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Industry News: Rise of the platforms

Early 2021 has been a busy time for ITAM tool and service providers. We’ve seen announcements from Flexera, Aspera, Ivanti, and Cleanshelf and they all have one thing in common – looking to address the need to integrate IT Asset Management with other IT Management & Governance disciplines. Read on for a look at the announcements, the motivations behind them, and what this platform approach means for the ITAM tools market.

Flexera

Flexera have launched Flexera One, a SaaS service designed to help manage complex hybrid IT environments. By combining traditional on-premises SAM with SaaS Management and Cloud Cost Optimisation Flexera One seeks to provide IT leaders with a single view of their estates. Under the hood this is integrating long-standing Flexera products such as Flexnet & Technopedia with recent acquisitions in the SaaS Management space (MetaSaaS) and Cloud Management and Migration space (RightScale & RISC Networks). It’s not just other companies that Flexera have been snapping up, they themselves were recently re-acquired by investment firm Thoma Bravo for $2.85bn. When Thoma Bravo last owned Flexera (back in 2011) they oversaw a five-fold return on their investment and it’s likely they’ll be expecting something similar this time. The platform approach certainly positions Flexera well against enterprise ITAM competitors.

Aspera

Aspera have announced a rebranding of their products under their parent USU brand. Aspera have been part of the USU family for many years alongside Valuemation (Service Management) & Leutek (IT Monitoring). Former Aspera products will now be branded under the USU Software Asset Management name and currently there are no changes to the product portfolio. USU see, as we do, that there is value in IT Management disciplines becoming more tightly integrated and in time I expect that we’ll see many synergies arise from their complementary product portfolio. For example, Valuemation & Leutek are both strong in handling vast quantities of real-time data, which is increasingly important to ITAM teams tasked with managing always-on cloud environments.

Ivanti

As reported in our January round-up, Ivanti continue to add to their IT Management platform portfolio, with the acquisition of ITSM provider Cherwell alongside MDM provider MobileIron. Ivanti’s ITAM capabilities were acquired several years ago with the acquisition of Concorde Solutions, which added to the existing capabilities of Ivanti founders HEAT & LANDESK. Ivanti are the most acquisitive participant in the IT Management sector and these latest acquisitions enable it to offer a comprehensive platform approach to potential customers.

Cleanshelf

Cleanshelf, an Enterprise SaaS Management company, have announced integration with Okta’s Identity Cloud service. Okta provide companies with single sign on and provisioning services for SaaS applications and this integration enables Cleanshelf to grow its capability in the Operations use case for Enterprise SaaS Management. For example, SaaS Managers will be able to use integrations with Okta to determine which users have which SaaS subscriptions, whether they’re being used, and kick off automations to add/remove subscriptions. This meets the twin goals of provisioning apps quickly and seamlessly for users, whilst controlling costs by having the visibility to be able to reclaim subscriptions for under-utilised apps.

Analysis

Why are we seeing this flurry of activity? I think that there are two primary reasons.

Firstly, the IT Management landscape has been transformed by rapid digital transformation and the shift to remote working over the last 12 months. An IT Management model based on most users being based in centralised offices doesn’t scale to managing a remote workforce.

With company IT assets now located in basements, garages, and bedrooms, and employees using a BYO-Everything approach to getting work done, asset visibility and management becomes much more challenging.

Having flexible tools to meet that challenge is key. If you’re an IT Asset Management tool provider in 2021 without a SaaS Management and Cloud Cost Management capability, you’re on the back foot in competitive conversations with prospects. Furthermore, if you have got those capabilities in your product portfolio, it makes sense to integrate them into a single presentation layer, as Flexera have done with Flexera One.

The second reason for the rise of this platform approach from IT Management tool vendors is the impact that ServiceNow is having on the industry. ServiceNow CEO Bill McDermott has stated publicly that they want to be the “platform of platforms”. It’s no accident that many ITAM toolsets integrate with ServiceNow’s CMDB and ServiceDesk products. Now that ServiceNow has built-in ITAM capabilities across SAM, HAM, and Cloud the competitive landscape has shifted, particularly at the enterprise end of the market. The sales and solutions messaging from ServiceNow around using a single source of truth to serve multiple stakeholders (ServiceDesk, ITAM, Security, Procurement, and so on) will undoubtedly resonate with IT leaders seeking to get to grips with the rapid expansion of their estates.

Whether this is the right approach will very much depend on your use case, and how you deploy technology in your organisation. However, the management nirvana for many years has been an actionable “single pane of glass” view of IT estates – something that’s best provided with a platform approach to IT Management.

What’s next?

We’re only a month in to 2021 and already we’ve experienced so much change in the ITAM tools market. Is there more to come? Is the platform approach attractive for your use case? Who might be next on the acquisition merry-go-round? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

 

About AJ Witt

A former IT Asset Manager, AJ is Industry Analyst for The ITAM Review. He's interested in hearing from end users of ITAM tools and also vendors. He enjoys writing about the SaaS Management market, practical aspects of ITAM operations, and the strategy of major software publishers. You can connect via email (aj.witt@itassetmanagement.net) or LinkedIn. AJ is based in the New Forest where he enjoys cycling, walking, spending time with his family, and keeping chickens

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