If you’re an IT director or ITAM lead, your company’s software asset management is on you. Whether you’re a start-up or a fully mature enterprise, the old way of doing things, like using MS Excel and Google Docs, simply doesn’t cut it anymore. The data has become too complex. And the stakes have never been higher.
Added to the challenge of keeping track of your assets is the ever-present worry about the dreaded software audit. If you don’t have a handle on what you’ve purchased and how it’s being used in your computing environment, your next audit could result in devastating penalties for your company and some egg on your face, too.
In your role, you might be wondering about IT Asset Management vs. CMBD, and asking yourself, “Do I need both?”
Process vs. Tool
As an ITAM consultant and coach, my focus is on both software and hardware. In this role, people often ask me to explain the difference between Software Asset Management vs. CMDB. So, here we go:
IT Asset Management – Defined
IT Asset Management (ITAM) is a process that seeks to maximize the value of hardware and software assets purchased, consumed, and utilized by your department and minimize the total cost of ownership across the asset’s lifecycle.
The goal of IT asset management is really cost optimization. This means you need to be aware of everything involved, including contracts, invoices, and warranties, as well as the hardware and software. Easy peasy, right? Hardly. Between management and staff changes and mergers and acquisitions, a lot can (and does) fall through the cracks.
Waste, for example, is a huge problem for most large companies and institutions. When I onboard a new client, the first thing I look for is who’s using what. Inevitably I discover software that no one’s using or more employees using software than the company has licenses for. In the past few years, with the vast increase in remote work, problems are rampant, and, unfortunately, software publishers are coming down hard.
CMDB – Defined
CMDB stands for Configuration Management Databases. These are systems designed to store, in one place, all the information related to a specific asset or configuration item (CI). Every piece of data about an asset, such as ownership, usage, location, maintenance and update history, etc., is stored here.
So, in essence, IT Asset Management deals with the financial aspects of assets within their useful life. The CMDB is the tool used to perform ITAM activities.
Software Asset Management vs. CMDB
You need to have both to be effective with either. Some companies try to do asset management without engaging the data in their CMDB. There are too many changes in the environment for the ITAM team to notice – and mistakes get made. Others will install a CMDB and neglect the ITAM data (like a helpdesk ticketing system) and find the reporting coming out of the tooling to be almost useless.
So, if you’re trying to do asset management without a CMDB, you’re probably relying on spreadsheets or naked command & control tools (Microsoft MEM, JAMF, vCenter, or the like). You will be quickly overwhelmed by the complexity of information that these tools present.
But if you leverage your CMDB for IT Asset Management use, the firehose of data coming at you can be normalized, organized, and prioritized. You can see exactly what’s going on in your computing environment and make the right spending decisions at the right time.
If you’re trying to leverage your CMDB without IT Asset Management, what I have seen, in my experience, is usually a help desk running a ticketing system – and they are behind inputting information into that system. Reports beyond the number of tickets entered and the number of tickets solved are never correct.
You’ll never know if you have spent too much or little on contracts and support warranties. You will overspend because you don’t know exactly what you need. You will underspend then be penalized in an audit or a license true-up.
The most important thing to remember when you think about Software Asset Management vs. CMDB is this…
There is no Software Asset Management vs. CMDB – they work together and you need them both.
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