February 15, 2019 [email protected]

The Positives And Negatives Of Discovery Tools

An Introduction To Discovery Tools

Discovery tools are great. There’s no doubt about it, when configured and maintained properly, they can visualise and contextualise data for business users everywhere. So much so in fact that they’ve become essential for any informed business, within the decision making process. Let’s face it, data is useless unless it can deliver insights and help a company make better decisions.

FrontRange Discovery is a great example of a robust discovery solution for businesses that boast more than one location and more than one platform. Acquired in 2008 from Centennial Software, this product is mature and has been around the block so to speak. While it’s had a few wrinkles ironed out in the process, it’s not a totally problem-free solution.

Discovery Tools – Does Discovery Software Have Flaws?

Discovery tools such as FrontRange collect information on each device they’re connected to, using listening technology. This informs us of any changes in the local vicinity and alerts administrators of new machines, machines that may have moved or changed location. It’s almost like having a neighbourhood watch set up on your network. It offers peace of mind that your inventory data is up to date and as accurate as possible. These network discovery tools have become a cornerstone for any successful IT Asset Management company.  

Along with the numerous benefits of data discovery tools, there will inevitably be some pitfalls. The challenges faced are often noticed more when relying on this software too heavily. Their self-service capabilities can create risk as without the necessary IT involvement and intervention, questions related to data governance can and will arise. 

FrontRange for instance depended upon the switch information being input and maintained. If this isn’t kept up, the location information you find yourself receiving can become incredibly inaccurate. It’s also worth noting that if your I.P Ranges are spanning floors, rooms and even buildings, you may find yourself with an inaccurate location reading from the start. In order to avoid this, the change request/CNN/Project procedure needs to work very closely with your asset/configuration management. That however, is very rarely the case. 

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Data Discovery Tools – Not Without Fault, Not Without Its Positives

Without correct maintenance, discovery tools can become very problematic. Therefore relying too heavily on such a piece of software that needs such close management can cause more problems than good. That being said, with the correct IT intervention, discovery tools can be a fantastic asset. 

As mentioned previously, if they deliver accurate insights, they can help an organisation make far better business decisions and that’s exactly what the likes of FrontRange (aka Centennial) does. What must be remembered however, is that many tools in this category are simply dedicated to a single aspect. The question is, do you have the resources to give each discovery process the necessary separate tools for data preparation that it needs?