How tech assets go wild, and what happens next

Everything relies on data, but often the C-Suite washes their hands of a dirty little secret – all that data tends to sit in a server room or data centre – and that technology environment can be a complete mess.

But as long as it works, many don’t worry about it. That’s clearly a situation that can put an organisation at risk of inefficiency, non-compliance, security breaches, extra cost, and frazzled teams trying to keep the edifice on track.

Yet it’s a natural thing for technology assets to go wild. Most organisations grow their technology organically, a server here, a router there, a few laptops, sensors, and software instances at a time. And soon this organic growth causes chaos: When a key knowledge holder leaves; when something goes wrong and fault finding becomes a complex job, or when a software audit or compliance challenge rears its head.

Key challenges include:

  • Device proliferation
  • Hidden and zombie assets
  • Cybersecurity
  • Compliance investigations
  • Multiple problems from poorly optimised data centre design

The business may notice certain occurrences which should act as real red flags that action should be taken to better manage the tech assets that the organisation relies on to deliver its mission.

Provisioning a new service may take too long, and as a consequence the business may not deliver on its objectives…

The business may have an unacceptably high number of cybersecurity challenges…

A vendor software audit gives the IT team palpitations…

Cooling and power costs continue to rise yet performance or the number of tech assets does not…

Lags, latency, and missed SLAs are recorded – but it proves challenging to diagnose the reasons behind them…

If any of these sound familiar it is possible that the critical technology has gone wild.

It’s gone wild: What happens next

Organisations looking to regain control, to tame their technology landscape need to get that control back and become masters of their technology in order to regain control of their corporate destiny.

Step one is to understand the environment as it exists currently. The data centre or server room is too precious to be ‘out of sight, out of mind’. Rather than a digital storage facility it’s actually the bedrock of the whole enterprise. And if data or applications are held in the cloud via a collocated data centre that the company rents space in it can be helpful to remember that the cloud means ‘someone else’s data centre’. Ultimately, the same rules should apply. You can ‘set and forget’ cloud services, but it’s smarter to have a clue of what you’re paying for, and if it’s money well spent.

Traditional IT Asset Management (ITAM) set out to track and manage all hardware and software within an organisation, but this no longer fully summarises everything that comes into contact with the network. IoT devices such as CCTV, medical or industrial equipment all need to be considered in order to comprehensively acquire information on all assets driving business activity and reliant on the data centre or corporate network.

Technology Asset Management (TAM) is a superset of Asset Management that can oversee multiple assets across physical and virtual environments, including software, networked building infrastructure, data centre infrastructure, applications in the cloud, personal computing devices and millions of IoT devices. Acting like a single pane of glass, data centre managers are able to see their entire technology portfolio in terms of status, health, security, and compliance.

The most critical component of TAM is its ability to provide automated and continuous data updates, and it this data that allows businesses to benefit from tangible, performance-enhancing results.

Start to make risk redundant

More connected devices has led to greater security risk for the company network. More devices means more end-points that, if reached by nefarious hands, could have the potential to be devastating gateways to a business’ security, productivity and overall ability to operate. There are real and serious risks associated with unmanaged assets on the network. Comprehensive visibility over these devices is crucial. A modern approach using TAM automates the discovery and cataloguing of all things connected to the network. It interconnects with other building, IT, and business systems, providing a comprehensive solution that offers transparency and accountability to the entire extended organisation’s tech backbone.

There will always be hackers opportunistically preying on old systems and striving to get through outdated security operations. Checking individual software instances to see whether they are compliant with current security protocols and hygiene is a tediously time-consuming task. Security managers and compliance officers need the ability to clearly see what is installed and where, validate its patch history, and know who has access to it – something that is also quickly achievable through TAM.

So as a first step, replacing manual processes with automated solutions helps gain rapid understanding of the landscape, its health and hygiene, and it’s state of compliance.

The right next-generation tools to solve the modern challenge

SAM: Software Asset Management. Just as devices have proliferated, so to have the various software instances being run. This includes not only users’ machines, but those infrastructure solutions like servers host other software too. And licensed software needs to be paid for. Sadly, it’s not always easy to keep track if it has been correctly accounted for. SAM searches instances and manages the process before it gets into a pickle.

TAM: Technology Asset Management. All those enterprise technology devices must be accounted for, kept up to date, decommissioned if no longer needed, and protected from harm. But because they grow, move, and drop on and off the corporate network, it can be a challenge for the IT team to understand what’s there, and harder still to get it to an appropriate level of health and hygiene. TAM, as mentioned, automates the discovery and management of this process.

WAM: Workload Asset Management. Applications can be an absolute mystery in terms of the resources they consume and if they are economical and effective in their delivery. This is one of the hardest problems to solve in today’s virtualised and abstracted computing environment. To understand and master it, as well as SAM and TAM, means that the enterprise compute stack is truly under control and pulling its weight.

About the Author

Robert Neave, CTO of Nlyte. Co-developed GDCM’s leading-edge product range to streamline datacenter management practices and maximise IT assets. As Business System Director at GDCM, I concentrates on business requirements analysis and definition for GDCM products. I have over fifteen years’ experience in datacenter management and business process definition to the company.

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