Network Inventory Agent-based vs Agentless

November 04, 2022


Inventory management is an essential aspect of network administration. Keeping track of network devices, software, and their configurations can be a daunting task, especially in large organizations. That's where network inventory solutions come in handy. These tools can automatically discover devices and software in a network and maintain an updated inventory.

When it comes to network inventory solutions, there are two types of methods: Agent-based and Agentless. In this blog post, we'll compare these two methods and help you decide which one best suits your network.

Agent-Based Inventory

Agent-based inventory solutions use software agents that are deployed on each network device to collect inventory data. The agents continuously run in the background to collect data, and the data is sent to a central inventory database. The central database collates the data from all agents and presents a complete inventory of network devices and software.

Agent-based inventory solutions offer real-time inventory monitoring, which means that any changes made to network devices or software are immediately reflected in the inventory. Because data is collected directly from network devices, agent-based solutions often provide more in-depth data than agentless solutions.

However, the downside of agent-based solutions is that installing and maintaining agents on all network devices can be time-consuming and costly. Additionally, some devices may not be compatible with the agent, making it impossible to collect data from them.

Agentless Inventory

On the other hand, agentless inventory solutions do not require the installation of software agents on network devices. Instead, these solutions use network protocols such as SNMP and SSH to discover and collect inventory data from network devices. The inventory data is then stored in a central database.

Agentless inventory solutions are easy to deploy and require minimal maintenance. Additionally, these solutions can collect data from devices that may not be compatible with software agents.

However, agentless solutions may not provide real-time inventory monitoring. There may be a delay in collecting and updating inventory data, particularly when devices are added or removed from the network. Also, agentless solutions may not offer in-depth data and may only provide basic inventory information.


When choosing a network inventory solution, it's essential to consider your network environment and requirements. If you need real-time inventory monitoring or more in-depth data, an agent-based solution may be a better fit. If ease of deployment and minimal maintenance are your priorities, an agentless solution may be the way to go.

Ultimately, a hybrid solution may also be an option, where you use a combination of the two methods, depending on the device type or location within the network.


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