Spiceworks. He is on the board of several organizations, always keeping technology and innovation in focus. If that doesn't keep him busy enough, he is also an active speaker around the U.S. and has written a variety of blogs and articles for many publications. Darren is always plugged in, but when he gets some free cycles, he is known to be an avid gamer, a Doctor Who fan, and enjoys reading Hugh Howey and watching live music. Although technology is his life, he does take time out to watch the moon rise on the beach with his wife, Thais, and walk his Boston Terrier, Rocky.

Nitish Kumar

Nitish Kumar is a Wintel Lead at HT Media Ltd. and an independent tech blogger about various technologies. He has been working on several Microsoft technologies and open source solutions (including but not limited to Spiceworks, ManageEngine Products, Zabbix, MS Active Directory, MS Exchange Servers, and so on) for the past eight years, of which the last couple of years have been spent on bringing cost-effective solutions to corporates to simplify their complex requirements and to improve time management for their staff. He is a technology enthusiast and has been an active participant at various corporate events and public webinars. Mobile technologies have been of special interest to him and he has often written about various gadgets and their respective technologies. Nitish holds an MS degree in Software from the JK Institute of Applied Physics and Technology, and his areas of interest include Microsoft technologies, open source software, and mobile gadgets. He occasionally blogs at http://nitishkumar.net and can be reached over e-mail at nitish@nitishkumar.net.

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