6 Common Shortcomings of Systems Management Tools When Used for IT Asset Management

Software asset managers and IT pros tasked with taking on license optimization, risk management and audit readiness frequently come to us after months or years of frustration because the data they are using to perform these tasks isn’t fit for purpose.

The source of this problem is systems management tools have some IT asset discovery and inventory capabilities, and may perform some ITAM functions, such as detecting vulnerabilities (and patching them) or identifying EOL software on a subset of devices. But that is where the similarities between systems management and IT asset management platforms end. These platforms perform different functions in your organization. In short, you need both systems management and IT asset management capabilities to have reliable, secure, efficient and compliant technology.

The good news is these platforms can leverage each other’s data to improve outcomes. For example:

Key Functions of Systems ManagementKey Functions of IT Asset Management
– IT asset discovery and inventory
– Performance monitoring
– Patch management
– User activity monitoring
– Antivirus
– Capacity management
– Configuration management
– Identity and access management
– IT asset discovery and inventory
– Software normalization and augmentation
– Reconciliation reporting for audit defense
– Cost optimization insights
– Application rationalization insights
Key Benefits of Systems ManagementKey Benefits of IT Asset Management
– Improved reliability of devices and applications
– Improved security of applications with patching,
performance metric anomaly detection & log analysis
and antivirus
– Hardware/storage/network optimization
– License compliance and prevention of audit fines
– Reduced licenses costs/over-buying of software
– Improved security by detecting vulnerabilities,
EOL/EOS applications and shadow SaaS applications

6 common ways systems management tools fall short for performing IT asset management functions

  1. No visibility to modern applications and infrastructure. Many systems management tools were built two to three decades ago, at a time when everyone went to the office and all devices and applications were managed by agents. Over the last five years, we’ve seen an explosion in spending on cloud infrastructure, container use and SaaS applications. Gartner® estimates organizations spend $1,040 per employee on SaaS and forecasts that spend will grow 15-20 percent annually. Without visibility to these environments, IT professionals have gaping blind spots in detecting risk, maintaining software compliance and controlling costs.
  2. Lacks the ability to do effective license position (ELP) reporting. Most systems management tools do not have a mechanism for importing contracts and entitlement data. As a result, spreadsheets are required to marry application installation data with entitlement.
  3. Does not support discovery or usage data for some of the most expensive, and commonly audited vendors. To determine your ELP for these complex vendors and applications (SAP, Oracle Databases and Database Options, Oracle Middleware, Oracle Java, Adobe and IBM), you need detailed usage data and an ITAM platform that will scan for details, like use of Java.
  4. No automated cost optimization insights. Without usage data, and the ability to report on application usage by category, IT pros are unable to identify potential savings opportunities when preparing for renewals or in application rationalization initiatives.
  5. Limited or no application normalization and enrichment. If you are bringing in data from third-party sources, it is imperative that you have the ability to normalize application names, versions, vendors, etc. and enrich application data with end-of-life and end-of-service dates, application categories and so on.
  6. Limited support for feeding data to third-party CMDBs. Some systems management vendors include a CMDB but the majority lack integrations to third-party CMDBs. ITSM practitioners spend a lot of time ingesting and reconciling data from multiple sources into their CMDB of choice. Having an accurate, normalized and comprehensive IT asset data source helps save time and improves the incident-and-problem-resolution process.

Missing IT asset management capabilities in some common systems management tools

CapabilitySnow SoftwareSystem Center Configuration Manager (SCCM)LansweeperIvantiManageEngine
Gartner Software Asset Management Leader4.5 out of 5.0 rating on Gartner
Endpoint inventoryCheckedCheckedCheckedCheckedChecked
On-premises application discoveryCheckedPartial (largely Microsoft-focused)CheckedCheckedChecked
Enterprise application discovery (SAP, Oracle Database/Java/Middleware)Oracle verification
SaaS application discoveryFor both free and paid applicationsPartial (via SSO only known apps)
Application usage and meteringCheckedRequires configuration per applicationPartial (Y/N and no metering)
Automated mapping of users, devices and application licensesCheckedUser device affinities only for Windows PCsUser activity monitoring via SIEM
Application normalization and augmentation700,000+ applicationsDeprecated featureNormalization75,000+ applicationsUnknown
Importing of contracts/entitlementsCheckedDeprecated featureVia custom fieldsCheckedChecked
Reconciliation reporting for ELPWith verification for Oracle Databases and MiddlewareNeed to create reportsNo IBM, SAP, OracleChecked
Cost optimization insightsCheckedChecked
Vulnerability managementDetects vulnerabilities and provides upgrade recommendationsPatches Microsoft and limited third-party appsCheckedChecked
EOS/EOL/PII reportingCheckedPartial – Microsoft products onlyCheckedChecked
Application type data for application rationalizationChecked
ITSM/CMDB integrationServiceNow, BMC, Cherwell, TopDeskCheckedOpManager integrates with ServiceNow
This is a high-level comparison of important features required for software asset management. Comparison created using public information (product pages, documentation) as of 7/27/2023.