Cherwell IT Service Management Blog
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The Real Scoop On Agent-Based IT Asset Management Technology (Part 1 of 4)

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This post is part 1 of 4 of a series of articles addressing many of the common misconceptions associated with agent-based asset management solutions. The four parts to the series are as follows:

  1. Intro: The Great Debate
  2. Agent Deployment
  3. Data Collection
  4. Network and End-User Impact

Part 1: The Great Debate

Having read (and responded to) comments to Martin Thompson’s recent blog post about the pros and cons of using agent-based IT asset management technology, I felt compelled to articulate my perspective on the subject. It’s a topic that seems to generate a fair share of controversy, and although I may live to regret stirring the pot (novice blogger that I am), I believe the arguments in favor of agent-based technology have been generally under-represented, poorly understood, and, in my opinion, often unjustly maligned. Specifically, some of the advantages of installing a client (such as the ability to communicate with a central server on a regular basis, collect software metering data, etc.) have given rise to an exaggerated claim that IT asset management agents are, by definition, “invasive,” and therefore, by extension, inherently “flawed.”

So in this series of posts I plan to represent the “other half” of IT asset management professionals who actively choose agent-based technology. As part of this, I’ll do my best to dispel some of the myths surrounding agent-less technology that occasionally lead to political and organizational arguments against deploying solutions that, in many cases, are more apt to deliver the kind of business value that’s being sought.

Let me start by saying that our own IT asset management offering provides both agent-based and agent-less deployment methods. Even so, an overwhelming majority of our customers choose to deploy the agent because doing so allows them to take advantage of a very specific set of capabilities that wouldn’t otherwise be technically feasible (more on that later).

But first of all, I think we can all agree on a few things: Neither approach is perfect; each involves certain trade-offs that should be thoroughly explored and understood. Which methodology is appropriate for any given organization depends on many things including its unique IT asset management goals, staff expertise, infrastructure, and frankly, the personal preferences of the individual(s) managing the technology from day to day.

With this in mind, each of the next several blog posts will cover one of the common misconceptions about IT asset management clients that we hear from prospective customers, along with what I believe to be as fair and balanced a representation as I can offer about the two methodologies and their respective tradeoffs. The main areas I’ll cover are:

I look forward to some lively debate on the topic!