Asset Intelligence and Management

AssetSonar Blogs Device Uniqueness Engine

[How-to] Manage Devices with Invalid Serial Numbers in AssetSonar

Device uniqueness engine

Organizations leverage different Mobile Device Management (MDM) solutions to onboard devices to AssetSonar. Sometimes, these devices come with invalid or no serial numbers, causing discrepancies in device data. Lack of valid serial numbers causes failure of unique identification of these devices. Having valid serial numbers for all enrolled devices is also crucial because they give us insights on whether the incoming devices are already being tracked in AssetSonar or not.  

There can be multiple reasons for IT devices to have invalid serial numbers. 

  1. Some devices are virtual machines and their serial numbers get changed over time, causing discrepancies in device information.
  2. Devices procured from second-hand markets are usually wiped before a resell which erases the serial number and it gets defaulted to 0, unknown, or some other generic string. 
  3. Devices that are manufactured in-house usually don’t have serial numbers assigned to them. 
  4. Sometimes, a firmware update or a BIOS flash can inadvertently reset or corrupt the serial number, leading to it displaying as invalid or defaulting to a generic string.
  5. In rare cases, a manufacturing defect can result in a device shipping without a proper serial number or with an incorrect one. This is more common in less regulated manufacturing environments.
  6. If a device has been tampered with or repaired using non-standard parts, the BIOS serial number might be altered. This is especially true if the motherboard has been replaced with one that does not have a valid serial number.
  7. Older devices, especially those that are legacy or no longer supported, might have BIOS serial numbers that are no longer recognized or are incompatible with modern systems and software.
  8. Sometimes, the issue might be with the software reading the BIOS information. Bugs in system management tools or inventory software can lead to misreporting of serial numbers.
  9. Certain hardware failures, particularly those related to the motherboard or its firmware, can result in the loss or corruption of BIOS information, including the serial number.

How does AssetSonar solve this problem?

AssetSonar allows you to update your device details with a new serial number. There are three possible use cases while updating a device with a new serial number. 

  1. If you add a new serial number that is considered invalid by the system, you’ll get a new prompt requesting you to update the serial number again. 
  2. If you add a new serial number that doesn’t match with a serial number of an already existing device, then you will be able to easily update the asset’s serial number. 
  3. If you add a serial number that already has an associated device in the database, the system will not let you update. Instead, you’ll be able to view a new duplication management overlay. 

There are multiple cases that can cause device duplication in the system. Some of the most common use cases are:

  • If a device is enrolled in an MDM but also has AssetSonar Agent deployed on it, then it can result in asset duplication. 
  • If an asset is enrolled in an MDM but gets deleted and then gets enrolled in another MDM platform, it would also cause the serial numbers to get mixed up. 

AssetSonar’s device uniqueness engine relies on unique identifiers like Source ID to identify the discrepancies in device data. However, if an IT asset is coming from multiple sources, then AssetSonar’s duplication management workflow allows users to manually merge and update those devices. 

Now let’s walk you through the workflow:

Duplication management workflow

AssetSonar allows you to add and manage a KPI on your main dashboard that shows you the number of devices with faulty serial numbers in your system. To add this KPI on your dashboard, go to ‘Edit Dashboard’ and then click on ‘Add Widgets’. 

A new overlay will appear from where you can choose the ‘IT Assets with Invalid Serial Number’ widget. Hit Update. 

Now you’ll be able to view this KPI on your dashboard as shown below:

Clicking on the KPI will take you to the asset listing page where you can view all assets that need to be updated. Through this page, users will be able to add the actual serial numbers of the devices brought in through multiple sources. However, if your device doesn’t have a valid serial number, you can put in any unique identifier. 

Now click on the IT asset that you want to update. On the asset detail page, you’ll be able to view this faulty serial number in red as shown below:

Now click on ‘Edit’ to add a new serial number. You will be redirected to a new page where you can add new information. 

Please note that you can only change the serial numbers of devices that are invalid. AssetSonar doesn’t allow users to update the serial numbers of any other IT assets. 

Also note that once you have updated your device details with a new serial number, you will not be able to edit it again. 

The system will show you the details of the other IT asset with the same serial number and will recommend you to merge the two devices. You can choose the base asset here and the second IT asset will merge into it. Now click on ‘Proceed’. 

Another pop-up will appear explaining the change you’ll see once the merging is complete. 

Scroll up and click on the checkbox to complete the merging. Now click on ‘Merge’.

Once merged, you will be redirected to the new IT asset in the system. The number of invalid devices on your dashboard KPI will also go down. 

Please note that for successful merging, IT assets with invalid serial numbers need to be in the available phase.    

Invalid Serial Numbers List

AssetSonar has a default list of invalid serial numbers in its database. You can view this list by following the pathway: Company Settings & Add-Ons -> ITAM Discovery Agent -> Merging IT Assets

You can update this list by adding new invalid serial numbers. 

Read more: Service and Maintenance Management – AssetSonar