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What is IT asset discovery?

What is IT asset discovery

There is an old saying that you can’t manage something unless you can measure it. IT asset discovery can provide you with accurate and up-to-date data and information about everything you use in IT. 

You can then develop metrics using the data from the IT Asset Discovery tool, which can give you a lot of useful information about the assets that you own, who is using those assets, and how they are being used.

IT asset discovery has the capability to provide visibility of all IT equipment located within an organization’s IT estate using limited or no human interaction. Asset discovery enables the automatic capture of physical, virtual, and cloud infrastructure – including any changes. This ensures data integrity.

Most organizations start to discover information about their assets by manually maintaining a list of devices and components. This asset management discovery data is stored in a shared document such as an Excel spreadsheet and only updated whenever a new asset is added, deleted, or changed. 

A manual process without an IT asset discovery software may be manageable when the size of an organization’s IT estate is relatively small and straightforward. However, this method becomes increasingly challenging as the organization expands and its use of IT and types of IT assets grow. 

(See, “A CMDB without Discovery is just a database”)

Having a full understanding of all assets with continual IT asset discovery is fundamental to the effective and efficient management of IT. This is critical to operational processes but also to IT asset security, as a lack of visibility or knowledge of assets connecting to the organization’s network can create potential security vulnerabilities. 

Hence IT asset management best practices are essential to just about every organization.

How does asset discovery work?

Asset discovery can be done through an application that scans the network for new or existing assets. The application then collects information like hardware and software details, IP address, operating system version, etc. This information is used to create a database which stores details about all the devices in the organization. Asset discovery can be done through a software program or by manually logging into each device and collecting information about it.

With a holistic IT discovery tool like Virima Discovery, you can automatically discover thousands of physical and virtual compute, network and storage assets. It provides a comprehensive view of your infrastructure with the ability to drill down into specific assets and quickly resolve issues and ability to track changes over time – from configuration changes to hardware failures – and take action accordingly.

What types of IT assets can you discover?

IT asset discovery can automatically capture information on just about every type of physical, virtual, and cloud item used in the delivery of IT. The data captured by asset discovery tools can be at a high level, for example, discovering a PC asset but also at increasing levels of detail within that high-level asset, for example, network cards, firmware, and configuration information. 

Asset discovery is particularly useful at discovering information about assets where physical inspection is difficult, either because the asset is in a remote location, or because it is physically contained within another asset. 

Here are some examples of these types of assets, where asset discovery is invaluable to any organization:

Networks

Networks are critical to every organization, linking users to the assets used to operate IT and to each other. Yet many organizations have found it challenging to discover details about all the network-related assets involved. 

This easily leads to service issues when there are failures in network assets and a high level of risk to the organization, especially security risks, as nobody can discover how the assets work together. 

Corporate networks are now highly complex, especially since the networks used to connect the IT environments have expanded in size to include cloud, virtual, personal, and mobile devices. 

IT asset discovery tools can help automatically scan both the network components and the traffic between them, identifying possible assets. Once they are discovered, the tools will capture and record more granular information of each asset, including possible connections with other assets, configuration information, software and firmware versions, and usage. 

Further network asset discovery might encompass connected network storage devices and assets that connect remotely.

Servers

Asset discovery can capture data about all of your servers. Unless your organization has had exceptional configuration management processes and procedures in place from day one, it is highly unlikely that you have accurate information about these critical assets. 

Without asset discovery, there is a high risk of service disruption. When the inevitable disruption does happen, it can take a long time to discover the information you need about these assets to help fix the issues. 

Asset discovery can be at a high level when you discover just how many server assets you have and what type they are. Asset discovery can also go deeper, finding out critical information for both hardware and software assets associated with these servers. 

The types of information about these assets which can be discovered include operating system versions, firmware versions for components inside the servers, network cards, and their configuration, and communication ports.

(See, “Success is in the details”)

PCs, laptops, and mobile devices

With the prevalence today of using mobile devices to access corporate systems and services, hardware asset discovery can be challenging. And discovering information required to support these assets can be equally challenging. 

New apps can be easily downloaded with automatic updates. Asset discovery tools can continually capture the necessary data and information, which is impossible to do manually.

Benefits of IT asset discovery

IT asset discovery can help you save time, reduce costs, improve productivity, and drive efficiency throughout your organization. Here are some of the most important benefits:

Less time spent on cataloging IT assets

IT asset discovery makes it easier to catalog all of your assets in one place. By centralizing this information in a database, you can reduce the amount of time spent searching for assets by hand or through multiple databases. This means less wasted time and more efficiency for everyone involved.

Better and detailed IT reports

Automated discovery tools provide you with easy access to an abundance of reports about your IT environment, including device utilization statistics, software license compliance information, and more. These reports let you make informed decisions about how to optimize your technology investments for maximum efficiency and cost savings potential.

Streamlined IT asset acquisition

IT asset discovery also enables organizations to streamline their procurement processes by ensuring that they do not buy duplicate licenses or licenses for unnecessary software packages. By doing so, organizations are able to save money on unnecessary purchases which could otherwise be used towards more important business needs such as research and development activities or hiring new employees who can help boost productivity levels within your company’s workforce.

Ensuring compliance with security policies

IT asset discovery helps you ensure compliance with corporate security policies by providing visibility into which applications are being used on your network.

A single database for all your asset needs

IT asset discovery consolidates information from disparate tools into one central database so you have a single place to manage your assets.

Asset discovery and storage

In today’s connected IT landscape, storage is more than just a few disk drives. Storage systems can be complex, requiring specialized asset discovery processes like cloud asset discovery to capture data and information about them. 

Apart from discovering information about the physical storage assets, such as disks, controllers, and cooling systems, asset discovery can capture useful information about performance and logs that can forecast future availability issues.

Asset discovery and security

Today’s IT landscape is nothing like the old days. In response to the challenges of doing business in the digital age, assets now change frequently, new ones are added, deployed, then retired at a rapid rate. 

As a result, without a robust approach to asset discovery, the pressure to constantly adapt to new technology produces new asset security risks. The widespread use of remote assets such as servers and storage means that security teams are now rarely in control of all assets used to deliver IT. 

This makes the task of discovering the necessary information about the assets difficult. With IT networks spread across cloud, virtual, mobile, and on-premise environments, blind spots are likely to arise. When they do, attackers could exploit oversights to conceal malicious activity.

Asset discovery is one way to help security staff provide a defense against these attacks by gaining visibility over the full network. Security best practices suggest organizations develop an inventory of all authorized devices to help provide controlled access to this type of asset. 

(See, “ITSM + SecOps Convergence (Part 1)”)

Asset discovery and ITSM configuration management

Creating and maintaining an accurate Configuration Management System (CMS), including a Configuration Management Database (CMDB) is essential to the operation of any IT Service Management (ITSM) capability. 

Trying to capture and maintain the necessary information without using IT asset discovery tools and techniques will be time-consuming, costly, and prone to errors. 

Asset discovery can be successfully used for the initial population of a CMDB, but there is a risk that a lot of unnecessary information is populated during ITSM asset discovery, as it’s at a low level and there is a high volume to be understood. 

Interfaces should be built between asset discovery tools and ITSM tools, with rules defined that only transfer into the ITSM tool the information discovered about the assets that are necessary for the operation of that tool. The other information can stay in the asset discovery tool, where it will still be available to ITSM if they need it for investigations.

One of the important activities within ITSM configuration management is the verification of the data held in the CMDB. These tools can help with this verification by automatically capturing the current asset information and comparing it with the previous information held about the asset. 

Sometimes the asset discovery tool will automatically update the information in the CMDB, but this may mask issues. For example, if IT carries out an unauthorized change to the version of software operating on a particular asset so that it is now different from similar assets, it may be more beneficial for the asset discovery process to alert ITSM that there is an inconsistency between similar assets so that the configuration manager can investigate. 

If the discovery tool automatically updates the version in the CMDB, the unauthorized change may not be highlighted.

Manage your IT assets efficiently with Virima Discovery

Virima’s IT Asset Discovery solution provides an effective way to find out what devices are active in your network environment. The solution uses a combination of passive and active discovery techniques to discover all devices that are connected to the network and can be reached by the scanning tool. It offers agentless IP-based scanning of both, your on-premise and cloud environments and integrates seamlessly with Virima CMDB, enabling you to create custom reports and dashboards for your organization. You can also use it to create a detailed map of your network infrastructure, including everything from physical locations to virtual machines, reducing the time required for initial discovery, so you can start managing your assets more quickly than ever before!  

Contact us today to schedule a demo and understand IT discovery better.

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