IT asset management
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IT asset management (ITAM) is the set of business practices that join financial, contractual and inventory functions to support life cycle management and strategic decision making for the IT environment. Assets include all elements of software and hardware that are found in the business environment.
IT asset management (also called IT inventory management) is an important part of an organization's strategy. It usually involves gathering detailed hardware and software inventory information which is then used to make decisions about hardware and software purchases and redistribution. IT inventory management helps organizations manage their systems more effectively and saves time and money by avoiding unnecessary asset purchases and promoting the harvesting of existing resources. Organizations that develop and maintain an effective IT asset management program further minimize the incremental risks and related costs of advancing IT portfolio infrastructure projects based on old, incomplete and/or less accurate information.
Hardware Asset Management
Hardware asset management entails the management of the physical components of computers and computer networks, from acquisition through disposal. Common business practices include request and approval process, procurement management, life cycle management, redeployment and disposal management. A key component is capturing the financial information about the hardware life cycle which aids the organization in making business decisions based on meaningful and measurable financial objectives.
Software Asset Management is a similar process, focusing on software assets, including licenses, versions and installed endpoints.
Role of IT asset management in an organization
The IT Asset Management function is the primary point of accountability for the life-cycle management of information technology assets throughout the organization.
Included in this responsibility are development and maintenance of policies, standards, processes, systems and measurements that enable the organization to manage the IT Asset Portfolio with respect to risk, cost, control, IT Governance, compliance and business performance objectives as established by the business.
IT Asset Management uses integrated software solutions that work with all departments that are involved in the procurement, deployment, management and expense reporting of IT assets.
IT Asset Disposition
When assets need to be removed from the enterprise, they move through various disposition processes. Commonly they are handed over to an IT Asset Disposition vendor to be recycled or destroyed. Assets should be managed properly after going offline to ensure they do not get lost prior to reaching the vendor. The vendor of choice should then have secure procedures for tracking assets during the entire time of their possession. After proper disposal, the vendor provides a certificate of destruction with the serial numbers of assets they destroyed and recycled. The company should then verify the serial numbers on their certificate of destruction with the assets they know they handed over to the vendor. Tracking assets that are offline, prior to disposal, should be approached with the same efficiency and security as when those same assets are online. A good method for choosing a destruction vendor is to find a NAID certified company. They have a corporate responsibility to dispose of e-waste properly to ensure a healthy environment. Look into donation programs in your area.
The International Standards Organization (ISO) has a family of standards for IT Asset Management. The ISO 19770 family consists of 5 major parts,
- 19770-1 is a process related standard which outlines best practices for IT Asset Management in an organization. The latest revision dates to 2012 and breaks ITAM processes down into 4 tiers in a maturity matrix.
- 19770-2 is a standard for machine encapsulation (in the form of an XML file known as a SWID tag) of inventory data – allowing users to easily identify what software is deployed on a given device. Initially published in 2009, this standard was revised in 2015.
- 19770-3 is a standard which provides a schema for machine encapsulation of entitlements and rights associated with software licenses. The records (known as ENT’s) will describe all entitlements and rights attendant to a piece of software and the method for measurement of license/entitlement consumption. This standard was published in 2016.
- 19770-4 allows for standardized reporting of utilization of resources. This is crucial when considering complex datacentre license types and for management of cloud based software and hardware (SaaS and IaaS). 19770-4 was published in 2017.
- 19770-5:2015 provides an overview of ITAM, which is the subject of the ISO/IEC 19770 family of standards, and defines related terms. ISO/IEC 19770-5:2015 is applicable to all types of organization (e.g. commercial enterprises, government agencies, non-profit organizations). A free copy of the overview and vocabulary is available here.
ITAM business practices are process-driven and matured through iterative and focused improvements. Most successful ITAM programs are invasive to the organization, involving everyone at some level, such as end users (educating on compliance), budget managers (redeployment as a choice), IT service departments (providing information on warranties), and finance (invoice reconciliation, updates for fixed asset inventories).
IT asset management generally uses automation, to manage the discovery of assets, so inventory can be compared to license entitlements. Full business management of IT assets requires a repository of multiple types of information about the asset, as well as integration with other systems such as supply chain, help desk, procurement and HR systems and ITSM.
For small and medium-sized businesses, a solution might not have to be so robust as to influence many departments. However, IT assets still need to be tracked for risk management, accurate resource and budget allocation, and accountability of assets' whereabouts. A good solution for small businesses will enable them to search for assets they currently own, manage online and offline assets, and plan accurately for the future. These tasks, however, should be simple, secure and efficient because a small business IT professional's time is very valuable.
- "IT Asset Management (ITAM)". Gartner. 18 May 2013. Archived from the original (html) on 18 May 2013. Retrieved 14 June 2018.
IT asset management (ITAM) entails collecting inventory, financial and contractual data to manage the IT asset throughout its life cycle. ITAM depends on robust processes, with tools to automate manual processes. Capturing and integrating autodiscovery/inventory, financial and contractual data in a central repository for all IT assets enables the functions to effectively manage vendors and a software and hardware asset portfolio from requisition through retirement, thus monitoring the asset’s performance throughout its life cycle.
- "Hardware Asset Management: Withdrawn/Discontinued Computer & Server Equipment". IT Xchange.
- La Rosa, Alexander (14 June 2018). "IT Asset Management: Challenges for an implementation". Pandora FMS. Archived from the original (html) on 14 June 2018. Retrieved 14 June 2018.
We understand for lifecycle the sequence of states through which the assets of an organization transit during their period of ownership. Take the following list as an example of basic lifecycle of assets: Planning. Procurement. Deploy and discovery. Usage. Maintenance and support. Retirement and disposal.
- "ISO/IEC 19770-1:2017". International Organization for Standardization. Archived from the original (html) on 16 June 2018. Retrieved 14 June 2018.
ISO/IEC 19770-1:2017 specifies requirements for an IT asset management system within the context of the organization. ISO/IEC 19770-1:2017 can be applied to all types of IT assets and by all types and sizes of organizations.
- "ISO/IEC 19770-2:2015". International Organization for Standardization. Archived from the original (html) on 19 March 2018. Retrieved 14 June 2018.
ISO/IEC 19770-2:2015 establishes specifications for tagging software to optimize its identification and management.
- "ISO/IEC 19770-3:2016". International Organization for Standardization. Archived from the original (html) on 16 February 2018. Retrieved 14 June 2018.
ISO/IEC 19770-3:2016 establishes a set of terms and definitions which may be used when discussing software entitlements (an important part of software licenses). It also provides specifications for a transport format which enables the digital encapsulation of software entitlements, including associated metrics and their management.
- "Machine Learning, Blockchain, IoT and the future of ITAM". The ITAM Review. 1 February 2018. Archived from the original (html) on 14 June 2018. Retrieved 14 June 2018.
The advent of -2 and -3 ISO/IEC 19770 tags means that, in the future, software entitlement and inventory records could be machine readable and fully automated. Whilst it involves a significant leap of faith to imagine this in action in 2018, it could be a way of fully realizing the potential of ISO/IEC 19770 and fully digitizing SAM.