How to Establish an ITAM Program in Less Than 30 Days

Guest post by our friends Tom Bosch & Cathy Won at BDNA. We met Tom & Cathy at Knowledge 16 earlier this year (Vegas baby!) and got chatting about how we need to be more agile in getting both ITSM and ITAM established.

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Today’s IT departments are grappling with the sea change brought by cloud architectures, virtualization, mergers and acquisitions, software audits, compliance, security, upgrades and a host of other initiatives, such as BYOD (bring your own device). These new challenges only exacerbate current complexities in managing company laptops, desktops, servers, operating systems, network hardware, and now, mobile devices and tablets.

As the IT landscape continues to evolve, it is vital that enterprises gain greater control over the various components within their IT infrastructure. Not only do ITAM solutions help companies detect and prevent IT and regulatory risks, they also maximize a company’s productivity.

The challenge is understanding where and how to begin deploying a new IT Asset Management (ITAM) program, or how to leverage existing ITAM solutions in a way that keeps up with these changes. Below are suggestions for how an effective ITAM program can be established in less than 30 days.

 

Deploy Sooner than Later

Software vendors frequently — and without warning — audit customers to ensure they are in compliance with license contracting terms. An audit can be triggered out of nowhere, and failing one audit could trigger more. For software vendors, it’s simple business logic: Make sure customers pay for any software usage above and beyond what they are entitled. But for customers, providing proof that the organization is using only properly licensed software can be cumbersome and complicated.

According to a recent survey of several hundred IT professionals conducted by Information Week and BDNA, more than 61 percent of companies were audited within the last 18 months, and more than 17 percent of them were audited more than three times within that same 18-month period.

And as anyone who has been through one is aware, software audits carry hefty fines. In addition to the hefty financial burden of paying for the settlement, true-ups and additional IT, legal and PR resources, organizations also find their productivity, credibility, opportunity and reputation impacted post-audit.

Given the high consequences of non-compliance, ITAM can no longer be taken lightly as an optional discipline. The sooner an ITAM program is put into place, the sooner a company is protected from a costly audit.

 

Know the Answers

More than 85 percent of the BDNA survey’s respondents admitted that they were “accidental” software pirates, either deploying software for which they had never paid or exceeding their number of acquired licenses.

When senior executives ask how to make ITAM projects as simple as they can be, they really want a process that answers these three questions:

  • What do I have?
  • Are we using what we’ve purchased?
  • Are we entitled to all we are using?

By achieving greater visibility, an enterprise achieves some key benefits:

  • Stronger negotiation position with suppliers
  • Better security and system integrity
  • Reduced risk and improved governance

 

4 Steps to Greater Visibility

 The most fundamental goal of greater visibility can be achieved in less than 30 days with these four steps:

1) Discovery: The first step to greater visibility into the enterprise is to discover what assets the enterprise holds. Many enterprises already possess the tools to do part of this, but are not properly integrating the tools into their overall IT management processes. Existing tools such as System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM) can often be used to capture raw data about IT assets. Most companies have at least six tools installed and can leverage that data – and ensuring the right processes are in place to do that is key.

2) Reconcile the data: Eliminate unnecessary, irrelevant and duplicate data discovered across multiple tools. That duplicate data can be safely discarded, ridding the enterprise of distracting clutter.

3) Remove redundant and unauthorized applications by identifying overlaps and keeping only those that are being fully utilized.

4) Pair inventory with your procurement process: This improves compliance in preparation for an audit as well as identifying unused resources and licenses, giving you additional leverage to negotiate with your suppliers.

By following these guidelines, enterprises can significantly minimize the risk from an audit and disruption to business as usual in less than a month.

 

About the Authors

Tom Bosch is a Certified Software Asset Manager who operates as director of Sales at BDNA Corporation. He has spent the last five years working with dozens of corporations solving ITAM issues. With a diverse 30-year background in sales, operations and finance management, Tom has been involved in numerous re-engineering projects in which the focal point remains process simplification.

Cathy Won is director of product marketing at BDNA.  Cathy has extensive product marketing and product management experience, including time at NetApp, Juniper Networks, EMC, VERITAS, Legato and Brocade.

 

Featured image credit.

Review: BDNA for Integrations [BEST IN CLASS]

This independent review is part of our Integrations 2013 Group Test.

Executive Summary

Elevator Pitch If anyone has ever tried to cleanse raw inventory data to build a picture of what is actually installed out there for a managed estate, this product solves all that. Data is brought in whatever format and normalized to identify a standard naming convention, but that is not all. That data then has market intelligence appended to provide the most comprehensive definition for hardware and software
Strengths
  •  BDNA have tapped into Data-as-a-Service and the concept is fiendishly simple – take in data, clean it, classify it to a sensible taxonomy hierarchy and pump it back into ITSM
  • They have extended their reach to Purchase Orders to begin to integrate procurement into a single record of consistently referenced data
  • Their catalogue is free to browse online
Weaknesses
  • It sounds too good to be true and that is their biggest challenge – this is something that really works for the larger organisations who have the insight to make the investment but may be out of reach of smaller organisations
Primary Market Focus Based on the information provided, BDNA’s customer base is more focused on larger companies.They are classified for this review as:Specialised tooling, requiring integration to ITSM.

Commercial Summary

Vendor BDNA
Product Technopedia NormalizeTechnopedia Normalize for Purchase Orders
Version reviewed Version 4
Date of version release Version was released on August 10th, 2013.
Year founded 2002
Customers 100+
Pricing Structure Technopedia Normalize pricing is based on number of devices whose data is being normalized.
Competitive Differentiators
  • BDNA normalizes data across multiple vendors and feel very confident to be able to offer SLAs on the level of data accuracy and completeness
  • BDNA employ a team to curate and add Market Intelligence to that normalized data
  • They have now applied those same algorithms to Purchase Orders in either structured or unstructured fields – so now information can be tracked from acquisition to retirement.
Additional Features They recognise that larger customers are able to negotiate extended products (for example where end of life support may be extended) and they offer a Private Catalog offering to capture and normalize that data but it is not sharable with any other organisation.

Independent Review

Integrations 2013 Group Test Best in Class: BDNA

BDNA has tapped into a concept so simple – it is a wonder that no-one has really figured this out before. Except they have – in endless projects to tidy up disparate asset collections with equally endless meetings to define taxonomy and standards.

What BDNA do is fiendishly simple – they bring in data, clean it up, align it to a sensible, and it has to be said logical taxonomy, and then push it back to your ITSM system.

Their data factory then can pull information in as scheduled and repeat the entire process, until anything all data is defined as either relevant or irrelevant (i.e. too low level).

The fact is the Technopedia Catalog grows organically all the time – and the data can be used to apply to other customers – although they do take care to strip out sensitive information.

The real value is the way they enrich the data with market intelligence – a team of people collect information such as End of Life state, Upgrade and Downgrade information, Operating System compatibilities. They can also collect information like power ratings which can be vital information for large data centre transformation projects.

BDNA will supply their own taxonomy – they have developed this with two or three iterations from scratch and now have a sensible hierarchy of:

Category – Sub Category – Vendor – Product.

The area of taxonomy is one that sometimes has people with emotional attachments to long strings of hierarchy – this feels spot on.

BDNA also provide customers with a real-time analysis tool to slice and dice their information which makes it a powerful tool when you consider areas like compliance.

When they apply this same knowledge to the mish-mash of information held in Purchase Orders and can perform those same levels of normalization – the end to end capability of this software is remarkable.

Integration and specific recognised criteria

There are three phases to their integration process:

  • Identity reconciliation – establishing a unique identity of the elements being managed
  • Consistency across the systems
  • The ability to support the integration in a vendor agnostic manner – so it does not matter what the source is, the information is brought in and normalized.

In the demonstration, it was staggering to see that even within one software brand, the markers differed to a large extent, from the Vendor company name to the software itself.

BDNA bring that in, and define a standard reference from which to act as the root for the definition.

Security Controls

BDNA have the ability to strip out sensitive information, for example user ids and machine ids – they assign an alternative id so that they can maintain a connection to the course systems but that data is withheld as they propagate the data elsewhere.

Pre-Deployment Integration

Even though this is not a traditional ITSM tool, the task of collecting the Master Data is a very integral part of the process and this is where BDNA comes into its own.

BDNA’s Technopedia Catalog is a definitive library of hardware and software elements of more than 300,000 different hardware elements and more than 350,000 types of software.

BDNA augment this catalog with over 1000 updates, daily. In addition to the product data, they add contextual market intelligence about the products – for example compatibility, power ratings, dimensions etc.

This information then be piped back in to an ITSM tool with a single standardised definition of the hardware and software being managed, with the following advantages and conditions:

  • No manual entry of catalogs thus avoiding the errors and duplications that can have a ripple effect on all ITSM/ITIL processes and the integrations that depend on these.
  • BDNA provide a consistent model that works across vendors such as IBM, HP, ServiceNow, BMC etc.
  • Automated maintenance of this model through the Data as a Service model keeps the information current and prevents drifts in ITSM/ITIL systems that introduce inefficiencies over time.

Asset and Configuration Information

Technopedia Normalize takes data from 36 input sources that feed Asset and Configuration data –typically discovery systems from vendors such as HP, BMC, ServiceNow, Microsoft, and Cisco etc.

Once imported, the data is filtered to remove items that are considered non-essential or irrelevant for typical ITIL processes, for example low-level DLLs, patches, tools within a software distribution etc.

They discard any duplicates and assign the data to their taxonomy to give it its definitive name/identity from the Technopedia Catalog, and the definitive information is integrated back into ITSM.

Configuration data is passed from the source system into ITSM after it has been through its reconciliation to ensure that the data is correct as it comes into configuration management, again using the Technopedia Catalog taxonomy.

Additional Areas of Integration

BDNA have made the Technopedia catalog free online – there you can search through manufacturers, hardware and software and see some of the contextual business intelligence as well.

  • Technopedia Normalize for Purchase Orders

The issue with Purchase Orders is that often product data is even more fragmented than the multiple definitions in hardware and software inventory sources. BDNA have established a method of taking the structured and unstructured fields and applying the same normalization process to pull out the information, and align it to their taxonomy. In this way, the information can be integrated across Financial and Business system as well ITSM.

BDNA Customers

From the BDNA Brochure

  • BDNA Data as a Service – we take data from your systems, clean it and enrich it with market intelligence to provide insights that directly lead to action.
  • Technopedia is the world’s largest categorised repository of information on enterprise software and hardware.
  • Updates over 1000 data points daily through the Technopedia Data Factory to ensure Technopedia is current and complete – and offers an SLA on data refresh and turnaround time.

In Their Own Words:

BDNA is the leading Data as a Service (DaaS) company whose industrialized approach to delivering clean data solves the challenge enterprise IT has faced for years in wasteful spending, recognizing risk, improving IT processes and unlocking new value streams. IT data is fraught with quality issues and is inconsistent, inaccurate and incomplete which makes it difficult to gain meaningful insights from the data.

The BDNA solution aggregates IT data from more than 35 supported data sources, filters, de-duplicates, normalizes and enriches the data with market intelligence. The resulting clean, curated and complete data can then be used by any ITIL process including ITSM, ITAM, CMS/CMDB, IT Planning, Cost and Governance, Procurement etc., to improve ROI, increase efficiency and drive decisions.

Technopedia™ Catalog: The world’s largest cloud-based IT reference catalog, providing over 900,000 hardware and software products and configuration items (CIs) in a structured taxonomy.

Technopedia™ Content: BDNA’s market intelligence repository for over 900,000 software and hardware products with over 2,500 updates per day and over 38 million market data points including software EOL dates, support data, hardware lifecycle and many more.

Technopedia Normalize™: Aggregates, filters and de-duplicates raw data from over 35 enterprise data sources, aligns the results to Technopedia Catalog and enriches with Technopedia Content.

Technopedia Normalize for Purchase Orders: Normalizes purchase orders with or without manufacturer’s part numbers enabling organizations to accurately establish what was purchased and map that to actual usage providing data clarity and consistency across purchasing systems and other IT systems of record.

Screenshots

Further Information

This independent review is part of our Integrations 2013 Group Test.

The $6BN Gorilla

One of my personal indicators gauging the success of an enterprise software vendor in a market is the ‘grumble factor’.

This is an anecdotal measure that says – you can usually tell who is doing well in a market by the volume of other vendors grumbling about them. Successful vendors in the ascendancy are often accused of being ‘aggressive’, ‘discounting all over the place’ and ‘killing the market’ etc.

This is certainly the case for ServiceNow. One close competitor named them ‘The Gorilla in the market’.

On a recent analyst call with Frank Slootman, President and CEO of ServiceNow, we learned that the Gorilla is now weighing in at healthy $6BN market cap on the NYSE scales. Mummy Gorilla is very proud.

Summary

  • Last quarter revenue $102.2 million, 80% increase compared to the second quarter of 2012, and an increase of 19% from the first quarter of 2013.
  • Added 138 new customers in the second quarter, 1,778 total, customer renewal rate of 94.2%
  • ServiceNow were not in the black for the quarter. All resources are said to be feeding the machine.

(Source)

ServiceNow have slowly doubled their original entry price of $18 [See image below].

ServiceNow Stock price since IPO, June 29th 2012 (NYSE: NOW) Dowsing Rods say go long.
ServiceNow Stock price since IPO, June 29th 2012 (NYSE: NOW) Dowsing Rods say go long.

Realistic Cap?

$6BN? Really? The scope of the market says $6BN, but do ServiceNow have sufficient competitive differentiation to warrant $6BN? It’s not like their offering is totally unique, despite what Frank might be telling investors:

“Our customers are actually frustrated because it’s tough to negotiate with a vendor who doesn’t have much competition, you know,”

Hmm.

Slootman has been keen to dress down any ‘dotcom’ hysteria over their market capitalization in recent interviews. ServiceNow are clearly not shooting for any ‘best place to work’ gongs anytime soon:

“We don’t do all the lattes and back rubs and all that. My favorite perk is high-equity value,”

The ServiceNow public listing was said to restore credibility to the technology IPO process after Facebook’s listing [See image below]. Note the recent Facebook jolt in price when it was revealed mobile ads were working.

Facebook [NASDAQ:FB] IPO MAY '12 vs. ServiceNow [NYSE:NOW] IPO JUNE '12
Facebook [NASDAQ:FB] IPO MAY ’12 vs. ServiceNow [NYSE:NOW] IPO JUNE ’12
My final hobbyist chart tracks ServiceNow versus older enterprise software industry stalwarts. Most striking is the flat green line. Medic?

ServiceNow vs Industry Stalwarts (HP, IBM, CA, BMC)
ServiceNow vs Industry Stalwarts (HP, IBM, CA, BMC)

ONNAMA (Oh no not another marketing acronym)

Frank made it clear, via their “SRM” vision that the Gorilla is done shaking the ITSM tree for now and is going to beat it’s chest in other verticals such as HR, Finance and Facilities etc. Let’s apply what we’ve learnt and use our ITSM logic in these other disciplines. I like the sentiment but I’m not convinced by the market definition. I’m not sure ServiceNow are either. Thank goodness.

“So is Service Relationship Management a new software “category” No. Or at least we think not. It’s just a term that ServiceNow is using to help customers think beyond ITSM”

Maybe we could just call it… err, IT? Have we not always done that? Let the good stuff permeate the enterprise based on solid reputation and successful execution against business outcomes, not silly definitions.

The Next Salesforce.com?

Business Insider touted ServiceNow as the next Salesforce.com. If Salesforce.com is aiming to own the mindshare of the CMO, ServiceNow has the opportunity to own the IT service delivery plumbing and mindshare of the CIO (or perhaps even COO if Bill gets his promotion). But they have plenty of competitors on their heels vying for this space.

For this journey ServiceNow will need to be a lot more ‘App’ and a lot less ‘Toolkit’. Market trends say Mr HR director wants to build and deploy his own solutions. Not get bored waiting for IT to deliver it. IT can own the plumbing, governance and can help automate but ultimately departments will want the freedom to do their own thing, building and fiddling themselves. Salesforce.com got there through the use of ‘Editions’ and converting their platform to a marketplace for niche apps to plug into.

Missing ITAM Savvy

As an ITAM specialist I was disappointed to see little mention in the roadmap around ITAM features, building on the first elements in Berlin. I look forward to looking at this in more depth. This is a significant hole in the ServiceNow portfolio.

The strategic partnership with BDNA can only be considered a short term band-aid unless it is truly embedded in the platform. BDNA have good content to offer but it’s not exactly aligned to the ‘Cloud IT Company’ rhetoric. The last time I looked at BDNA it required the install of an Oracle database and whole rack of kit to run it.

Salesforce.com swallowed up a small army of tech firms to bolster their current $26BN valuation and market dominance, I expect ServiceNow to do the same. Watch this space.

Images from Google Finance