One of the most common questions Sysadmins face is determining how many instances a certain component is present in the IT environment. The follow-up questions are often, “Where is it?” and “What is its use?” Answering these questions can be difficult if your Sysadmins don’t have the right tools and data. Let’s look at a couple of examples to understand why.
A major incident has occurred
It’s the middle of the night and a phone call awakens you from your sleep alerting you a component or system is broken, and the business is severely impacted. The information you received was cryptic and your unfamiliar with the failed component or system. When you login and start diagnosing the issue, you discover there is a piece of 3rd party firmware that is incompatible with other portions of your environment. You contact the vendor and he or she provides you with a fix to address the issue – all you must do is install it.
The next question that comes to mind is, “How many instances are there of this component running, and where are they?” Do you have the discovery tools to help you find all of them or are you left guessing and hoping? Business hours start soon and if you can’t fix this issue, then there will be some bigger problems to face and solve.
You just received a security vulnerability alert
Sysadmins receive these all the time. “Version x.x of this piece of software has a bug that if exploited could result in a major disaster. Apply patch version x.x.1 to address this issue.” You (of course) don’t want a major disaster to happen, so you must update the software with the latest patch version. You also know that if one instance of the software is missed, then your company will be vulnerable.
Here’s that question again, “How many instances are there of this software running?” In this case, you need more details than just a list of instances, you must know some details about the technical configuration and version. You must also know what services are dependent on the software, so you can work with business leaders to schedule a good time to apply the recommended patches. Do your discovery tools provide configuration details about your components, particularly software running on servers and desktop machines where vulnerabilities are most common? Do your IT asset management tools provide you with the ability to map and manage dependencies, so you can make informed decisions about when to make changes?
It’s time to upgrade some of your infrastructure
Sysadmins are often involved with major infrastructure projects, such as upgrading wireless access points to the latest technology. Before an upgrade project can begin, the team must first understand how many components of each type are in the environment that must be upgraded. Depending on the rigor of your change management processes, you may have quite good records of fixed infrastructure, such as network devices, but it is also common for components or systems to have changed or devices having been moved and repurposed after their initial installation. A successful upgrade project requires you know with good certainty with what you are working.
Many companies use physical inventories in this situation, but often the devices being inventoried are hidden behind ceiling panels and other areas that are not easily accessible without disrupting current business activities. Do you have the tools to inventory your environment remotely and visualize how everything is connected?
One of the most important questions your Sysadmins must be able to answer is, “How many instances are there of a particular component running in our environment?” Discovery and IT Asset Management (ITAM) tools from Virima can help them to answer this question by providing them with the ability to capture and inventory data about IT components automatically, map dependencies and visualize relationships to help drive decision making. Learn more about Virima’s Discovery and Visualization capabilities here.
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