When you look at all the various tools most IT organizations use to manage their PC environment, you can't help but wonder how things got to be such a sorry state.
Every time you turn around, there are multiple tools in place for managing any number of tasks associated with PC software, and there is a whole category of other tools in place to manage specific devices. It's almost as if somewhere along the line we fooled ourselves into thinking that managing the processes on the PC should somehow be distinct from the act of managing the device itself.
The end result has been a plethora of tools for managing everything from how much power a device can consume, to how that device is remotely controlled by another system, to how we go about deploying a patch on an application that runs on that system. With that comes all the time it takes to master each separate tool and the privilege of paying the licensing costs attached to every separate product acquired.
For the last two years or more, we've been watching companies such as Symantec, IBM and BMC acquire any number of other vendors to extend their portfolios of tools. And yet, there does not seem to have been a whole lot of progress made in terms of, first, integrating these tools, and secondarily, using them to actually lower the total cost of desktop computing.
As a result, there are still far too many tasks being handled manually, as opposed to automating these functions so IT people can concentrate on something other than being glorified digital maintenance workers.
One Gartner report recently estimated that IT organizations could save 20 to 30 percent of their PC lifecycle management costs by better integrating their service and asset management activities. You can also find some free advice on how to go about doing that here. But in order to really make this work, you need to have an integrated platform that actually enables this level of PC management convergence to happen.
This is why companies such as Numara Software are starting to gain some notice with a new integrated suite of PC lifecycle management tools that share a common database, user interface, reporting systems, rules engine and agent software. On a practical basis, this means having a single common framework for distributing software, managing patches, controlling power consumption and managing the physical assets.
In terms of providing support, IT departments have never been under more pressure than they are today. Unfortunately, everybody in the IT department is frequently overly attached to one tool or another because they know how to make that one work. But the hard economic reality of the day is that we have a lot fewer people on the IT staff trying to support a work force that is running more complex applications than ever in the hopes of boosting productivity high enough to make up for all the workers that have been let go in the last two years.
So the question is, when are the vendors that provide all these PC management tools going to really step up in terms of providing truly integrated management frameworks. And, perhaps more importantly, when are customers going to stop putting up with a hodgepodge of tools that don't nearly provide the level of automation they truly need?