October 17, 2022

Article at Virima

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Why choose an automated IT discovery tool?

Why choose an automated IT discovery tool?

Table of contents

Automated IT discovery tools are often overlooked, even by large corporations.

The IT environment is constantly changing. Applications are continuously added, removed, or modified while employees come and go and bring or leave their own devices like smartphones, laptops, tablets, and more. It is important to understand that a one-time manual inventory of your IT assets is no longer enough to keep up with today’s dynamic IT environments.

According to the Software Guild, 87% of businesses in the United States depend on their employee’s ability to access mobile applications. However, 72% of these companies lack a strategy to secure these BYOD (bring your own device) devices. As most employees access mobile applications on their personal devices—that is another addition to an organization’s IT network. If left unaccounted, it could lead to severe security breaches and loss of critical data and investment.

Businesses need to employ an IT discovery tool to monitor what is happening in their IT infrastructure to circumvent this issue. Essentially, IT discovery refers to the process of identifying and cataloging all the assets within your organization’s network and gaining complete visibility into your network. It is the most practical way to keep up with the day-to-day changes in your environment as it dedicates resources to constantly identify and update your IT inventory—providing you a detailed insight into the specifics of your IT environment.

This article will discuss eight reasons you need an automated IT discovery tool and how it can benefit your business.

But first, let’s look at what constitutes automated IT discovery:

Manual vs. automated IT discovery

Although IT discovery can be done manually, automated tools are necessary as they do the heavy lifting for you—giving you more space to focus on critical tasks. These tools are more efficient and faster to use as they collect data from a wide range of sources and present it in an organized manner. In addition, they can be configured to run periodically or at predefined intervals, allowing you to keep track of changes in your environment over time.

Moreover, manual discovery tools are tedious and very slow. Plus, there is too much room for error as stakeholders may not be completely informed about their infrastructure and might miss critical information. Plus, automation allows you to scale up if needed without increasing your workforce—which is especially important for companies with a massive network that needs to be analyzed regularly. Even though automated tools cannot automate every single task, they automate repetitive and burdensome ones, leaving your team to focus on fine-tuning the minor details and monitoring the components—instead of discovering and watching them.

8 reasons why you need an automated IT discovery tool

Consolidate data from multiple sources within your IT network

Automated tools have become so popular in recent years because they are designed to deal with this constant churn and complexity of your organization’s IT network. They can automatically detect changes in your environment (for example, adding or removing servers), so you do not have to update them—as it takes time to do it manually.

You can use an automated IT discovery tool to discover hardware, software, applications, network devices (such as routers, switches, and load balancers), network services (DNS/DHCP/AD), and network configurations you have. Plus, they give you information on who owns and uses these components.

Using an agent or agentless discovery tool like Virima, you can create custom probes and scan a wide range of subnets to uncover known and unknown assets.

Implement process optimization and tighten up internal asset management

Using automated discovery, you can pinpoint bottlenecks, redundancies, and deviations in your processes—so you can take control of your business’ IT operations and ensure they run smoothly. You can achieve this using these processes:

Lifecycle management

IT assets go through multiple phases in their lifecycle like procurement, deployment, usage, maintenance, and disposal. Tracking hundreds of assets through each stage can be cumbersome—so investing in a discovery tool can help you manage them with ease.

Inventory management

You can monitor all your IT assets in real time and ensure that you have an up-to-date inventory. It means that you will know who is using which asset, and at what times.

Compliance management

Managing all your assets and their accompanying licenses can be quite a challenge considering the sheer number of them. A discovery tool will monitor aspects like license and company policy compatibility, drop in software usage, number of registered/unregistered devices and expired validity. This reduces time spent on these tasks—freeing up your schedule for more pressing ones.

The automated discovery tool you choose should provide a comprehensive view of your network infrastructure. It should also be flexible enough to adapt quickly to changes within your environment as they occur over time. For example, Segra automated 256 weekly discovery scans for 423,000 IP addresses, increasing organizational productivity and reducing IT costs.They were able to achieve this by automating routine tasks and reducing time spent on manual efforts.

Essentially, you can improve organizational productivity by spending less time on routine tasks, freeing up your employees for high-value strategic initiatives that will drive the success of your business. Additionally, your employees will be able to make better use of the time they spend auditing your infrastructure as they will focus on fine-tuning the CI details in their CMDB instead of starting from scratch.

Avoid errors due to manual IT asset audits

If you are in charge of an IT department and you have made an error in managing how your network or devices work, it could cost you money in the long run. For example, if you conduct a manual audit and find out that your network currently consists of 51 devices and four servers, but in reality, you did not account for BYOD devices—the resulting service map will be incorrect. Moreover, these unsecured and unidentified devices could result in a potential security breach.

Errors can cause delays in service provisioning and delivery times for customers who need support from the IT department when using their devices on-site at home or work daily, leading to unsatisfied customers. Suppose those errors are not fixed quickly enough due to a lack of available resources. In that case, it only gets worse with time, especially in the event of a security breach or service outage.

An automated tool can help you uncover these assets as it can conduct a scan at scheduled times every day—with minimal input from your end. It is important to note that while these tools are automated, you still have the flexibility to add or modify configuration item (CI) details when needed. For example, in Virima’s IT Discovery tool, you can schedule scans to run either once or twice a day. Once you receive all the data, you can cross check the technical details of each CI and either modify them to reflect its role in your network or add additional details for any gaps you might find.

Eliminate unknowns in your IT environment at any given point

Automated discovery tools help eliminate unknowns in your environment like previously unidentified or new devices, a new dependency or an inactive CI. It provides visibility into what is happening within your infrastructure and identifies vulnerabilities and other risks. It means you can mitigate vulnerabilities before they impact your business.

This visibility also makes it easier for you to keep track of changes made to your infrastructure over time—this way, if something goes wrong or needs to be changed, you can do so quickly and efficiently without relying on manual processes or guesswork.

Automate discovery scans and save time on manual audits

Manually collecting an inventory of your hardware and software assets is time-consuming, unreliable, and error-prone. Even if you have a team dedicated solely to keeping track of changes made in your environment, there will always be gaps in your knowledge due to human error, carelessness, or missed updates.

You know that keeping track of changes in your environment is essential. However, figuring out which devices belong is tedious work. Even if you have a team dedicated solely to keeping track of these changes, there will always be gaps in your knowledge due to human error or carelessness (or missed updates). An automated IT discovery tool can do the tedious work in a shorter period without making mistakes or taking breaks.

Reduce IT maintenance and overhead costs

Automated IT discovery tools can help reduce your time on IT inventory and asset management. They also allow you to focus more on compliance, a crucial aspect of any IT department’s work.

Typically, a company with roughly 30 employees would need at least two dedicated personnel to handle issues regularly. The average annual costs for the same can go up to $200,000 to hire, and additionally, you might also have to spend licensing fees. With automated IT discovery tools, manual intervention is minimal, reducing the time and costs spent monitoring these servers 24×7.

Virima’s asset management tools help you get a consolidated overview of what is happening in your IT environment at a service and component level. You can manage the entire asset lifecycle using features like configurable status designations, asset allocation tracking and ownership support. It enables you to stay on top of your expenses and cut what you do not need based on your current usage.

Detect and mitigate vulnerabilities in your infrastructure faster

Network vulnerabilities can lead to cybersecurity breaches that cause significant financial and reputational damage. The best way to detect these vulnerabilities is by using automated discovery tools.

Many types of potential network vulnerabilities exist; a few examples include the following:

  • Rogue devices like computers or devices connected to your network without authorization (e.g., through open ports). They can be used as a backdoor into your system, allowing an attacker entry at any time.
  • Ports exposing sensitive information may be left unmonitored or accessible from the internet, leaving them vulnerable to attack even if they are not part of an active device on your network. Once accessed, malicious actors could use this access point to steal or modify data without anyone noticing until it is too late.
  • Hackers, insiders, and malicious code can exploit vulnerabilities in your infrastructure to gain access to sensitive data. It could cause a loss of data, investment, and brand image.

Automated IT discovery tools can help you identify vulnerabilities in your infrastructure immediately before they are exploited. Regular scans can identify devices, applications, or servers you did not previously know existed on the network. It also helps you identify the source of a breach while an attack is ongoing—and eliminate them immediately.

An example of an unauthorized device that was found in a discovery scan conducted by Virima

Populate your CMDB on autopilot

If your configuration management database (CMDB) needs to act as a single source of truth, it must always have up-to-date information. Manual discovery may not be possible if you’re a big enterprise as IT teams may not be able to conduct a scan daily.

With automated tools like Virima’s Asset Discovery, you can perform scans using customizable probes that can detect thousands of physical and virtual assets—all the time.

Your IT discovery tool must be integrated with your CMDB, as the former can pull all your assets and plug them into the CMDB instead of bulk importing the data yourself. It ensures your CMDB is up to date, no matter what change occurs in your IT environment. Essentially, the discovery tools find the assets, and CMDB stores that information.

Run automatic, pre-scheduled scans to save time

It’s essential not just to know what hardware is currently in use but also where it is stored—it is easy enough for a small office space with only one server sitting out in plain sight. Finding hidden assets can be much more challenging. When you have an automated IT discovery tool at your disposal, however, these are no longer problems.

You can set up a specific time interval to scan your entire network, and the device does it automatically for you. If there are unknown components on your network—you can detect them immediately and take the necessary actions.

Uncover your IT assets with Virima

While there is no one-size-fits-all solution to IT discovery, it is essential to understand that an automated approach is a more effective way of keeping up with the changes in your environment. You can optimize your internal processes and automate data consolidation from multiple sources, helping you identify all the components in your IT infrastructure.

Ultimately, it helps you save time, money, and effort—creating a more productive and organized workforce. Book a demo with Virima today, and let us help you uncover all your IT assets and optimize your IT infrastructure.