By Mark Gaydos
The compute infrastructure for many large organizations is no child’s play. It’s complex and many times, inefficient. A major culprit contributing to the data center’s complexity, and one of the main factors leading to inefficiency, is the sheer infrastructure sprawl to the edges, into one of three cloud forms (private, public or hybrid) and into a virtual realm. When spread so thin, it’s nearly impossible to grasp the notion that all these devices and related software stacks are really a cohesive unit.
To put the complexity statement into context, imagine grappling with the task of managing all the devices within the Range International Information Group’s data center. Located in Langfang China, this behemoth facility is 6.3 million square feet—equivalent to the area occupied by the Pentagon or a combination of 110 football fields. Another to consider is AT&T’s network sprawl to supply services to 155.7 million subscribers. As of 2017, more than one-third of their customer-facing network has been virtualized.
With scale and sprawl comes problems and if data center managers fail to obtain a more in-depth understanding of what is happening in the network, applications will begin to lag security problems due to old versions of firmware will arise and non-compliance issues will be experienced. In addition to the aforementioned issues, if the network is not properly scrutinized with a high level of granularity, operating costs will begin to increase. In the end, IT staff will always be held accountable for all devices and every piece of software running on the network—no matter where it is located.
Shedding Light on IT Asset Management—A Prism of Commitment
Inevitably, those data center managers who choose to not obtain a deep level of operational awareness will find their facilities in trouble because they don’t have the visibility and metrics needed to see what’s really happening. However, those managers who are savvy enough to deploy a technology asset management (TAM) system will avoid many hardware and software problems with the ability to collect more in-depth information. With more data collected, these managers now have a single source of truth—for the entire network—to better manage security, compliance, and software licensing.
A recent global survey on technology asset management’s adoption and use, from Nlyte Software, helps shed some light on how IT managers are grappling with not only identifying everything connected to the network, but also updates, audits and C-Suite expectations. Out of 1,500 technology asset decision makers in organizations employing over 1,000 people across the U.S., UK, and France, almost all of them (96%) view hardware and software asset control as a top-five priority for their business. However, almost one third (31%) of those enterprises are still attempting to track their assets manually because the barriers of budget constraints and lack of specific skills are stopping these organizations from gaining the visibility to offset inefficiencies.
In fact, only 45% of those surveyed said that their assets are validated at least daily and this number dropped to 30% regarding weekly validation. Given this spectrum of commitment, the question is: What are the majority of IT staff actually tracking? The survey revealed that 62% are doing so for desktops and laptops.
As we approach the corner office, we find that the C-Suite respondents to the survey believe that assets are being scanned hourly (27%) or daily (35%). Yet those at manager level are less confident, as 8% presume asset scanning on their company’s network is taking place hourly and 28% think it’s happening daily. When asked about their vendor software audit worries, 34% of the C-Suite is concerned, compared to 19% of Vice Presidents/Senior Vice Presidents, 20% of Directors and 14% of Managers.
As expected, when it comes to IT security the percentages ascend above the 50% mark; on average 67% have the latest security software and firmware patches in place. When the numbers descend below 50% regarding audit trails for security patch management, 49% of respondents said they have a solution that scans and validates all devices, but 48% said devices are not proactively managed at all. Perhaps the most alarming revelation from the Global Technology Asset Management survey was that a whopping 78% of respondents claimed that up to twenty percent of their assets remain undetected from these network scans.
Although 67% of individuals claiming to use the latest security software seems good, we must also consider the fact that a third of assets remain in a perpetual state of risk. Those are the assets known or visible to IT and not inclusive of the total asset inventory. Clearly, the risks from licensing, vulnerability and cyber hygiene are all still present.
When a spotlight is shined on devices connected to the network, it’s revealed that the understanding of technology asset management is high, but adoption and discipline need to be increased across the IT spectrum for large organizations. As organizations grow they often lose control over their technology assets. Gaining control back does not need to be the laborious process that it once was. Gone are the days of spreadsheets, counting off assets with a clipboard, and keeping a watch on paperwork or cross-referencing dates with a calendar to ensure patches, maintenance, and licensing happen.
There is a sense of urgency for obtaining true network visibility as the notion of proper security and compliance adherence varies from the C-Suite to the various individuals across organizational groups and exacerbates a false sense of network protection. The good news is that a precedent has been set for achieving viability and transparency, and dividends can be found in modern solutions that allow data to be shared with other business systems such as ERP, data center infrastructure management (DCIM), IT infrastructure library (ITIL), IT service management (ITSM), configuration management database (CMDB) and others. Leveraging a technology asset management solution to automate the process—in a similar manner—by linking assets, locations, and device usage will reduce hundreds of hours of inventory, audit, and compliance activity, allowing an organization’s IT staff more time to focus on delivering business value and even innovation.
As Chief Marketing Officer, Mark Gaydos leads worldwide marketing and sales development. He oversees teams dedicated to helping organizations understand the value of automating and optimizing how they manage their computing infrastructure.
Gaydos has more than twenty years of enterprise software marketing experience helping technology companies establish leadership and rapidly grow revenue. He previously served as the SVP of marketing at Engine Yard and has held a variety of executive marketing roles at enterprise companies such as Oracle, SAP, and Engine Yard.
Gaydos has an M.B.A. in management science from San Diego State University and a B.A. in economics from the University of California, Santa Barbara.