It is pretty cool how Apple System Profiler has a command line equivalent (system_profiler). And it is pretty cool how system_profiler has a -xml option to allow for easier parsing. You might use this info for extracting asset information into a database or for puppet facter facts.
However if you’ve ever looked at that xml, you know that it is a tree full of unpredictable semi-structured data that was designed specifically for the GUI app. So even though you can parse it with your favorite plist parser, there is still a lot more work to do to get to the data you care about.
The tree structure is nice for a browsing through on a single machine, but not so good for reporting across many machines.
Apple stores most of the same data as key value pairs in its database for ARD reporting, but they do a lot of massaging of the data to get it that way.
It is possible to get at this data in an ARD database if you have an ARD collection server, but an ARD collection server isn’t for everyone and doesn’t serve every use case.
You can still get at the nicely formatted ARD information. ARD client includes a tool that outputs most, if not all of the asset information you care about in a much nicer structured format for reporting.
The tool is called sysinfocachegen and you use it like this:
sudo /System/Library/CoreServices/RemoteManagement/ARDAgent.app/Contents/Support/sysinfocachegen -p /tmp/com.yourorganization.systeminfo.plist
Just use your favorite language’s plist parser to read the plist.