Reimagining Asset Management

Digital business transformation is currently, and for the foreseeable future, the key factor to continued success in a rapidly evolving industry. Does your company have a strategic plan to make your IT organization smarter, faster and more flexible? If so, what strategic role will play asset management to successfully transform your organization? Let’s take a closer look why asset management isn’t an outdated topic at all.

BY Matthias Gromann

You may be asking: What has asset management have to do with digitization? Isn’t asset management an outdated topic? No. It definitely is not. Asset management is so much more important than just keeping track of servers, PCs, and laptops.

We can all agree that full transparency into all IT and telecommunications infrastructure is key to ensure IT processes run smoothly and to flexibly and quickly assign and re-assign assets to services – especially digitized solutions. And we know that to gain this transparency, organizations must first gain control of all their valuable assets – whether your organization fully owns them, leases them or gets them as resources out of the cloud. So, obviously, there is a vital connection between something we call service asset management and what your CTO/CDO wants to achieve.

In this blogpost series, we’d like to assist with the process of reimagining asset management, share important insights with you and provide food for your thoughts.

Today, we’ll start with a change of perception about what an asset actually is and we will recognize that being able to identify and visualize complex units of value is the first crucial step in the lifecycle management of IT assets.

Identifying and visualizing complex units of value

Managing IT assets is more complex and harder to do than it seems on the surface. That’s because we’re not talking about singular units of value like the simple server, PC or laptop mentioned above. We’re talking about multiple, heterogenous units grouped together to form an asset.

Let’s look at a seemingly simple IT workplace service your organization might provide to its users as it consists of a multitude of devices. We’re not only talking about the physical technology assets involved, such as computers, printers, monitors, keyboards and telephone devices, we’re also including the different kinds of software installed ranging from the operating system up to locally installed applications with sometimes stunning license costs.

And what would a modern workplace be without perfect connectivity? Nothing. So while the singular network standard patch cables that provide the connection to the wall socket and from there to the next patch panel  donot represent an incredibly valuable asset, their function in the context of the workplace service does indeed!

A bundled IT asset might not even stop there – depending on the understanding of what a “service” should contain. A bundled IT asset can also include non-IT equipment such as high-value, motor-driven and electrically adjustable office desks as well.

If we let our gaze wander into the data center we will find rather similar situations. A server is not just a server any more. A multitude of attachable or detachable components like network cards – that by the way easily can exceed the value of the server chassis they are attached to – and parts of the cabling infrastructure connected to the server must also be managed so that the server quickly becomes a complex and convertible asset unit.

The rack a server resides in today is also much more than just a glorified cupboard for IT equipment. Valuable attachment units in regard to power, cooling and monitoring make it a complex asset. Even some of the floor tiles it stands on are not simply just dumb metal plates anymore: A fully-automated, actively-adapting, variable airflow geometry capable, sensor equipped TwinFloor plate with power supply and a maintenance schedule represents quite a sizable investment, is a multi-component asset, fulfills an important function to optimize cooling and needs to be documented to track its lifecycle.

Finally, let us look at a top-notch, state-of-the-art application with a microservice architecture and distributed storage concept:. Not only is the application itself a valuable asset, but the asset components it consists of can be a nightmare to trace and document since they do not even necessarily reside solely in your own data center infrastructure. Parts of it reside on public cloud infrastructure, the database runs within your private cloud operation stack and the storage is located – at least partly – in your classical infrastructure.

So – where does this take us?

First, we recognize that it is not easy to identify what is an asset. And if it’s not easy to identify, it’s not easy to manage.

Second, we see an important pattern – as soon as we define assets in the context of services delivered, an asset in IT is usually a complex unit of value consisting of many components. Some of them again representing an asset in their own right. If it’s complex, then keeping an overview is not a simple task.

This, then, is the first step of the service lifecycle: identifying and visualizing IT assets, i.e. complex units of value.

Because of their complexity, organizations can have trouble documenting, monitoring and managing IT assets and their interdependencies. This in turn can negatively impact basic technical IT services, workflow, business processes, customer satisfaction and especially the capability to assign and re-assigning assets to newly designed digitized solutions. Accurately identifying and visualizing IT assets in turn gives organizations the complete overview of the entire system landscape they need to define and deliver reliable, high-quality services to achieve success in their digitization efforts.

The best way – and only way – to manage all of these seemingly arbitrary complex assets is to implement a central Configuration Management System (CMS) – not just a CMDB – with a broad and flexible data model, a strong asset lifecycle management approach and exceptional visualization capabilities that defines, monitors and manages IT assets and their interrelationships in one, comprehensive data repository. This system should leverage the data repository to keep track of IT assets, whether they are in operation or sitting in a warehouse as a prefabricated asset assembly unit. Accounting for assets not in service is very important, as it enables a quick response for asset provisioning to digitized services enabling customers and users.

Besides information about all the assets and configuration items in your IT and telecommunications infrastructure that are needed to provide high-value IT services, your CMS should also interlink all assets and CIs to improve the overall quality of the IT environment and accelerate the time it takes to plan and implement changes and resolve issues. Finally, it should have planning tools that oversee these assets for their entire lifecycle to accurately track and document the value and availability of all complex IT assets and configuration items.

So, if correctly put into perspective, perhaps asset management is more exciting than we originally thought! After all, a lot is riding on how well you’re able to identify and visualize your organization’s IT assets.

In part two of our multi-part series on the service lifecycle, we’ll discuss the importance of zone management for the accurate documentation and tracking of organizational and geographical asset locations – so stay tuned and follow us for more valuable insights!

By the way – if you’re interested in how FNT as a solution provider tackles the challenge of asset identification and especially visualization,  please visit our website to look into our solution FNT Command – a comprehensive CMS solution with strong asset management capabilities enabling you to assist your CIOs and CDOs strategic initiatives to the fullest extent possible.