Top 5 Must Haves for a SAM Inventory/Discovery Tool

By Sam Ulhaq

There is a plethora of SAM tools on the market. Some use third party inventory sources, such as SCCM, whilst others rely on the fidelity of their own data collection technology to deliver the SAM experience. In this article, I will provide an insight into the 5 best “Must Haves” for an inventory/discovery tool.

Every organisation assessing Software Asset Management software will have individual needs and drivers. In some cases, SAM software underpinned by agentless discovery is a requirement. However, in almost all cases, the benefits of an agent-based SAM solution far outweigh the short-term convenience of agentless SAM software.

The difference between a discovery tool and an inventory tool is that a discovery tool is usually a network scanner that will pick up all network devices at moment of scan, known or unknown, such as routers, switches and printers. It also provides patchy overview of software installations. An inventory tool is usually agent based and will provide granular detail of software installed and used on any given device.

So, here are my top 5 functions to look for in an inventory/discovery tool:

  1. The tool should pick up granular detail of hardware & software across multiple platforms including .exe files, registry entries, serial numbers etc.
  2. The SAM tool should be picking up usage metrics. And for bonus points, should also pick up precise “Active Usage” statistics across all technologies.
  3. It will it connect to 3rd party data sources such as Vcenter, M365, Adobe and Salesforce.
  4. The tool will look at web browser applications. And for extra marks, will do this directly via the agent and will not need to require awkward browser extensions to work.
  5. The agent will report in without the requirement of a VPN. Usually cloud-based solution feature, and in the Covid era, home workers do not always connect to the network.

Of course, SAM tools that rely upon data sources such as SCCM are severely restricted in the functionality they can provide and the accuracy of data. As a result, my opinion is that it is best to invest in a SAM solution that relies on the data that it captures itself. If an agent-based SAM solution offers simplicity and functionality, this is the best option for most organisations.

Not every organisation is the same and not every SAM tool is the same. It is therefore imperative that each organisation assesses its needs independently.

Published by

Sam Ulhaq (https://www.linkedin.com/in/samulhaq/)

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