IT infrastructure has become the backbone of every organization. After all, it enables businesses to successfully operate and efficiently deliver customers their services.

Discover what IT Lifecycle Management is, why it is important to organizations, and how to get started in Ardoq.

What is IT Lifecycle Management?

IT Lifecycle Management (ITLM) is the planning, acquisition, implementation, maintenance, and retirement of key IT infrastructure components that are essential to support business functions. In other words, ITLM is the lifecycle management of your technology.

These key IT infrastructure components are, traditionally, physical assets such as computer and networking hardware, as well as the facilities these live in. However, some may choose to include policies, processes, data, and people as they all are relevant when managing IT infrastructure.

Overall, the purpose of IT Lifecycle Management is to ensure the optimal performance of on-premise infrastructure technology components. This reduces downtime and maintains business productivity.

Why Is IT Lifecycle Management Important to Organizations?

IT Lifecycle Management (ITLM) provides you with a list of all your infrastructure components and their current utilization across the portfolio. Having a clear picture of your technology landscape helps you understand where you are over or under-provisioning and reduces your infrastructure footprint as much as possible. Rightsizing infrastructure enables IT-teams to use existing hardware more efficiently, allows for smoother implementation of changes, and cuts down costs on power, cooling, or even square footage.

However, the most relevant benefits revolve around the lifecycle management of an organization’s physical components. ITLM enables IT-teams to identify aging or legacy hardware and plan the next steps for migration and replacement before performance issues negatively impact the business. ITLM allows for well-maintained hardware that, in turn, increases security and reduces downtime and costs.

Better security

As your hardware ages and manufacturer updates stop, the more vulnerable your network is to malware attacks. This increases the chances of hackers finding ways past your security and stealing any data on that device.

According to the Cost of Data Breach Report 2020 by the Ponemon Institute, data breaches can cost organizations USD 3.86 million annually on average. Moreover, it can lead to losing your customers’ trust and damaging your company’s reputation, resulting in additional business losses. As stated in ITIC’s 2020 Global Server Hardware, Server OS Reliability Report, security is the issue that most negatively impacts reliability and causes downtime for server hardware, a heavy cost for organizations.

Thus, the importance of decommissioning dated technology and upgrading right away as each new version of hardware usually comes with new safeguards to protect against malware threats and avoid unplanned outages.

Less downtime

Considering that the number one source of downtime is hardware failure, as reported by Quorum in their The High Cost of Downtime whitepaper, monitoring their lifecycle is a must to minimize downtime.

IT Lifecycle Management enables IT-teams to do just that. It allows organizations to steer clear of failure by paying attention to the lifecycle of IT devices and understanding when the best time to make upgrades is.

Reduced costs

In addition to data breach costs, downtime is another cost that organizations who hold on to legacy hardware must be prepared to assume. ITIC’s report reveals that four in 10 enterprises lose between $1M and $5M for a single hour of downtime per year.

Investing in new infrastructure can be financially discouraging for most organizations after years of funding these heavy investments. However, to keep aging hardware and systems running leads to lagging performance, increases the potential for security attacks and failure, and costs your organization innovation and growth. Legacy technology demands more maintenance, which robs your IT personnel of time to focus on projects that increase business opportunities and operational efficiency.

IT Lifecycle Management can help you break free of the risks that dated technology poses. It enables your on-premise infrastructure to run more efficiently and confidently at significantly reduced costs.

What Are the Lifecycle Phases of IT Infrastructure?

The phases that IT devices pass through in their lifecycle typically are planning, procurement, deployment, management, decommission, and disposition.

However, we recommend using phases that are the most relevant from an Enterprise Architecture point of view and that work for different component types. For example:

Evaluation

Use this date field on assets that have yet to be purchased and that management is still defining their business and technology objectives.

Implementing

Use this date field on IT devices that have been received and are currently being installed on your premises. Alternatively, use it on IT devices that were acquired and awaiting delivery.

Live

Use this date field to label hardware integrated into your IT infrastructure and is available for use. Maintenance work is a priority in this phase.

Phasing out

Use this date field to identify aging technology that has been agreed to be removed.

Retired

Use this date field on units of technology that have already been decommissioned and are off your premises.

If you find your organization needing different or more specific phases, you can absolutely create more. Ardoq’s flexibility allows you to easily add custom fields to capture different types of data, such as lists and date ranges. These can later be used to create roadmaps, filter your data, and visualize it in different ways.

How to Get Started with IT Lifecycle Management

1. Document your organization’s infrastructure

As a first step, you will need to document your on-premise technology in Ardoq, as well as any dependent components and references if possible. Refer to this template to get an idea of how to do so.

Know that you do not need 100% of your infrastructure portfolio to start getting value. Ardoq’s approach brings together the experience of what works on the ground in a format that delivers results fast. Value can be quickly realized if the important parts of your portfolio are captured, and the overview grows organically as you continually maintain your IT infrastructure landscape.

There are several ways to bring your data into Ardoq. You can manually add your IT assets, components, and references by using the Grid Editor, or you can easily import them using any of the following integration methods:

The Excel importer integration is a one-time import way to bring your data into Ardoq. That being said, you can re-upload your data whenever you need to update it. With the ServiceNow Integration, you can easily synchronize your data with Ardoq and you can use the REST-API to automate documentation.

You can also use Surveys and Broadcasts to ask and target key stakeholders across your organization about IT assets that only they may be aware of. Surveys are a fast and easy way to gather data, while Broadcasts uses event-driven automation to enable you to reach the right people, at the right time, with the right message.

2. Identify key IT assets

Next, you will want to prioritize your infrastructure assets based on what is critical to your organization. For example, you could create a perspective to focus on the IT components that are crucial to your business strategy first. This approach allows you to focus on small parts of your IT infrastructure, tackle the most important components first, and drive value as fast as possible.

While you certainly do not need 100% of your portfolio to get started, we recommend aiming at fully having your most critical assets documented. This way you can show value faster to stakeholders by having the data around your most important systems in the portfolio.

3. Define your IT assets’ lifecycle phase

To set a lifecycle phase for each asset, you first create them as fields in Ardoq. Use the list field to create the different lifecycle phases you’ve previously defined. Use the date range field to determine the deployment and decommission dates.

We recommend that, at a minimum, you create a Lifecycle Phase list field and a Live date range field to run a light version of lifecycle management. For a more advanced version, create a date range field per phase. The more insight you have into dates for each lifecycle phase, the better you can plan for what it is to come next. A date range allows for a better understanding of your IT infrastructure needs in the next few months or years. As you plan, it will make it easy to implement the changes needed or mitigate any potential risk to the change. When doing so, we suggest setting the end date of one phase to match the start date of another. This is to avoid having a break in continuity, but it is not a requirement as you may have gaps in handovers.

Now you are all set to assign the relevant phase to your IT devices. Most likely, no one person knows the phase each of them is in, nor a single place you can refer to to get this data. Fortunately, you can also gather this information with Ardoq’s Surveys. Create a simple survey per component type that asks about the asset's name, lifecycle phase, start and end dates. Use Broadcasts to reach key stakeholders.

4. Visualize and optimize your IT infrastructure

Now that you have brought lifecycles and time into perspective, you can visualize and analyze your IT infrastructure in the Timeline view. For example, you can filter your portfolio by Live-End before=Today to see outdated technology that you should retire. Or filter by Live-End after = a given date from now to see the IT components that are soon reaching end-of-life, and for which you should execute the migration and replacement plan. You can also add milestone dates, such as the release date of a new version, to prepare for the necessary upgrade work in advance.

To gain the contextual understanding of the legacy technology, you can focus on the asset in question and look at more relationship-oriented views like the Block Diagram, Component Matrix, or Dependency Map. That will give you a greater understanding of the ecosystem impact.

5. Set reminders

To effectively manage your IT infrastructure, all key stakeholders should be notified when a piece of technology will be removed in advance. Use Broadcasts to create a milestone alert that will inform stakeholders when a key date (e.g end of support date) is approaching and what happens after that.

Conclusion

Avoiding replacement costs and the hassle of breaking long-term service contracts can be tempting reasons to keep legacy hardware. That being said, the risks and growth hindrances associated with keeping them are invariably larger.

IT Lifecycle Management helps transform your IT infrastructure to increase security, plus reduce downtime and costs. With ITLM, you can drive substantial business growth and innovation by proactively monitoring your organization’s infrastructure lifecycle.

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