Want a slice or the whole pie?

Like some other categories of enterprise software, asset management products are sold in one of two forms. Point solutions specialize in a certain management task, such as tracking product licenses. Suites are groups of separately focused products that typically share a common interface and some degree of built-in integration among components.

Industry experts say most organizations that use asset management software start with one or two point solutions and add products or modules as needed. So, having a plan, even if it is only sketchy, may help you make your initial purchase decision.

The conventional wisdom is that vendors with point solutions have more focus and thus provide better products. The issue then becomes whether the solution can be easily integrated with other vendors' products. On the other hand, suite vendors have taken care of integration concerns, but may not offer best-of-breed modules.

The truth is not that clear-cut. New standards have taken much of the anguish out of integration projects. And many suite vendors have actually purchased and incorporated point solutions, providing, at least in theory, a suite of best-of-breed modules. Following are some examples of asset management vendors and their solutions that illustrate both approaches.

Point Solutions

n Softricity Inc.'s SoftGrid tracks and controls which Microsoft Corp. Windows applications users have on their desktops as well as how often the applications are used.

n Executive Software International's Sitekeeper is used for tracking licenses for software and hardware across the network. According to the company, about 40 percent of all Sitekeeper customers hold government jobs.

Suite Solutions

n Altiris Inc. offers numerous products in its suite, such as the Inventory Solution, Application Metering Solution, Asset Control Solution, Contract Management Solution and TCO Management Solution.

n Computer Associates International Inc. has a number of related products in its asset management suite including Unicenter Asset Management, Unicenter Service Level Management and Unicenter CA-PMA Chargeback.

n MRO Software's MAXIMO MainControl provides users with physical, contractual and financial information to track and manage information technology assets through their life cycles.

n Remedy, recently acquired by BMC Software Inc., also provides a suite of products, such as Remedy Help Desk, Remedy Asset Management, Remedy Change Management, Remedy Customer Service and Support, and Remedy Crisis Response. BMC may develop links between the Remedy software and its enterprise system software.

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