As we learned in Part 1 of this series, ITAM is not a trivial program to set up. Integrating, configuring and maintaining disparate systems can add to the complexity. However, when ITAM runs on the same platform where IT is managed, work can flow. Asset management is balanced so that purchasing reflects demand as dictated by actual use. Applications and platforms are easier to manage because organizations can avoid issues associated with end-of-service or end-of-life situations. Accurate inventory and software information is essential for security operations, which uses this data to filter and apply a focused set of vulnerability intelligence. ITAM also contributes at the end of the lifecycle. As assets may now be automatically retired and taken off the books, the workload for IT and managers involved in asset reclamation is eased
The ITAM Lifecycle
Overall, ITAM helps deliver value across the full IT asset lifecycle. That cycle consists of six phases surrounding IT assets: request, purchase, deploy, reconcile, service, and retire. The cycle never ends because retire leads right back to request, and the cycle begins anew.
IT lifecycle management is defined as the beginning-to-end process of requesting, acquiring, installing, maintaining, tracking, and retirement of an asset. Lifecycle services provide full end-to-end management from procurement to disposition of hardware and software technology, and the requisite support of such assets. Organizations that can successfully understand and manage the entire lifecycle of their IT assets have reaped the benefits. This encompasses the whole existence of an asset, from request through disposal. At each stage of that story, the asset may provide different value to the organization and require different support, whether that involves licensing costs, installation, maintenance, training, or something else entirely. ITAM can help an organization make better use of its assets and implement better planning regarding capital and operational expenditures, and benefits of normalization and reconciliation for the classification and usage of assets.
Understanding Workflows and Automation
ITAM at its core is the classic blend of people, processes, and technology. The biggest benefits of using ITAM come when the platform’s more advanced capabilities can be fully exercised. Of these capabilities, workflows and automation are undoubtedly the most valuable and important Workflows define and assign a sequence of tasks to specific individuals within an approval and sign-off environment that tracks progress and completion. When a workflow is defined, workers assigned tasks are informed via email or mobile alerts with links to forms, systems, services, and other elements they must access to work on and complete those tasks. As tasks are completed, the workflow reports this information to a responsible party (usually a manager, team lead, or senior staff member responsible for the workflow as a whole). That party can then approve the completion and advance the workflow to the next task until the entire sequence is complete.
At each step along the way, activities and input are tracked and reported. This kind of structure is invaluable in establishing policy-driven IT processes and procedures. It also provides complete visibility into, and accountability for, their enaction and completion. Automation also provides a key ingredient in creating a modern, stable, and reliable IT lifecycle. Though trained professionals must create the process flows and approvals that make automation work—which must be thoroughly tested and vetted before going into production—automation is the linchpin for modern, virtualized, software-defined IT.
Automation enables IT to perform routine, repetitive tasks on a regular, predictable schedule. This even includes complex tasks such as infrastructure configuration, provisioning, and updates. It also includes event-triggered tasks, which might occur in response to security events, link failures, or even disasters. Automation is what really gives ITAM its power and capability. When combined with workflows, much of the work that required human hands in the realm of IT can be turned over to management computers and resident programs. Though it cannot do away with the need for skilled and capable human operators, this combination extends their capabilities greatly and relieves them of most of the tedium in the IT workplace.
Optimizing Platform Synergies and Capabilities
As organizations learn to take advantage of SAM’s advanced functionality and capabilities, they can move into the realm of true IT business management. They can drive strategic portfolio planning and execution, thanks to workflows and automation that lets them concentrate on innovation for new services, products, and offerings. They can align IT’s work to business priorities using business cases, specific metrics, and work toward measurably successful business outcomes. This lets organizations align their efforts to achieve business priorities and speeds their time to market in delivering what customers need. Now that you understand the importance of ITAM to your business, it’s time to move into the more practical aspects of using ITAM, including using discovery to find assets, license handling, and fixing issues that come up.
The final installment of our three-part blog series will be released soon, keep an eye out for Part 3: Getting ITAM Right.