As businesses become more and more digitized, asset management becomes more than just a good idea — it’s a necessity. With all the devices and software floating around in the modern enterprise, you need an exceptional system to keep track of it all. And, once you’re aware of what you’ve already got, you can make informed decisions about distribution of resources and future purchases, which will eliminate excessive spending and improve efficiency. In fact, this is so key for almost all departments in a business, the Samanage platform actually began with its roots in asset management.
One of the best ways you can keep track of all your hardware, software and infrastructure systems is by using a discovery tool. Discovery tools in IT allow for end-to-end tracking of assets once they’ve been identified. Two of the most popular ways to collect asset information are the use of agents and, well, not using them, or agentless discovery tools.
According to Gartner report, Augment Your Discovery Tools for Cloud Software Asset Management Right Now, “Avoid compromising on a one-size-fits-all approach, because current discovery tools likely serve different purposes. Instead, coordinate multiple discovery tools and data sources to establish license positions for both traditional premises-based software and SaaS.”
If you’re thinking of adopting or upgrading your current asset management, deciding on what kind of discovery tool you want to use can be a big driving factor. There are benefits to using agents, but like with anything, there are drawbacks, as well. We’ll take a look at some of them here.
One of the biggest benefits of agents is their ability to track laptops and other mobile devices when they’re in the field. Tools that use agents require little infrastructure to set up as they’re simply installed on the device and can be tracked anywhere, as long as they can connect to the Internet. This means that you’re able to have multiple devices in multiple locations, which is great for global businesses.
Although they’re powerful, not all devices allow for agent installation. In this case, agentless software does have an advantage on devices, such as routers and switches. So if you’re looking to track such items, you’ll have to go a more manual route in addition to your agent-based one.
As mentioned before, agent-based software can collect data wherever the device is. Since they’re installed directly, the inventory information they collect is particularly precise thanks to their ability to capture certain data that they wouldn’t be able to otherwise, such as BIOS footprints.
However, while you may collect more data with agents, agentless data collection is still imperative. Instead of an agent installed on each device, a local server is used for collecting data using executables. These executables can be established on each item on a network. But, as we’ve noted, you can’t collect information from a device that isn’t attached to your network.
Because agentless discovery tools require probes to be installed in each network sub-net and remote locations, they can be cost-prohibitive, particularly for companies with multiple branches or offices. But when it comes to upgrades, an agentless system is much faster. Agents may require more effort to install them on all devices, creating a much more long-term investment.
If you’re a fast-growing company, installing agents may on each device may sound daunting, but think of how much information will be gathered for you automatically in a single system.
The Human Factor
Keep in mind that agents are another piece of software. As in, another piece of software your IT managers will have to keep track of, manage, and install. Agentless discovery seems relatively easier to maintain since it’s remote using a network, but there is still the manual factor.
Another detractor from agents is their privacy — they can be perceived as intrusive monitoring devices. There’s also no guarantee that it will stay there, as they can be removed by users with relative ease if they don’t want them, whereas non-agent software can’t be uninstalled. Ensure your users understand the benefits more than the pitfalls.
An asset management solution is a tool that will fit in naturally within your enterprise’s digital environment. Finding the right one is essential, and it’s important to keep all the pros and cons in mind. As with everything, you should go with what’s right for your business, and what will ultimately help you scale your business to where you want it to be.