IT asset discovery is the first step to gaining complete visibility of the assets that exist on your network. It lets users see what entities are connected and provides a snapshot of a business’s entire hardware and software asset library. This essentially forms the basis for the successful inventory management of your IT assets.
Today, keeping track of what IT assets you have can be challenging. On top of mobile devices, businesses need to monitor IoT sensors and software licenses. As well as cloud applications, virtual machines, containers, blockchains, and more.
Without proper IT Asset Management (ITAM), businesses are faced with multiple challenges, such as:
- Increasing use of unlicensed software
- Risk of security threats and data leaks
- Unsuccessful offboarding of employees
- Failed compliance audits
There are two cost-effective and high-impact solutions to reduce these risks. They are frequent employee training and deploying an efficient IT asset discovery tool.
What Is IT Asset Discovery?
IT asset discovery is the process of identifying and cataloguing an entire network of IT assets. It is a key element of ITAM that enables businesses to oversee their hardware and software assets. Whether that be archived assets, assets currently in use, or assets that are in the process of being changed.
Through asset discovery, businesses can build data sets that provide significant data. IT managers can see who’s logged on to what device and what devices need rebooting. As well as what applications are installed on a device, and what software licences need renewing.
Having this data to hand leads to better decision-making, which saves both time and money.
The reason for using IT asset discovery tools is to automate an otherwise manual task. It also ensures that asset data is secure and assets, such as software licences, are up-to-date and compliant. In 2016, the UK had the second-highest use of unlicensed software in Europe.
How Does IT Asset Discovery Work?
IT asset discovery is set up to scan for, identify, and map devices on a company-wide network. It’ll use an active or passive technique to gather detailed information. Including an asset’s IP address, manufacturer, activity time, and subnet.
For smaller operations, discovery tools can be installed on specific assets such as mobile devices.
These tools are used to locate, monitor, and provide status updates. This could be a manual process, which is complex and time-consuming, or an automated one. The latter helps to pull asset data into a specified agent.
Once deployed, the tool is configured to scan and locate new IT assets on your network. That also includes pre-installed software and SaaS products. This provides enterprises with regular updates on their asset data, which is then collected and stored in an inventory management system or CMDB.
With an IT asset discovery tool in place, you can benefit from features such as:
- Troubleshooting devices
- Mapping networks
- Detecting vulnerable or outdated software
- Audit compliance
- Software license management
- Identifying attempted hacking and data breaches
What Is Active and Passive IT Asset Discovery?
Active IT Asset Discovery: Active, or standard, asset discovery involves a ping and response process for each asset on your network. Not only does this entail multiple configuration inputs, but it can also impact the speed of your network.
Passive IT Asset Discovery: A passive asset discovery technique requires each device to be able to send syslogs. It is a more efficient method that listens for activities being broadcast within a network. This means less bandwidth consumption and greater discovery of live and historical information.
What’s the Difference Between Asset Discovery & Inventory Management?
Asset discovery is the initial step that helps to build a detailed inventory management database. Discovery tools identify the assets and an inventory management system organises them. Both of these practices are typically incorporated in modern ITAM and ITSM solutions. As well as some software asset management tools.
Asset Discovery Is: The starting point for identifying and monitoring IT assets on your network infrastructure.
Inventory Management Is: A system that stores all asset information from multiple sources in one readable format to be actioned and reported on.
A CMDB Is: A configuration management database used to store information about an IT environment. Its functions include discovering, controlling, and keeping track of relationships between IT assets and highlighting their individual configurations.
5 Benefits of Deploying IT Asset Discovery
1. Ensure Compliant Software Is Being Used
Asset discovery tools are used for tracking hardware and monitoring software. That includes both authorised and unauthorised software.
By creating a single source of truth for your IT assets, you can see what software is installed on what devices. As well as who has access to software licenses and what devices are running the latest versions. For instance, seeing who has access to your software keys allows for a quicker and easier off-boarding process.
With a detailed overview of your software assets and licenses, you can better manage risks and enforce policies. This helps to avoid fines for using unlicensed software and reduces the chances of a data breach.
2. Track Hardware in Remote Areas
IT asset discovery originated from the tracking of hardware. Such as computers, printers, scanners, and routers. Today, with an increase in remote working, IT hardware tracking is as important as ever.
Asset discovery tools perform real-time scanning of a network, providing up-to-date information regarding the whereabouts of hardware. That includes IP addresses, last known activity, and assigned users. As well as the geo-location of certain devices.
3. Improve Time Management
ITAM solutions have been designed to do away with time-consuming manual processes. One of which is the management of IT assets. Automated asset discovery is configured to scan a network for new, existing, and changing assets. Ensuring that your asset data is always up-to-date. Whereas typically, IT asset managers would mark, scan, and tag assets by hand.
4. Visualise Your Entire Network of IT Assets
A key element of asset discovery is gaining complete visibility of your IT estate. With equipment and applications constantly moving in and out of your business, it can be hard to keep track of what you own. But, having complete visibility, enables IT managers to build out a network map. This also helps to ease the process of asset acquisition.
5. Detect Asset Anomalies
The primary function of IT asset discovery is to mitigate security risks. Risks can come in the form of using out-of-date software, data leaks, and hacks through installing vulnerable applications. Performing regular network scans and receiving up-to-date data can help prevent this.
By having a centralised database of all your catalogued assets, you can detect behavioural changes when they first occur. Allowing you to flag and resolve issues before they escalate.