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Bringing IT asset management under control

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Managing an expanding group of IT assets can be hugely demanding and has become an enormous responsibility for many IT managers. 

Licensing can easily spiral out of control if an organisation isn’t aware how many licenses it actually owns and how often the software is being used.
Asset management software is hugely effective keeping track of software licences, which has become increasingly important with more mobile workers using handheld PCs – resulting in increased assets to manage within the enterprise.
Andre Mulder, GM of the Altiris business unit at First Technologies, warns that many financial organisations are losing revenue unnecessarily from poor asset management techniques.
Mulder investigates how deploying automated asset management software can save IT managers both time and money by automatically gathering information on the organisation’s IT assets and discusses his predictions for the coming year.

Automation is what you need

Successful asset management relies on more than just the implementation of best practice policies. Many of us make the common mistake of thinking that using spreadsheets and even paper-based binders, is an effective way of managing and collecting information on our IT assets.
However, physical non-automated inventories like these rely on human intervention and are often extremely inaccurate and inadequate. Methods of asset management such as this provide only a snapshot of your IT environment, rather than the complete picture. In order to be successful an automated asset management system needs to be implemented.
IT managers need to start moving away from managing manual inventories and more towards a fully integrated It asset management system. This will allow IT managers to successfully track their IT asset portfolio, applications, hardware and the contracts they own. In addition to this they can cut costs, by disposing of ineffective hardware, reducing budget spend on unnecessary software licences and thus increase the potential of their IT infrastructure.
Many organisations realise the benefits of software asset management and as such have undertaken software and hardware inventories. An inventory scrutinises systems for unused assets and highlights potential cost-savings. But software asset management is evolving and in order to maximise the potential of this, IT managers should look at advances in this field which many will adopt in the coming year.
Historically many asset management projects have failed because solutions available were not integrated properly. This process rarely worked and caused a headache for many IT managers. Now they can utilise asset management to underpin the Configuration Management Data Base (CMDB).
A CMDB-centric approach, which consists of an integrated asset and configuration database, means that companies can utilise that single repository for asset, data and events.
When managed effectively, the CMDB becomes a central nervous system for aligning IT resources with business objectives for efficient operations. An implemented, well-tuned configuration database can be a significant business advantage.
The CMDB provides financial firms with a reliable core of data on which to build processes and eliminates the costs normally incurred by less capable or less integrated systems.
The Altiris CMDB 6.5 solution helps financial firms deliver automated IT operations, improved IT governance, compliance and asset visibility. IT managers can use the solution to track, manage and account for configuration items – this provides detailed information about each, including change history, to deliver IT infrastructure Library (ITIL) service support and delivery processes.

Best practice
Increasingly financial firms are taking best practice approaches such as IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL) more seriously and the future of software asset management lies in firms looking to guidance such as this.
ITIL is a set of detailed process guidelines, presented in a series of books, containing recommended global best practices, workflow, templates and terminology, developed by the UK’s Office of Government Commerce (OGC).
In addition to assisting organisations to standardise on process, ITIL also provides definitions of common language to promote a forum of communication and ensure organisations use the same terminology. ITIL provides a set of best practice methods which is supported by a qualification and training scheme addressing the need for effective IT and as such the desire for more effective software asset management has been heightened.
Companies need to utilise such resources in order to develop and support their software asset management procedures. The foundation of a successful ITIL implementation process starts with knowing what assets a firm owns and how it uses them. Building asset relationships enables the service department to develop standard and repeatable services that encompass collections of assets.

Virtualisation – advanced software management
Currently most companies are deploying virtualisation to manage their servers or operating levels and are already reaping the benefits of this technology.
Although new products and technologies have become more readily available to ease the headache of software management, the benefits companies can gain from the virtualisation of applications takes the solutions available for software management to a new level.
Age-old problems have suddenly become significantly easier when applications are virtualised.
New and compelling technologies, such as software virtualisation, will aid companies in addressing software management, rollout and licensing issues. The adoption of these technologies, coupled with guidance such as ITIL, will prove to further ease the process of asset management, so there really is no excuse for not having a comprehensive asset management process in place.