IT Asset Management is no longer just about keeping track of network servers, desktop computers, and peripheral devices. New challenges have risen as technology marches on: Security has become a major necessity, with systems facing threats from both inside and outside the network. Proper procurement and replacement procedures must be followed. Resilience has to be built into the infrastructure. And IT departments are faced with a proliferation of BYOD devices that have to be managed.
In today’s blog article, we will explore four challenges that IT faces when managing hardware, software, and digital assets.
Managing Security Layers
Threats to your company’s network and data security come in many forms. These threats can be internal (such as no company password policy or improper access to systems) and external (such as use of Trojan-ware to steal user data). Solutions to detect and prevent these threats include hardware appliances that sit on the edge of your network and monitor all traffic, as well as software applications that manage security policies, detect viruses, and remove malicious code. Often, a combination of hardware and software is used to address security needs.
These components require management. Systems, and the tools used to protect them, are “assets” and must be tracked and monitored. All too often, companies track their core systems, but do not track the security hardware and software designed to protect those systems.
- SIEM (Security Information and Event Management) Systems: What is the maintenance history of your SIEM appliances? When does the license expire on your SIEM software?
- Network Hardware: When was it last maintained? Is it currently under warranty? Has it depreciated? Are replacement parts still being produced by the manufacturer?
- Security Policy and Procedure Management: When were your security policies created? Have they been verified (i.e., viewed and signed) by every employee? Are they still applicable?
- Security Hardware Onboarding: What happens when new security hardware is added to your infrastructure? Is there an inventory process in-place? Is your process automated?
A leading cause of lost capital, particularly as companies mature into full-fledged enterprises, are procurement mistakes. Assets depreciate, break down, and experience losses of performance over time. The question is, how to deal with the realities of this normal lifecycle?
Achieving the “Goldilocks Balance” can be a major challenge:
- Wait too long: The loss of performance capabilities will slowly drain your company’s productivity as hard-drives fill up, memory dies, and software licenses expire (and no one notices); or,
- Fix problems too soon: New assets are purchased while existing assets are not used to their full capacity. This is a common problem in large enterprises that simply lose track of procurement data and, to put it bluntly, simply do not know what’s going on (e.g., current maintenance status? maintenance history? purchasing history? etc.).
In August, we discussed the importance of resiliency over reliability. Case in point: as solution developers, we seek to provide software that enables a proactive, resilient approach. We (realistically) expect that incidents and problems will occur, so our ITIL-based systems are designed to help your teams identify issues and restore normal operations as quickly as possible. The key word here is “quickly” — every moment of downtime equates to lost revenue and compromises customer satisfaction.
In terms of IT asset management, “quickly” is only possible if you have immediate access to critical asset data.
When something goes wrong, you need to know:
- Where is the asset right now?
- Who is using it? Who has used it? Is it subject to a check in/out process?
- What is its maintenance history? Is the issue new or recurring?
- Is the asset company owned? Employee owned? Does he/she have security permissions?
- What is its identification details?
- Who do I contact to fix the problem? If hardware needs to be replaced, is procurement functionality integrated with an asset management interface?
In the world of IT asset management, time is of the essence when the unexpected happens. Are you prepared?
Managing Asset Proliferation and Bring-Your-Own-Devices (BYOD)
Technology continues to advance rapidly and many IT organizations are working hard to balance a progressive and productive workplace with the real-world challenges of asset management. This rise in technology has resulted in the birth of the device culture: tablets, iPhones, smartphones, laptops, and Internet of Things-enabled devices are now being integrated into the wider umbrella of “IT assets.”
This environment of expansion and inclusion has changed the way IT companies view the workplace. In many organizations, employees are encouraged to not be tied to their desk and use their own devices for work purposes. Other employees may be provided with company assets (e.g., a laptop), but allowed to use it outside of the work setting (e.g., for work-at-home arrangements or even for personal + business purposes).
This relaxing of the reins has pros and cons: the freedom of BYOD and permissive device usage appeals to potential employees, fosters collaboration outside of the office setting, and enables employees to perform their work using familiar devices in an even more familiar setting: their home.
From an asset management perspective, the challenges are obvious: how can companies keep control of assets outside of their sphere of influence? A host of potential issues need to be addressed:
- What limitations, if any, should be imposed?
- Are employees allowed to download and install software on their company device?
- In BYOD scenarios, is it safe for employees to connect their own personal devices to the company network?
- How will mandatory software updates and deployments be initiated?
- Can employees with BYOD devices used for work purposes avail of company-paid maintenance?
IT asset management is a rapidly changing sector that faces a host of unique challenges, many of which go hand-in-hand with technological advancements. How your company handles asset management is a key question that needs to be addressed.
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