Inventory Review Index
The BDNA solution set consists of three main products:
- Discover – technology for agentless network discovery
- Normalize – the ability to import and cleanse inventory data from other systems
- Technopedia – a database of what BDNA call ‘market data’, a dynamic reference library of additional non-discoverable information regarding each discovered asset.
Infrastructure & Methodology
BDNA’s aim is to provide an accurate baseline in which to feed other downstream systems.
Users begin with agentless discovery to find all assets on the network. The Discovery process includes three progressively deeper scans:
- An initial light sweep of the network to identify the existence of assets
- A more thorough discovery using non-admin rights to identify configurations and software
- Finally, communication with specific applications to identify configurations, for example communicating with an Oracle database to identify a user table.
In addition to BDNA Discover, BDNA also offer Normalize, which allows organizations to import inventory from traditional agent based discovery systems such as SCCM, Altiris, and LANDesk etc. As the name suggests, Normalize cleans up and organizes third party inventory data so it can be converted into useful information.
BDNA Discover data can either provide the foundation of a specific project or campaign (such as an operating system migration, security analysis, energy reduction etc.) or can be used as a data feed to supply license management or configuration systems for service management.
This technology is aimed at very large organizations with large chaotic networks that perhaps need an additional source of intelligence to compliment their existing mix of systems management tools.
Administrators of the system can configure views, apply filters, roll-up columns and generally dice and splice the data. Comparisons can also be made between data sets; for example a user might compare the results from January and February in order to show:
- Show me the new assets
- Show the assets that disappeared during that time frame
- Show the assets that changed
- Show me the assets that stayed the same
Augmented Reality for IT Assets
In my opinion, the BDNA raison d’être and key competitive differentiator is ‘Technopedia’.
In a nutshell, Technopedia cross references discovered assets with a library of additional information about that asset. If I find an old XP box on the network it will append additional meta-data to that asset based on collated market information. This is beyond the scope of the usual WMI requests and provides data on dimensions, power consumption, cores, PVU values etc.
Similarly if I find an application on the network Technopedia will apply additional intelligence about that application such as
- Does it need a license?
- What type of application is it?
- Is it compatible with Windows 7?
- Who is the current manufacturer?
- Has the vendor been acquired?
- When will the product become end of life?
- In what functional category does this application belong?
- Is it part of a suite and/or product family?
Some competitive vendors have collated this information in pockets but it is rare to see such a library of information with such depth and breadth. BDNA claim to have over 400,000 products listed and over 14.5 million data points.
The recent addition of licensable status is a strong offering if organizations can harness the information correctly. In theory, organizations with existing large deployments of traditional systems management tools can feed the raw data through BDNA and quickly highlight licensable software for certain vendors. This may prove to be very useful for tactical software compliance projects.
Similarly BDNA can harness existing inventory data to underpin other tactical projects such as operating system migrations, hardware refreshes, virtualization consolidation projects, software consolidations and all-round cost cutting.
One of the main strengths of BDNA Normalize is that it enables organizations to align information from their existing systems management applications to Technopedia without any additional infrastructure and leveraging existing tools.
The backend components of the BDNA Discover system may be too onerous for some organizations; the whole system contains a Linux server, Windows server and Oracle database (The front end is a Java based web application).
BDNA does not provide any dependency or relationship mapping beyond linking virtual to physical hosts. Additionally some of BDNA Discover’s agentless competitors provide more accessible and intuitive ways to cross-examine, visualize and take action on discovered data.
Finally, this is an information source only. Organizations making use of BDNA need to ensure they have an efficient way to integrate this actionable information into existing management applications (CMBDs, license compliance/mgmt systems, ITAM/ITSM, etc.) to get the most out of the information provided.
|Version||V7.5 (December 2010)|
|In a nutshell||Cleans and adds market intelligence to discovered assets in large enterprises|
|Primary Market Focus|
|Pricing Model||Based on number of end-points. Priced as a perpetual, term or service license.|
From the brochure:
“The scope of enterprise IT environments expands daily. The constant arrival of new devices, applications, technologies and users makes answering fundamental questions such as “How much…?” or “How many…?” a daunting task.
As organizations get mired in the complexity of simply gathering the appropriate data, decision makers are left with little confidence in the information upon which they must act. Clarify your vision of your entire IT estate with BDNA.
BDNA Discover provides the broadest and deepest visibility into all hardware and software deployed across the enterprise without the use of software agents. Leveraging Technopedia to discover, normalize and enrich your inventory, BDNA Discover delivers the most comprehensive and accurate picture of your IT infrastructure.
BDNA Discover is the ultimate “source for truth”, ensuring you can make confident decisions and have current, accurate information quickly to drive key initiatives and projects such as consolidations and license compliance.
- Non-Intrusive: Without requiring software agents or administrative access, BDNA Discover deploys easily across any size organization and delivers value quickly.
- Accurate: Leveraging Technopedia, BDNA Discover normalizes hardware and software information, ensuring you have the most up-to-date information to drive your key initiatives.
- Comprehensive: BDNA Discover identifies all hardware and software as well as IP-enabled non-IT devices such as point-of-sale terminals, medical devices and manufacturing equipment to provide the most complete picture of the comprehensive IT estate.
- Integrated: Through a well defined interface, the results from BDNA Discover embed seamlessly into production operations, ensuring strategic initiatives achieve their promise by leveraging high fidelity information.”