Overcoming challenges with discovery and inventory of remote IT assets

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As demand for end-user devices increased dramatically at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, many organizations’ biggest fears about IT procurement and asset management came to light.

They worried about the availability of devices, stressed about having to preorder and store those devices, and wondered how they would get them into users’ hands.

SHI went through the same situation. We quickly scaled operations to provide for our own remote workers – and those of our customers – and addressed these end-user device challenges. But, as one obstacle was averted, another sprouted just as quickly. In this case, that impediment involved IT discovery and inventory.

How the pandemic added mounting pressure to IT inventory and discovery

The majority of organizations let employees take home IT equipment at the start of the pandemic, and more than half of businesses are now provisioning new hardware to support hybrid workforces.

While these adjustments made it possible for employees to work from home and keep businesses running effectively, they also presented additional challenges. Most notably, how to fully understand what devices are deployed across the IT estate and how those devices can access the organization’s network.

The problem is that many businesses use a methodology that assumes devices are on premises and behind the company’s firewall. Now that assets are heavily dispersed, with most of them no longer on the network, organizations – especially those relying on this outdated approach — are left with the increasingly difficult task of trying to track them.

Addressing the distributed asset dilemma

Some organizations are turning to the inventory tools they already have in place to pull the information they need. But, in many instances, these tools are limited.

Tracking physical assets is the first step to figuring out what software is running on them. Doing this successfully requires that you have the tools already installed on the device to relay the data back to a central location. Some applications are inherently more difficult to gather information about than others and require specialized tools. That’s where partners like SHI can help.

SHI’s hardware discovery and inventory capabilities

In a recent LinkedIn poll conducted by SHI, 53% of respondents indicated that not having the right tools was one of their major challenges with discovering and inventorying remote IT assets.

When it comes to discovery, SHI zeroes in on these pain points. We look at what tools you have in place, what information is missing, and what tools you need to account for all your devices and applications.

Where you don’t have tools, or they don’t do what you need, we use our own tools, which can be quickly deployed into your environment to provide a view of assets on your network. For devices “in the wild” (not connecting directly to your network), however, that’s a bit trickier. In these cases, SHI works with you to determine the best solutions for your business, while also ensuring that your security considerations and concerns are met.

With a range of inventory tools at our disposal, you’re never locked into using one particular tool or forced to invest in multiple options.

Managing inventory requires a good technical background and a certain level of trust. You may be nervous about giving an outside party the access and credentials needed to effectively scan your assets. But, to do the job properly, they’ll need to access the right accounts and the right machines, to determine whether a machine is a server workstation or a laptop, and so on.

SHI works with you to get a clear picture of what you need from an inventory and license perspective. With SHI’s capabilities, not only will you have access to tools that help you get your inventory in order, but you’ll be able to see when you’re overprovisioning.

For example, maybe you’ll quickly discover that you’re utilizing four different versions of Adobe Creative Suite, and you can begin to eliminate waste and standardize across the board.

With SHI’s assistance, you’ll discover what software versions you have; determine what patch levels you’re at; even get a stronger understanding of mapping dependencies.

Clear visibility into what’s being deployed in your environment is key to maximizing the value of your IT investment.

Discovery and inventory are a process, not an overnight fix

The shift to a predominately remote workforce may have happened overnight, but fixing discovery and inventory issues don’t happen at the same rate.

As organizations grow, networks become more complex, and more remote workers – with their remote devices – begin to pop up, discovering and inventorying assets becomes a more challenging endeavor.

But, with the right partner, it doesn’t have to be an impossible task. SHI has the expertise, tools, and capabilities to help you discover and inventory your assets regardless of where they’re located.

Once you have this under control, you must then shift your attention to maturing ITAM processes to extend IT governance to remote assets. But we’ll save this discussion for next time …

SHI’s ITAM and SAM experts will address this topic, among others, during the May 25 ITAM panel session of SHI’s Hybrid Workforce series. Register today.