Asset Management Tool Roots Out Unneeded Apps

Getting a Grip on Hardware

On the hardware side, the Army found some printers that were underused and others overused. "A big printer that should be doing thousands of pages a month was doing only 100," he says. Paiva was promoted before the Army tackled printer reconciliation, but with a good asset discovery tool, he says, "you can very quickly see this doesn't make any sense."

As an ancillary benefit, the asset management program has helped the Army improve security. For example, Paiva's team found versions of the FoxPro database, which Microsoft now owns, that the military stopped using years ago. "We found older versions of the database." he says, "that potentially had vulnerabilities," such as letting data pass unencrypted over a network.

Another example: at Fort Belvoir, an Army base in Virginia, the software immediately found 103 copies of Google Earth, according to a presentation Paiva made soon after BDNAInsight was installed, to the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association, a nonprofit group studying military and homeland security IT. While individuals can use Google Earth without a license, large organizations aren't allowed to.

Also turned up at Fort Belvoir were 54 possibly unsanctioned copies of iTunes and several instances of Google Talk, which could allow unauthorized VoIP and instant messaging. "At installations where we thought we had all of the computers tightly locked down, it showed we had software which had been installed without going through our software approval and installation process," he explains.

"This is not just an Army thing. Compliance is always a challenge in any big organization." Managing employees using unsanctioned technology is a growing task.

Any large company can get the same benefits as the Army and the DoD, Paiva says. After serving for 10 years in the Army, he was an IT manager at a hospitality company and at a healthcare company. When the Iraq war started in 2002, he took a civilian IT management job with the Army.

Jack Heine, an analyst at Gartner, estimates that for organizations with no or very immature technology asset management programs, first-year savings could amount to 20 percent of the IT budget. Then 5 percent per year is possible for the next three years.

Tomorrow: In Part 4 of our series on IT cost cutting, learn how Washington Mutual expects to save $3 million with PC power management. That is, automatically turning off idle computers.

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