Device Discovery

Device Discovery refers to a systems management solution’s ability to automatically detect and report upon devices that appear on a managed network. More than a simple notification that some new device has shown up on your network, discovery features are typically able to provide some rudimentary details about that device such as its manufacturer and operating system. In some cases discovery is offered as the first step in deploying management agents relying on something as simple as a ping sweep against a specified IP address range. Several other technologies exist to discover network devices more dynamically by sniffing for and identifying network traffic. Some systems management solutions will generate alerts and reports, others will allow for pre-configured, automated actions to be taken. How high of a priority this should get in your assessment of the features you need in a systems management solution will likely be driven by your own physical network security. Keep in mind that you may have other network security solutions in place to address the security benefits of this; typically the focus on device discovery is more about configuration management and less about physical network security.

The types of devices one can expect to be detected and identified on a managed network via network device discovery features in systems management solutions include, but are not necessarily limited to, the following…

  • General purpose devices running operating systems like Linux and Windows.
  • Network bridges, which combine two or more subnetworks into one.
  • Broadband router devices in this category connect a network to the Internet via cable, ADSL, fiber optics, etc. Some of these devices provide network address translation, a firewall, port forwarding, or other services.
  • Network firewall devices built to control what traffic is allowed into or out of a network.
  • Game consoles such as the Xbox or PlayStation.
  • Network hubs, which join network segments by re-broadcasting all network traffic.
  • Load balancers, which distribute inbound traffic to multiple devices to ease the load on those devices.
  • Media devices to include all kinds of audiovisual equipment, including portable music players, home audio systems, TVs, and projectors.
  • Private branch exchange (PBX) systems which route telephone calls within a private organization and serves to connect the internal network to the public telephone network or VoIP.
  • Handheld computers or PDAs
  • Network-capable telephones
  • Power-devices such as uninterruptible power supplies (UPSs) and surge protectors.
  • Network-enabled printers, including printers with an embedded print server.
  • Print servers, which connect printers without a built in print service to a network.
  • Any kind of proxy server, including web proxies and other servers that cache data or understand high-level protocols.
  • Remote management devices that support remote equipment management.
  • Routers, which connect multiple networks.
  • Network attached storage devices and network tape backup systems.
  • Network switches; devices that extend a network by selectively re-broadcasting packets.
  • Network attached voicemail and ISDN systems.
  • Terminal devices, that is device that function primarily as user interfaces to terminal servers or mainframes.
  • Voice over IP (VoIP) phones (or any phone capable of a VoIP protocol).
  • Wireless Access Point (WAP) devices offering a wireless connection to a local network.
  • webcams or any network devices that stores or transmits pictures or video.

This is one of many systems management features covered here at AppDetails. When considering what features are important to you, we recommend you also contemplate the importance of a strong software inventory, application deployment, an intuitive user console and other systems management features.

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