What is Network Discovery?

Network Discovery Definition

What is Network Discovery?

Network discovery is a great tool. It is a time-saver and helps MSP staff get a full view of a client’s system. This handy monitoring feature gets you up and running and in control of a new client’s network within minutes. Find out more about network discovery and how it can help your MSP perform better.

Network Discovery Definition

What Network Discovery Does?

A network discovery function is an automatic system search that identifies each piece of equipment connected to the network. That includes the devices that manage traffic and the endpoints that the client’s staff use.

Step one in any system administration job is to know exactly what equipment you have been put in charge of. As a remote systems manager, you can’t walk around the client’s office and note down every piece of equipment you see. Auto-discovery sorts that problem out for you.

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.

Network discovery doesn’t just happen once. It re-scans the client’s network periodically and updates the equipment log. 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.

Onboarding New Customers

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 precise 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.

It is difficult to agree to manage a network for a fixed price when you don’t know exactly what is in the network. The network discovery system can help with that. Leave an open clause in the contract that finalizes prices once the initial network discovery sweep has been performed.

B.Y.O.D and Intrusion

The two phenomena of BYOD and network intrusion arose simultaneously band 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 the task of 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 to connect so that they can be ruled out of intrusion detection monitoring.

What is Network Discovery

Device Health and Retirement

Network discovery tools don’t just list devices. They also get status reports and attributes of 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 all manners of ways.

One use of this database is the ability to implement the amortization of equipment and sort 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 without network discovery.

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. Monitoring 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.

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.

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Up-Sale Opportunities

Thanks to real-time notification of additional equipment 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. That makes billing a lot simpler.

Site / Continuity Management

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

Continuity issues included issues such as emergency equipment rental and even the issue of pre placement premises, or the prospect of home-working options for staff in the case of a catastrophic event. 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.

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

-Avi Vaserman, MSP Sytex Ltd, Canada-

Security Audit

The network inventory, updated periodically provides a moment by moment profile of the network and all of its devices. This can be an excellent source for security standard compliance auditing if that inventory data gets archived off frequently.

Your clients need to be able to prove that they have kept personal information on their system confidential. By providing a network discovery archive service, you can provide your clients with proof that no physical intrusion has taken place.

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 of any size. You can try Atera risk free with a 30-day free trial. With Atera, you can do more, faster!

Still not convinced?