Discovering your IT Environment: What is the solution?

28 November 2016

Sean Robinson


Discovering what is installed across your network is a key aspect to ensuring your organization is compliant, but picking a discovery tool that suits your organization’s needs can be extremely confusing. The number of tools that are already available (and the rate this market continues to expand) leaves many a SAM Manager wondering where to start in finding the perfect solution. Unfortunately, it is rare to find only one solution. Many organizations utilize multiple systems from multiple vendors, while most inventory tools bring .exe files back to be reported, that can leave gaps in the virtual, Internet of Things (IoT) and mobile estates – all of which will need a different tool to produce the information needed to manage compliance status.

Agent or Agentless Discovery?

Once a device is discovered, your tool will run an inventory and identify the software installed, bringing back all relevant data for that particular device. Even when a device isn’t connected to the network, the agent based discovery tool will run a scan and report back any changes as and when it is reconnected. Agentless tools are often easier to deploy and tend to sit on servers. These will sweep the inventory according to a schedule, and report on the assets that are discovered at that particular point. Agentless is key when discovering virtualized and cloud infrastructures but many require access to the server, which means security teams will need to be involved.

At this point, organizations have the option to choose whether they would prefer a tool that is installed on devices (agent), or a tool that is installed on servers (agentless). Using both agent and agentless tools will ensure as much information as possible is being received, helping organizations pick up on any gaps. With License Dashboard Discovery you get the best of both worlds; full hardware and software inventory using either client agents or agentless technologies.

Running Multiple Discovery Tools

Unfortunately, running multiple tools will bring data back through varying reports, which will then need to be condensed into one view. Organizations that use more than one tool, therefore, require that data be normalized and fed back in a readable format – through a ‘single pane of glass’. Without a tool to do this, as well as process updates to establish any changes, this task is manual and so can be an extremely time consuming one.

Up-to-date Abilities

Understanding which instalments are being used across the estate, and which are no longer in use, will help consolidate and standardize software across the network. It will also save money by preventing overspend on licenses that are not actually needed. Whilst managing software usage has always been (and probably always will be) a top feature for discovery tools, finding one with built in intelligence is going to make management of IT assets a little simpler. These days, organizations are looking for tools that keep up with changes in their environment and within a vendor’s licensing rules, to prevent gaps between software deployment and license entitlement.

Choosing your Discovery Tool

Whether you are looking to utilize the tool you already have in place, or you’re starting your SAM journey, defining what you would like to achieve from your discovery process is the first step in selecting the correct discovery tools. Once your objectives have been set, License Dashboard recommends you look for the tools that specialize in those areas to make the most of your investment, and to ensure you’re collecting all the relevant data.

Find out more about about License Dashboard Discovery

Sean is a pioneer of SAM with over 20 years’ experience in software licensing compliance. He developed our industry leading, software asset and license management tool, License Manager, delivering SAM services to some of the largest companies in the world.

Sean Robinson

Further reading