As one of the first topics tackled in the ITIL books, IT asset management should be one of the most mature IT processes. But many organisations are losing their grip on IT assets and SITS Insight Expert Eric Wright of Richmond Systems knows why.
Asset management is one of those IT processes which organisations should have mastered by now. It’s well documented, well understood and is critical to IT service management, which means organizations have invested heavily trying to make it work.
However, if you know that IT asset management is not under control within your organisation, let me reassure you: you’re not alone. Asset management still presents a massive challenge to businesses. And although it should be under control, once you scratch the surface, it’s easy to see why it continues to present such a challenge.
The range and volume of IT assets continue to accelerate at an incredible rate. Service desks and IT operations teams that grew up in the desktop era have been blindsided by the mobile device expansion. Each member of staff now typically has multiple mobile, portable and traditional desktop devices. And if we include the plethora of cloud services and third party tools and applications that businesses as IT assets, then the sprawl is even larger.
The obvious problem here is scale. But it’s also an issue of accountability. Not so long ago, IT approved, procured and supported all technology used by the business. This meant that as long as it had a robust IT asset management process in place from day one, it could control the asset throughout its lifecycle.
However today, Shadow IT means that non-approved assets are rife. If these assets are used for business, technically they are part of the IT estate. But they are seldom managed as part of corporate IT infrastructure, and this is why IT asset management has become such a challenge.
A cultural decision
Ever since staff began using their own phones and cloud services such as Dropbox for business purposes, Shadow IT has presented a dilemma. Yes, these devices and services represent a security concern and they undermine the integrity of the tightly controlled corporate IT landscape. But whether we like it or not, they are part of the IT infrastructure.
This means IT has to make a choice. It can continue pursuing the hardline approach and refuse to accept Shadow IT, even though it will continue to be a reality. Doing this means that will only ever have mastery over a small section of the IT estate, rather than the true picture.
Alternatively, IT can recognise that the business IT landscape has expanded and this expansion is irreversible. Once this level of recognition is achieved, IT can investigate ways to control the sprawl.
Once the boundaries of the estate have been defined, IT can look at the tools available that will enable them to manage IT asset management. Many service management suites include functionality for managing assets, while there are plenty of add-on applications that can perform the same task. I’ve written a separate blog about what the technological challenges of IT asset management here.
The good news is that if you pick the right technology, improvements to the tools and integration mean that IT asset management is much easier to automate and centrally manage than ever before – regardless of its scale. But the starting point remains a challenge: deciding where your IT estate begins and ends.
Read Eric’s blog explaining the 4 reasons your self-service portal is failing.