Keeping track of ever-growing, and ever-changing, customer networks can be overwhelming for any IT support provider; but successfully doing so is the key to IT support planning, proactive maintenance, and security. This is where a Network Discovery tool comes in handy. It delivers a complete picture of your customer networks by identifying its components and creating an inventory, with detailed information on each network device. You can perform scans on your customers' Workgroup and Domain Controller (DC) networks, enabling you to discover ALL of your customer networks.
Use the information provided for planning, onboarding, or billing purposes. Additionally, Network Discovery highlights your opportunities to offer proactive support and customer upgrades. The scan pinpoints your unmonitored devices—so you can get them monitored with one click. Plus, detecting devices with network slowness, or when aging OS or storage disks need upgrading, has never been easier. We put the ball in your court, giving you the tools to effectively and proactively support your customers—while growing your business. Atera’s Network Discovery is your IT support, x-ray vision, super tool!
This article describes how to use the latest version of Network Discovery as it appears in Atera's new design interface (For instructions on using the older version, which can be found in the classic interface, see this article). Network Discovery is an optional, add-on subscription (on top of Atera's general subscription). A free, 14-day trial is available for you to try it out. Keeping on top of your customers’ networks has never been easier with Atera’s Network Discovery. Learn about:
- What's New
- Using Network Discovery
- Scan Results and Actions
- Network Discovery Alerts
- Optimal Network Settings
- Deactivating Network Discovery
What's New in Network Discovery
There's a lot that's new in this latest version of Network Discovery (which can only be accessed from Atera's new design interface). Some highlights include the ability to:
- See all customer scans on a single dashboard
- Scan all of a customer’s networks (subnets) with one click
- Enjoy an always current, automatically refreshing view of your customer’s networks
- Detect devices with network slowness
- Activate and deactivate scans
- Easily install agents (DC scans)
- Network Discovery alerts. Learn more
- Prevent scanning of offsite networks
Ready to get started?
Using Network Discovery
Network Discovery finds all devices connected to a network (WiFi or ethernet). It scans the entire network, identifies its components, and creates an inventory—with detailed information on each network device. Scans can be performed on both Workgroup and Domain Controller (DC) networks, enabling you to discover all of your customers' networks. The 'scanning agent' used to scan the network must be a Windows device (currently, Mac devices are not supported). Once a scan is activated, it will automatically run in the background at regular intervals (twice a day), so the info stays current. This section describes how to:
Network Discovery is an optional, add-on subscription (on top of Atera's general subscription). A free, 14-day trial is available (even if you've already tried Network Discovery in the distant past).
To start your free trial (or subscribe):
From Network Discovery (on the side panel), click Get Network Discovery
Set up a Scan
Before setting up a Network Discovery scan, it's recommended to review the Optimal Network Settings section of this article for the best results.
To set up a Network Discovery scan:
1. Ensure you are using Atera's new design interface. (Note: You can check this by going to Admin > Settings > General. Ensure the Atera's New Interface option is set to 'On'.)
2. From the side panel, click Network Discovery
The Network Discovery page appears, with a list of all your customers.
3. Select a customer to set up their Network Discovery scan, and click Set up scan
Note: The Set up scan button appears if the customer has never had a Network Discovery scan before. The customer must have at least one Atera (Windows) agent installed to make scanning possible (if none are installed, the button will appear grayed out).
4. You can select which of the customer’s public IPs you wish to scan (this enables you to exclude IPs) or you can select 'All' (the default) to scan them all.
5. You can select Quick setup* to automatically assign scanning agents to scan your subnets or Manual setup to select the subnets and scanning agents yourself. A scanning agent is the network device that will be used to perform the scan.
Note: It's always recommended to use a domain controller as the scanning agent (when applicable). Doing so enables retrieval of maximum network information, plus additional capabilities (such as remote agent installation within Network Discovery).
*If you select ‘Quick setup’, it will automatically assign a scanning agent in the following order:
- A domain controller will be selected first
- If a domain controller isn’t found, a server is selected
- If a server isn’t found, a workstation is selected
If you wish to prevent a scan on a particular subnet, simply click the toggle, on the right, to disable it.
Once you’ve selected your setup ('Quick' or 'Manual') and reviewed or selected your networks (subnets) and scanning agents, click Save to save your settings and start the scan.
If a domain controller is selected as the scanning agent, you’ll need to enter the credentials when prompted, optionally enable WMI/WinRM, and click Scan
The scan begins, and results should appear within about a minute.
Note: The scanning agent must be online to run the scan. If offline, the scan will run once it comes back online.
6. Set up scans on the rest of your customers in the same way (you can do this now, or at a later time).
If you wish to stop a particular customer's scan from running, simply click the ‘Active’ scan status to change it to ‘Inactive’ within the customer scan. This can be reversed by simply clicking the status again.
Some possible issues that can prevent a successful scan include:
- Invalid domain controller credentials
- The scanning agent is offline
- The scanning agent's IP has changed (applicable when the scanning agent is a workstation). Note: When this is the case, a warning appears (see below). This is to indicate that the device is likely not on site, to prevent scanning of irrelevant networks.
Note: Please see the recommended network settings for optimal Network Discovery results.
Scan Results and Actions
The Devices section includes detailed information on Workstations/Servers, SNMP, and Storage devices, plus it highlights all unmonitored devices by category. Available actions include getting unmonitored devices monitored with one click, as well as filtering, and removing devices from the scan results.
This section provides detailed information about:
This section includes:
- Displayed Information
- Monitor unmonitored workstations/servers (domain controller scans only)
- Filter Workstations/Servers
- Remove devices from the scan results
Displayed Workstation/Server Information
Displayed information includes:
- Number of unmonitored workstations/servers
- Device Name - Clicking it will take you into the agent console, where you can view and manage the device (if the device is monitored by Atera).
- Status - Online - Device ping successful / Unreachable - Device was detected in a previous scan but is no longer detected on the network in the current scan.
- Last Seen - The time the device was last seen via network scan.
- Monitored - A check indicates that the device has an Atera agent installed. An 'X' indicates that it doesn't.
- RTT - RTT (Round-Trip Time) is the time it takes (in milliseconds) for data to be sent and received—for the purposes of proactively detecting devices with network slowness.* If a device is unreachable (unpingable), the RTT will show as unavailable ('-').
- Device Type
- IP Address
- MAC Address
- OS Platform
- OS Information
- OS Age - This information will display for domain controller scans only.
*Why is RTT important?
Network round-trip time has a big impact on your customer’s experience in activities involving interactive applications, like web browsing. Network administrators can use RTT to diagnose the speed and reliability of the network connection, as many web applications will disconnect if the RTT is too high. As this number can be subjective, we're not including specifics about what is considered too high.
Monitor unmonitored workstations/servers (domain controller scans only)
Atera highlights the number of unmonitored devices on a network. Plus, if your scanning agent is a domain controller, you can easily get them monitored right from within Network Discovery.
The number of unmonitored devices can also be found on the Customers page.
You can also set up alerts, to inform you when unmonitored devices appear in the scan results. Learn more.
Additionally, you can get unmonitored Windows OS devices monitored (install Atera agents) with one click (DC scans only). You can install an agent on a single device or in bulk on all (or some) of your unmonitored devices.
Prerequisites for agent installation
The following criteria must be met for successful agent installation:
- The device(s) must be Windows OS.
- The scanning agent must be a domain controller.
- The network domain controller and the device itself must be online.
- Configure the recommended settings in the Optimal Network Settings section of this article.
- WinRM for WMI monitoring should be enabled on your customers' domain networks (where applicable). It is a must for successful agent installation. You can also enable it automatically in Atera when initiating a DC scan, by selecting the checkbox (below). When selected, the GPO will instruct all Windows OS network devices to open the WMI protocol. The GPO is implemented 1-2 hours after the scan has begun.
Additionally, WinRM for WMI monitoring can be enabled automatically when attempting to add a device to Atera monitoring (the scan detects when it is disabled).
Notes: The feature is applicable to Windows Server 2012 or later.
To monitor devices:
In the customer scan > Devices > Workstations/servers, locate the unmonitored device(s) you wish to monitor.
Single-agent installation: Click Add device next to the device you wish to monitor.
The agent installs.
Multiple-agent installation: Check the boxes next to the unmonitored devices you wish to monitor, then click Add device (at the top).
Note: You can filter the list to display all your unmonitored devices (see instructions below).
The agent installs.
The workstations/servers can be filtered by various criteria (including monitoring status, RTT (Round Trip- Time), online status, IP address, and 'last seen' date) by clicking the Filters icon on the upper right side of the page.
Remove devices from the scan results
You can remove devices from the displayed list if you don’t wish to see them there.
Check the boxes next to the devices you wish to remove, then click Remove from list
Note: Online devices may reappear on the list, if detected in future scans.
This section includes:
- Displayed SNMP device information
- Monitor unmonitored SNMP devices
- Filter SNMP devices
- Remove SNMP devices from the scan results
Displayed SNMP Device Information
Displayed information includes:
- Number of unmonitored SNMP devices
- Device Name - Clicking it will take you into the device console, where you can view and manage the device (if the device is monitored by Atera).
- Last Seen
- Monitoring Agent - You can click the dropdown menu to change the monitoring agent
- Device Type
- IP Address
- MAC Address
- Device Model
- Serial Number
Monitor Unmonitored SNMP Devices
Atera highlights all the unmonitored SNMP devices on the network, so that you can get them monitored (assign a monitoring agent) with one click. Additionally, you can set up alerts, to inform you when unmonitored devices appear in the scan results. Learn more
Prerequisite for SNMP device monitoring: The SNMP device and the desired monitoring agent must be online (and within the same subnet).
To monitor an SNMP device:
In the customer scan > Devices > SNMP, locate the unmonitored device(s) you wish to monitor.
Monitor a single device:
1. Next to the device you wish to monitor, select the desired monitoring agent from the dropdown menu (in the Monitoring Agent column). You can also select the specific device type from the Device Type dropdown. Then click Add device
Note: The monitoring agent is the designated agent within the network that will monitor the SNMP device.
The Add SNMP Device window appears.
2. Select the device type and SNMP Template for customized monitoring (if applicable). These are templates that you create in Atera to monitor specific SNMP device types. Learn more about SNMP Templates
3. Click Add
Monitor multiple SNMP devices: You can get multiple SNMP devices monitored at once by checking the boxes next to the devices you wish to monitor and then clicking Add device (at the top).
Filter SNMP Devices
The SNMP devices can be filtered by various criteria (including monitoring status, online status, IP address, and 'last seen' date) by clicking the Filters icon on the upper right side of the page.
Remove SNMP Devices from List
Additionally, you can remove devices from the displayed list if you don’t wish to see them there.
The Storage category (relevant only for domain controller scans) displays detailed information on network storage including:
- Device Name
- Disk Type
- Serial Number
- Media Type
- # Bad Sectors
- Disk Age
- Disk Usage(GB)/Total(GB)
- Disk Usage (%)
Additionally, storage devices can be removed from the scan results if you don't wish to see them there.
The complete scan results, including the Workstations/Servers, SNMP, and Storage device sections can be exported as an Excel file by clicking the Export XLS button.
The Reports section displays a number of useful graphs so you can see network information at-a-glance. Workgroup (workstation) and domain controller scans differ somewhat in that domain scans offer some additional graphs and information.
The Reports section includes the following interactive graphs:
- Device Types
- Workstation/Server Status
- OS Platform
- Monitoring Status
- OS Aging (Domain controller scans only. Note: 'New' refers to 1-51 months old, 'Aging' is 52-59 months, and 'Upgrade me!' is 60+ months old)
- Storage (Domain controller scans only)
- An 'Unreachable' status for Workstation/Server and OS Aging graphs indicates a communication failure between Atera and the agent. This status can appear for many reasons (e.g., firewall or antivirus blocking, active directory issues, etc.), and does not necessarily indicate that the device is offline.
- Clicking on a graph legend removes the parameter from the graph (or adds it back in).
The security section highlights network security vulnerabilities so you can make sure your customers’ networks stay safe and secure. Stay tuned...This feature is coming soon! :-)
You can easily view your dashboard, which delivers at-a-glance info of all customer scans.
To view the dashboard: Simply click Network Discovery on the side panel.
Note: The blue, highlighted # next to the Network Discovery side panel option indicates the total number of unmonitored devices (both workstations/servers and SNMP) detected by all customer scans combined).
Displayed information includes:
- Customer Name
- Public IP
- Network (subnet) - With multiple networks, simply click the chevron to display all networks. Note: An alert will appear if a subnet is over 90% full.
- Workstations/Servers - The # on the left indicates total detected workstation/servers. The blue, highlighted # on the right is unmonitored workstations/servers (devices without an Atera agent installed). Clicking it takes you to the scan results.
- SNMP - The # on the left indicates total detected SNMP devices. The blue, highlighted # on the right is the unmonitored devices (devices without an assigned monitoring agent). Clicking it takes you to the scan results.
- Scan Status - This indicates whether the scan is Active or Inactive. The Set up scan option appears next to customers that haven't been scanned before. For customers with no installed agents, you can install agents right from the Dashboard.
You can also filter customer scans by clicking the icon (on the upper, right). available filters include Customer Name, Workstations/Servers, SNMP, and Scan Status.
Network Discovery Alerts
You can set up alerts to keep you informed of Network Discovery scan events such as:
- New device detection - When unmonitored workstations/servers are detected.
- New SNMP device detection - When unmonitored SNMP devices are detected.
- Scanning agent IP change - The IP of the device (agent) performing the scan has changed.
- Scanning agent is offline
Optimal Network Settings
We recommend proactively configuring your target networks with the following network settings, for optimum Network Discovery results. If you've already tried Network Discovery but had trouble connecting, or with retrieving device information, please review the information below.
Checklist for Domain Environments
This checklist details the recommended network settings for Windows domain environments. Share this with your IT administrator and request that they configure your network's domain controller as follows:
Enable WinRM for WMI Monitoring
We recommend enabling WinRM for WMI monitoring (via DC Group Policy) so you can get the most out of the Network Discovery feature. In particular, enabling WinRM will allow for seamless, remote agent installation within Network Discovery.
GPO Configuration for Windows Firewall (Inbound Rules)
1. Allow Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI) service to operate through Windows
Firewall. This includes the following rules:
- Windows Management Instrumentation (ASync-In)
- Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI-In)
- Windows Management Instrumentation (DCOM-In)
2. Allow Remote Registry to operate through Windows Firewall
Allow ICMP (Internet Control Message Protocol) to operate through Windows Firewall
Note: ICMP requests are used to detect active devices to scan.
GPO Configuration for Windows Services
Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI) - Startup Type: Automatic
Windows Update Service - Startup Type: Automatic
Remote Registry - Startup Type: Automatic
Make sure third-party firewalls are disabled or configured similarly to Windows Firewall (see above)
SNMP Checklist (for retrieval of SNMP devices and monitoring setup)
- Ensure Remote Registry can operate through Windows Firewall, and that third-party firewalls are disabled or configured similarly to Windows Firewall
- Ensure the desired monitoring agent is online
- Ensure the SNMP device hostname/IP address is correct
- Ensure the ports are open
Deactivating Network Discovery
If you wish to cancel your Network Discovery subscription, you can deactivate it at any time.
1. From Admin, on the side panel, click Subscription > Network Discovery
2. Click Deactivate network discovery
You'll be prompted to fill out a short exit survey, before confirming your deactivation.
After that, your subscription to Network Discovery will be deactivated.