We’ve covered the theory behind IT asset management in our detailed report on ITAM strategies. Once you’ve read through that article, you will realize that there is a lot more to tracking IT assets than you realized. You can get more value out of your equipment investments if you properly plan the deployment of equipment.
Many different task automation tools can help you reduce the total cost of ownership (TCO) of your assets, and that not just in accounting software packages.
Here is our list of the seven best ITAM tools:
- SolarWinds Web Help Desk (FREE TRIAL) Not just a Help Desk support system also helps in tracking IT assets and their utilization. Runs on Windows Server.
- Paessler PRTG (FREE TRIAL) A network, server, and application monitor that includes asset discovery and live asset inventory management. Runs on Windows Server.
- SolarWinds Passportal (GET DEMO) A combined password and document manager that is delivered as a cloud service.
- Atera (FREE TRIAL) A remote infrastructure monitoring and administration system for managed service providers.
- ManageEngine Asset Explorer A full life-cycle ITAM tool. Installs on Windows Server and Linux.
- Alloy Navigator IT asset management and service management available in a unified bundle. This is a cloud-based platform.
- SolarWinds Service Desk (FREE TRIAL) Designed as an IT service management tool (ITSM), this system also supports asset management. Runs on Windows Server.
This list includes different categories of tools that will combine to help you locate your assets, protect them, ensure you get the best performance out of them, and help your staff to deploy those IT assets to maximum effect.
The best IT Asset Management (ITAM) tools
The SolarWinds Web Help Desk has a misleading name because it is supplied as on-premises software, not a cloud service. It is more than just a Help Desk platform and it will support your IT asset management efforts.
One of the tools in this system is an automatic device discoverer. This will compile an inventory of all of your business’s IT assets, as long as they are connected to the network. It also logs the versions of those devices, notes their operating systems and firmware versions and checks for updates and patches to them. The management of that inventory continues automatically, so any additions or removals are automatically accounted for. If a piece of equipment shows a fault or unexpectedly goes offline, you will be notified.
The software was designed along ITIL standards, so it functions very well as an IT service management tool. As asset management is part of the ITIL requirements, all of your IT asset management needs will be served by the SolarWinds Web Help Desk.
Despite all of these ITSM and ITAM functions, the main purpose of this tool is to support a Help Desk team. Utilities in the package include ticket tracking and team utilization management. Reporting features include summaries of assets and their statuses. The tool is particularly useful if you need to monitor the delivery of service level agreements either as an in-house cost center or as a managed service provider.
The Web Help Desk software runs on Windows, Windows Server, Linux, and Mac OS. SolarWinds grants access to potential customers with a 14-day free trial. You can also try the Web Help Desk Free Edition, which has limited capabilities. If you get the free trial of the full system, you will automatically be switched over to the free version after 14 days if you decide not to buy.
Unless you are a startup and haven’t bought any IT equipment yet, you probably already have a lot of IT equipment in your business but you don’t know where they are or what they are doing.
The first task you face when you decide to formalize IT asset management is to track down those resources. Paessler PRTG will do that for you. This is a combined network, server, and applications monitor that will keep track of all of your IT infrastructure. The package is a collection of monitors and you customize the system out of the box by deciding which of those monitors, which are called “sensors,” to turn on.
One service you are going to need from PRTG is its autodiscovery feature. This will sniff around your network and log every connected device. It can’t walk into your store closets, though, so you will have to log equipment that is on the shelf separately.
Once the autodiscovery phase finishes, PRTG will compile an asset inventory. This is not a one-time service. Leave the monitor active and it will continually update the inventory as you add or remove equipment.
Another great feature of PRTG is its network topology mapper. This will show you exactly where each piece of equipment is currently operating within the network. The system offers a range of views of your network layout and its assets and all are compiled and updated automatically.
The monitor will enable you to squeeze extra value out of your assets by implementing traffic shaping measures and asset sharing strategies, such as virtualizations. Each of these activities gets displayed in the PRTG monitor as a layout, which makes tracking asset utilization a breeze.
The monitor will watch over equipment statuses and network traffic flow. It includes a system of alters so that you don’t have to sit and watch the monitor constantly. It will notify you when problems arise and you can get those alerts sent to you by email or SMS as well as getting them posted on the dashboard screen.
Small businesses can use PRTG for free if they only activate up to 100 sensors. You can get a 30-day free trial of the full PRTG system with unlimited sensors.
One of the functions of ITAM lies in an efficient support solution. The ability to provide self-service facilities to users enables the administrators of IT infrastructure to provide IT support at less cost.
The Document Manager module of SolarWinds Passportal includes templates that enable the creation of a knowledge base. The existence of troubleshooting guides, training manuals, and terminology definitions in an online store gives users access to procedural guidance and cuts down the time that they will try to work out a problem for themselves before calling the Help Desk. If the knowledge base is properly stocked, most users won’t need to call for human assistance.
The capabilities of the Passportal Document Manager go beyond the creation of a knowledge base for users. It can also be used to assemble training manuals for technicians and as a store of standard operating procedures (SOPs).
The password manager included in Passportal is another support technician tool. It enables the IT team to protect the IT assets of the company and this system will be accessed by support technicians to reset passwords on demand. An add-on to the package, called Passportal Blink, is a self-service system that enables users to reset their own passwords, thus reducing the burden on the Help Desk team.
Passportal is designed for managed service providers, but it can also be used by in-house IT departments. The package is charged for by subscription and hosted on the cloud. The Passportal system includes cloud storage space, which is a great facility that enables rapid disaster recovery, should your onsite servers get damaged. You can try out the Passportal system with a free demo.
Atera is a remote monitoring and management (RMM) system designed for managed service providers (MSPs). The platform includes all of the elements needed to run a successful Help Desk. This is an important requirement for IT asset management.
The support features include a user help portal that has a knowledge base and access to a ticket raising and tracking system. On the MSP side, the ticketing system feeds through to a team management and work scheduling utility, which is part of the professional services automation (PSA) tools in the Atera package.
The help desk technician dashboard includes a to-do list of allocated tickets and a progress chart for each. The operator has a number of communication channels linked into the console, which include email and a chat facility. The dashboard includes a remote desktop function, which enables the technician to show the user how to use the system and avoid the problem that was highlighted in the ticket. The technician can also gain access to the troubled endpoint behind the scenes to investigate more complicated problems. The Atera package includes a number of scripts that automate the data gathering process.
Other asset management tools in the Atera system include a network discovery feature, which scans the client’s network and lists all connected devices. The platform includes constant infrastructure monitoring that supervises the performance of networks, servers, endpoints, and applications to spot problems before they get noticed by the user community. The system also includes a scanner that seeks out installed software on all of the client’s equipment. This feeds into the license management functions of the service and also highlights unauthorized software installs – an important security feature.
The performance monitoring and asset inventories of Atera assist the MSP to participate with the client in capacity planning to forecast future infrastructure needs, which opens up cooperation over asset procurement and user onboarding.
Atera is a cloud-based service, so the MSP doesn’t need to install any software on-premises. However, the remotely monitored system will need to have agent software installed on it. The MSP’s staff access the online console of the system through a standard web browser.
The Atera system is charged for by subscription, which is calculated per technician. Each customer of the system can choose a monthly or yearly payment plan. However, fees are levied in advance. Atera is available on a 30-day free trial.
Unlike many of the tools in this list, ManageEngine AssetExplorer is a pure ITAM system and isn’t bundled into a Help Desk platform. So, if you are happy with your current Help Desk software, this tool would be of more interest to you.
This is a browser-based system, but it isn’t offered on the Cloud – you need to install it on your own web server.
AssetExplorer is able to track non-IT assets as well. It includes Purchase Order, contract, and license management for complete asset lifecycle tracking from planning all the way through to retirement. This system covers your software purchases as well as your physical assets.
If your business is already established and the owner of assets when you install AssetExplorer, the software will seek out all of your connected devices and compile an inventory. This is a continual process, so any changes to the business’s infrastructure automatically get logged in the inventory.
AssetExplorer is available for free, but that edition only allows one technician account and tracks up to 25 devices. You can sign up for a 30-day free trial of the full system. If you decide not to buy at the end of the trial, you will be switched over to the Free Edition.
Alloy Navigator is an ITSM suite and therefore supports IT asset management. In total, the platform includes utilities for asset management, change management, incident management, problem management, knowledge management, organization management, and contact management.
The asset management features of this platform start off with an asset discovery service. This will identify all of your connected and functioning devices and generate an IT asset inventory. The inventory is a live monitor, so it will detect any changes in the list of devices operating on the network. This continual service also provides problem management support because the device discoverer will spot any status problems with your devices and notify the IT support team immediately.
The asset inventory is a great source of information on the appropriateness of a business’s IT infrastructure and becomes the starting point of any change management project to expand services.
The package also includes a Help Desk system, which is the main Incident Management tool in the platform
This system management suite can be installed in-house or used as a Cloud service. The software installs on Windows Server and is available in two plan levels. The top package is called Alloy Navigator Enterprise and this gives you the full ITSM suite of tools. The cheaper package available, called Alloy Navigator Express.
IT asset management is closely tied to IT service management. This is because the company’s IT infrastructure provision is inextricably linked to the maintenance of a sufficient level of digital services within the organization. The SolarWinds Service Desk, therefore, is also an IT asset management system.
The tool includes asset discovery and automatic inventory logging. That is a continual process and it is closely tied to device health and availability. So, as you keep track of your IT assets, you are simultaneously monitoring the performance of your equipment and the quality of service that your IT department offers to the business as a whole.
The SolarWinds Service Desk helps you follow the entire lifecycle of each device in the company’s ownership. That extends to the software licenses that you buy. You need to make sure that you haven’t over-installed software in your company and you should also be aware that end users might try to install unlicensed software themselves. This task is called “risk detection” and it is included in the SolarWinds Service Desk.
SolarWinds Service Desk is an award-winning Service Desk tool that is particularly suitable for mid-sized businesses. It is a Cloud-based service resident on Amazon web Services, so you don’t need to install any software. You can access the service on a 30-day free trial.
Tooling up for IT asset management
You will notice that many of the tools aimed at IT asset management are bundled into platforms that center on Help Desk software. This is a notable feature of the software industry and it is driven by the observation that managing IT infrastructure is inexplicably linked to supporting users to successfully deliver the business’s aims.
Related: IT Asset Management Software Guide