Integrated ITAM vs. Cybersecurity Asset Management: What’s the Difference?

As the market for technology asset management has grown more complicated, we have seen an evolution of the products involved, and two paths emerge. Some of the newer entrants have focused on specific use cases, such as security – what some companies are calling “cybersecurity asset management.” Others, like Oomnitza have chosen to take a platform approach to technology asset management by creating an open architecture for “Integrated ITAM.” The goal is to foster the growth of an ecosystem of third-party products and services and drive innovation. One approach focuses on vertical control. The other focuses on community and customer-led product development. Both have arisen from the need to unify inputs and information from disparate device and system management tools (CMDB, SAM, MDM, endpoint security) and vendors (Tanium, Jamf, Microsoft InTune, GoogleMDM, Snipe, etc.) to create a more dynamic and comprehensive way of managing IT assets in the modern enterprise. So what are the pluses and minuses of the two approaches?

How Integrated ITAM and Cybersecurity Asset Management Overlap 

Integrated IT asset management (ITAM) and cybersecurity asset management share core capabilities. Both deal with the management of the growing constellation of technology assets in an enterprise. Both seek to automate key parts of that management process. Both are trying to build an integration layer to connect key sub-services and related tools to allow teams to work more efficiently and gain a single-pane-of-glass view of what they need to know. Lastly, both try to create a system-of-record with an accurate “golden” database of all technology-facing assets across laptops, mobile devices, traditional software, SaaS, cloud infrastructure, and IT-connected devices (monitors, videoconferencing gear, VOIP). In fact, the overlaps are such that it is safe to say Cybersecurity Asset Management Is a subset of integrated ITAM.

The Differences: Integrated ITAM Offers Flexibility, Extensibility Across Functions

Integrated IT asset management and cybersecurity asset management have different purposes, and that defines their different approaches. Cybersecurity asset management focuses on improving your company’s security posture by tracking all IT assets and integrating their status into other security systems. It does this through a wide variety of security-centric integrations. That said, the integrations are somewhat brittle because the core focus is security, not general flexibility and agility. This brittleness means that by default, Cybersecurity Asset Management products tend to be harder to develop on top of and configure, and they are not necessarily accessible to your own development team. As a result, Cybersecurity Asset Management may pull data together, but it tends to further silo organizations by creating yet another system that only a single team can easily use. 

For example, an Integrated ITAM might be useful not only to security teams but also to finance teams in helping them analyze asset usage and manage the purchase lifecycle and depreciation of laptops, desktops, phones, and other physical assets. Or an Integrated ITAM system could help HR and Employee Experience teams by enabling smoother onboarding and automating the assignment of devices, SaaS, and other required IT assets customized for each new hire. Of course, security teams can also benefit from Integrated ITAM by connecting it to SIEM, SOAR, vulnerability management, and threat intelligence systems to create a holistic view of their security stance by giving them the instant capability to associate any asset with a user, location and status. 

Integrated ITAM facilitates all of this by using an extensible architecture that leverages known and popular software languages (Python, JavaScript, Golang) to make it easy and fast to configure, customize and create automated workflows. This openness enables the development of vibrant communities around the Integrated ITAM platform, which allows for:

  • Sharing of useful scripts and recipes for automation workflows (in GitHub or elsewhere)
  • Allows customers to innovate to meet their own needs 
  • Empowers broad integration across silos and better communication 

To summarize, Integrated ITAM has the following beneficial characteristics that tend to be lacking in dedicated and closed Cybersecurity Asset Management tools:

  • Automates capture of IT asset data from existing tools
  • Reconciles all records to create an accurate database
  • Enables extension of that database to other systems to drive workflows
  • Empowers non-technical team members to create and automate workflows
  • Useful to all parts of the organization – not just security

For pure security teams, Cybersecurity Asset Management may make a lot of sense. That said, for IT teams that want to create more strategic value for their organization and generate rich insights beyond counting assets and security response, open architectures and accessible systems like Integrated ITAM may prove more suited to driving innovation and fostering successful collaboration.