IT asset lifecycle is the series of stages an IT asset goes through throughout its useful life. This starts with planning and procurement and then goes through provisioning and deployment, maintenance, monitoring and upgrade, and, finally, to IT asset disposition (ITAD). Managing the IT asset lifecycle is part of IT asset management (ITAM).
IT asset lifecycle management is a key discipline of IT teams and part of asset management software. Proper practice of IT asset lifecycle management also involves finance, security, legal, and HR teams; each has involvement in planning, deploying, securing, maintaining, analyzing, and then retiring IT assets. IT teams with more detailed and structured asset lifecycle management processes can be more efficient with resources, have a greater understanding of their organizations’ evolving IT asset needs, and improve security, compliance, and auditing processes.
Broadly speaking, IT Asset Lifecycle Management (ITALM) is the systematic process of purchasing, maintaining, monitoring, and securing your IT infrastructure. Today this includes hardware (laptops, mobile devices, servers, etc.), software, SaaS, and cloud infrastructure components your business uses.
Strong ITALM follows prescribed business practices to optimize asset usage and identify inefficiencies in how your organization uses, fixes, and purchases different assets. A good way to think about ITALM is that it takes the core functionality of ITAM — the ability to answer who owns an asset, where it is, and what is the status of that asset — and the answer to the question “What should we do with that asset?”.
At a minimum, ITALM must keep track of all assets running on or attached to corporate networks and allow an enterprise to catalog, identify and track these assets wherever they are in the world or in the cloud. IT asset disposition helps IT teams quickly and efficiently decide how to handle the end-of-life of assets and quickly repatriate stranded assets from former employees or current employees who no longer need the asset.
This article covers the ins and outs of the IT asset lifecycle management IT asset disposition and how IT teams can catalyze best practices in IT asset lifecycle management into their organizations.
ITALM is a critical part of helping your enterprise run efficiently, deliver a strong employee user experience, protect your organization from attackers, and identify where your enterprise will need to expand asset purchases and IT team management capabilities. ITALM has become more complex as the diversity of IT assets under management has increased. CIOs and IT teams running ITAM must manage hardware, software, cloud infrastructure, SaaS, and connected device / IoT assets. The number of assets under management has grown exponentially in the past decade. This has made comprehensive, holistic ITALM even more important. Generally, ITALM is important for the following reasons:
There are four distinct stages of the IT asset lifecycle management process.
In this first stage of the IT asset lifecycle, IT and procurement teams conduct the necessary steps prior to purchasing assets. This includes identifying what asset types are required and in what number, compiling and verifying requirements for each asset, and evaluating assets to ensure they meet the service needs. Planning is where smart IT asset lifecycle management starts: insightful and thorough planning can ensure better optimization later on as well as more efficient disposition and happier employees who enjoy faster access to the assets they need to do their jobs. Smart planning adds business value by improving downstream efficiencies and reducing downstream costs.
IT teams work closely with procurement teams for this stage of the lifecycle. Having accurate and timely IT asset data is crucial for effective acquisition and procurement. Where possible, the two teams can work together to identify areas for purchase consolidation with the most cost-effective vendor. Procurement is also the proper time to negotiate warranties, so information on past service records of similar assets is useful. For negotiating bulk purchases of SaaS and cloud infrastructure assets, procurement teams require detailed usage projections; lack of insights into actual asset utilization and hidden shelfware can result in overpaying for assets that are not really needed.
Throughout their lives, all asset types require maintenance, upgrades, and repair. Holistic, modern ITALM solutions track all these needs and consolidate them into a single platform across all asset types. Maintenance, upgrades, and repair requirements can differ widely by asset class (you don’t need to repair cloud servers, but you may need to consistently apply patches or upgrades to your container images). Many SaaS platforms include installed software components that may need to be periodically upgraded; Adobe’s Creative Cloud, for example, does require desktop installations and upgrades. When assets do need repair, then ITALM must integrate with ticketing and helpdesk systems to ensure that IT teams properly handle the lifecycle requirements in a timely and orderly fashion. An additional portion of this lifecycle stage revolves around security; maintenance includes ensuring that all endpoint security measures are deployed and turned on, that malware and AV scans are running, and that all operating systems are patched and updated to the latest enterprise-ready version.
When an asset is broken or outdated, then it’s time to pull the plug. ITALM helps manage this process to ensure that assets slated for disposal are retrieved, wiped, or quarantined, as needed. Disposal is crucial in regulated industries because assets may contain sensitive information. Failure to wipe or remove drives can result in data leaks that are grave security risks and can expose an enterprise to fines and penalties. Disposal of cloud infrastructure assets is likewise crucial because data stored in the cloud can remain forever. If a developer leaves a storage bucket up and running past but improperly secured and the IT team does not know about the bucket, failure to dispose of the asset could result in data leaks and fines. For hardware, assets over a few years of age are no longer attractive to employees and may need to be disposed of before they are no longer useful. Similarly, assets that fall out of warranty may no longer be worth maintaining. Lastly, IT assets that are faulty or prone to failure may be better removed from circulation prior to their stated end-of-life in order to ensure higher levels of employee productivity.
To achieve the most success with ITALM, IT teams should follow proven best practices. The best practices are logical extensions of other IT management practices, with some nuances for the IT asset lifecycle.
Effective ITALM may require not only the IT team but also security teams, finance teams, procurement teams, and HR teams to provide inputs and help manage or inform key processes. Setting up clear responsibilities and expectations with all stakeholders, and providing playbooks for their duties and roles, can improve your ITALM practice.
Creating a visual representation of the workflows and data flows and processes can simplify otherwise complex chains of custody and responsibility.
Related to automation, integration of your ITALM solution with ERP, HRIS, SIEM, CMDB, MDM, SAM ticketing, and helpdesk systems can allow for the creation of multi-step workflows to break down organizational silos that slow down processes.
By creating a robust reporting and visualization capability on your IT asset lifecycle management solution, you will increase accountability and simplify compliance and auditing.
By automating key parts of ITALM, you will improve your accuracy and efficiency while reducing the burden of rote work on your IT team.
The benefits of ITALM are clear and numerous. Benefits include:
Oomnitza is an agentless Enterprise Technology Management solution that easily integrates with all the relevant systems required to deliver comprehensive, holistic IT asset lifecycle management. Unlike siloed IT solutions, Oomnitza acquires, cleans, normalize, and deduplicates data from existing agents and integrates with identity management, employee directory, ERP, CRM and helpdesk, and ticketing systems.
This allows Oomnitza to automate IT asset lifecycle management operations for every stage, including purchasing, receiving, imaging, assigning, securing, maintaining, refreshing, auditing, and disposing of IT assets. Oomnitza offers bidirectional data flows that empower IT teams to create holistic workflows and automate key parts of complex processes requiring cooperation between IT, HR, legal, security, and procurement teams and outside vendors. This allows for the creation of detailed playbooks for IT asset lifecycle management processes dependent on employee role, type of asset, location of the asset, the industry of asset business unit, and more. For teams that want to customize and extend their ITALM operations, Ooomnitza offers a RESTful API and extensibility through Python scripts. Oomnitza makes IT asset lifecycle management simpler, more accurate, flexible, and useful, and, most importantly, easier for teams and organizations to adhere to and operate.