What is IT Asset Discovery & Why is it Important?
IT asset discovery leverages automation software to locate, identify, and index an organization’s entire IT estate. Both hardware and software fall under the purview of a complete asset discovery strategy, and many MSPs tend to overlook this step due to the elementary nature of this process.
Implementing a fundamentally-sound network asset discovery strategy is vitally important to your clients and this blog will explore why you may want to revisit your current IT asset discovery strategy. We’ll discuss the benefits of a proper asset discovery process, suggest IT asset discovery tools you can use, and show how the latest technology can make your job easier and keep your clients safe.
IT asset discovery explained
The definition of IT asset discovery is:
- The process of locating, identifying, and indexing the totality of an organization’s IT assets. This means both hardware and software.
Usually, MSPs and other IT professionals call on IT asset discovery tools and software to help them accomplish this process. In today’s IT world, these tools can leverage shockingly intelligent technology to support your asset discovery process. Once you use them, these software platforms may become an indispensable part of your strategy.
What are IT assets?
Simply put, a company’s IT assets are any devices, software platforms, or cloud resources that make up the entirety of its network. Specific examples of hardware might include:
- Internet of Things (IoT) devices like printers
In terms of software, an organization’s network may have:
- Software libraries (.dll, .ocx, etc.)
- Unauthorized software
- Authorized software
- Executable (.exe) files and software scripts (.py, .ps1, etc.)
Examples of mission-critical cloud resources could be:
- Code repositories
- Storage buckets
- Databases-as-a-server (DBaaS)
- Virtualized network devices
- VMware, Hyper-V, EC2 instances, and other virtual servers
To learn more about these components and how they integrate to make up your clients’ overall network infrastructure, check out the ConnectWise cybersecurity glossary.
The IT asset discovery process
The process starts when an MSP or IT admin deploys network scanners to comb through an organization’s digital presence. These applications typically exist on a server or hardware device, and can function as a part of a greater RMM strategy.
Once launched, the network scanner will scan your client’s entire network to locate any new devices, cloud resources, or software applications. They also serve a cybersecurity function and search for network vulnerabilities and suspicious activity as they scan.
Routinely running these scans is critical to your client’s cybersecurity strategy and offers your clients a new level of transparency into how their network operates. You’ll be able to quickly discover new assets and software platforms, monitor suspicious activity, keep the organization’s index of IT assets up to date, and maintain the health of all network assets.
Why MSPs need IT asset discovery
Small to medium-sized businesses can grow to have extensive IT infrastructure configurations. MSPs attempting to handle these systems without the help of IT asset discovery methods could struggle to serve their clients properly.
IT assets that remain unmanaged can slowly erode over time. By not paying attention to hardware devices or software platforms, they ultimately become more expensive to manage than if MSPs were proactive in the first place.
Your clients will also appreciate IT asset discovery platforms because of their cost savings. Part of your role as an MSP is managing your client’s third-party software licenses. Asset discovery software can help to organize these licenses, so clients aren’t paying for additional, unused instances of their software platforms. Their internal license audits will be streamlined as a result.
Leveraging asset discovery tools and protocols also gives your clients an additional layer of cybersecurity protection. IT asset discovery platforms help to reduce vulnerabilities and streamline patch management for your client’s entire network.
Discover more information on effective patch management in our ebook, Patch Management Best Practices.
How to choose asset discovery tools
IT asset discovery is a relatively simple process, but it’s also essential. Being proactive about network scans and IT asset health ultimately makes your job as an MSP easier. For that reason, savvy MSPs rely on asset discovery software to ensure the job gets done right.
When looking for and choosing asset discovery tools, you should:
Choose asset discovery tools that tell the full story
Without proper IT asset discovery tools, your asset discovery becomes just a list of the assets within the company’s network. There’s no cybersecurity benefit and no visibility into system cybersecurity risks.
A proper asset discovery tool will provide the “big picture” of your client’s IT estate, and how all assets integrate within the system. Using an effective asset management tool allows for easier remote monitoring and management (RMM) as all devices and apps are easily identifiable, can easily be scanned, and can easily be monitored for overall device health.
Ensure your chosen platform handles automated patching
Using an IT asset discovery platform with automated patch management can significantly improve your RMM workflow. The right platform should be able to distribute automated daily updates and install the latest software fixes from a single admin terminal.
Your chosen tool should simplify your asset management
A good IT asset discovery tool should allow for both agent and agentless asset management. It will also increase visibility into virtual machines and other hardware assets within your network. Most software distributors have partnerships with particular hardware brands, so be sure to check that your chosen platform supports the hardware you’re currently using.
Use an asset discovery tool with an automated scan feature
Device scans are an integral part of your overall RMM workflow. Having to do them manually takes up hours of time that could be better served performing higher-level IT functions.
The right IT asset discovery platform will allow you to automate scans and receive daily reports without any human intervention. Constantly receiving an up-to-date system health report ensures you can immediately respond to any IT assets that are in warning, critical, or unknown status.
Getting started with IT asset discovery
IT asset discovery is an integral part of any MSP’s overall RMM plan. By enlisting the help of cutting-edge IT asset discovery tools, you can put yourself ahead of the competition, provide your clients better service with less effort, and easily scale your business without straining your resources.
ConnectWise is an industry leader in providing tools like these to growing MSP businesses. Our full suite of automation tools is available on a trial or demo basis, so you can find the perfect combination to best serve your customers. We’re more than just an MSP software tool provider, we’re a trusted partner in helping your business grow. Be sure to learn more about ConnectWise’s Automate’s asset discovery capabilities and how it can factor into your goals. You can also contact us any time when you are ready to get started.