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The Advantages of Automated IT Discovery for Your Organization

The Advantages of Automated IT Discovery for Your Organization

In the early days of networking, it was easy to discover devices. Engineers and support staff were co-located with devices, such as massive mainframes, and worked with them daily. There was little risk of these oversized systems going astray or operating as shadow or zombie devices outside of IT’s purview. 

Those days are long gone. Enterprises own data centers all over the globe, rent space and services from colocation providers, and purchase cloud infrastructure and services from hyperscalers. In addition, businesses have adopted hybrid work models, making it more challenging to wrangle IT assets across a growing number of locations. Business users purchase their own IT services, and developers spin up instances to build new applications. IT is everywhere, much of it out of sight and seemingly out of reach. 

If all of this sounds complex, it is. Unknown, unmanaged devices introduce performance and security risks, creating the opportunity for application instability, outages, and data breaches. 

Fortunately, there is a way out of this chaos — deploying a configuration management database (CMDB) with automated IT discovery capabilities. Instead of trying to track devices with cumbersome, manual processes and spreadsheets, IT teams can deploy a CMDB and use automated processes to discover all of their hardware, software, and virtualized assets, wherever they are located. CMDBs capture IT information as configuration items (CIs), or “any component that needs to be managed in order to deliver an IT service,” according to ITIL 4.

Automated IT discovery works 24/7; reduces errors; and keeps CMDBs up-to-date with valuable device, change, and configuration data that can be used to transform a wide range of business and technical processes. 

5 Benefits of Automated IT Discovery

CMDBs can provide either agentless or agent-based discovery, or both. Most IT teams will likely elect to deploy modern CMDBs that provide both capabilities. Agentless discovery is typically preferred because tools work in the background, avoiding performance impacts to applications and services. However, agent-based discovery, which requires the installation of code, is used when devices are offline or highly secure and protected. 

Even better, is when the CMDB provides automated dependency mapping, visualizing and continually updating the relationships between devices, applications, and the services they support. 

Device42, a modern CMDB, provides agentless and agent-based discovery; automated dependency mapping; and optional integration with IT asset management and data center infrastructure management solutions, enabling teams to execute a diverse range of responsibilities. 

Automated IT discovery provides a host of benefits to IT teams and their organizations, including:

  • Increasing IT efficiency and accuracy: When teams use a CMDB with automated IT discovery, there’s no need to track assets with Excel spreadsheets. Instead, they can simply schedule auto-discovery whenever they like, even if it’s multiple times a day.
  • Reducing IT workloads: Using IT discovery software enables IT teams to gain a complete, accurate picture of the environment, while freeing time for strategic work, analysis, or management and maintenance duties.
  • Providing real-time data collection and reporting: Unlike manual processes, which are lagging by their very nature, CMDs can auto-discover assets at any time, providing real-time insights into devices and actions that have been performed on them. They use RESTful APIs to search for, find, and update CI information.
  • Speeding problem resolution: Many organizations that use CMDBs integrate them with leading IT service management (ITSM) platforms such as Freshservice, Jira, and ServiceNow. ITSM teams can easily see device information, changes and configurations, and relationships, enabling them to troubleshoot issues more quickly, identify root causes, and restore services.
  • Improving data accuracy and consistency: Auto-discovery eliminates issues due to  human error, such as omissions, incorrect information, or lagging data. It also increases stakeholder trust in CMDB data, which can be relied on to support strategic decisions, such as planning and sequencing cloud migrations, and routine operational decisions, such as how to update devices and apply patches. 


The Top CMDB Discovery Techniques 

Autodiscovery Best Practices

How Organizations Are Using CMDB IT Automated Discovery 

So, how are organizations today using IT discovery tools to improve the integrity of IT processes and accomplish other goals?

  • Streamlining software licensing: A leading US hospital system used the Device42 IT discovery solution to accurately count Microsoft servers and operating systems, ensuring compliance with licensing processes and avoiding a fee increase that was in dispute. This single action provided a 3X return on the firm’s Device42 investment.
  • Ensuring regulatory compliance: A major U.S. bank uses Device42 to solve IT discovery challenges, prepare for a Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) audit, and ensure regulatory compliance. Device42’s automated discovery documents all network assets, locations, connections, and interactions.
  • Improving disaster recovery: A large U.S. technology company uses Device42 auto-discovery to enable real-time data collection and plan and enhance its disaster recovery (DR) plan. With clear, comprehensive information, the DR team has been able to streamline processes to ensure a recovery from a major disaster in just 2-3 days, from seven before and require the intervention of just 25 people, down from 65 before. This came in handy when the pandemic hit, as the company was able to enable remote work for all staff within 48 hours.
  • Strengthening access controls: Covenant Health, a regional healthcare system, uses Device42 auto-discovery on-demand to match IT assets to staff termination data, enabling the organization to rapidly remove IT access privileges from individuals who have recently departed. By doing so, the organization reduces risks and improves IT security.
  • Enhancing incident management: One of the world’s top five car manufacturers uses Device42 auto-discovery and device data to accelerate IT problem resolution and incident management processes by 30%, saving $216K a year. 

It’s clear from all of these examples that auto-discovering assets with Device42 improves worker productivity, reduces application downtime, and increases cost savings. 

Choosing the Right IT Discovery Tool

There are many CMDBs on the market. Here are some tips to choose a CMDB with automated IT discovery processes that will help you improve IT processes. 

  1. Select a tool that provides both agentless and agent-based discovery to identify all of your assets and provide real-time data collection.
  2. Verify that the CMDB also offers automated dependency mapping to depict CI relationships.
  3. Make sure your CMDB uses a variety of techniques to discover assets. No single discovery technique will find all assets at all times. Using a good mix will ensure that you are able to inventory all assets. Device42 uses 12 different automated discovery techniques, including ping sweep, domain name service lookup, secure shell, WMI, SNMP, Netflow, NMAP, pocket capture, IPMI, configuration automation tools, API interfaces, and agents identify all resources and their current condition.
  4. Confirm that your new CMDB can also auto-discover ephemeral assets, such as containers. As the pace of innovation increases, your firm will have more and more of these devices. They need to be categorized and managed, because they can cause IT issues just as more traditional devices do.

Best Practices for Implementing Automated IT Discovery

Now that you’ve selected your CMDB, you’re ready to implement it and begin auto-discovering all of your assets. Follow these best practices to get started. 

  • Create your initial discovery sequence: Device42 recommends that you discover devices in this order: network, V-Servers, Windows/Linux/Hyper-V machines, cloud-based virtual machines and storage, blade servers, and intelligent platform management interface. Discovering items with these defined steps will minimize reconciliation work later on.
  • Matching devices: Device42 will check serial numbers, UUIDs, and names to determine whether it is updating device information or creating a new device. It will override any incorrect manual data changes.
  • Building comprehensive discovery profiles: Running multiple auto-discoveries with different techniques is the secret to building robust device information.
  • Enable agent-based discovery: Set up agent-based discovery for those devices that require it. This set of instructions will guide you through that process.
  • Cloning jobs: You may want to set up multiple automatic jobs. Clone a job, with all of its details, and then edit to simplify and speed up this process.
  • Choosing a user account: Set up a separate, dedicated user account for auto-discovery. Take care to use critical production account credentials, as this could potentially result in account lockouts based on your organization’s permissions and password policies.

Improve IT Infrastructure Management Today with Automated Discovery

Automated IT discovery is an invaluable resource for monitoring, managing, maintaining, upgrading, and troubleshooting all of the devices in your hybrid cloud infrastructure. Using automated IT discovery will bring greater clarity and control to a wide array of processes, ranging from IT operations and ITSM processes, to regulatory compliance, incident management, disaster recovery, and more.

Get started with Device42 today

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Rock Johnston
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