Part 1 of 5: Introduction to Effective Asset Management
The key to the effective and efficient management of an organization’s data center lies with the ability to capture and understand a comprehensive picture of what data center assets exists, where each asset is located and how each individual asset is connected to other assets.
As the complexity of a given data center increases – multiple aisles, multiple high-density cabinets, containing thousands of individual servers and storage devices – the task of capturing asset information becomes increasingly complicated. Simple solutions, such as noting serial numbers in static spreadsheets, become less reliable and costly as hundreds of man-hours are spent wandering a data center looking for asset tags.
Data center IT professionals need holistic data center tools that are designed to track infrastructure assets and facilities assets as well. Some examples are RPDUs, PDUs, CRAHs and UPS. Although these items rarely if ever move, they must also be audited and maintained. ITAM tools must be able to help users to automate and streamline this process.
Ultimately, a programmatic approach based in science and using reliable, repeatable and cost-effective tools and systems is the best solution. IT Asset Management is that solution. As with any other business system, data center professionals and company executives question the cost justification behind the solution. In this series of posts, we will take a look at IT Asset Management by the numbers and we will explain how to determine the return on investment for an ITAM solution.
The ROI of Passive RFID
There are a number of ways to use a passive RFID tagging system to save both time and money in the data center. These include:
- Reducing time to conduct audits and maintain inventory
- Increasing accuracy of data center audits
- Quickly locating critical data center assets
- Managing time-to-deployment
- Managing service level agreements (SLAs)
In addition, as compared to active RFID systems, passive RFID tagging systems off er a number of benefits:
- Tags are less expensive by 75% or more
- Tags are smaller allowing users to tag small assets without “hang tags”
- No battery in tags means no maintenance
- No active RFID readers or repeaters are needed – a single mobile scanner can serve an entire data center
Download the complimentary white paper: IT Asset Management: By the Numbers Calculating the ROI of and ITAM Solution
Part 2 of 5: What is ITAM?
IT Asset Management (ITAM) is the critical, yet often neglected, process of inventorying and auditing the assets within a data center.
It is a subset of the larger process known as Data Center Infrastructure Management (DCIM) which represents the convergence of IT infrastructure and building facilities functions within an organization.
ITAM is the process by which IT professionals responsible for the data center are able to track and manage the data center assets under their control.
Inventory assets can vary wildly by organization, but typically include assets such as:
- Other floor-mounted devices (base assets)
- Rack-mounted devices (contained assets)
- Device-mounted assets (sub-contained assets)
- Power connections
- Network connections
We’ve covered this topic in previous blog posts that you might find useful, like these:
- A Clipboard is Not and Effective ITAM Tool
- Value of ITAM for Data Center Colocation Facilities
- Reducing the cost of IT data center audits
This is Part 3 of a 5-part series on Calculating the ROI of an ITAM Solution. The entire series is available as a complimentary white paper in PDF format for download here.
Part 3 of 5: Why Inventory & Audit the Data Center?
Why should an organization conduct an inventory and audit of its data center assets? In a word: control. In order to best control the deployment, use and eventual upgrades or decommissions of its technology assets – and to best justify the costs associated in its technology investments – every organization must conduct accurate and up-to-date inventories and audits.
The purpose of conducting a data center inventory is to create a baseline set of accurate information for all the assets in an organization’s data center facility.
Each piece of equipment must be located and accounted for, including recording specific details about each asset. Best practices for the asset information to record include, but are not limited to: manufacturer, model, device type, rack unit (RU) position, and any child or sub-contained -devices that may be connected or related to the asset.
Important features of the data center are often forgotten during the inventory and audit process. Best practices are to include facility as well as IT assets, racks and cabinets should also be tagged and inventoried with care taken to record their accurate location on the floor plan. Connectivity for both power and network connections should also be recorded.
Once an initial inventory has been completed, it is good practice to schedule regular audits of the data center. An audit can either be a spot-check on random racks of equipment or a full detailed audit of an entire data center. If the data center staff is documenting its moves, adds, changes, and decommissions when they occur in the data center, later audits should not be as time consuming as the initial audit.
This is Part 4 of a 5-part series on Calculating the ROI of an ITAM Solution. The entire series is available as a complimentary white paper in PDF format for download here.
Part 4 of 5: The High Cost of Manual IT Asset Management
The only way to truly determine the ROI of an IT asset management solution is to note the already high costs of a manual or legacy solution.
There are four key areas to consider that can affect the outcome and cost of a data center audit: Initial Data Collection, Data Accuracy, Tracking Changes and Data Audits.
For this article series, we will assume a typical mid-size data center facility containing 200 racks with 20 assets per rack for a total of 4,000 total data center assets.
- Initial Data Collection – The typical manual collection costs come to $15 per asset for “readily available” data which includes manufacturer, model, serial number, name, and location.
- Data Accuracy – An industry report from Digital Realty Trust showed manual collection results in a 85-90 percent accuracy rate. This also results in a 10-15 percent error rate, or 400-600 assets with incorrect data in our assumption.
- Tracking Changes – We make three assumptions here about data center changes. First, much of outages are due to changes. Second, 80 percent of the Mean Time To Repair (MTTR) is based on trying to locate the asset to change. And finally, third, manual change tracking does not track unauthorized changes. The Digital Realty Trust report showed that 74 percent of data center managers were unable to locate a specific server within minutes and 20 percent were unable to locate the asset within a day.
- Data Audits – There is a similar cost and effort involved with data audits as with initial data collection efforts.
There are two approaches to IT and data center audits: manual data center audits or implementing an RFID asset tracking solution.
The first has a high cost associated with it. Based on the above factors and assumptions, it is not unreasonable for data center operators to see costs of up to $60,000 or 20 man weeks around manual data center audits. And, these audits are proven to be inaccurate.
By contracts, the current cost of implementing a typical passive RFID solution in this scenario, our typical data center would see a return on investment in the reduced cost of IT audits in fewer than 12 months.
Even better, RFID asset tracking tools are proven proven to be 99.5 percent accurate.
The Bottom Line
This is Part 5 of a 5-part series on Calculating the ROI of an ITAM Solution. The entire series is available as a complimentary white paper in PDF format for download here.
Many vendors offer ITAM tools to inventory and audit data center assets, including web-based, visualization, connectivity modules, and mobile devices to make inventorying and auditing easier.
When properly implemented in the data center, ITAM tools can help to increase inventory accuracy and reduce the time and manpower required for inventory and audit processes.
The ROI for ITAM is simple:
- Fast. ITAM solutions can provide quicker physical IT asset audits in the data center and throughout the enterprise.
- Easy. ITAM solutions can provide easy to navigate interfaces that work with your existing processes to improve performance.
- Real. ITAM solutions can provide real data through actionable exception reporting and open interfaces to other systems.
- Cost-effective. ITAM solutions cost far less than manual data center audits and can save time and money in daily operations.
ITAM Solution Checklist
When selecting an IT Asset Management solution, it must meet the following criteria to ensure the highest level of efficiency, accuracy and usability within the data center:
- Predefined, customizable manufacturers list to ensure uniform data collection
- Granular audit tracking
- Advanced reporting capability including a full complement of canned reports and a custom reporting engine
- Ability to manage multiple data centers
- Full integration with DCIM tools
- Browser-based, compatible with all web browsers as well as iPad and smartphones
- Dynamic rack elevations
- Top-down data center views
- Customizable labels to match existing tools
- Full IT asset tracking via portals with email, text, and ability to trigger work tickets
Asset Vue’s suite of technology and IT asset management solutions deliver all of the above and more. Our team of experts have combined decades of experience in the IT industry and have built a proven system to increase the effectiveness and reduce the cost of your IT asset management system. Our clients choose Asset Vue for more than an ITAM software solution, but to solve costly problems in asset management with a tailor-made approach.
Meet our team and get a 30-minute free demonstration of our technology and system today!