Asset Management – The Journey to the Holy Grail
I wrote this blog after my Ivanti colleague, Ross Carins and I did a presentation on this very topic. We drew inspiration after listening to Ashton Mossop from Queensland University of Technology speak about their asset management journey. It was evident that every organization has asset data everywhere, and this is a huge burden on the IT department and they all want the holy grail—a single source of truth for asset data.
The Holy Grail
When Ivanti ran a recent survey with 400 IT professionals, we discovered that 15% of respondents reported having too much data. In the same survey, 31% of respondents have 25 or more sources of data. The data could reside in both IT and non-IT systems, spreadsheets, and even belong to non-IT departments, like finance and human resources.
The perfect outcome would be to have a single source of asset data that is accessible and consumable by all stakeholders. This would increase productivity, break down the silos, decrease risk and increase end user satisfaction.
While it is good that there is information recorded and maintained—albeit by different people in various mediums—there are also devices that are connected to the network that IT do not know about. When working on a proof of concept with a customer recently, we discovered over 30% more devices in the network than what they thought they had. This is a major security risk. As my Ivanti security colleagues keep emphasizing, you can’t secure what you don’t know, and this is equivalent to an open door to potential hackers.
As a business, we need concrete answers:
- What assets do we have?
- Where are the assets?
- Who has it been assigned to?
- Is the asset using valid software licenses?
- What is the asset costing you?
With that many asset data stakeholders, we need collaboration. A project manager should be appointed to drive collaboration across the different teams and departments. We need the stakeholders to explain what data they need, how it is obtained, and how it is used. For example, the finance department might only be interested in financial information that is used in their monthly financial reports.
The next step is probably the biggest hurdle in the journey: reconciling and normalizing the data. This is where most organizations throw in the towel, as each different data source that has to be consolidated has very different characteristics. For example, the data structures are never the same, the naming conventions are different, and the values could be stored across multiple fields. This complexity makes it difficult for someone to map and transform the data into the single source. In most cases, the project is abandoned due to the demand of other IT priorities.
This is where Ivanti Cloud can help. Ivanti Cloud is a cloud-based platform that can connect to various data sources, perform real-time queries, and take immediate action if required. Ivanti Cloud has out of the box connectors to various popular data sources, including Active Directory, Microsoft SCCM and Ivanti’s Endpoint Manager. The Data Services function in Ivanti Cloud performs attribute cleanup, normalization, value transformations and reconciliation. If the information resides in a spreadsheet, the data can still be consolidated and normalized using custom mapping rules.
The normalization process will help to recognize different titles from various sources (eg. Microsoft, Microsoft, Inc. and Microsoft Inc.) and normalize the value into a single value (Microsoft).
The reconciliation feature will identify values from multiple sources and fields, such as the user.name, machine.primaryuser and account.username mapping it to a single field.
Now that the data has been consolidated into a single data source, we can start working with it through Ivanti Asset Manager. Users will now know exactly how many devices are connected to your network, what the security risk is, what the stock levels are, which contracts are up for renewal and your license position. These are just some of the capabilities of Ivanti Asset Manager, which was developed on the same platform as Ivanti Service Manager based on the IAITAM (International Association of Information Technology Asset Managers) best practices.
While getting the data into a single source is important, it is only useful if it is able to be consumed by the stakeholders. Therefore, it is extremely important at the start of the journey to understand how the information will be used. Sit with the business users to understand how they currently use their data, ask for existing reports, and how the data should be presented to different roles (eg. executives, managers and engineers).
For those that enjoy working with data, Ivanti has included Xtraction, a Business Intelligence dashboard reporting solution which has native Asset Management dashboards, as well as a Dashboard Designer to allow users to easily create dashboards using the drag and drop user interface.
Where Do We Start?
Ivanti Asset Manager can be deployed on its own or if you already are an Ivanti Service Manager customer, it can be deployed on to your existing platform. If you would like to find out more, you can start your journey to the holy grail by clicking on this link for Ivanti’s Asset Management resources, or by contacting your local Ivanti representative.