First, BDNA's iGovern Discoverer discovers IT assets by listening on the network. President Glenn Wienkoop says BDNA calls this "agent-free" discovery to distinguish it from "agentless" technologies from Computer Associates and Patrol, which he says often decide to install an agent on a device when they determine they can't learn enough from just monitoring its traffic. This is where some of BDNA's intellectual property comes in: content that knows the "fingerprint" of an asset's network activity. BDNA claims these fingerprints identify assets down to the level of detail of software version number and hardware model. Any device unknown at install can be added to the knowledge base by naming the fingerprint the system detects. Wienkoop says the Kaiser Permanente installation, for example, tracks electronic medical devices as well as what's conventially thought of as an IT asset.
Content and discovered information are stored in the iGovern Knowledge Center, a proprietary object database built on Oracle. Prepackaged iGovern Analytics are then exposed in packaged modules or custom apps. The packaged applications are for inventory consolidation, asset reconcilation, standards compliance, and support governance. A modifiable taxonomy shows object relationships, and configurable rules let you define your standards.
While other companies have been applying AI and BI to the management of information technology assets in limited ways for years, this is a new approach that seems able to greatly speed up an organization's arrival at an advanced stage of IT governance: security auditability, patch maintenance, compliance with support standards, and so on.
Will BDNA's products keep you from ever performing a physical inventory? No. Although BDNA uses its own software in-house, IT staff are performing a physical inventory there in order to know physical location of assets and to be aware of assets that aren't live on the network. Hewlett-Packard is working on a prototype RFID application connected to HP OpenView that may ease the burden of physically locating assets. Wienkoop indicated there may be a partnership in the works with HP OpenView and other similar applications to incorporate BDNA's capabilities.