User focus turning to measuring asset usage, survey says

* Asset management survey results

In early February, we requested your input for an asset management Web survey. This week, we look at the survey results. In a nutshell, the survey respondents confirmed that slow business growth and tighter IT budgets are changing the way IT administrators view their IT assets.

Half of the survey respondents said they plan to continue expanding their IT assets, but only in a few select areas. Another 29% said they plan to hold the line on IT assets, making better use of existing resources but expanding very little. Only 21% of the respondents have plans to cut IT assets, primarily by eliminating waste. These responses indicate that most IT organizations are no longer anticipating rapid expansion in their IT environments, but they are challenged to manage an existing base of technology that is not getting smaller.

What asset management tools do these IT organizations have at their disposal? A majority - about 64% - reported that they are currently using both inventory management and software licensing applications. However, most enterprises use their inventory management tools primarily to find and count IT assets; fewer than 30% of respondents said they are using tools that measure asset usage, such as software metering or asset lifecycle management applications.

These results suggest that IT organizations currently can locate and identify their assets, but they do not have enough information about how they are being used over time. When asked to cite the most difficult asset management problem they face in the coming year, half of the respondents chose “measuring asset usage to aid in cost and resource management.” This strong response indicates that many IT organizations already recognize a need to learn more about IT asset utilization, but they are not getting the data they need from their current base of tools. Over the next year, many IT organizations will be seeking new technologies to help collect asset usage data.

What asset management tools will enterprises invest in? Responses varied, but the most commonly cited answer was asset lifecycle management products. It is clear that enterprises are no longer satisfied with traditional inventory tracking or license management applications - they need software that can provide detailed data on the entire life of each asset, from the time it is purchased until the time it is disposed of. This type of data can help enterprises ensure that assets are used properly and effectively, and that underutilized systems will be more swiftly recognized and reallocated. The asset lifecycle management process can even help enterprises plan for new purchases, because it sheds light on how technology is used and the value it yields over time.

Interestingly, configuration management tools generated interest from only 7% of respondents to the near-term purchasing question. If this survey is any indication, configuration management tool vendors have an uphill struggle ahead of them this year to educate users on the capabilities and value propositions of their products. In truth, today’s configuration management tools could solve many of the asset management problems currently faced by enterprises, but the respondents to this survey appeared unfamiliar with the potential benefits of available configuration management offerings.

Aside from technology plans, the survey results suggest that enterprises have a real need to reevaluate asset management as a strategic investment. While traditional asset management tools and processes were basically administrative overhead required to help manage growth, today’s asset management tools and strategies can be used as a primary means of evaluating system and application requirements and reducing costs. As enterprises shrink and profitability becomes a paramount question, asset management tools may become more important than they ever were during the boom years.

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Network World, 04/28/03

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Copyright © 2003 IDG Communications, Inc.