The Big Picture on IT Asset Management

There are multiple, pervasive trends driving how enterprises interact with their IT ecosystem. These trends affect everyone’s day to day workflow, as well as any experience of their customers. Understanding the big picture that’s driving the IT ecosystem can help contextualize the processes to which we are all adapting a bit more quickly than we’d like. This blog will address three key issues that are driving the evolution of IT asset management. 

Number one: IoT 

Human population is currently at 7.8 billion, while its annual growth rate is just above 1% per year. The number of IoT (Internet of Things) devices, by comparison, exceeded humans around 2009 (nearly 9 billion devices, and by 2025 are projected to hit over 80 billion, a 10X increase compared to humans’ expected increase of less than 1%. Which means a whole lot more devices compared to humans, and all those devices need to be secured, tracked and managed. 80 billion devices cannot be tracked manually (not even close), and as a result humans are no longer the center of the IT asset management (ITAM) equation. Existing ITAM solutions from legacy vendors such as ServiceNow or BMC were designed around the concept of ticketing to track resolution of IT asset management issues generated by people. It’s a very human-centric approach, which was fine when there were more people than devices, but we’re way past that now. 

Figure 1. What is where? This example is just hardware, you also need to keep track of software, plus cloud and network infrastructure. And just to make it more fun, the definition of device is expanding exponentially.

The new model requires a machine-centric approach, and that implies an automation-driven model. There are too many assets that are too critical or have a zero margin of error (for example, a pacemaker or the steering component of a self-driving car) to have humans in the loop. This requires a new model of IT Asset Management, one that is fully automated, holistic, and integrated across hardware, software, cloud, and networks. In other words, a solution that maps to how people actually use the technology on a day to day basis. 

Number two: Digital Transformation

In the space of a few weeks the entire global IT infrastructure has shifted to a remote work model. A simple example? Pinterest went from 35 offices to over 4600 in less than a month. That’s what real digital transformation looks like. While the process itself is disruptive, the main concern for IT should be the expanded attack surface resulting from assets operating in a less secure environment (like your home office). Business continuity models are built around maintaining a working IT infrastructure, but IT continuity assumes a local disruption (earthquakes, floods, etc.) that can be addressed by a remote backup facility. This is not that. 

Fig.2 It’s no longer dozens of locations with assets that need to be tracked, it’s literally thousands, and the locations seem to move around. 

This is everyone, everywhere, at the same time. No business continuity model assumed the entire world shifting at once, and this is becoming a critical test of how resilient IT organizations can be. You need to have real-time information on the location and associated users for every single IT asset, as well as the security protocols associated with the data on the asset, with complete certainty. This is particularly the case for regulated industries, which takes us to the next point. 

Number three: Compliance

While the IoT and digital transformation juggernauts continue to scream forward, regulators have dogpiled onto the existing compliance framework with the introduction of CCPA. This is a law, written by lawyers, who are already lined up around the block to sue companies who violate any of a number of complex, obscure, and overlapping regulations regarding data protection – which is to say, how data is being managed on an IT device. And all of this while the devices and the infrastructure they rely on are undergoing a rapid historical shift. IT audits are an ongoing part of any IT asset management teams purview; they are going to come in with very sharp, specific questions about data on IT devices, and your answers better be right on. Answer those questions correctly, and you pass a compliance audit with room to spare. Miss any question, and you’re looking at a seven figure (at least) fine which you’ll need to rationalize to your boss. 

Fig. 3  “I don’t know”is the response that triggers a seven figure fine. Know. 

The reality for folks in the IT space is that things are the same as always, only more so. The demands for detailed compliance adherence while everything is shifting and expanding are addressable, but it requires a more integrated and holistic view of the IT estate. Siloed systems that deal with hardware or software or cloud only will not provide the needed insight to be compliant.

This is where Oomnitza’s fully integrated perspective on integrated IT asset management has helped some of the largest and most forward-thinking companies meet or exceed market dynamics. For further details, or to request a demo, please click here