THE ANATOMY OF AN IT INFRASTRUCTURE DISCOVERY

ediscovery

“The greatest obstacle to discovery is not ignorance – it is the illusion of knowledge.” Daniel J. Boorstin

The business process discovery and the IT process discovery are far less famous that the most important discoveries of the mankind, but I want to highlight that the quote above has the last part which applies perfectly to the business and IT processes discovery and that is the illusion of knowledge!

The IT infrastructure discovery is one out of many IT discoveries, which includes: IT processes, applications, data and infrastructure.

Paradoxically, the IT infrastructure is the Cinderella of the IT domain and at the same time the only “real”, tangible part of it, because regardless of where your infrastructure resides (in a data center or a cloud), ultimately is made of physical servers, storage arrays, switches and routers.

The infrastructure discovery is usually done together with data and applications discovery; sometimes it is a stand-alone process if, for example, the infrastructure is obsolete and a refresh process is needed.

Experience will tell you that a lot of IT departments do not have an up to date infrastructure inventory database, so the best practice is to acknowledge the customer asset database and to run the discovery process from scratch.

Nowadays, there are many infrastructure assets audit applications, lots of them with agentless deployment, scanning the infrastructure, servers, virtual machines, storage arrays, switches, routers, load balancers, etc. via almost all the IT protocols available (network, storage, computer, etc.). One has to input the IP addresses range and the admin credentials for the scanned domains and the audit application will collect all the available information for every asset. It is also recommended to run the software audit on the users’ subnets, getting the audit data for the PCs, laptops printers, scanners and mobile devices as well.

Again, experience will tell you that the software audit results will cover 90-95% of the assets, so a physical audit is highly recommended. With the help of several SMEs, the physical audit will cover every asset in every cabinet, recording the information for each asset form the front and the back of the cabinet, with asset name, serial number, network and fiber connections, etc.

The combined results of the software audit and the physical audit will be used to create an artefact called the discovery report which will have a detailed diagram of each cabinet, front and rear, tables with assets, servers, storage arrays, network equipment. The tables will have details about the make, model, serial number, name, compute power for each asset, also the manufacture year for each asset. If a proper naming convention was used, the names of the assets will show information regarding the operating system, applications running of that server and if the server belongs to the Prod, Dev, Test or DR environments.

One will be surprised to learn that sometimes a Prod server is actually a desktop PC under somebody’s desk, built many years ago as a test machine and forgotten by everybody!

The discovery report will present a clear and accurate view of the present state of the infrastructure without any recommendations regarding the future state.  The infrastructure discovery report will play a very important role for the next processes, the data discovery and the applications discovery which will be presented in a future posting.

Virtualization and cloud means the end of infrastructure discovery process?

No, because ultimately, the virtual machines will run on physical servers and physical storage arrays and this is also true for the virtual machines running in cloud. Only if you are running your applications on a multi-tenant cloud, the physical audit will not concern you per se, but it will be the cloud provider job, because is nothing worse that providing a cloud solution which is running on old hardware!

For details about the infrastructure discovery process contact me:

Ilie.mihut@dashinternational.com.au