The issue of asset management is becoming thornier as the enterprise makes its way toward distributed, cloud-based data environments.
What exactly qualifies as an asset, and who owns it? What is the best way to deploy and ultimately dispose of assets? And how will all of this be managed in a dynamic, virtual and scaled-out data architecture?
According to MarketsandMarkets, the field of Enterprise Asset Management (EAM) is on pace to expand by more than half by the end of the decade, jumping from nearly $3 billion today to more than 4.7 billion in 2020. Key drivers include the continual upgrade of aging infrastructure plus the increasing sophistication of asset tracking and measurement platforms. As well, EAM developers are beginning to leverage Big Data analysis and other techniques to provide more visibility into existing infrastructure and greater predictability into potential changes and possible disruptions. In this way, the enterprise gains greater productivity across all of its data assets and can begin to operate distributed and disparate data environments in a more cohesive manner.
With resource and even data center consolidation still the order of the day, many organizations are waking up to the challenges of asset disposal, says Enterprise Tech’s Alison Diana. In many cases, enterprises are shedding hardware sooner rather than later in order to maximize value, but even then many are failing to consider the security risks that previously owned equipment poses on the resale market or even as recycled components. Many compliance regulations, such as SOX and HIPAA, mandate stringent procedures for disposing of old equipment, but sensitive data still falls through the cracks, and regulatory agencies simply lack the resources to provide 100 percent monitoring and enforcement.
But as the Internet of Things gathers steam, it is very likely that asset management will become much easier to implement. As Zebra Technologies CEO Anders Gustafsson pointed out to channel partners recently, the confluence of sensor-driven data, cloud computing and mobility is driving a need for enterprise asset Intelligence, in which assets themselves become active participants in the various stages of their own lifecycles. This invariably covers a range of technologies that Zebra currently develops, such as data capture, bar code printing and RFID, but it also involves advanced analytics and machine-learning techniques that would bring greater flexibility and dynamism to the multitude of data points that IoT architectures engender.
And it is very likely that these capabilities may wind up on digital assets as a matter of course, rather than through a coordinated enterprise strategy. Intel is said to be musing on the possibility of adding active RFID tags to its chipsets, according to Channel World’s Patrick Thibodeau, which would eliminate the need for manual barcode scanning in favor of an automated, wireless management ecosystem. In this way, EAM platforms could drill down into not only server, storage and networking infrastructure, but monitoring devices, sensors and even mobile and wearable systems, should it fulfill its plans to carve some of that market away from the ARM architecture. Already, hyperscale entities like AOL are aggressively pursuing RFID as an asset management tool, simply because their infrastructure is so large that it would take an army of technicians to manage it the old-fashioned way.
In the past, asset management was seen primarily as a means to keep the lid on costs, and to determine fair market value of a business should any buyers come sniffing around. Going forward, EAM will be more about driving business processes, either by increasing productivity or finding opportunities that even long-time data and resource managers did not know existed.
If handled properly, EAM could become a major contributor to IT’s transition from cost center to business driver.
Arthur Cole writes about infrastructure for IT Business Edge. Cole has been covering the high-tech media and computing industries for more than 20 years, having served as editor of TV Technology, Video Technology News, Internet News and Multimedia Weekly. His contributions have appeared in Communications Today and Enterprise Networking Planet and as web content for numerous high-tech clients like TwinStrata, Carpathia and NetMagic.