Shyam Ramachandran, IT manager at Viking Range Corp., knew things were out of control. "If someone left the company and HR called to ask what equipment they had, we had no idea," he says. IT kept tabs on hardware and software through a help desk system, but the data was unreliable.
"My people didn't always keep track of what was removed or replaced," Ramachandran says. "Many people had laptops at home. We had mobile salespeople and satellite offices all over the country. And there were lots of IT wannabes installing their own hardware and software and breaking things. We were in no-man's-land."
Patch management was particularly chaotic. "Patching was a way of life, with 10 different sets of patches for 10 different operating systems," Ramachandran recalls. "Invariably something would break."
Control came in the form of Computer Associates' UAM (Unicenter Asset Management) software. "UAM does a thorough, ongoing inventory over the network that keeps us up-to-date on the hardware and software installed on all our systems, including our mobile laptops, which it queries when users connect," Ramachandran says.
UAM's reports have helped IT get control over patch management and IT wannabes, and its software-usage metering information has allowed IT to cut some software licenses in half. "We discovered there were a lot more people with Adobe Illustrator installed on their systems than were actually using it," Ramachandran says.
UAM has also helped Viking compare its existing inventory with its leasing information to determine which systems are nearing expiration. The result: better control, less downtime, and significant savings from reduced licensing costs, fewer lease overruns, and fewer IT staff devoted to patch management.
A new world order
IT asset management software has been around for years, but until recently it's been one of those categories that sounds good but is rarely implemented. "Asset management has always been a good tool for making IT run more efficiently," says Patricia Adams, research director of IT asset management at Gartner. "But it was one of those things you could always put off and nobody would die." The common scenario was for a company to start an asset management initiative and then divert dollars and resources to more pressing concerns soon after.
Click for larger view.