IT asset management (ITAM) used to be purely about inventorying what hardware and software assets were scattered about the enterprise. However, the needs of cybersecurity now require that they also offer some kind of security resiliency to protect the assets they are discovering and cataloging. For some, that means building security features directly into ITAM. But for many others, the solution is to tie ITAM into other tools that protect it and aid in patching vulnerabilities. After all, you can’t patch what you don’t know you have, and it remains surprising how often unpatched vulnerabilities lead to major security breaches.
What is ITAM?
IT asset management is software or a cloud-based service that keeps tabs on all hardware components, software, and services operating in an organization. This often includes tracking changes made and determining what additional changes need to be made. In other words, modern ITAM tools go beyond maintaining an inventory of assets to help IT management make decisions about ways to improve capacity, reduce infrastructure costs, or upgrade hardware or software. Additionally, they often provide an accurate account of technology asset lifecycle costs and risks as well as built-in cybersecurity features to combat ransomware and malware.
Compliance initiatives, therefore, are materially assisted by ITAM, as is patch management. ITAM has a role, too, in guiding management in its efforts to enhance productivity by implementing hardware upgrades or business software. Reducing overhead; containing licensing and support costs; and detecting unutilized hardware, software, or services are also within the purview of ITAM applications.
But the bedrock of ITAM is maintaining an accurate inventory of all IT assets.
See our picks for the top vulnerability management tools
Key Features of IT Asset Management Tools
The central features of ITAM vary from vendor to vendor, but the core functions are generally:
- Hardware and software discovery: ITAM records all servers, PCs, laptops, tablets, routers, switches, networking equipment, storage assets, and other devices existing within an organization. This includes remote assets and mobile devices belonging to the organization. Metadata and other sources can be used to track any operating systems and applications operating within the organization and using hardware assets.
- License tracking: Recording license usage within the enterprise, and noting any unlicensed assets.
- Tracking changes: Change management is tracked automatically. As new hardware or software are added or subtracted, the inventory is automatically updated.
- Management: Configuration of custom rules, managing permissions, reporting, and maintaining scanning schedules.
- Analysis: Some ITAM suites include financial analysis and risk management. These systems highlight areas where productivity could be improved via upgrades or where costs could be reduced due to unutilized resources.
Top ITAM Systems
The editors of eSecurity Planet evaluated many vendors in the ITAM space in arriving at the best ones for cybersecurity use cases. Here are our top picks.
ServiceNow ITAM automates the end-to-end lifecycle for software licenses, hardware assets, and cloud in one platform. It allows organizations to optimize their hardware, software, and cloud costs while reducing risk. Automation is provided via workflows from a native CMDB, the central system of record for IT.
ServiceNow’s key differentiators
- Hardware Asset Management allows organizations to reduce cost and minimize risk for hardware and consumable assets.
- Software Asset Management enables organizations to modernize software asset tracking to reduce spending, mitigate risk, and take action across IT.
- Configuration Management Database (CMDB) allows organizations to connect all asset data with business service context throughout the full IT lifecycle.
- Discovery gives organizations a complete view of IT resources across on-premises and cloud environments.
- Cloud Insights gives organizations visibility into cloud spending and usage, broken down by services, applications, cost centers, and other entities.
- Content Library and Lifecycle dates allows IT to tell when versions of Microsoft, IBM, Oracle, and millions of other software and hardware titles will no longer be supported and patched.
The company’s ITAM portfolio includes Ivanti Neurons for Discovery, Ivanti Neurons for ITAM, and Ivanti Neurons for Spend Intelligence. Ivanti Neurons for ITAM allows organizations to have insight into where assets are, how much they cost, and how they’re performing through their lifecycle. With real-time discovery and tracking of assets, it enables organizations to modernize and secure IT infrastructure.
Ivanti’s key differentiators
- Consistent asset management from procurement to purchase order, receipt, deployment, and disposal
- Keep track of asset information, including identifying data, lifecycle status, stock, location, and warranty information
- Visibility into purchased and assigned assets, current stock levels, or active orders to increase speed to provision while reducing service desk calls
- Ability to report on IT spending, calculate, and track asset age and value. View and manage contracts effectively and make informed decisions for contract negotiation
- Speed up retrieval by scanning assets to look up or modify information or scanning multiple assets as part of asset tracking
- Real-time discovery, automated reconciliation, and normalization in minutes, pre-populates the asset repository
- Store vendor information and aggregate performance in vendor scorecards
- Asset repository integrates with your service management CMDB for up-to-date asset information, easy request management, and improved service delivery
ManageEngine AssetExplorer is web-based ITAM software that monitors and manages assets in the network from the planning to disposal phase. It deals with software and hardware assets, ensures software license compliance, and tracks purchase orders and contracts. AssetExplorer helps keep up-to-date information of assets by periodically scanning the software, hardware and other ownership information. It tracks and manages any workstation or network devices, whether Windows, Linux, Mac, AIX machines, Solaris, printers, routers, switches, etc., in your domain or network.
ManageEngine’s key differentiators
- Discover all the Windows, Linux, and macOS assets in the network with the unified agent for asset discovery.
- Make informed decisions about hardware and software purchases throughout the IT lifecycle.
- Understand software license compliance and the use of unauthorized software in the organization, and curb illegal usage.
- Manages all license types like OEM, concurrent, enterprise, free, named user, node locked, trial (apart from the existing CAL), volume, and individual.
- AssetExplorer helps PO management identify areas to reduce spending, enforce policies, and eliminate redundancies.
- Scans and audits all workstations across the enterprise connected over LAN, WAN, and VPN.
- Provides ownership information about the asset along with the hardware and software inventory information.
- Offers a CMDB to track and manage all assets, software installations, IT and business services, people, and documents.
Freshservice ITAM builds a backbone for efficient service delivery with visibility into on-premises and cloud infrastructure. Its suite of asset management solutions deals with discovery, CMDB, relationship mapping, inventory management, purchase order management, and more.
Freshservice’s key differentiators
- Discover hardware, software, SaaS, and more across cloud and on-premises environments.
- Build a multi-source CMDB that is plugged with service management and operations management ecosystems.
- Track infrastructure by mapping its upstream and downstream dependencies.
- Maintain an inventory of all IT and non-IT assets in the organization.
- Skip multiple tools and manage all assets from acquisition to retirement.
- Track purchasing, manage vendors and approvals, and streamline request fulfillment.
- Maintain a unified record for contracts and software licenses, and automate contract renewals to stay on top of their expiries.
- Discover, manage, and optimize your SaaS applications and automate actions.
Flexera One discovers hardware and software across environments such as SaaS, cloud, containers, clusters, and virtual technologies. It finds evidence required to determine license consumption, including IBM sub-capacity requirements. It helps to plug inventory gaps in platforms such as IBM, Oracle, SAP, Microsoft, and ServiceNow.
Flexera’s key differentiators
- Automatically calculates the enterprise’s license position and eliminates manual processes
- Right-size contractual agreements and optimized renewals
- Product-use rights libraries have more than two million entries
- Automated reclamation process removes unused software
- Automates the IT asset lifecycle, so you can quickly find assets that are available in storage, up for renewal, or coming off lease/warranty
- Insight on IT assets that need to be modernized, migrated, or retired
- Gain an accurate picture of SaaS usage to support business stakeholders while optimizing SaaS spending with all vendors
Virima ITAM offers lifecycle hardware and software asset management and integrates with other modules such as Virima Discovery, automated CMDB, and ViVID Service Mapping. It helps an organization to build and maintain an accurate inventory of all IT assets to gain control over them.
Virima’s key differentiators
- Identify and reclaim or reallocate underutilized hardware and software assets.
- Ensure that the most critical IT assets are well protected without overspending for unnecessary support.
- Be ready for audits with certainty and expediency when asked for your IT asset inventory, licensing, patch, security, and financial governance, risk, and compliance (GRC) reports.
- ITIL-compliant Virima CMDB offers configuration and asset management.
- Virima offers integrations with third-party ITSM platforms—ServiceNow, Cherwell, and Jira.
- ITAM inventory management integrations are available, including system monitoring and security altering systems such as SolarWinds, LogicMonitor, and SpiceWorks.
- Warranty websites, such as HP, Dell, Lenovo, and Cisco, can be integrated with Virima ITAM.
- Configure agent for granular ITAM discovery of Windows OS settings.
- Automatic warranty status look-up by serial number.
- Manage vendor service level agreements (SLAs) as well as those your organization is responsible to uphold.
- Reporting engine to generate KPI dashboards and metrics.
Track-IT! offers discovery, auditing, and endpoint management of IT assets. Automated discovery and inventory reduces manual tasks and provides information to help make informed decisions. It is part of Client Management for Track-It!, which is endpoint management software that integrates with Track-It! for asset discovery, auditing, and remote management.
BMC’s key differentiators
- Track-It! also offers capabilities for compliance management, patch management, mobile device management, power management, and software deployment.
- Discover all endpoints with IP addresses.
- See detailed hardware and software inventory.
- Manage financial value of assets.
- Remotely connect and manage devices.
- Automatically push patches and other software.
- Track-It! also automates tasks with operational rules.
Quest KACE Systems Management Appliance addresses PCs, servers, mobile devices, routers, printers, and more. It keeps IT on top of all hardware and software installed across the network. Additionally, Quest KACE Systems Management Appliance has reporting and alerting for most platforms, whether Windows, macOS X, Linux, UNIX, Chrome, iOS, or Android.
Quest’s key differentiators
- Quest scans the entire network to identify all connected devices and provides a detailed hardware and software inventory for Windows, Mac, Linux, and UNIX systems as well as OS and hardware inventory for Chromebooks utilizing Google APIs.
- Network discovery and asset inventory functions can be performed with or without installing an agent by using SNMP and other network scanning protocols.
- Quest automates asset management from deployment to retirement through a single CMDB, including asset data audits, tracking, compliance, and reconciliation.
- SNMP object identifiers can be tracked for non-computer devices, such as toner levels for printers.
- All asset data is integrated across patch management, alerts, and service desks.
- Quest automatically pulls warranty information for all your Dell systems and devices.
Further reading: Best Patch Management Software for 2021