EPA gets hold of its assets

Software helps catalog IT inventory in time to meet IPv6 deadline

With more than 24,000 desktops at 60 locations throughout the country, the Environmental Protection Agency faced a considerable task taking inventory of its computer network backbone as part as the transition to Internet Protocol version 6.

EPA officials needed an accurate account of the condition of its computer network in order to comply with various Office of Management and Budget deadlines, and to better understand which switches, routers and servers need to migrate to IPv6 from IPv4.

Normally, such an inventory would take months and require considerable travel and general confusion as staff pored over volumes of data describing where their hardware was located, and what programs and operating systems were installed.

'Trying to take a rigorous inventory of everything that's on the network'switches, routers, copies of Microsoft Office on your PC'is a daunting problem and one that can't be solved physically,' said Mark Day, EPA's chief technology officer.

But after signing an enterprise licensing agreement with BDNA Corp. of Mountain View, Calif., for asset management software, EPA officials performed the task quickly and accurately, he said.

'We took, in two weeks, a complete, definitive inventory of the devices on our network as to their IPv6 and IPv4 capability,' Day said. 'A lot of agencies struggle to do this manually.'

Helping meet OMB's IPv6 deadline is just one benefit EPA has seen since it purchased BDNA's Inventory Application software in March, Day said.

At its core, BDNA's Inventory Application gives organizations an inventory of their entire network, down to what desktop PC has which version of Microsoft Office and in which building it is located.

EPA officials use a single console at its National Computing Center in Research Triangle Park, N.C., to view assets, Day said. The software reads EPA's network addresses and talks to individual machines through a direct network connection.

Walker White, BDNA's vice president of technology, said the application is written entirely in Java and can be run on any network. EPA, for example, uses three Linux servers and a Windows server, he said.

Other agencies using the BDNA application are the Navy, Treasury Department and Census Bureau, company officials said.

Once an inventory has been performed, organization officials can search the results, BDNA vice president of eastern operations Tim Diaz said. Users can, for example, interface with the system at a Web portal and do a search for the desktops that have a particular version of software or piece of hardware, he said.

The package does not deploy agents, software installed on individual machines, so EPA staff do not have to monitor each individual PC, which saves time and resources.

Day said knowing the IT asset base makes it less likely that officials would buy redundant software or hardware.

'It's just a great tool for knowing the facts,' he said. 'When you know the facts, you're in a position to save the government money.'

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