Ford puts brakes on desktop costs

By Sami Lais, Computer World |  Hardware

Ford Motor Co. will begin deployment in January of Tally System Corp.'s TS.Census asset-management software for its 100,000 desktops worldwide.

Testing will wind up this month and deployment will take an estimated five to six months, said Arun Kant, who took over last month as director of infrastructure technologies and security at the automaker.

Ford will use the software to automatically detect hardware and software on the network, as well as to track assets for 80,000 desktops in the U.S. and another 20,000 worldwide, said a Tally Systems spokesman.

"Through 2004, enterprises that implement a managed-procurement process will lower acquisition costs by 5% to 8%, reduce time for implementation by 30% and experience half the new technology and process implementation failures," said Gartner Group Inc. analyst Patricia Adams.

"If you don't have an end-to-end asset management program, you're spending a lot of money you don't need to spend," agreed Shaun Brachmann, network administrator for plumbing-fixture maker Kohler Co.

Brachmann led the team that implemented TS.Census for his company's 5,300 desktops in its Kohler, Wis., headquarters.

"If you don't have asset management, how can you even begin to guess what you need to buy?" he asked. "Planning annual budgeting -- that's [TS.Census'] most basic function. There's a million other things it does, but when you're trying to justify it [to management], that's the one that hits them on the head like a hammer."

Asset management isn't glamorous, said Dennis Drogseth, analyst at Enterprise Management Associates in Boulder, Colo. "But if you have a good system in place, in addition to what it offers [intrinsically] it enables other functions such as problem-solving, performance monitoring and managing your IT investment."

For example, asset-tracking reports can make it obvious if a particular model or brand of hardware breaks down frequently. By tracking software licenses, the technology can prevent inadvertent software piracy and can also e-mail a manager when a license is about to expire.

"Following the IT lifecycle approach will ensure that resources are managed, optimized and retired within the confines of best business practices," Adams said.

"Plenty of [IT] shops don't have complete end-to-end systems. What they'll have is a lot of different stuff that touches the problem," Drogseth said. System management software, including framework software, usually focuses on the health of the network, he said.

In May, the Lebanon, N.H.-based Tally released its NetCensus asset-management software renamed TS.Census.

TS.Census' support for TCP/IP as its native communications protocol lets network administrators scale up the number of remote servers they can easily network.

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