Managing systems saves firms money in bad times

Downturn is even more critical for Asian companies to be certain of their assets and automate more systems management tasks, say Symantec executives.
Written by Vivian Yeo, Contributor

SINGAPORE--Enterprises, during the downturn, need to focus more on systems management and automating as many of these tasks as possible, according to Symantec executives in the region.

David Hanley, Symantec's senior director for endpoint security in the Asia-Pacific and Japan region, told ZDNet Asia in an interview Thursday that during good times, businesses tend not to mind spending extra on managing each endpoint. "But when you start running the numbers when your budget is tight and your company is not performing well as a result of global economic issues, this becomes really important," he noted.

Citing Gartner figures, Hanley said a well-managed network of endpoints can result in "roughly 50 percent delta in savings". The total cost of ownership of an unmanaged desktop PC, he added, could be close to US$5,900 during an estimated lifecycle of three years, while that of a well-managed endpoint--with a high level of automation--would be about US$3,500.

In addition, about 65 percent of threats a company faces result from the lack of a well-managed network, said Hanley.

"If you don't invest a minimum amount in systems management , the costs associated with managing that IT environment are double what they would be if you made this minimum investment," he pointed out.

Hanley added that it was also important for companies to be certain of their "big ticket assets", as they are not only expensive but pose a huge security risk--viruses may not be eliminated totally if not all the machines can be identified. A bank customer in South Asia, he related, had faced a bleed in its budget, as it had more than 1,000 desktops that it was not aware of in its environment.

Steven Scheurmann, director for enterprise OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) in the Asia-Pacific and Japan region, concurred. "Most of the costs associated with a desktop environment is the manageability. When unmanaged, it becomes extremely expensive because you're fire-fighting all the time," he explained.

Very few companies within Asia, even in Japan, have a high degree of automation in their systems management, said Scheurmann. However, the current financial climate which emphasizes cost savings and doing more with less, could bring about a change.

Hanley noted that it was also "critically important" for IT security budgets to be sustained during times of economic pressure, as company assets become more precious. "Whatever is required to maintain a security lockdown on your IT environment is absolutely money that needs to be maintained, and you need to ensure the integrity of that part of your budget."

Also Thursday, Symantec announced its new Altiris Client Management Suite 7.0 and Server Management Suite 7.0. The new release is the first since the acquisition of Altiris in 2007, said Hanley, and incorporates Symantec's data protection technology.

Hanley added that while Altiris technology had been primarily focused on large enterprises, it will cater also to the mid-market with increasing modular scalability.

Separately, EMC on Wednesday also announced improvements to its Smarts line of automated IT management tools, with the introduction of an analysis tool called Smarts Server Management for virtualized systems.

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