Assessing asset management

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Assessing asset management

With budgets under pressure, adept IT leaders need to know how to make every cent count. Given that the cost of acquiring and supporting IT equipment can account for as much as 30 per cent of IT budgets, according to some industry estimates, there is clearly potential for significant savings.

But successfully tracking IT assets –­ and understanding which applications are on devices ­ – has become increasingly difficult. Armies of road warriors, not all of whom are careful guardians of their kit, have dispersed equipment across the country. And even desk-bound colleagues have more choice about which devices they use, as laptops and smartphones proliferate.

Best practice frameworks, such as ITIL, suggest that configuration management databases are the cornerstone of effective asset management efforts. Critics counter that this becomes such an enormous task that it cannot be done in a cost-effective manner.

So how can IT leaders ensure that their attempts to manage assets are worth the effort? How does an effective IT asset management strategy improve the bottom line? And what are the core components of an effective strategy? We asked a panel of experts for their views.

Patricia Adams, research director, Gartner:

As companies look for ways to control expenses, buying new software may not be an option. Instead, firms can focus on ensuring that they use existing software more efficiently. Software usage data can provide insight into the software installed on PCs and whether an application is authorised and properly licensed. To save money, companies can remove unused applications and renegotiate maintenance to reflect the lower use count.

Depending on the level of process maturity, businesses that implement software use capabilities will achieve savings of five to 25 per cent in the first year. After the first full cycle of contract renegotiations, the savings will likely stabilise at two to three per cent in subsequent years.

To prepare for impending budget freezes or cuts, firms look for ways to save money without having to invest in tools. From 2000 to 2002, as vendors began to experience a slowdown in new sales, they became more active auditors of their clients. Gartner expects to see the same trend reoccur. Software-use tools provide visibility into whether the user is using the software that is installed on the PC as part of a standard image. Just because the software is installed is no guarantee that it is in use.

Gartner has heard of many instances where PC lifecycle configuration management tools, such as LANDesk, are installed, yet the firm is not using the functionality that is provided in it.

Steve Shakespeare, director, enterprise solutions, Intel:

IT departments have a critical need to better secure and manage notebook and desktop PCs anywhere and at any time. There is an increased need to establish secure, well-managed environments for these PCs; however, the cost of managing them has become a significant percentage of the total cost of ownership of technology. The ability to protect and remotely manage both notebook and desktop PCs, regardless of power state, type of connection, state of the operating system or even the physical location of the device is therefore critical.

Moreover, there is a need for the capability to make this happen more easily and more efficiently. Studies show that such a capability can reduce desk-side visits by more than 50 per cent for hardware and software-related issues.

The cost savings related to reducing such visits are obvious, but some are more implicit. Resolving issues more quickly, minimising data breaches, reducing user downtime and providing more proactive services also yield financial benefits.

Such technologies can also change behaviour patterns when managing the client real estate. Remote management capabilities as described above can realise savings through better practice in terms of energy management.

Ensuring that all PCs are turned off at the end of the working day can deliver significant savings. Maintenance for security patches can also be done out of hours by waking the PCs, patching them and turning them off again. This minimises user impact and provides a more efficient way of ensuring that maintenance has been done.

Megan Pendlebury, head of service management, itSMF UK:

In implementing IT asset management, firms may become aware for the first time of everything that they own and where everything resides. There are examples of organisations not only finding out what kit they own, but even how many datacentres they have.

This exercise can be enlightening and can lead to equipment and software assets being re-used rather than new items having to be bought. It can even result in a firm being able to cancel rental on a building if there is available capacity within another one ­ – giving dramatic cost savings.

There is also the ability to monitor use of certain applications or software packages to ensure that the people who have them installed are actually using them rather than holding the licence unnecessarily. This will help out with the re-use of software licences and also with the legalities of licence compliance.

Cost savings by implementing IT asset management can be intangible as well as the tangible examples given above. If an organisation is not aware of what equipment it owns, the loss or theft of an asset is more likely to go undetected. This can lead to major security breaches and a loss of reputation and customer confidence.

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