Thursday, May 14, 2009

Best Practices in Lifecycle Management

Lifecycle management involves a number of key disciplines, aimed at achieving efficiency, productivity, and cost reduction within IT and across the business. Key disciplines when considering a solution for lifecycle management include:

  1. Asset Management – Automatic discovery of hardware and software assets allows organizations to accurately identify the types and locations of devices and software connected to the network. This helps in cost accounting, and feeds accurate planning for provisioning, security, compliance, and more.

  2. Inventory Management – Keeping up-to-date inventory allows businesses to reuse existing systems instead of buying new ones, reduce their hardware inventory software upgrades and license costs, and avoid fines and other penalties by ensuring license compliance.

  3. Bare Metal Installation – Provisioning new software into a system that has no operating system or boot agents installed reduces on-site visits and gets new users and systems up and running faster. Our research shows that lack of bare metal installation can double or triple the time taken to get users productive.

  4. Software Distribution and Provisioning – Installing software from a central location allows new employees to contribute faster, and ensures existing employees can do their job by having the software they need, when they need it. Our research has found that centralized management halves the time it takes to provision new applications.

  5. Endpoint Virtualization – virtualization capabilities to support client-side computing provide flexible access to desktop and application software, often with much lower costs of both hardware and administration. Relevant virtualization technologies include application and desktop virtualization, application isolation, application and OS streaming, and remote control facilities for support.

  6. Configuration Compliance and Remediation – Centralized maintenance of software versions, settings, patches, etc. helps compliance by detecting, preventing, and removing unauthorized software, malware, pirate software, exposures, and other malicious changes. Our research shows that it also halves the amount of time it takes to deploy patches, and reduces virus and spyware management by an average of 80%.

  7. Process Automation – Automating and connecting IT management processes saves time and money. Our research has shown, for example, that process automation can reduce software deployment time on average by two-thirds, and halve the time taken for patch management.

  8. Reporting – Reporting on status and activity allows businesses to identify and avoid potential problems, provides the ‘audit and control’ required for compliance to regulations as well as to best practices like ITIL and COBIT.

  9. Security – Detecting and protecting against security risks at the edge of the network is critical to protecting the network as a whole. Centralized management can prevent potential vulnerabilities such as private FTP or Web servers, unauthorized software, or unauthorized configurations, and detect and quarantine insecure systems out of the network.

  10. Alerting and Messaging – It is important for administrators to detect and respond quickly to problems, to reduce exposure, cost, and downtime. Our research shows that it takes an hour on average before an administrator finds out about a critical problem. Automated alerting reduces this delay, and allows administrators to correct problems before end users and customers are even aware of the problem.

  11. Help Desk/Portal – An integrated mechanism to report problems and service requests improves response to end users and reduces administrative roadblocks. An easy-to-use portal interface to such a system reduces telephone calls, manual intervention, help desk staff costs, and errors, and allows automation to add more value to the process.


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