What is Network Discovery?

Network Discovery refers to the process of identifying and mapping all devices connected to a network, including those that may not be explicitly designated or assigned. It involves scanning the network infrastructure to locate devices such as computers, printers, routers, switches, and other network-enabled devices. Network Discovery is essential for understanding the network topology, assessing security risks, and ensuring efficient network management. By uncovering undedicated devices, Network Discovery helps administrators maintain visibility and control over the network environment, facilitating troubleshooting, resource allocation, and the implementation of security measures to safeguard against unauthorized access and potential vulnerabilities.

What does Network Discovery really “discover”?​

As a remote manager, you aren’t able to keep track of what client managers do with their devices. However, the network discovery system will tell you when a piece of equipment has been added, moved, or removed. In a strong monitoring environment, Network discovery doesn’t just happen once. It re-scans the client’s network periodically and updates the equipment log.

Network discovery is set to be your new super tool! Just like a pair of X-ray glasses, it allows you to get a complete view of your clients’ IT networks by creating a comprehensive inventory of all assets. It’s great for onboarding new clients, discussing upselling opportunities, and staying on top of operations and security.

Atera’s Network Discovery

Unlock the full potential of your IT infrastructure with Atera’s Network Discovery! Experience seamless network management and enhanced visibility.

Onboarding new customers is easier with Network Discovery

Signing contracts with new customers is an imprecise art. Your sales manager probably wants to promise the potential customer the moon, while the contracts manager will need to impose boundaries on the pricing and services contained in the agreement. A big problem any MSP Salesforce faces is that clients often don’t know exactly what equipment they have, and in what quantity.

Step one in any system administration job is to know exactly what equipment you have been put in charge of. Manually, this is impossible and error-prone, and not effective for a remote MSP relationship. Auto-discovery sorts that problem out for you.

It is difficult to agree to manage a network for a fixed price when you don’t know exactly what’s in the network. The network discovery system can give insight into exactly what’s under the client’s roof, so you can set an accurate price for your services with no surprises.

Network discovery functions in network monitoring systems are able to operate remotely. Once the sweep of the target system finishes, the network discovery tool will compile a list of all devices encountered during the search.

B.Y.O.D and intrusion

The two phenomena of bring your own device (BYOD) and network intrusion arose simultaneously, and each complicates the other. How do you keep track of authorized devices on a network, and spot unauthorized devices? Although the network discovery service is not a lone tool in spotting intruder devices, getting a list of updates to the network inventory certainly provides a good place to start.

Your network managers will need to blend the inventory with other sources of information to work out which new devices are employee-owned and authorized, so they can be ruled out of intrusion detection monitoring.

Device health and retirement

Network discovery tools don’t just list devices. They also get status reports and attributes for each piece of equipment, such as manufacturer, model, serial number, and age. Once the network discovery system has populated the infrastructure inventory, that information can be sorted and searched in a number of ways.

One use of this database is the ability to implement the amortization of equipment, sorting devices that are approaching the end of their service life. As an MSP, you probably have a special charge for decommissioning equipment and introducing replacements. You might even have a commission agreement with a network device supplier.

Trying to identify expiring equipment and scheduling a replacement plan is a very difficult task, one that network discovery makes easy.

“Thumbs UP for Atera for creating the Network Discovery tool, truly great!”

Avi Vaserman, MSP Sytex Ltd, Canada

Hard disk provisioning

The equipment that you could end up replacing includes some very large purchases, such as hard disks or even complete servers. By getting a change management agreement from your client, you can profit from any new installations. Remote monitoring and management of the client’s system with network discovery helps your MSP to spot overcapacity storage that needs to be expanded and old drives that should be replaced.

Stronger quarterly business reviews

The data gathered by network discovery provides excellent source material to take along to the Quarterly Business Reviews (QBRs) that you hold with your clients. With this, you can alert the client about equipment replacement needs and discover future plans over the expansion of activities.

The network inventory helps you assist the client in planning the infrastructure needed to support business plans. This is also a good opportunity to revise the contract and add on services as the company’s equipment base expands.

A particularly useful tool when discussing capacity is the network topology map. Network discovery tools are capable of generating these automatically. This plan not only shows all of the devices graphically, but shows their formation and how they connect together.

This is a very useful illustration to present the technical and non-technical counterparts alike. It is a great visual for explaining the complexity of the current system and the work that would be involved to add more devices to it.

Upselling opportunities on a silver platter

Thanks to real-time notifications of computers and devices on the network, you don’t have to wait for the quarterly review to add extra charges to the bill. Your service contract will no doubt include a list of each device type to be monitored and the quantity of each on the client’s network. Those charges should increase whenever the client’s equipment inventory expands.

A network discovery tool gives you access to a constantly updated hardware inventory, which makes billing a lot simpler. At Atera, we also offer an Opportunities function, where you can see a list of open opportunities such as unmonitored devices or aging storage disks, alongside a price point for each opportunity.

Site / continuity management made easy

Although your initial contract might not include it, you should speak to the client about building planning backups and strategizing a continuity plan in case of disaster. The network discovery system can contribute to that discussion.

Continuity issues include emergency equipment rentals and even the issue of pre-placement premises, or the prospect of home-working options for staff. Whichever strategies the client adopts to prepare for these problems, you will need to spec out a suitable IT support system to match. The equipment inventory supplied by your network discovery tool will be a foundation of your IT support continuity plan.

Atera Helps you Grow

With network discovery as just part of its platform, Atera is a great support package for any MSP. The system includes tools to fulfill your company’s system management obligations to clients and others to help you run your own business.

Atera is the complete support system for MSPs and IT departments of any size. You can try Atera risk free with a free trial. With Atera, you can do more, faster!

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