About the author
Mark Gaydos is the CMO of Nlyte.
Agent or agentless? That is the question.
When picking a data center solution there are many components to consider and one of the toughest decisions is whether to have agents installed. Having a technology agent on clients poses many points of concern including the ongoing maintenance, the amount of resources they take up, and the inherent security risks of untested or untrusted agents. It goes without saying that there are some circumstances where agents are just unavoidable - but those are limited.
Where agents fall down
Traditional discovery solutions rely on tools such as agents installed on all hardware assets. The issue with this is that they must be installed on every endpoint device operating in the network to be able to get a full inventory list. This means the agent cannot self-monitor or discover technology assets and, therefore, are not a reliable tool for the use they are intended for.
The main issue with agents is that there are many circumstances in which they cannot be installed. For example, if there are non-windows computers, mobile devices running on Android OS or Apple iOS, specialised endpoints just to name a few making the average agent obsolete.
When there are so many areas where so many endpoints can be missed or unknown it leaves the inventory list full of holes and therefore completely inaccurate. The solution which some organisations have turned to is a network-based agent. However, these types of agents bring a whole set of new issues mainly around security risks and disruption to the network itself. So what is the solution here?
A lightweight agentless solution holds the key to creating a secure and monitored environment. A modern Technology Asset Management (TAM) solution can take away all the pain and uncertainty of an agent solution by allowing the discovery of any and all types of technology on the network. It then can display a user-friendly dashboard which clearly outlines what is connected and will create a tailored report for any changes occurring within the network.
Low impact and high rewards
When installing traditional agent solutions the result can be a massive drain on resources. Agents can cause unnecessary stress on servers. Essentially, what this means for the client is that the server becomes heavy and the extra demand can degrade the performance of the server - the opposite reason for why an agent is installed.
An agentless solution eliminates the draw on clients resources. The solution can monitor the server and network without affecting the capabilities of them. Next-generation agentless discovery solutions alleviates the worry of network bandwidth and administrative access to the clients. By only sending differential changes from the clients, as well as monitoring the network, and communicating when network traffic is low, it means there is no burden on any resources.
Agents? Why would you have them…
There are some circumstances when an agent solution is a must-have, however, this is very limited. Next generation solutions like Software Asset Management (SAM) and Technology Asset Management (TAM) can easily discover hidden assets and explore their configuration. But in the case of actually wanting to determine the usage of software and hardware on the clients, agents are needed.
In this situation, the network would never be able to capture the information of intermittently connected devices without using an agent. This warrants an agent to be installed as this will have the smallest footprint and least impact on general client resources.
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So, what solution should you pick?
When deciding on a solution there is a lot to consider. Once weighed up, there are only a few circumstances where agents are needed so burdening clients with them is a waste of time and resources. By choosing an agentless solution you can set up and monitor a client straight away. In addition, the maintenance when using an agentless inventory discovery approach is miniscule in comparison to an agent solutions. By completely eliminating compatibility tests agentless solution seamlessly monitor your client.
Mark Gaydos is the CMO of Nlyte
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