IT Survival: Asset Management and Disaster Recovery

Mike Houghton explores how proper asset management and a comprehensive disaster preparedness plan can save administrators time, money and their sanity.
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The broad arena of enterprise network management can be overwhelming, particularly if you're the new hire in a large organization's IT department. All too often "the newbie" will fail to focus on the time saving (and potentially job saving) aspects of the job such as Asset Management and Disaster Recovery.

With today's growing need for patch management, antivirus signature updates, license compliance, usage tracking, and a host of other responsibilities, an enterprise network management solution is not only a useful tool but also a necessity. If you're new to this, then you will want to be as realistic and upfront about the true scope and cost of these essential tools when pitching a potential solution to senior management. Let's take a closer look at both Asset Management and Disaster Recovery.

Asset Management

Time and again large businesses allow the tracking of their IT licensing and asset serial numbers to get out of control. This is a crucial topic when it comes to licensing true-ups, warranty tracking and asset location. Management and control of these can be a daunting task. In today's world, asset management is not only a tool for the IT department but also an essential tracking device for accounting and other departments with a say in how money is spent and invested. Think about how great it would be to know the exact number of copies of any given application installed across your network, at any given time, along with version information.

There are also management tools that include the ability to update, configure and monitor your network communications devices including routers, switches, servers and all kinds of LAN/WAN devices. In fact, many tool sets include support for handheld devices, like PDA's, Scanners and printers and in some cases, WLAN AP's.

Properly implementing a quality asset management tool can save a company a lot of time and money in a number of situations. The ability to audit, track and monitor software usage are all functions available with specific management tool sets.

Patching remote clients in an enterprise environment by sending CD's via snail mail is simply not an option. If you are just starting in a situation where at least some of the processes to handle these issues are not in place, then you'll want to consider a tool specifically engineered for this task.

Depending on your specific environment, you will want to consider such applications as Microsoft's Software Update Services (SUS), Windows Update service, and SMS for MS-based environments. There are also a multitude of choices for MS and non-MS platforms including Altiris, Marimba, PS'SOFT, Computer Associates, manageStar, Intuit, Remedy and others.

But don't be fooled by the sales pitch of the asset management software vendor. In order to enjoy the full functionality of these tool sets, you will need to implement them early in the planning stages of the network infrastructure. Also, many of these tools require a software client of some form to be installed on each machine to be managed.

You can request for onsite demonstrations and evaluation software from these vendors in order to get a good understanding of the various applications' pros and cons as they apply to your particular business.

Once you have a grasp on your assets, as it were, then you can begin looking into a solution to keep it all up and running should some sort of disaster strike your organization. This is where a contingency plan comes in. Or as we refer to it in corporate America, "Disaster Recovery".

Page 2: Disaster Recovery Planning


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