Not to be overshadowed by the excitement around the introduction of SolarWinds® Service Desk earlier this summer, we’re excited to introduce you to SolarWinds® Discovery. This technology provides your organization the ability to discover, map, and manage your software and hardware assets directly in your service desk.
SolarWinds Discovery utilizes cloud-based technology to make it easier to implement, manage, and scale throughout your organization, helping you discover your IP connected devices with just a small footprint.
Now you may be thinking, “Discovery? Don’t I already have this functionality with other SolarWinds products I use?” Depending on the products, the answer is most likely yes. Many SolarWinds solutions have discovery components included, like Network Performance Monitor or Service & Application Manager on the SolarWinds Orion® Platform. However, they are helping your organization solve a different set of problems.
The discovery mechanisms used by Orion help you monitor asset performance, generate system alerts, or pinpointing vulnerabilities in your IT infrastructure.
On the other hand, SolarWinds Discovery helps you leverage your asset data to support your IT service management (ITSM) and IT asset management (ITAM) processes.
Let’s take a deeper look into the benefits SolarWinds Discovery can bring to the ITSM and ITAM capabilities provided by your SolarWinds Service Desk.
Improving Service Management Processes
SolarWinds Discovery populates asset information directly into your service desk, giving your technicians visibility into data that can help them diagnose issues quicker. Let’s say you have an employee (end user) who is having an issue accessing a particular software.
Because SolarWinds Discovery collects all the software titles installed on your computing device, you can then quickly looking up the employee’s devices and see what version of the software they are currently running. Within a matter of seconds you have the information you need to effectively troubleshoot and quickly resolve the issue.
The data that SolarWinds Discovery finds can also be used to help your service desk mitigate risks. SolarWinds Service Desk allows you to designate software titles as Greynet, meaning they are either illegal, not approved by your organization, or even a potential virus.
When SolarWinds Discovery finds a software title labeled Greynet, a notification is generated to give your agents visibility into the potential issue. Check out how FirstHealth of the Carolinas was able to utilize SolarWinds Discovery to pinpoint devices that were infected with a ransom virus, which ultimately helped them remove it without paying the demanded dollar amount.
Aligning your Assets with your Configuration Management Database (CMDB)
When SolarWinds Discovery finds assets throughout your infrastructure, they are automatically converted to Configuration Items (CIs) and populated into the CMDB that is included with your SolarWinds Service Desk. This allows you to create relationships between CIs, giving you a better picture of how the components of your infrastructure interact with each other and support IT services you deliver.
In turn, this can help your agents evaluate the root cause of a larger issue impacting your organizations, so they can work on resolving it quickly. Also, by understanding the relationships between your CIs, you can better evaluate impacts associated with changes you are making to your infrastructure, which helps your team understand and mitigate potential change related risks.
Your CMDB can provide a lot of value to your organization, but it is imperative that it remains complete and up-to-date in order to take advantage of its full capabilities. By combining your CMDB with SolarWinds Discovery, additions and changes to your IT infrastructure will continually be reflected in your service desk.
Leveraging Discovery for IT Asset Management Use Cases
SolarWinds Service Desk comes with an IT asset management module, helping you manage the capital expenditures (CAPEX) and lifecycle of the devices in your infrastructure. SolarWinds Discovery is a critical aspect to these capabilities as it helps you locate all your assets and collects additional information necessary for lifecycle analysis, such as installed software titles and warranty information.
SolarWinds Discovery also helps you lower your CAPEX by giving you greater visibility into the assets you own. For example, many organizations spend money on assets they do not need, specifically on assets like computers and printers. This is often a result of a lack of visibility into what assets they already have, so they end up purchasing instead of utilizing what is already in their inventory.
Also, SolarWinds Service Desk comes with software compliance capabilities, which help organizations avoid costly true-up expenses incurred when over-using software titles based on licensing contracts.
SolarWinds Discovery finds your installed software titles, giving you a clear picture of what is being utilized. These installs can then be vetted against your software licensing contracts, allowing you to build compliance reports to show both overutilization and underutilization.
How does SolarWinds Discovery work?
SolarWInds Discovery provides a suite of technologies to give you a flexible approach to discover your IT assets no matter how your IT infrastructure is configured. Let’s take a look into the three discovery options available:
The SolarWinds Discovery Agent is a lightweight software that can be installed on your Windows® and Apple® computing devices as well as Android® and iOS® mobile devices. Light and mighty, the agent can collect over 200 data points and the installed software titles from each device. The agent takes a snapshot of the device every 24 hours of run-time (roughly every three days for standard users or every day and a half for IT pros). Built for easy deployment, organizations can use Group Policy or Domain Logon method to quickly install the agent throughout all their computing devices. The agent enables software compliance and Greynet notification capabilities discussed above. It also highlights computers that have not reported back in the last seven days, helping you visualize devices that are potentially being misused or underused. This is an ideal discovery option for computing devices issued to remote workers who may not be frequently on company networks where other discovery technologies may be in use.
The SolarWinds Discovery Scanner provides you an agentless way to find the IP-connected devices throughout your infrastructure. The Linux-based technology is installed on an individual subnet, and it can be extended to other subnets using multiple methods, for example, giving the scanner visibility to an ARP table located on a router. The system allows you to set the scanning frequency so it is active at optimal times. It also allows you to import SNMP and SSH credential to collect additional information on each device. Compared to the agent, the scanner does not collect the same breadth of data points on computing devices However, the scanner will find all of the non-computing devices that an agent cannot be installed on. For many organizations, non-computing assets make up a majority of your total asset inventory. The scanner helps you get a fuller picture of your infrastructure. This is a critical component in keeping the SolarWinds Service Desk CMDB populated so you can map your devices’ relationships and dependencies.
SolarWinds Discovery offers several out-of-the-box integrations with some of the industry leading configuration management tools, helping you bring device information from those systems directly into your service desk. Available integrations:
Microsoft® System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM)
Google Chrome® OS
Implementing Multiple Discovery Methods
By leveraging multiple discovery methods, you can be better equipped to collect the asset data to meet your organization's needs.
A good principle to follow when implementing multiple discovery methods is to use the scanner to get a broad picture of your IP connected devices, then add the agent and/or integrations to get deeper information into the applicable devices.
For example, you may support Windows, Apple, and Chrome computing devices that you would like to increase your visibility on. You may also have a heavy VMware footprint and hundreds of IP connected devices you would like to track.
In this scenario, you can install the agent on your Windows and Apple devices, activate the ChromeOS and vCenter integrations to collect data these assets, and install the scanner to collect data on everything else.
By combining the different discovery technology you will get a broad and balanced view of your IT infrastructure.
We are currently working on deepening the SolarWinds Discovery Scanner capabilities to better support organizations that are predominantly Windows shops. This will include a Windows Installer, allowing customers to install the scanner on either Linux or Windows-based servers. Additionally, this will include the ability to add WMI credentials when scanning devices, greatly increasing the amount of data points you can discover on Windows devices.
SolarWinds Discovery can help you maximize the value of SolarWinds Service Desk for both your IT pros and your organization. If you have any questions, feedback, or ideas around SolarWinds Discovery, please comment below or visit the SolarWinds Product Blog Forum.
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