CA has announced an agreement to resell Asentinel’s voice and data communic0ants cost management tools, and will initially tie it into its own IT asset management and security offerings.
The resale agreement addresses the dilemma that, while emergence of IP networks are helping reduce bandwidth costs, most large enterprises remain mired in a tangle of disparate voice and data communications service plans that are typically scattered across multiple providers. Consequently, most have difficult times discerning whether they are being charged the proper amount for communications services, or that when employees leave, whether they have finished pulling the plug on service contracts.
The resale deal was the next step for CA, which had previously had a partnership with Asentinel that yielded roughly a handful of joint engagements. CA, like other IT asset management providers, traditionally attacked the problem as a matter of inventorying hardware, such as which PBX hubs served which groups of users, and which users had which handsets.
But, noted Allan Andersen, CA’s vice president of asset management products, which was only attacking the tip of the problem. The expenses associated with communications have increased as customers are going beyond adding Blackberries or T1 lines to using conference calls, webcasts, and other services. The bottom line was that proliferation of services was trumping IP bandwidth cost reductions.
The Asentinel tools provide the ability to track service contracts that not typically covered by IT asset management tools. CA began working with Asentinel on an opportunistic basis with a few clients, and realized there was more potential among large enterprises that were overwhelmed by their tangle of service contracts.
CA is casting the resale deal and tool integration as a bolstering of its IT governance capabilities. For now, the links are via web service calls that will bring Asentinel’s cost tracking data into CA’s IT asset management and security tools.
The result is that the lifecycle costs of IT communications devices will now also have operating and service plan costs associated with them, while CA’s security management tools will be able to ensure that the right people have the right service plans, and that services are turned off when employees leave. Potentially, the tools could be used reconciling charges against service contracts to ferret out errors, and in the long run, for consolidating or right-sizing those contracts based on actual utilization.
On the horizon, CA expects to extend similar links to its service desks. So, when users contact support staff about problems with their communications devices, help desk personnel will be able to know what service providers and service plans are involved.
CA claims that they are the first IT infrastructure management provider to extend governance to the mundane area of communications costs. We haven’t verified that independently, but we don’t recall hearing similar announcements from the other usual suspects.
What’s interesting is the paradox of reduced bandwidth costs is not necessarily reducing enterprise communications bills. Of course, reducing price is a great way to get the customer buying more services, but in this case, it is also the emergence of new services made possible by IP technology that are keeping enterprise communications bills from dropping.
What’s surprising is that CA didn’t simply buy Asentinel outright, given that Asentinel’s own partner web page doesn’t at this point list any partners.