Feb 06 2019

The Network-Changing Magic of Asset Inventory

Agencies need to identify all of their applications and data for a cleaner cloud migration.

Will moving to the cloud spark joy?

Yes, if your agency tidied up its inventory of applications and data and knows what should be migrated and what should stay behind.

That’s the first to-do item an agency must complete before even starting a cloud migration project. Looking through all assets, no matter the location — on premises, or in a third-party app such as Google or Office 365 — is critical in understanding how those assets are being utilized. 

In the federal space, identifying data that needs to be secured is also important. Once information moves to the cloud, the methods used to secure it change. A firewall or other perimeter-based security system is no longer as effective; in the cloud, it matters more what the data is than where it is. 

So how does the process begin? With tools that essentially move into your cluttered network to sniff out what’s there, where it’s located and what’s being used — not to mention how often it’s been used. 


Federal Laws Require Asset Inventory

Many agencies are attempting to do this already in order to meet the requirements of both the MEGABYTE Act and FITARA. Eighteen of them received an A on the December 2018 FITARA scorecard for having a solid software inventory. But inventories evolve daily, and keeping track is a necessary task for agencies that must also remain accountable as to how they’re spending public funds.

Hence, the need for tools that can keep the inventory details up to date. Monitoring tools such those made by Splunk or SolarWinds can plug straight into a network and sniff out any live asset touching the network. These tools also monitor how the assets are being utilized, and how often. 

These automated audits can answer so many questions. An inventory can save an agency from spending money where it doesn’t need to, or can help the agency to use what it has more efficiently. Maybe there’s an asset that hasn’t been used in a while, and can safely be discarded; maybe it hasn’t been used much, but when it’s needed, it’s really needed, and should be kept. Maybe the network contains unused licenses for apps such as Adobe Creative Suite, and knowing that prevents an agency from buying more when it doesn’t have to.

The journey can be made even more effortless with help from experts in supply chain management and cloud solutions, who can orchestrate a seamless transition to cloud while keeping mission priorities front and center.

Eventually, the process of inventory management leads an agency down a more cost-efficient path, allowing IT staff to see what assets can be stored off-premises where the agency is billed only for what it uses, not for everything that’s stored. And the process is a first step for an agency that wants to move to a more agile way of working as well.

MORE FROM FEDTECH: Find out how agencies can successfully migrate data to the cloud. 

Create Goals Based on Available IT Resources

Knowing how the agency’s IT resources are being used is key in deciding on goals. In a distant data center, everything is used to its maximum efficiency, and an agency may want to consider not moving to the cloud assets involved in quick and constant decisions. In the cloud, the newer technology can make assets more scalable and flexible, and that has value as well.

But without taking the inventory first, there’s no real way to know for sure what’s best for an agency. The inventory of assets allows the agency to make better choices, and decide how best to adapt its IT environment to the cloud. And completing the process successfully will no doubt spark serious joy.

This article is part of FedTech's CapITal blog series. Please join the discussion on Twitter by using the #FedIT hashtag.

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