Troubleshooting Connection Issues with Serio Inventory Agent

In case you are not familiar with it, the Serio Inventory Agent (SIA) is a piece of software that runs on workstations (and sometimes servers).

It's job is twofold: provide network auditing information, and to service the Command Centre product when it wants to get information about a server machine. This post is about the first of these two, when using the Serio Inventory Agent for network auditing purposes. Specifically, what do you do if a particular machine refuses to return any information?

This post will offer a series of steps for you to follow. I'd also remind you that you don't need to use network snapshots at all to gather this data, and could instead use the file based Inventory Agent (see below).

Troubleshooting Steps

I'll call the machine you are trying to get information about (the remote computer) the Target Machine, and the machine you are using to query from your Workstation Machine.

1. Is the machine switched on? From time to time we have people call us reporting that they can't get data from a particular Target Machine, when the Target is either off or otherwise disconnected from the network. Sometimes it's because the IP address that they think the machine has is not the one it actually has, and their test Ping is actually pinging another machine. Regardless, don't overlook this simple check, and remember you can get info when a machine is switched off by using the file based Agent.

2. Is the SIA installed? Is the SIA actually installed on the Target Machine (we've had a number of cases where it isn't, but users were trying to query it anyway). Go to the machine, or use Serio Remote Desktop. Go to Add/Remove Programs (aka Programs and Features for poor souls using Vista) and see if there is an entry for Serio Inventory Agent. If not, install it.

3. Did the SIA install correctly? On the Target Machine, can you see a Service listed in Services (accessible via the Control Panel) called Serio Inventory Agent? If not, de-install and re-install. If it won't install, check the Event Log as described in Step 5.

4. Is the SIA Service running? Using the Services control panel applet, check the status of the Serio Inventory Agent Service on the Target. It should say 'Running'. Then check the Task Manager in windows to see if something called 'SerioAgent.exe' is running as a task (they are the same thing). If either of these is not shown, re-start the SIA Service, and then proceed to Step 5.

5. Is there any information in the Event Log on the Target Machine? Normal Windows applications can just display a dialog box when something goes wrong. However, for Services it's a little more tricky - Windows doesn't allow Services to do this. Instead, error messages and status information is written to the Event Log. To read these messages open the Control Panel, click on 'Administrative Tools' and then double-click the Event Viewer. You'll find messages from the SIA (Source - Serio Inventory Agent) grouped under 'Application' (Vista users: Windows Logs/Application). You should see messages like this from when the SIA was last started:

Serio Inventory Agent startup data: Port=17070, MultiHomedIPAddress=.

This message means that the SIA is listening for requests on Port 17070 (yours may say something different, like 161) and that no multi-homed IP address is set (that's usually fine, as most computers don't have multiple network cards). Make a note somewhere of the Port Number you are using.

"Serio Inventory Agent" started successfully.

This means that all startup and initialisation finished without error, and the SIA is ready. If you don't see such messages, you will probably see error messages instead. If you see one that says

The requested port is in use - is there another SNMP agent application running on this machine?

...it means that you have what is called a Port Conflict, and nothing is going to work until you resolve it. Almost all the problems we see with installs are Port Conflicts. If you see this message skip to Resolving Port Conflicts below.

6. If everything checks out OK on the Target Machine, let's run a few checks on the Workstation Machine. Run the Serio Workstation Explorer (SerioWe.exe, you'll find it in your Serio directory). From the Edit menu, select 'Edit Advanced Settings'.

Grouped under Network Options you'll see two numbers:

IP Port used for sending requests

IP Port to send requests to on remote machines

The key value is the second one: IP Port to send requests to on remote machines. This value should match the Port Number noted in step 5. If it doesn't, then change it and click OK.

Then try to connect to the Target Machine using the Workstation Explorer. If it works then the SIA is functioning just fine and answering requests, else skip to step 7.

7. If you get this far, and you've faithfully checked all the things listed, it might be time to place a support call - but be warned, this is exactly the stuff we'll check all over again.

Resolving Port Conflicts

If you get here, it's because the SIA is stuck on a Port Conflict. I won't go into the background of TCP/IP Ports, except to say this: IP Ports are like toothbrushes, and are not designed for sharing. You can do only one of two things to resolve a Port Conflict:

1. Stop the other Application.

Stop the application that is running on the Target Machine that is using the Port you noted in Step 5. If you are not using this application and it was installed by default, stopping or de-installing is usually the easiest thing to do. Finding out the identity of that application can be tricky, but if the Port in question is 161 there is a good chance it is the Microsoft SNMP Service that is using it.

2. Change the Port number that Serio Inventory Agent uses.

Tip: Only do this if you can do it for all machines - otherwise, having machines using different Ports will cause you an administrative migraine.

To change the Port used on the Target Machine, you can either de-install and re-install, or you can simply edit this registry key:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\SERIOIAGENT\

Parameters\SerioAgentStartup\SendPort

and set it to the DWORD value you require (17070 is usually a good value, make sure you set it in decimal). The value is applied when the SIA on the Target Machine is next restarted.

Having changed the Port Number, go back to the Serio Workstation Explorer and edit the 'IP Port to send requests to on remote machines' value, and then try re-querying the Target Machine.

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