Today, all business know they need to sweat their assets; that is, get the most value possible out of them. But, how do they go about this? Well, first they need to know what assets they have, then they need to know what they're capable of. They also need to know what the value is of those assets, ie, what they're worth, and what value they add to the business. If all of these numbers add up, then the business is probably making the most effective and efficient use of its assets.
On top of being measurable, IT assets need to be compliant and secure. With the advent of the cloud, this becomes a more challenging task than previously, as how do you monitor and manage what you can't see? Then there's all the data that you now have access to, and how you manage that effectively and efficiently.
Defining asset management
Shailendra Harri, BMC Software Business Development at CHM Vuwani, says: "Asset management has been around for some time now and there are many interpretations of the subject. For some, it's a physical count of the organisation's assets that gets reported in the financials as a bare minimum requirement. For others, it's a complex, intertwined set of data collected from various sources that is stored, analysed and used when making business decisions."
Gartner defines IT asset management as "providing an accurate account of technology asset life cycle costs and risks to maximise the business value of technology strategy, architecture, funding, contractual and sourcing decisions", which encompasses both approaches to asset management referred to by Harri.
Why it matters
Having an effective asset management solution in place has many benefits for the business as a whole, but for the chief information officer, it means being able to make informed business decisions based on an understanding of what assets exist in his environment, says Harri.
Accurate information around an organisation's IT assets provides the following benefits to both business and IT operations:
* Proactive management of assets that can reduce service outages;
* Mapping information and business to assets;
* Improving security operations; and
* Allowing the business to plan for scalability.
Harri says: "The danger lurking in every IT environment is historic devices with no records of what purpose they serve or how to access them. Good asset management principles prevent this. In addition, the threat of malicious attacks on the organisation is increasing daily – and unidentified assets within your organisation make such attacks easier to carry out, leaving your data vulnerable."
Tips for top asset management
Finally, Harri provides a few words of advice on how to implement an efficient and effective asset management system.
* Start with an automated discovery of your environment. Every device connected to the network must be identified. This can be challenging with remote devices or devices not permanently connected to the network, so this process needs to be an ongoing one.
* Have a dedicated person or team of people responsible for the data in the configuration management database (CMDB).
* The CMDB should be a live process that is constantly in flux as asset information is updated.
* Map assets to business services. That way you can respond faster to business's ever-increasing changes and demands.
* Keep it simple.