Cracking the IT Asset Management Nut

OSS veteran NetCracker rolls out technology infrastructure management solution

Waltham, MA  November 19, 2002  NetCracker Technology, already known as a provider of operation support systems (OSS) to the telecommunications industry, has turned its attention to the market for information technology (IT) infrastructure management solutions.

Founded in 1993, NetCracker has built a stable of telecoms clients  including such industry heavyweights as Qwest, Sprint and AT&T  that use the provider's OSS solutions to manage the technology service delivery process from accepting an order to activating equipment.

Now NetCracker is leveraging its OSS solution with the release of an IT infrastructure management suite targeted at organizations outside the telecoms sphere. "It's the same type of platform, the same capabilities, but configured a bit differently for enterprises," explained Julie Wingerter, vice president for strategy at NetCracker.

The new solution addresses the business pain that large enterprises experience as they attempt to manage complex technology infrastructures encompassing everything from telecommunications equipment, desktop and mobile computing equipment, and software and other assets.

The IT Infrastructure Management solution includes several modules addressing specific segments of the IT asset lifecycle. The IT Asset Management module forms the core of the solution, holding all the information on a particular asset, such as the purchase date of a laptop, the software installed on the machine, warranty and depreciation information.

The Asset Discovery module automates the inventory and auditing process for hardware and software deployed within an enterprise, "discovering" installed equipment, reconciling asset information against the live network and ensuring corporate configuration standards are being followed.

An Asset Purchasing module provides functionality for automating the purchasing process, including approvals, budget checks and assignment of expenses to cost centers. This module can also check on-hand inventory for assets in stock, and it lets a company set and enforce purchasing policy, consolidate purchasing across departments and reconcile purchase orders, invoices and receipts for IT assets, according to NetCracker.

The Contract Management piece lets a company manage periodic contracts, including lease, maintenance, insurance and warranty agreements. Automated alerts can help companies avoid penalties associated with lapsed leases, and the solution can allow a company to merge disparate maintenance contracts to negotiate better terms.

Finally, the Lifecycle Financials module is designed to let companies manage budgets, cost centers and charge backs, understand total costs of ownership, and generate inventory and depreciation reports for tax purposes.

The modules can be implemented separately or jointly on top of an integration server.

Wingerter said NetCracker is targeting the solution at Fortune 2000 companies, enterprises with at least a couple thousand employees and complex IT infrastructures. She acknowledged that the release of the infrastructure solution brings the provider into competition with a new set of software companies, including the likes of Peregrine, PeopleSoft and the U.K.'s Centennial, as well as smaller players such as Tally and Tangram.

NetCracker's differentiators, according to Wingerter, include its solutions' totally Web-based architecture and the diversity and integrated nature of its offerings. In addition, she points to NetCracker's experience in the telecoms industry and the privately held company's sound financial footing.

The solution starts at about $100,000. As for the potential benefits of installing this type of system, Wingerter cited the potential cost savings from automating manual processes, as well as the utility of giving financial and IT departments ready access to a variety of information regarding an enterprise's assets.

Fred Broussard, senior research analyst at technology consultancy IDC, suggested that implementing a comprehensive asset management program could allow many companies to save on IT expenditures and increase the likelihood that they will achieve a positive return on investment by better managing their current and future IT assets. "IT organizations that use pre-integrated offerings such as NetCracker's can benefit when rolling out IT Infrastructure Management in their organizations," Broussard said.