Learning 1E’s Tachyon: Using Inventory

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In this tutorial, we’ll be using a small inventory that doesn’t have any items in it to learn Tachyon’s basics. We’ll also use the new economy system so you can buy and sell your stuff with other players.

Learning 1E's Tachyon: Using Inventory

Welcome back to the 1E Tachyon Platform for Unified Experience Management’s Learn with Me series from ATA! If you’ve missed any of the prior posts, you can catch up right here. We’ll look at Tachyon’s Inventory application today.

 

Software and Inventory of Hardware is one of the most common features of any endpoint management solution. Any solution claiming to handle your endpoints must track assets such as devices, software, and user behavior and show that data in a series of graphical dashboards. The Inventory of Tachyon is no exception.

Tachyon Inventory: Making Good Use of Data

Inventory dashboard from Tachyon Inventory SoftwareInventory dashboard from Tachyon Inventory Software

Tachyon receives information from the 1E Client, such as installed applications, logged-in users, CPU and RAM counts, and license information, and transmits it back to the Tachyon server (s). So, what makes this product so unique? There were two big things that I observed.

  1. Combination of data Along with its own hardware and software inventories, it also lets you to utilize all of that current data by offering connections, rather than reinventing the wheel. Tachyon offers inventory data integration with solutions such as Microsoft Endpoint Manager Configuration Manager (MEMCM), BigFix, and even providing your own data in CSV format using its connectors.
  2. Combination of data The way separate software and hardware information was kept in Windows was one of the main annoyances I experienced as an SCCM admin years ago. InstallShield, a Windows Installer (MSI), could be used to install applications, and the product would appear entirely different under Windows. Even within the same software line, there would be minor differences across versions, making inventorying software a big hassle. I despised it so much that I presented a lecture about it at TechMentor 2015. Tachyon Inventory takes on that difficulty head-on by utilizing their Catalog 1E to normalize all of that diverse data into a comprehensible manner, as well as leveraging artificial intelligence via their AI-powered auto-curation tool.

Enough with the high-level summary. Let’s take a look at how Tachyon manages inventory for all of its managed endpoints.

Tachyon’s Inventory Data Management

Before we enter the Tachyon portal and start poking about, I’d want to describe how 1E manages inventory data based on what I’ve observed. Why am I taking a portion only for this purpose? Because nice dashboards and charts are fantastic, but you’re not a genuine geek if you don’t know how they’re made!

Repositories of Inventory

As I was clicking through the various screens, one feature stood out to me and I had to investigate further; the inventory repository. You’ll see below that Tachyon stores data in what they call Repositories of Inventory. In my lab, I only had the Default Inventory repository, as shown below.

Inventory respository by defaultInventory respository by default

It turns out that Tachyon allows you to segment data in these partitions. These Repositories of Inventory are used across various applications like Patch Success, Application Migration and more.

You’ll see that Tachyon makes extensive use of inventory data in a variety of applications. The Inventory application seems to be nothing more than a means of displaying such information for asset monitoring and licensing reasons.

These Repositories of Inventory are created via connectors that ingest data. According to the documentation, you can partition up data by source and time periods which would be handy if you have hundreds of thousands of endpoints with millions of database records!

The Catalogue 1E

Recall in the first section how I mentioned one of the two differentiating features of Tachyon was its data consolidation efforts? The Catalogue 1E is how it’s done. Using its catalog as a single source of truth, Tachyon ingests data from all of its endpoints. It then normalizes all of the data using good ol’ fashioned logic and even artificial intelligence.

According to 1E and from my experience, you probably don’t need to access the catalog directly too much but it’s still possible by navigating to https://<tachyon DNS Name FQDN>/CatalogWeb.

Catalog 1ECatalog 1E

The Catalogue 1E is a critical component of Tachyon’s inventory data strategy. It:

  • Identifies installed software in a unique way.
  • Device types such as laptops, desktops, virtual machines, operating systems, and more are identified.
  • Inventory of hardware and software is standardized across all endpoints.
  • Bundling criteria are used to identify software suites such as Office.
  • Tracks software entitlement rights, such as when you may upgrade or downgrade licenses, change software editions, and even Microsoft’s software assurance.

If Tachyon inventory had a single source of power, I’d say it’d be The Catalogue 1E.

Getting Around the Dashboards

Now that you’ve learned about Tachyon Inventory and how data is processed in the background, let’s move on to the fun part: dashboards!

You’ll be on the Dashboard for Inventory of Software when you first start the Inventory program. Inventory, like other programs like Experience, offers a variety of dashboards. These dashboards enable you to keep track of all of your assets at a glance.

You may dig down on particular information by clicking on different items in the various charts, as seen below. This is a characteristic that Tachyon has in common, and it’s one that I truly appreciate.

Consider what would happen if your manager came in one day and said, “Hey, can you tell me how many devices we have that are about to lose support?” “Those must be replaced.” When that occurs, you’ll fire up the Dashboard for Inventory of Software and wow him with your stunning graphs!

Dashboard for Inventory of SoftwareDashboard for Inventory of Software

Inventory of Software

One of the first components of Inventory you’ll come across is Inventory of Software. Inventory of Software is the place where you can get a bird’s eye view of not only what software is installed across your environment but how much that software is being used.

Through the 1E Client and by optionally setting up various connectors to bring other data in, Inventory of Software provides an Aggregate view that shows all software installed across the environment. Although useful, I didn’t see anything particularly amazing in here.

Tachyon Inventory Inventory of Software Aggregate viewTachyon Inventory Inventory of Software Aggregate view

Statistics on Product Usage

Now, the Product Usage screen was one of my favorites. Tachyon summarizes inventory data based on use statistics here. The Product Usage screen would be useful for determining what is really being utilized in your environment in order to save money on licensing.

Have you ever spent hours writing a script only to find out the difference between “used” and “unused” installed software? I’ve done that, and it’s not pleasant. I could have avoided a headache if the Product Usage screen had been available.

Tachyon is able to map every process that begins and quits on an endpoint to software and offer use statistics like the one below by monitoring every process that starts and stops on that endpoint.

Product usage stats under Inventory of SoftwareProduct usage stats under Inventory of Software

Licensing

The Product Usage screen combines a variety of functions into a single screen. Another important function I discovered is licensing. Two aspects in particular stuck out to me: assisting me in keeping track of licenses in use and assisting me in saving money on licensing.

The Top 10 Savings Opportunities ($) list on the Product Usage screen was one component of the screen that jumped out to me. Remember how I said the Inventory application was all about data in the first section? A good example is the screenshot below.

Despite the fact that I didn’t have any data to build this bar chart in my lab, having it accessible gives me a glimpse into 1E’s design choices. They seem to be seeking for any and all ways to make sense of drab old software and Inventory of Hardware data.

License savings opportunities on the Inventory of Software —> Product Usage screenLicense savings opportunities on the Inventory of Software —> Product Usage screen

On the Product Usage screen, there’s also a convenient Licensable button. Toggling this button, as illustrated in the GIF below, will automatically filter out all of the software for which you are most likely paying a licensing fee.

With this fast toggle, you can quickly restrict down to just the goods that are potentially costing your company too much money.

Filtering license-able software in Inventory of SoftwareFiltering license-able software in Inventory of Software

Inventory of Hardware

Like any good endpoint management product, Tachyon has Inventory of Hardware. Using the 1E Client and any optionally created connectors, Tachyon reads hardware data and sends it back to the Tachyon server(s). Although Inventory of Hardware isn’t nearly as interesting as Inventory of Software, I did find a few gems.

If you’d like to see Inventory of Hardware data on devices, click on the Inventory of Hardware tab and you’ll see the standard tabular view of all devices.

Inventory of Hardware TabInventory of Hardware Tab

When you click on a device, you’ll get an overview of how the 1E Client views it. There are no earth-shattering discoveries in this article.

Summary of the DeviceSummary of the Device

I began getting memories as I clicked on the Virtual Summary.

I recall having to develop complex SQL queries in SCCM to discover every version of VMware Tools installed on computers in order to determine whether they were VMs or not. With Tachyon, you’ll see that we now have Virtual Summary under the Hardware tab.

Tachyon understands what’s virtualized and what isn’t right away. That would have saved me a significant amount of time.

Virtualized instances in Inventory of HardwareVirtualized instances in Inventory of Hardware

I noticed an interesting design choice when I scrolled through the Hardware options in the Tachyon Portal. The Device screen is shown below as an example. Nothing appears on the screen. You must search for any device in the highlighted area to view it.

After a little more research, I discovered that when you click on a device in the Summary of Hardware table, this Device page populates with a single device. This portion struck me as unusual, and I kept wondering why 1E chose to present it alone, with no equipment, in the first place.

Summary of Hardware Summary of Hardware

Automation of the Software Lifecycle or an Outdated User Interface?

Automation of the Software LifecycleAutomation of the Software Lifecycle

On the left-side navigation menu, you’ll notice an item called Automation of the Software Lifecycle. At first, the name may be enticing thinking it will help manage software better but you’d be disappointed.

You’ll find nothing in the Automation of the Software Lifecycle menu that you can’t find in Inventory of Software. When you click on this page, you’ll find that it takes you to a legacy interface and contains all of the same general information as in Inventory of Software.

The Inventory interface you see in the Automation of the Software Lifecycle section seemed more like a backend interface to the database rather than a feature of the Tachyon Portal.

Filtering is superior than Guaranteed State.

However, as I indicated in my post on Guaranteed State, I was worried that Guaranteed State did not enable you to define conditions mapped to fields, as illustrated below.

Lookup via natural languageLookup via natural language

I did observe that the tabular interfaces shown in some of the Summary sections did enable you to implement extensive conditional logic if required. You’ll see where you may build AND/OR conditions with operators further below.

The capacity to develop complicated filters would be critical in vast contexts for discovering the data you want.

Using tabular data to create conditional queriesUsing tabular data to create conditional queries

Summarizing Inventory of Software by Inventory

You’ll notice a Find repository box in the upper-right corner of the Automation of the Software Lifecycle screen, as shown below. This box allows you to browse all of your inventories.

Choosing inventoryChoosing inventory

When you click on an inventory, you’ll be sent to a useful database level view, as illustrated below. This view displays total database records gathered for a certain metric, as well as records for objects such as software, processors, and so on.

View of common inventory entries in a databaseView of common inventory entries in a database

Other than a better method of filtering and perhaps some views to inspect database record counts, the Automation of the Software Lifecycle page can be ignored.

Conclusion

Overall, I loved the Inventory program and was impressed by 1E’s apparent attention to detail in processing all of that inventory data. I really enjoyed the data aggregation function for bringing in data from other inventory sources.

The Inventory application is a wonderful method to keep track of your endpoints’ hardware, software, and license thanks to its clear attention to detail on the backend and easy to use interface in the Tachyon Portal.

Although 1E, in my opinion, could completely remove the Devices and Automation of the Software Lifecycle pages, the hardware and Inventory of Software features were easy to navigate and provided great insight into many different areas of an organization’s device and Inventory of Software.