Graeme Pitts-Drake, managing director, PrefixIT
A week might be a long time in politics – but in IT it’s an eternity. Everything can change and what was safe, secure and accounted for on Monday can be threatened, compromised or even gone by Friday. The world is not always a good place – we know this! People make mistakes and lose things or steal them, they download unlicensed software from the web or their kids install it at the weekend and generally ‘company property’ is unguarded and out of control. With this in mind, automated asset management is arguably one of the key foundation stones of ensuring business continuity. Yet, despite the acceptance of and demand for appropriate business continuity plans at board level, most IT managers are still not taking the most basic of precautions to guard their IT inventory and get automated asset management in place.
Most of us can still remember when IT was not the strategic business platform that it is today. Back then networks were small, simple and PCs were a novelty, in truth IT issues were seldom at the heart of a business continuity disaster.
However, the necessity and complexity of most networks now means that IT managers have to keep tabs on a growing number of items which are increasingly widespread. IT has grown legs and is walking out the door with mobile workers, it’s going home on USB sticks with employees, or its being ‘borrowed’ by students or staff on the sly! All of this means that returning a business to 100 percent operational performance after a continuity issue is far more complex if the IT team is still reliant on inappropriate asset management strategies.
Additionally, this deperimeterisation means that all organisations are now more permeable to external threats; IT has introduced not only benefits but vulnerabilities which can, and do, generate a whole host of disaster scenarios from lost documents and laptops to serious supplier outages and loss of network availability.
There is only one solution to managing today’s organic network assets in a disaster recovery context; and that is automated, real-time asset management. The benefits of implementing an IT asset management (ITAM) strategy are well documented – so are the risks of not doing it – yet the vast majority of organisations are behind in achieving this essential management goal.
In fact, in the past five years the percentage of companies that employ automated asset management has hardly changed at all, and still lurks around the 40 percent mark. Yet the requirements for effective asset management become indisputable as networks become more complex and the compliance environment more rigorous. Yes, as Corinne Bailey Rae recently reminded us, the more things change, the more they stay the same.
For some reason an unsavoury air has hung around asset management as it if were a dull housekeeping task, whereas in fact it could materially impact the speed with which a company recovers from a disaster and therefore the companies’ actual survival. What’s more, it’s often not the huge and time-consuming task that many organisations think it is. In most cases, full auditing and network discovery can be performed within minutes of ITAM software being installed.
Asset management is a guaranteed way to realise substantial time savings and financial paybacks – that’s why it’s more than just ‘a good idea’ to get round to at some point.
For several years, Gartner and other independent analyst firms, have confirmed that organisations implementing effective asset management strategies will realise savings of between 5 and 35 percent of their IT budgets. Software asset management (SAM) alone can deliver disproportionate benefits almost overnight, with many businesses seeing a budget saving of 25 percent. According to Compass for instance, 9 percent of software costs for UK companies are tied up over-licensing alone.
Of course, SAM involves more than asset discovery but a well structured approach should also identify changing usage trends and improve operational efficiency. According to Compass, the ROI is £5-£10 for every £1 invested in software asset management processes.
Software license compliance is a whole new ballgame; software piracy is a serious issue and although most companies fall into non-compliance by mistake or ignorance, the fault is still dangerous and often expensive to rectify.
In summary there are six key reasons to implement real time ITAM as part of a business continuity strategy: time savings, operational efficiencies, cost benefits, compliance management, security enhancement and fraud prevention.
On the other hand there’s not one reason to stall the decision so surely real-time asset management should be added to the business continuity ‘to-do-list’.
•Date: 27th April 2007• Region: World •Type: Article •Topic: IT continuity
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