Start humming the James Bond theme, now. Or perhaps not. Agents in IT asset management don’t quite have the glamour of 007, but they can certainly track their targets and send you inside information.
Software agents in laptops and mobile devices can keep IT departments updated and informed from offices, project sites or anywhere else that offers network connectivity.
The piece of code that constitutes such an agent is typically small compared to the rest of the software on the system and does not represent any significant drain on performance.
However, for James Bond, Ethan Hunt, Harry Palmer, or whatever else you might call your agent, one question remains – is a software agent the right solution?
For some devices, the answer is clear. They don’t allow for the installation of agents, so you’ll need some other way of finding out about their health and general status. Routers and switches are cases in point.
The answer is to use an agentless solution (logical, right?). For this, software in another system will contact the device in question and get status information by querying a port on the device.
The querying system or probe may need to be replicated on different subnetworks as the overall network increases in size and complexity, adding to cost. However, updates to probes and agentless configurations are often faster than updates to all the agents installed in individual devices.
The pros and cons of agent-based and agentless IT asset management continue with the amount of data collected (agent-based offers more detail than agentless) and security (agent-based may be seen as intrusive and riskier).
Lower initial installation effort may favour the agentless approach, although without a network connection, there may be no way of knowing if the device concerned suffered any problem during the blackout.
Which approach is best for you? Each one should be examined to estimate the time, effort, and money required. You may also choose to use both approaches and get the best of both worlds, according to the IT assets you need to manage.