One of the maxims in business is that you can't manage what you can't measure. Yet in the land of IT, we have all kinds of equipment in use that senior IT managers have no idea even exists.
Beyond the implications these 'undocumented IT aliens' have on the daily stewardship of the IT organization, these devices can wind up costing the IT organization a lot of unbudgeted dollars when it comes time to negotiate contracts with vendors.
Unfortunately, IT asset management isn't high on the list of priorities for most IT organizations, given all the daily fire fighting that goes on. One could argue, however, that most of this fire fighting is necesary because we didn't do a good enough job of preventing fires in the first place.
The good news is that the IT asset management process is becoming more automated. For example, Presidio Networked Solutions this week launched a managed service, called SMARTnet optimization, that identifies and keeps track of all the Cisco networking gear on an enterprise network. According to David Winter, director of Sentry managed services for Presidio, the service takes a lot of the grunt work out of determining what Cisco assets a customer actually has. Winter says SMARTnet optimization can actually help customers save money by letting them know what obsolete devices are still being used on the network so they can get rid of those devices before renegotiating their Cisco service contract.
Of course, there are many more devices in an enterprise than just Cisco routers and switches. As time goes on we'll see more services that automate IT asset management across multiple vendors.
When it comes to IT asset management, just about anybody in the IT department can come up with a list of 10 other things they need to do on any given day that are more important. But when you're staring at a maintenance bill for a bunch of equipment you didn't even know you had, IT asset management suddenly moves up the priority list.