Building a SkyBox server on your own network

This page will go through how to install a SkyBox on your network, which is a very simple process. If you do not want to use the cloud-based version because it involves inventory data being sent off your site, you can install a local server on your network.

If you are a Data Center, you are welcome to license the product and sell it to your customers, including hosting of the database and web site. The local server also has one extra feature over the cloud-based option and that is the ability to store events as a central event log.

Building a local SkyBox server


SkyBox is the name of a cloud service that comes with your FastTrack Automation Studio licensing. Installing a local SkyBox server, means that you replace our cloud service with a server on your own network, using the same codebase as our cloud service. SkyBox consists of two services: Inventory and Jobs. The Inventory service can be used without using Jobs, but not the other way around, because Jobs use inventory data to filter Job executions. The inventory part of SkyBox has its own documentation page here and cloud jobs have their own documentation page here. This matrix shows which features are available in which edition of FastTrack Automation Studio.
  Cloud Inventory
Hardware inventory
Software inventory
Geographical tracking
Custom inventory information from clients
Ability to create and execute scripts
Cloud jobs
Push MSI files to clients using Cloud Job
SkyBox server on own network
Log events centrally (requires own server)

Setting up the server

The SkyBox server is "just" a normal Internet Information Services (IIS) web site built with Microsoft .net. This gives you, as the administrator, the most flexibility as you get all the nice benefits of IIS control and configuration. The server consists of two components: A SQL Server database and an IIS web site. A wizard is available to set up the database and generate the IIS web site files for you. Click the "Inventory" icon in the Home Screen and select the option to install a local server.

Home Screen Inventory Generator

Step 1 of 2: Setting up a database

The first step in the wizard is to set up a database. You need to install a new or use an existing SQL Server and you can use any version and edition of SQL Server. You can download the free SQL Server 2012 Express here. The limitations in the free Express edition have no influence on the performance of the web site, as there will be relatively few data in the database.

Inventory server wizard

Once we have pointed to an instance name of SQL Server, we need to create a database using the "Create database" button. If you are uneasy about having the wizard create a database in your production environment, you can set up a local SQL Server Express, create the database on this local SQL Server instance and then move the database to your production environment. Once you have done this, you can run the wizard again and point to the copied database. The "Test database" button will help you verify that the database is set up correctly.

If you are not using Integrated security on your database, the credentials you use on this page will be used at run-time on the web site. You can change the credentials in the web.config file at any time, which is located in the root of the output web site. This is explained in more detail at the bottom of this page.

Step 2 of 2: Configuring the web site

Once the database is set up correctly, you will be able to click "Next" and get to the web site configuration page:

Inventory server wizard

The output directory can be a production web site folder, or you can point to a local folder and copy the files manually afterwards. The web site password is the password to access the inventory. You can change the password in the web.config file in the root of the output web site at any time, as explained at the bottom. The image file is an optional image to show at the top of the web site instead of the standard FastTrack one. If you are a Data Center and you are setting up the web site for a customer, it would be a good idea to use either your own or your customers' logo instead of the standard one. Once the properties are set correctly, clicking "Next" will generate the files and show a confirmation page:

Inventory server wizard

When you configure the IIS web site to host the files, you need to use the following configuration:
  • .Net framework version - Select v4.0 and make sure that the .net 4.0 framework is installed and enabled.
  • Identity - The Application Pool you are using must have access to the database.
  • Enable anonymous access or Windows Authentication - The data uploading client is posting xml data to a sub page on the same web site. In some case it makes sense to use multiple binding using host headers to let the uploading client use one binding and have the user of the web site use another.
Once you have configured your web site and you log on to it, it will look as shown below. In the upper right corner, you will see something called "Inventory Data Broker url". You need to use this address, when you use the inventory client wizard or you can use the SaveInventory command from a script. Notice that this address is just copied from your browser address, when you look at the web site. You may use another url that points to the same web site.

Inventory Server web site

Manual configuration edit

Once you have the web site up and running, you can open the configuration properties file web.config in the root of the web site. The password and database configuration can be edited manually in the file. The "ObsoleteAge" property tells how many days of missing data upload it takes from a computer to be considered out of service.
  <add key="Password" value="nopass"/>
  <add key="ObsoleteAge" value="60"/>
  <add name="FastTrackInventoryConnectionString" connectionString="Data Source=.\sqlexpress;Initial Catalog=Inventory;Integrated Security=True" providerName="System.Data.SqlClient"/>

Click here to go to the main inventory page.

Rating: 5 out of 5

"Use this as a replacement for VBScript and PowerShell"

"It's easy to include attractive GUI elements in FastTrack scripts, beyond the basic dialog boxes and text input that VBScript offers ... Another powerful feature is the ability to distribute scripts as Windows Installer (.msi) or standard .exe files. Although interesting in its own right, this ability results in a much more intriguing capability: to repackage -- or wrap -- software installers as .msi files without using snapshots. If you've ever created an .msi installer file from before-and-after system snapshots, for use with a software distribution system such as Group Policy or SCCM, then you know how hit-and-miss the results can be."

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Rating: 8 out of 10

"Faster than the rest"

"We found the FastTrack syntax to be more transparent and easier to learn than Microsoft's PowerShell – the editor in particular provided good support in this regard. the Script Editor offers a large number of options from the command set through to simple output of graphical elements, which cannot be achieved at all with PowerShell or other solutions or only with a significantly greater level of effort."

"Anyone wanting to tackle the many hurdles in everyday admin and especially anyone for whom logon scripts and client automation is a priority will benefit from the variety of functions offered by FastTrack."

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