In this 3rd and final installment we consider the most challenging and perhaps most significant of the requirements for these next generation IT asset management (ITAM) solutions.
While the first set of processes in a unified ITAM solution is to present Discovery, Inventory and Normalization as a single platform, there are key elements of integration, reporting, cloud and license awareness that need to be considered.
Integration or sharing is relatively straight forward. Does the platform incorporate modern API capabilities such as REST as well as traditional IMEX and ODBC capabilities? Is it possible to fit into a heterogeneous I & O infrastructure with service support and delivery systems, desktop, data center and network management tools along with security management systems? This ability to communicate and share data should be available as a matter of routine and not an option when considering the acquisition of a next generation ITAM tool. Otherwise we just create another island of automation.
Integrated data reporting or analytics is a foundational requirement for these next generation systems as well. Relying on external reporting tools and even worse, organizations to generate them, is an abdication of responsibility on the part of the ITAM tool developer. Data derived from ITAM systems is so domain specific, and benefits from the power of interconnected data within this unified ITAM system it must be readily available to the users of the data. Through this embedded reporting capability one should be able to build data objects and answer questions necessary to support improving the operational efficiency of the organization. Coupling this with the ability to share reports and dashboards will ensure that the real value of IT Asset Management is able to be acted upon.
The final two elements to consider are the requirements for the system to be license and cloud aware in their discovery abilities. License aware means having discovery technology that understands both discovery and license rules. Cloud aware assumes the ability to discover external assets, and those assets are not tied to a device but a cloud service. While both address serious cost concerns, license awareness is focused mainly on contract compliance while cloud awareness looks to a broader issue of security and governance as most of these cloud services are delivered via a public cloud connection.
With license aware technologies it is possible to understand the difference between just being installed versus being in use as well as the concept of liability. It is then possible to scan the network and quickly identify those configurations that represent the greatest cost to the business.
However any ITAM tooling that remains focused on internal assets only is doomed. The rate of cloud adoption is clearly accelerating and is one of the major transformational issues facing business today. Being cloud aware means one can not only identify the cloud assets in use, but represent them in ways that illustrate their value. SaaS applications are generally licensed by user and feature whose profile can be accessed. I.e. 580 users for feature 1, 203 users for feature 2, 1045 users for feature 3 etc.
This information is maintained by the SaaS application, and is available through the SaaS administration portal. So “discovery” in the world of SaaS requires that the portal be accessed as well as the list of enabled users by application. Having this information is useful because it enables correlation between who is licensed to use a feature and who actually uses a feature. Equally important it provides for the detection of usage of the SaaS application that are outside of normal organizational control. These ‘rogue’ connections can lead to unauthorized access to company information, loss of intellectual property or proprietary information. Equally important a company can easily be subject to the accrual of unbudgeted monthly service fees.
Scalable Software’s SaaS-based Asset Vision® provides tools to manage the complexities of the Cloud era. From discovery, normalization and usage metering, to license management and governance, to integration with other enterprise IT and ERP systems, Scalable’s Asset Vision product suite provides a foundational ITAM solution.