Interested in finding out what’s running on your network but don’t have budget? Or maybe you’d like to verify the inventory your primary paid-for tool is providing? If so a good option is to deploy a free inventory tool. Modern tools and protocols can provide you with basic free inventory services providing you have the necessary technical skills. Equally, there are some free tools that deploy almost seamlessly with minimal configuration. Some are even cloud-hosted, meaning you don’t need any on-site infrastructure. This Market Guide provides you with an overview of some of the tools available, along with their strengths. There should be something for everyone, including complex discovery requirements involving virtualisation and non-Windows environments.
Most free inventory tools make use of industry standard protocols such as LDAP, SSH, & SNMP and open-source IT Management tools such as NMAP. As ITAM Managers we’re able to benefit from the growing focus on IT Security & Compliance, because both disciplines start with discovery and inventory. The mantra for IT Security is “You can’t secure what you don’t know about” – for ITAM managers it’s “You can’t optimise and manage what you don’t know about”. This common starting point, and the commitment in the IT Security industry to open-source their tools for the greater good, mean that you no longer have to pay for a basic inventory and discovery tool. To a certain extent those parts of the ITAM lifecycle have become commoditised. Where a paid-for tool will have the edge is integration with other requirements (for example, entitlement management) but a free tool will provide a good starting point, potentially providing the evidence to support a business case for that end-to-end solution.
I’d welcome, as always, your comments on this guide, particularly about any free tools that you’re using that you’d recommend. Likewise, if you’re running your ITAM Practice with a free tool as your only tooling please let me know. And if you’re a vendor with a free tool that you’d like to see included in this guide I’ll be happy to include it in a future update.