Tangram upgrades asset management tool

Tangram Enterprise Solutions Inc. last week released its next-generation asset management software, which includes a new solution to help agencies determine future procurement strategy based on current system and contract performance.

Asset Insight 3.0, like older versions of the software, puts software agents on the desktop systems of an organization that pull information on the network back to a central database. Users and administrators then can process reports on different activities, such as a system being replaced or moved, new software being installed or a change in users.

Version 3.0's new features enhance the basic asset management software. Beyond just tracking assets as changes occur, the new release has new modules to help organizations better understand the impact that such changes have on their operations, according to the company. Analysts said that is a key step forward.

"Tangram is really raising the bar of what asset management should be," said Norbert Kriebel, an industry analyst with Giga Information Group.

The biggest change is Tangram's new Business Associates, which are optional extensions to Asset Insight that will include procurement, finance, human resources and service desk programs. The Business Associates take the historical information gathered and tie it into the business functions of the organization to help improve business processes.

"We're targeting people who are trying to make business decisions with asset data," said Steven Kuekes, Tangram's chief technology officer.

The first available module is the Procurement Business Associate, which automatically imports the electronic packing slip information for the assets on a network into the Asset Insight database to generate reports based on the financial and technical aspects of an asset, Kuekes said.

The Procurement Business Associate generates reports and analyses that will help track and compare the performance of vendors on order delivery, including any service agreements that are in a contract. The reports also can be used to map information technology acquisitions against future needs to help plan for upgrades and compare costs for "lease vs. buy" decisions.

Other new features are additions to the basic Asset Insight system. They include e-Install, which cuts down on maintenance time and cost by automatically downloading the software agents that collect and send information about the system back to the Asset Insight database.

Asset Insight can be useful for any organization, but enterprises with locations spread across the country or the world can use e-Install to its fullest, Kuekes said.

The ability to manage the hardware and software on a network without going physically to each desktop is a great advantage. Tangram has been doing more federal business lately, including at the Defense Department, based on this premise, Kuekes said. Tangram sells its products through a number of resellers, including Electronic Data Systems Corp. and Unisys Corp.

Other new features include the Change Inspector subsystem, which takes the reports that users generate and relates them in non-technical language for people more used to the language of business than the language of IT. Change Inspector can include a cost analysis of any changes, Kuekes said.

"The whole idea of change is being brought up by customers who are trying to manage their costs," he said. "They need to know that information to get a full picture of what the changes mean."

Such a cost analysis can offer a lot to an organization because the cost of running a PC is seen mostly in the management and maintenance, Kriebel said. And with better management, organizations will be able to lower their costs, he said.

Asset Insight also will automatically generate Enterprise Daily, an intranet-based "newspaper" that highlights trends in network usage in terms that every employee in the organization will be able to understand.

"That kind of information now is becoming increasingly important because IT is no longer a bunch of technical people," Kriebel said.

Many of Version 3.0's changes are based on a complete reworking of the Asset Insight architecture, but upgrading will not be a problem for current users because Version 3.0 can be added module by module and is compatible with past versions, Kuekes said.

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