The IT Landscape
The IT landscape has changed significantly over the last few years and not only includes on-premise hardware and applications, but also virtual systems, employee-owned mobile devices, and cloud offerings. The increased adoption of cloud computing in particular provides enterprises with an opportunity to assess their application landscape and make better business decisions about what to keep on premise and what to move to the cloud. But the disparate nature of the rest of IT’s assets obscures its view of the environment and threatens a team’s ability to make informed decisions. Moreover, the inability to connect the dots and analyze the data across technical, financial and operational system silos leads to inaccurate analysis, thus increasing both the cost and risk of moving to the cloud.
How do you ensure that you have the right information and analysis to make sound decisions? The critical first steps in the analysis process include knowing which products the enterprise owns, connecting these assets to financial data such as licensing and contract terms, and mapping them against usage patterns. This type of information and analysis is not only critical for migration to the cloud, but is also essential for other initiatives such as IT audits, Windows 7 migration, data center consolidation and application transformation.
There are three key reasons why it is a challenge to establish a comprehensive view that spans operational, technical and financial systems and to connect the data across these systems.
1. Nomenclature mismatch across systems
To connect the data dots across your systems, the nomenclature must align. For example, your IT asset management (ITAM) system says that you purchased Dreamweaver, made by the vendor MacroMedia (since acquired by Adobe), but your operational system, which extracts much of its information directly from the software’s executable files, says that the product is from Adobe. To compound problems further, your purchasing systems might show slightly different nomenclature for MacroMedia, Inc., which was the company name when the software was purchased. Fixing such discrepancies requires painful manual reconciliation and makes data analysis expensive and error-prone.
2. Inability to measure the accurate cost, usage and vendor spend
Cloud decisions must be made based on accurate cost and usage information. However, measuring the true cost of software is challenging due to the inability to rationalize the software you purchased with the software that’s installed and the software that’s actually in use. Further, the inability to accurately aggregate your spend for each vendor impedes your ability to negotiate favorable vendor contracts as you consider moving to the cloud. In an ideal world, IT managers would run a report in an ITAM or financial system to understand products that are licensed, license costs and installed products. However, it is not that simple.
In addition to the matching nomenclatures, enterprises also need to understand the business lineage of software and software bundling options in order to aggregate and analyze data across these systems. For example, if you’ve been working with a vendor like Adobe, many of your employees may have purchased the Adobe Creative Suite or Design Suite. Other users may have installed individual products such as Photoshop or Illustrator. So your ITAM systems and your operational systems are no longer speaking the same language. Your asset management system thinks you have installed Creative Suite and Design Suite from Adobe, but your operational system can only see Photoshop and Illustrator. You need full knowledge of the business lineage, bundles and actual usage to derive the right cost metrics.
3. Lack of market information
In addition to pricing information, you need market data to make good business decisions. This includes:
- Compatibility information – IT managers must consider any existing software’s compatibility or availability in a cloud offering.
- Licensing alternatives – If the software in question can be purchased as a part of a suite, it is important to know which licensing alternatives will allow you to migrate at the lowest possible cost.
- Support lifecycle information – Knowing where you are in the support lifecycle and total amount spent on support helps with decisions about which applications to migrate and when.
All the above criteria must be met across hundreds of vendors and tens of thousands of software titles in order to make the right trade-off decisions.
How does a common language of IT address the problem?
A common language of IT is essentially a comprehensive, current and common taxonomy of everything in IT. The taxonomy is neatly categorized into appropriate software and hardware types, vendor names, products, version numbers, bundles, business lineage and more. This guide map is an essential starting point. With a common taxonomy, IT teams can normalize data from any repository against data from any other repository. Further, by enriching this guide map with missing market data information, you can carry out sophisticated analysis that was never before possible on a consistent or accurate basis.
Since new products are introduced every day and product ownership changes often due to mergers and acquisitions and other business events, it is critical to continuously update this information on an ongoing basis to ensure up-to-date analysis of IT information. Having a common language of IT enables enterprises to solve big data issues, simplify IT projects and reduce waste.
By Walker White
Walker White is the chief technology officer of BDNA Corporation, creator of Technopedia, the world’s largest IT reference catalog, with more than 450,000 hardware and software products listed from over 11,000 vendors.