Quick-and-Dirty Answers

Until now, it hasn't been feasible to think of using project-based inventory gathering hardware and software information to answer simple questions such as "Who needs an operating system patch to handle the latest version of XYZ software?"

Until now, it hasnt been feasible to think of using project-based inventory gathering hardware and software information to answer simple questions such as "Who needs an operating system patch to handle the latest version of XYZ software?"

With the release earlier this year of AssetMetrix Inc.s AssetMetrix service and a nearly identical service from Tally Systems Corp. earlier this month, it is now possible to get quick-and-dirty inventory answers without spending six months planning for and deploying a permanent, life cycle-styled inventory infrastructure.

IT managers should get set to look at inventory differently, now that managed service providers are getting in the game. Even though the accompanying review reveals that the initial offerings need considerable interface work to make them foolproof, the products are still easier and initially less expensive to install than life cycle tools that are designed to follow equipment and software licenses from initial purchase or lease to disposal.

Project-based inventories will likely be a good fit for branch offices that often dont have IT support staff or when its necessary to ascertain what equipment and software is coming with a newly acquired department or company. Organizations that need a quick check of software license compliance should also think about using project-based inventory services instead of hand counting software packages.

IT managers get nearly all the benefits of a thorough inventory tool, including specific version information and equipment data, without the hassle of maintaining a complex infrastructure.

In-house, life cycle asset managers, including Tallys NetCensus, certainly have their place in the enterprise because they can form the hub of a well- managed infrastructure. To manage equipment and software, managers must know what inventory is in the field. Large organizations that have help desk systems and complex lease agreements must constantly collect inventory data and integrate that data with these other systems. Thats a level of capability that isnt yet within the grasp of subscription-based managed services.

In the meantime, we believe it is worthwhile for IT managers to keep an eye on managed service options as a way to reduce operation costs while still getting the information necessary to make good asset management decisions.