Well, it's certainly true that there is no secret agent man (like Agent 47, at right) delivered along with our Discovery product – it's not that kind of agent we mean. Likewise, Discovery also doesn't come with insurance agents, real estate agents, or IRS agents – none of them are the agents we're talking about.
The agents that our Discovery doesn't have are software agents, the kind that some discovery products require you to install on each computer being discovered (and sometimes on other devices as well).
Our Discovery product doesn't require you to install anything at all on the computers or other devices that you want to discover. That is the essence of what we mean by agentless.
So how do agent-based discovery products differ from agentless discovery products?
The biggest difference lies in the relative deployment practicality. Agent-based discovery products have to be installed on every computer system you want to discover. No agent, no discovery. That means you must “touch” every single target computer system in order to deploy agent-based discovery, and you have to “touch” every new computer you acquire. Worse, when it comes time to upgrade that discovery product, you have to go out and “touch” every computer system again.
Our agentless Discovery doesn't require any initial deployment to target computers, or upgrading of them – it truly is a “touchless” deployment.
Agent-based discovery products can do some things that agentless discovery products cannot, though these additional capabilities are more in the realm of monitoring rather than discovery. For example, an agent-based discovery product could keep track of every registry change, or how many times (and for how long) a particular application was run, or how many keystrokes/hour the user made. These are interesting and potentially useful capabilities, but they really don't have much to do with discovery.
Our Discovery product's purpose is to populate the CMDB, to keep the CMDB currrent, and to track changes to CIs – not to monitor them. We selected an agentless approach for our Discovery product because it does the job we need it to do, but yet is simple and easy to deploy, with no upgrade hassles.
In other words, it's just like the rest of our product!