A K2 administrator recently told me about some ways that he uses K2-KeyServer to manage the lifecycle and total cost of ownership (TCO) of his computers. His organization acquires computers in different ways. Sometimes they purchase computers for individual staff, other times they might lease computers for teams, projects, or computing labs.
For every computer, whether purchased or leased, he wants to record and track certain information to protect his institution from loss and from wasted resources. To be most effective, each computer should be tracked in real-time from the time of acquisition through disposal.
As an example, when a lease expiration date approaches for a group of computers, it is very important to find and collect all of the computers before the return deadline date. Otherwise his company will be on the hook for the full cost of any computers they are unable to return. Effective methods to do this with K2 will become apparent in moment, but first let’s summarize the objectives for hardware asset management.
Hardware Asset Management – example objectives:
- Track meaningful and measurable financial information for cost control
- Computer inventory management for efficient utilization
- Loss prevention
- Data breach prevention through proper disposal
Tracking meaningful financial information is a TCO objective. Over a computer’s lifetime of use there will be various associated costs, starting first with purchase and warranty costs and following with service incidents. Purchase and warranty costs can be tracked directly with K2’s purchase records either for individual computers or for groups of computers, including those under lease contracts.
If the cost of service incidents are tracked in an external system, that financial information can be added to the purchase and warranty costs tracked by K2 by creating a custom report that integrates external service incident data with K2’s purchase and warranty data.
If there is a lease contract, its expiration can be tracked in K2 to ensure a timely return. To associate a computer with a purchase in K2, some administrators place the PO# from the Purchase record into one of the customizable computer fields. See screen shot at right. This allows for an easy method to locate all computers associated with a particular Purchase (or lease).
Computer inventory management for efficient utilization is a practice that helps to achieve the highest possible value from each computer over its lifecycle within your organization. Some key data points to consider for this purpose are K2’s Last Session date (in the Computers table), and K2’s various Login and Histogram Login reports.
Loss prevention is assisted through tracking the same key data points as managing computer inventory, plus recording things like “Owner” and “Location” in the Asset ID fields. In that way, if a computer does go missing, you know to whom it was last assigned so you have a starting point for investigation.
Many K2 administrators over the years have told us of their experiences with stolen computers continuing to log-in to KeyServer after they have been stolen, and how this has helped them to track down their location and retrieve them.
Data breach prevention is a large topic. The International Association of IT Asset Managers (IAITAM) tells us that disposal management has been “one of the least developed processes for asset management in the past”, but it has received considerable attention in recent years. The first steps are properly tagging your hardware assets during deployment, and then tracking their existence within your organization during their lifecycle – easily accomplished with K2-KeyServer. To address this topic more completely, there are many educational resources available from IAITAM.
Custom Computer Fields managed by K2-KeyServer
Beginning with version 7.2 (Spring 2014), Sassafras added ten additional customizable fields to K2’s Computer table. These fields further compliment the three existing Asset ID fields, and one “Site” field, allowing IT administrators to record and track custom data for each computer. The data in all 14 of these fields can be populated using three different methods. The best approach will depend on your management practices. Let us know if you’d like our assistance in making the most appropriate choice. You can:
- Enter data directly within the K2 administrator’s console
- Auto-populate Asset ID and custom fields from Windows Registry keys and Mac Plists
- Import from external sources
Find Computers that are not reporting to K2
One of the more recently added reports to K2 is the “Missing Clients” report. The Missing Clients report compares computer names known by KeyServer to computer names known to an LDAP server (including Active Directory). This is useful to determine if there are computers within your organization that do not have the K2 client agent installed, or maybe have the K2 client pointed to a bad KeyServer address, or are separated by a firewall that prevents them from reaching KeyServer.
The Missing Clients report provides a convenient way to compare the computer records maintained by Active Directory with the computer records in K2-KeyServer. You many find obsolete or missing records on either side of the comparison, which you can then easily fix.
Hardware Configuration Reporting with K2
K2’s computer filters are very powerful tools for identifying different classes of computers within your organization. For instance, if you wanted to identify all computers with insufficient capacity (RAM, HD space, etc.) or capabilities (Clock speed, # of cores, etc.) for a pending software upgrade, you can build a filter for that. In fact, there are some pre-defined filters that will identify all computers that are ready, or not ready, for a major OS upgrade.
Computers can even be classified by Manufacturer and Model name. These are just a few examples of the many searchable hardware properties available in K2. And there are additional possibilities for hardware analysis with KeyReporter’s web-based, graphical Dashboard – included with the K2 package.
Improve your Hardware Asset Management with K2
The primary goal of IT Asset Management (ITAM) is effective optimization of computing resources – both software and hardware. Sassafras K2 will bring your attention to computers that are under utilized – so you can redeploy them to areas of need rather than purchasing additional, unneeded computers. Two important hardware management benefits provided by K2-KeyServer are:
- More efficient hardware allocation based on usage reporting.
K2 provides detailed usage information not just for software but also for the computers that are using the software. The visibility into usage demand that K2 includes is valuable for decisions involving allocation of both computers and software to all areas of an organization.
- Easy identification of candidate computers for upgrade/replacement.
K2’s hardware configuration audits provide valuable details to identify computers that must be upgraded or replaced to maintain minimum standards year to year. Identifying candidates for replacement would be a costly process without K2’s discovery.
If you would like assistance with configuring K2 for hardware asset management, contact us for a personal, hands-on K2 configuration review and consultation. During your consultation, we will review your IT Asset Management goals and offer guidance on best practices for K2 configuration and management to reach your goals. We’ll even assist with configuration to get you started on the path of spending less on computers and software.