“Integrated ITAM” is easier to say than it is to deliver.
As the Oomnitza sales engineering team speaks to more and more CIOs and Directors of IT, we hear the same thing repeatedly. They are tired of managing multiple tools. They want the ability to integrate data sources and get a single-pane view of their IT estate. They want to get rid of spreadsheets and make lives easier for their IT teams. And they really, really want to be able to answer the basic questions, quickly – who owns a device or piece of software, where is a device or software located, what is the status of every device or piece of software connected to their networks, etc. In the current model, this also extends to cloud infrastructure and SaaS applications.
This is why the Ivanti acquisition of MDM provider MobileIron and VPN provider Pulse Secure makes perfect sense to us. The move is part of a broader play among legacy ITAM providers to cobble together newer features, such as automatic discovery, and to create more integrated ITAM offerings. This may make sense to customers that have a single-vendor strategy and want a single point-of-contact for all ITAM (and, increasingly, security) needs. The reality, however, is that few companies rely on single vendors. They already have a hodgepodge of IT systems and their own integrations. They don’t like the idea of single vendor lock-in and the loss of negotiating leverage and flexibility they suffer by going with one primary ITAM vendor for the majority of their IT asset management needs.
Why bolting integrations onto legacy ITAM businesses is hard
The problem with this strategy comes in the details, not the concept. Most of the older ITAM platforms are built on monolithic, legacy codebases. With these codebases, integrating new offerings is difficult and time consuming. So living up to the promise of a truly integrated offering is challenging at best, and impossible at worst. In the new world of SaaS, product integration is different; stapling together multiple old monolithic products can create a veneer of integration but actually masks the true limitations of these older codebases. These limitations are often around data structures and integrations – the two most critical elements for properly integrating siloed IT data.
What’s more, legacy companies tend to push unfavorable pricing models – charging per integration, per workflow or even for data transit between integrated platforms. The upshot? IT teams can deploy a more integrated offering, but the price increase can be astronomical – doubling or tripling the base price of the software. Another well-known downside of these monolithic legacy products is that any customer modifications to workflows, UX or other product components generally require a year or more of development or professional services time – usually delivered by the ITAM provider. Lastly, legacy companies are adding a security layer to their offering because in the post-COVID environment, this is becoming table stakes for all concerned. This security layer may actually reduce your security if the integrated security product is below par and subject to repeated vulnerabilities.
Questions to ask any company claiming to deliver Integrated ITAM
As part of a due diligence process for any ITAM, ask the hard questions up front to save time and stress. Here are some basics we always are happy to answer (and which we recommend our prospects pose to all potential vendors).
- Can I actually use all your products from a single pre-existing console? Or do you have to build one?
- Does your system reconcile data across multiple integrated ITAM subsystems?
- Can I use my own development team to develop or extend your product?
- What language can we use to build add-ons or integrations?
- Do your customers post integration recipes publicly (on GitHub or elsewhere?)
- Do you have a robust API? Can you give me access so I can test it?
- What are the additional charges I might face beyond the base software price?
- Do you charge per integration? Or per workflow?
- How long would it take me to get your product up and running with live data?
- How old is the primary codebase of your product?
- Can I bring my own security add-ons, such as VPN or EDR? Do I have to pay you to integrate them?
- To define cross-system workflows, do you have to build parts of it in multiple systems?
These are just some of the questions you can ask to get a flavor of whether the ITAM you are looking for is really a modern, integrated ITAM that is customer friendly. If your vendor balks at answering these questions, you have your answer.