The ABCs of IT Infrastructure Monitoring (ITIM)—the Letter I is for Inventory of Assets.
"Doing inventory" is probably one phrase retail and hospitality workers loathe. For many workers in these jobs, physically counting items can sometimes be an overnight job. For others in similar positions, it can make for an arduous all-day task while tending to customers' needs. However, despite the time it takes, it is still essential. How else will managers know which items to order for their store? In some extreme cases, how will managers know if someone is shoplifting on the inside?
Sure, it may not be a fun process, but it is vital in the grand scheme of a business. And "taking inventory" is not mutually exclusive to retail and hospitality. IT and network professionals must take inventory of their respective company's assets — specifically, the items found within a network being used by employees and managers. While it may depend on what their "inventory" schedule is, some may do it quarterly or monthly, and it's still crucial to know what is connected, how the asset is being used and whether or not technical problems are happening.
The most important letter in our alphabet is I, which stands for Inventory of Assets. Throughout this blog, we will cover the ins and outs of why taking inventory of your network's assets is important, but also how it affects other areas of an IT or network professional's respective company.
How Do You Take an Inventory of Your Network's Assets?
The term "network assets" is self-explanatory. It usually consists of an IT worker generating a detailed list of devices connected to a network—similar to the examples above, but without an infrastructure monitoring tool.
These can range from computers, routers, servers, monitors and, in some cases, mouses and keyboards. The inventory of these assets can be organized or placed into a list or some topographical map within an infrastructure monitoring platform.
Your infrastructure monitoring tool will need the ability to scan your company's network widely to create a comprehensive inventory of assets. With that said, more than several network management solutions can discover, chart and create inventories. When those assets are organized, IT workers can gain insight into more crucial details, including the following:
- Model or manufacturer
- Serial Number
- Hardware/software versions
- Firmware versions
- Chassis ID
- Module inventory
- Information about device hardware including power supplies and fans
- Device category from vendor
Progress WhatsUp Gold is equipped with the ability to automatically scan and discover devices that are connected to a network. Its network discovery tool has a variety of technologies and protocols under its belt. These include ARP, SNMP, SSH, Virtual Infrastructure Management, IP addressing, ICMP, LLDP, WMI and Telnet. Additionally, WhatsUp Gold will create a map of the connected devices. These maps can be an overview of an organization, or more specifically a department of some kind.
Why are Asset Inventory Practices Beneficial to Your Network?
With an inventory of assets at their disposal, IT professionals are saving one crucial component of their workday: time. WhatsUp Gold's inventory asset features enable users to conduct the process automatically. Or, as Jason Alberino, Senior Product Manager, Progress says, "The goal is how quickly you can obtain this type of information."
"If you want to see when certain assets were installed past a certain date, you can schedule a scan," Alberino continues. "This way, anytime new software is installed, you will receive an alert."
Whether a monitor or a type of software appears on the inventory asset list, being able to see a broad physical connectivity report, along with what type of device and details about configuration keep track of what devices are connected, can help secure data more efficiently. Even more specific information can be displayed as well, including which devices are being affected by network errors and/or if a license is expiring. Seeing an entire lifecycle can also help prevent cyberattacks since many attackers tend to go after the oft-forgotten about previous versions.
Alberino recalls a specific incident with a financial services company. A series of network outages began occurring at the company, but the company could figure out what was happening thanks to WhatsUp Gold.
"Come to find out," Alberino remembered, "someone had been yanking memory out of these systems and was stealing it. WhatsUp Gold was able to tell us because it keeps a history of what data it was and we were able to see exactly what was taken."
These two factors go hand-in-hand with the other benefit of asset inventory—more crucial decisions can be made to solve issues.
More informed actions can occur with an improved insight into how the assets are operating. An asset inventory tool can display data fields that may go under the radar, such as software update history. But also, it can provide IT professionals with what needs to be done if network errors occur and how they can get it up and running more efficiently instead of taking wild guesses or practices.
WhatsUp Gold Can Provide the Ideal Inventory Management of Your Network's Assets
Several WhatsUp Gold customers have been utilizing its inventory asset capabilities to streamline various tasks. Consider the use case of the University of North Georgia.
Michael Roth, Senior Systems Engineer for the University of North Georgia, leads a team that had to take inventory manually with the university's 500 plus servers across its two data centers. To add to these tasks, the two data centers run various applications that support 16,000 students across five campuses. As a result, Roth and his team would spend two to three weeks doing semi-annual audits to keep up with mandatory compliance regulations. When the university deployed WhatsUp Gold, the auditing process became much more accessible.
"Automating systems inventory for all five campuses with WhatsUp Gold generated a lot of excitement within our Systems Engineering team, all the way up to our university's CISO and CIO, especially with upcoming IT audits," said Roth about the product's asset inventory features.
When the inevitable happens, meaning it’s inventory time, no longer will it be a task to dread for IT workers. Making an asset inventory tool, like WhatsUp Gold, the cornerstone of your company's process makes the asset inventory-related tasks more streamlined and much smoother.
If you are eager to try out WhatsUp Gold's inventory asset and other features, please click here to read more and download a trial version.
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