In this edition of Voices of the Industry, Jim Dowson, VP of Presales Engineering for Park View Managed Services, deliberates how some IT Asset Management (ITAM) tools are no longer fit for purpose in the digital age where agility, speed, access, and automation are pre-requisites for widescale transformational app rollouts. So how do you make your ITAM align to achieve your competitive business goals in an increasingly fluid IT landscape?
When it comes to keeping track of assets in your estate and understanding and leveraging interdependencies, isolated ITAM/CMDB tools appear no longer fit for purpose in a globally networked, cloud, and app-driven world. Today’s ITAM needs to be agile, automated, and pervasive across the entire estate. Gone are the days of pre-scheduling and discovery mapping at given points, systematically stored in spreadsheets. It’s now about embracing auto-discovery with a predictive purpose to make your estate leaner, cleaner, compliant, and dependable for digital empowerment.
ITAM sits awkwardly in the digital age. Most ITAM solutions deliver static, fixed asset lists as a starting point in an estate’s discovery journey to satisfy compliance and help estimate procurement and maintenance provisioning. ITAM delivery’s ownership spans multiple areas – IT, facilities, operations, service management, and legal departments- and carries an overhead of huge manual responsibility, with reporting and documentation being incredibly time-intensive and error-prone. The results often prompt a cycle of issue identification and remediation, delivered by the very IT resources that should instead focus on driving competitive innovation.
Given that the IT infrastructure of today nearly always spans outside of a centralized model, the challenge is how to manage an incredibly fluid, frequently mixed, and deeply cloud-enabled landscape – from desktop to data center, to edge, to the cloud. Unmanaged, the increasing complexity and the interlinked critical dependencies create eco-systems of havoc. Managed properly, IT can proactively push critical applications onto the most appropriate resources, whether on-prem or in the cloud, reaping manyfold increases in budget effectiveness and application performance across the infrastructure.
Whatever Asset Management is in place, it’s clear that to play a significant role in any digital journey, it should be automated, dynamic, and continually updated to gain reliability and to retain paramount trust in the data being returned. Maintaining accurate information cuts cost and risk and is also the key from which Asset Management can be used in a predictive capacity to detect problems before they occur. In return, it allows IT to reach timely conclusions such as upgrading or retiring an asset. Driven by accurate data capture, IT can now align high business-value applications with available infrastructure. And if that’s cloud-based, you can now realistically plan the costs of accessing and storing data in the cloud. Armed with reliable usage reconciliation facts, finance can confidently access the same ITAM and can correctly settle invoices for cloud-based subscription services.
Regardless of digital enablement, one element of IT Asset Management hasn’t changed over the years. It all needs to begin with accurately establishing what is out there. Discovery is not, however, as straightforward as it may sound as networks have dispersed. Organizations in the past decade have become more complex than ever as they have morphed, merged, and consolidated. Add to that the recent challenges of adding IoT edge devices and incorporating remote working devices. Manual discovery suddenly belongs to a previous era of tech. A few large third-party maintenance providers are instead championing a holistic approach that introduces automation and intelligence into the previously static world of Asset Management discovery. Available via subscription hosted services, users can identify all their assets across a global network and in the cloud through comprehensive discovery tools. Agentless discovery automatically occurs right across the estate, from the O/S to networking tools, to virtual machines, to storage, and into the data center itself – in short, if it exists on the network, it will be found, captured, and tracked. Armed with these levels of auto-discovery, answers to common IT questions such as, “What’s changed? What depends on this asset? What does this asset rely on to operate optimally? What would be the upstream/downstream consequences of any changes?” come fast and centrally, from a source of truth that understands dependencies before an issue can arise. Using continuous discovery, anomalies such as unused purchased apps or versions of prohibited software are flagged. Application Dependency Mapping (ADM) allows users to align their most critical apps to their highest performing assets. Once in place, infrastructures use the aggregated data to move from fire-fighting to a state of planning and predictive service mapping to enable better decision making up and downstream, to ensure that assets and apps align. Seamless ingestion of accurate CIs into common service management platforms like ServiceNow, Freshservice, Jira, or Cherwell reduces risk through better change management and time-to-repair by informed impact analysis.
Only by using dynamic discovery for asset management can accurate, holistic optimization of entire estates occur. New service-based approaches that actively extend useful asset life while flagging inefficient assets for retirement due to high operating costs need to be adopted. Remapping is hard at the best of times but impossible without accurate information to make critical decisions. Predictability is vital, and that’s where an automated ITAM delivers.
Jim Dowson is VP of Presales Engineering for Park View Managed Services and is responsible for the team that helps customers get the most benefit from ParkView’s Managed Services. Park Place Technologies simplifies the management of complex technology environments worldwide, with a network of parts to support data centers stored regionally, locally, and on-site to allow for fast parts distribution and service to drive Uptime.