The 5 Keys of a Successful ITAM Execution Framework
IT Asset Management (ITAM) is a deep and broad topic and like a lot of terms in our industry, it can mean different things to different people, so it is important to draw a line in the sand and establish a common denominator for the discussions by understanding what aspects are important to your organization, and more importantly why?
At Fusion5, this is how we start most of our ITAM discussions with our customers, in order to define their ITAM journey and the milestones they need to achieve. We also had to do this internally as our employee count has now exceeded 500 people across 10 offices while also being a managed service provider managing and securing assets on behalf of over 180 of our 800 customers, while maintaining ISO 27001 compliance. ITAM is really important to us, to say the least!
Today we are sharing with you a point of view that we have developed which seems to resonate well with our audience in helping clarify and prioritze the different aspects of ITAM. We then established an execution framework around it to help our customers achieve successful ITAM outcomes. We start by looking at the ITAM transformation / modernization initiative in a linear and phased approach:
- UNDERSTAND what and why
Workshop what is involved and why it is important, discuss priorities of stakeholders and conduct gap analysis of current state, before starting any ITAM project.
- Assess RISK and prepare for next audit
Visibility is one of the most common answers to WHY a modern ITAM solution is necessary. If you cannot see it, you cannot manage it, and worse, you cannot secure it. Automatic discovery and inventory collection are a must to achieve this.
- Establish GOVERNANCE through relevant process automation
Once satisfactory visibility is achieved, it is then time to apply processes around the data and systems that are used by the people involved. Processes must be standardized before they can be optimized.
- Achieve software license COMPLIANCE
This is when the number crunching begins to achieve Effective License Position on all your major and minor vendor software, by reconciling what is out there in your environments and on the assets versus what is in the vendor contract entitlements you have documented. There are several tools out there, but some are less complicated to maintain than others and do not require excessive training to use, so choose wisely 😉
- OPTIMISE your ITAM spend
The nirvana for any compliance officer or CFO when it comes to SAM exposure calculations, budgeting and what-if modeling is being able to have smart advisors answering critical questions. For example, you may want to know: “What happens if I migrate 3 Oracle instances to 1 SQL Server EE instance? ” In milliseconds, you would be advised: “You will save appx. 150K per annum”…. wouldn’t that be nice! These are the types of smarts Ivanti is developing into their toolsets, which is very exciting.
We need to walk before we can run, so today we are just talking about the basics. Let us consider one of the key challenges, which is identifying the stakeholders. ITAM responsibilities differ from one organisation to another and best practice does suggest commonly accepted roles and responsibilities but, in most businesses, some departments are constantly being stretched to do more with less and as a direct result these lines get blurred. Having said that, there is one fact that is common across all organizations and that is there are three types of stakeholders:
- Users of the assets (consumers)
- Owners of the assets (business and financial owners)
- People who support the assets
They all have different needs and it is almost impossible to have a one-size-fits-all tool to the support those personas. Our solution to this problem is to have a single and integrated technology platform for ITAM (powered by Ivanti) and have different user interfaces with specifically built and configured capabilities to support the view they need of the assets and more importantly, the actions related to their day-to-day activity around asset management.
A key pre-requisite to achieving this is to slightly change how an organization views a Configuration Management Database (CMDB) and start understanding the value of having an Asset Management Database (AMDB) as well, that can also be architected as a data services layer. They both serve different purposes but should be fully integrated. Historically, trying to achieve a greater maturity in ITAM with just a CMDB can be problematic and expensive; many CMDB projects end up in the ‘too hard’ basket or abandoned before completion.
The first achievable milestone is being able to continuously assess your asset risk and having the accurate data required to conduct a hardware and/or software audit at any time. This is the business outcome of Phase 2 of our framework. Asset discovery is the deliverable functionality that provides all stakeholders a view they never had before of the assets. The AMDB is where the continuous discovery and the new and existing inventory data sources in your organization are connected and form a data services layer, it is also where data translation services are configured to reconcile all the data. Then and only then, should the golden copy of the assets be automatically populated into the CMDB for the ITIL and ITAM processes to consume it and see it through to disposal / end of life.