ITAM stands for IT Asset Management, but there is often a lot of confusion when talking to vendors that name solutions after industry terms, let alone a a certain company that just so happens to be named IT Asset Management Group.
All too often acronyms confuse people. According the International Association for IT Asset Management, ITAM breaks down to covering:
- SAM (Software Asset Management)
- HAM (Hardware Asset Management)
- APM (Asset Portfolio Management)
From ITAMG’s perspective on ITAM, we see hardware having three broad categories. Owned Assets (OA) are the contracts, and hardware and software entitlements covered under SAM or APM and these are areas ITAMG does not currently focus on.
The others are Discovered Assets (DA) and Fixed IT Assets (FITA). This is where IT Asset Management Group can provide your organization with assistance as part of your ITAM, ITAD and EOL processes.
IT assets are very different that most fixed assets, like your chair or a mouse pad since they do not require specific software to run or are discoverable on your network. This is a major reason why ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) software is not the best solution for tracking IT assets. Instead, IT assets often go through an Installed Moved Added Changed or IMAC process for short.
It is hard to inventory an IT asset until software has been installed, configured and then deployed. Your organization wont often be able to collect this information into a hardware asset repository until it is connected to your network. Too many organization rely on solutions like this and they should still take the time just prior to deployment to document these assets through physical or technology assisted means. Our paper on IT asset tracking methods goes into more detail about this.
Discoverable assets are by far some of the most important IT assets in an organization since they most likely contain a CPU. This is a major reason why many organization have stopped tracking things like keyboards, mice and even monitors. These are then often considered a fixed asset. Another way, while not always thought of as discoverable, is to think about all IT assets that are capable of storing information, like on a traditional hard drive (HDD) or a solid state disk (SSD).
The thinking is not cost driven, but because a device with a CPU or HDD/SDD must have software or information to make it useable and therefore can be exploited. A Dell 19 inch LCD monitor is not often thought of as hacking target for today’s cyber security bad guys.
The goals of ITAM are simple enough. Focus on compliance, improve accountability and control your inventory. Following these goals should in most cases allow your organization to save money by preventing redundant purchases over time or better time new IT purchases based on asset devaluation. It may also even allow you to better negotiate with a certain software company based in Redmond, Washington should they decide to audit your discoverable assets for proper licensing.
As hardware assets near End of Life (EOL), you will have a leg up in the decommissioning process too. Having an accurate inventory list will not only help you check off desktops, switches, servers and laptops from active to retired status, it help help your disposition partner maximize value back to your organization and minimize risk associated with any device that was discoverable at some point and/or have information stored on it.
Most importantly, the finance and security compliance people will love you. It will make what they do easier since now more than ever they are often found at the intersection of technology created issues and business issues and could use your help.
This is why many consider ITAM boring. As an IT professional, you may rather spend your time talking with a technical account manager about the latest Cisco UCS server and Nexus switches or perhaps demo an IBM FlashSystem 820 with its low latency read and write times. This is all fine and good, but if you are thinking about how you can get a promotion if the path to CIO does not look promising, here is a great chance to start thinking about how IT impacts the overall business continuity of your organization.
Be the hero
Over time, inventory management systems have evolved into separate silos. There is one tool for managing and tracking routers. Another for desktops and laptops. None of these systems communicate. It is often not a simple task to generate a list of all discoverable assets in case your CFO demands an actual list when he realizes how much more new equipment that was just recently ordered and wants to know why. Should your CFO lead the charge in finding a solve all end all inventory and asset management solution? How will you handle end of life strategy or associate hard drives by serial number to the device they came from? Does your organization require on site disk destruction? What is the legal procedure for the release of certain equipment? Focus instead on being the hero by thinking about business issues and align yourself with the resources that can help you reach that goal.
Homework or “workwork”?
Reach out to your network of IT friends and find out who they use to help them with decommissioning, data destruction and all other ITAM, ITAD and EOL projects.Do some research on organizations that may be a good fit to service your organization, especially if HIPAA or SoX are often referred to in daily activities at your company.
The world has changed. Cyber security is the hot topic and within that realm, its not just about firewall management and locking down TCP/UDP IP ports.
ITAM may be boring at times, but it is the new imperative. And, in case you were wondering, there are 27 acronyms mentioned in this article.
List of Acronyms
- APM – Asset Portfolio Management
- CFO – Chief Financial Officer
- CIO – Chief Information Officer
- CPU – Central Processing Unit
- DA – Discovered Assets
- EOL – End of Life
- ERP – Enterprise Resource Planning
- FITA – Fixed IT Asset
- HAM - Hardware Asset Management
- HDD- Hard Disk Drive
- HIPAA – Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act
- IAITAM -International Association for IT Asset Management
- IBM – International Business Machines
- IMAC – Installed Moved Added Changed
- IP – Internet Protocol
- IT – Information Technology
- ITAD – IT Asset Destruction
- ITAM – IT Asset Management
- ITAMG – IT Asset Management Group
- LCD – Liquid Crystal Display
- OA – Owned Assets
- SAM - Software Asset Management
- SoX – Sarbanes-Oxley Act
- SSD – Solid State Disk
- TCP – Transmission Control Protocol
- UCS – Unified Computing System
- UDP – User Datagram Protocol