That simple question is at the heart of effective hardware asset management. The growing popularity of cloud services obscures the reality that technology is ultimately made up of physical equipment. As Andrew Blum explained in his 2012 book Tubes: A Journey to the Center of the Internet, the Internet depends on physical infrastructure. What does this reality mean for today’s IT managers?
Several trends are drawing increasing attention to hardware asset management. Security threats remain a significant risk for many industries, yet physical security leaves much to be desired at data centers and other facilities. Second, executives and corporate directors are looking for greater clarity regarding technology spending, and that includes spending on hardware. Fulfilling audit requirements and demonstrating effective oversight are two more reasons for adopting a structured enterprise hardware management program.
Aligning with best practices: ISO standards
Managing IT assets is no longer an anything goes process. “The ISO 19770 standard, originally applicable to software, was expanded to all IT assets in 2015,” says Sherry Irwin, president of Technology Asset Management, a consulting firm based in Mississauga, Ontario. “Many organizations focus their hardware strategy on reliability and having backup equipment.”
Analytics is an unexplored option for improving hardware asset management. “I don’t see many organizations that have an enterprise-level analytics on their hardware, and the varying data provided by hardware manufacturers make this challenging,” Irwin says. Applying IT’s analytics to managing assets is an excellent way to demonstrate leadership.
Software to manage hardware assets
Many organizations continue to rely on spreadsheets to manage their technology assets, so IT leaders have an opportunity to improve the process by using professional tools. Most of the leading asset management tools on the market have the ability to manage software and hardware assets. According to Capterra, a service that rates business software, the top five vendors of IT asset management software are SolarWinds, ManageEngine, Oracle, CA Technologies and IBM Tivoli.
CA’s IT Asset Manager has quickly become one of the most popular products on the market. It handles software and hardware assets, and CA says it has achieved significant benefits from using the product internally. According to an August 2015 report, CA saved $23 million on IT assets over a seven-year period.
Before it started using Asset Manager, the company experienced several hardware asset management problems — for example, new assets were purchased even though existing assets had not been fully used. In addition, many departments maintained their own hardware asset-tracking processes, which led to inefficiencies at the enterprise level.
CA now manages an inventory of more than 130,000 items, including networking equipment, desktop computers, servers and peripherals. “We have also made good progress in optimizing data center assets,” says Mike Avenel, CA’s product manager for IT Asset Manager. “Overall, we have been successful in reducing the number of devices at our organization.”
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