What's the difference between IT Inventory and Discovery

24 March 2021
3 minute read
Best practice

What's the difference between IT Inventory and Discovery

24 March 2021
3 minute read

Whiteboard Wednesday Episode 8: What is the difference between IT Inventory and Discovery

Whiteboard Wednesday is me, a whiteboard and learning about all things IT Asset Management (ITAM), every Wednesday!

This week, Inventory and Discovery. What do they mean? Why are they important?


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What’s the difference between IT Inventory and Discovery

Abbreviated transcript:

What is Inventory

If we begin with inventory, inventory is collecting the details about the assets in your environment, how they’re configured, and how those devices or those assets change over time. So, let’s say for this example, we have four devices in our environment, we will collect exactly what those are, how they’re configured, perhaps who owns them, what they are used for, and how those devices change over time. That data alone is incredibly invaluable for everything we want to do around ITAM. We mentioned that in a previous video, cost risk, operational efficiency, and so on.

What is Discovery

Discovery is identifying things that are not in your inventory, basically. So inventories, these ones we know about, we’re tracking those, you do a process of discovery to identify machines that you might have missed. We’ve got a fifth device here, that we’ve missed that we need to then inventory and once I’ve inventoried it, it’s then part of my ongoing inventory.

How does it work together

Inventory and discovery go hand in hand. You need the inventory data to make smarter decisions to save money to reduce risk, but you also need discovery, to make sure that all this data is actually accurate. There’s no point going back to your senior management team or reporting on what’s going here if you’ve missed stuff. Or if an auditor comes in, they’re going to do that process of discovery to make sure that you’re managing everything, and you’re going to have egg on your face if you’ve missed stuff. So, these two concepts go hand in hand, don’t get too caught up with the technology. There are inventory tools, there are discovery tools, there are imagery tools that include discovery, and so on. What’s more important is the content, how am I going to collect ongoing data about my environment? And how am I going to see the things that I’ve missed as a failsafe to make sure my data is accurate.

How to keep track

One final point to consider with inventory and discovery is, because of the speed of change in large environments, because of the complexity, you’re not going to crack this in an Excel spreadsheet by keeping a record of what you have. Think about automating this process. So, every time you discover something, it automatically goes into the database and when this data is stale, it gets removed, and so on. You need to automate this to keep up, keeping this in the spreadsheet is not going to work.

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