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Home » Resources » What is the IT Asset Lifecycle?
Information technology assets such as data storage drives and devices go through several stages as they are used within an organization. These stages determine the procedures needed to protect company-owned information and sensitive customer data.
Managing these assets effectively across the different stages of the lifecycle promotes timely replacement of used equipment and reduces the total cost of ownership.
How the IT asset lifecycle is broken down can vary across different industry sectors. For instance, the U.S. government’s NIST Special Publication 1800-5, “IT Asset Management,” breaks down the IT asset lifecycle into eight stages: Strategy, Plan, Design, Procure, Operate, Maintain, Modify, and Dispose.
Other groups divide the IT asset lifecycle stages differently, typically with only three to five stages. Ultimately, the number and names are determined by the organization according to its operational policies.
The following stages are fairly conventional and include all the NIST-designated stages above, but at a higher level.
When considering how to manage IT assets—whether they are drives, computers, or other data storage devices, IT asset managers should consider how data is affected along these five lifecycle stages. This will help to both protect the data stored or processed and make the most of IT budgets.
The five stages of the IT asset lifecycle are:
We’ll look at these more below.
At this stage, organizations develop their requirements for new assets. This includes a careful evaluation of existing assets and how they’ve been used. Organizations might consider whether or not to reuse assets they already have. If previously cutting-edge assets are no longer appropriate for one use, they still have value if used for different purposes.
Another consideration at this stage is to plan for each asset’s maintenance, reuse, and disposal options. Proper planning can streamline future stages and reduce the costs of asset management. Today, extending the lifecycle and promoting internal reuse is growing in popularity because of enterprise sustainability goals, the desire to support the circular economy, and the value of increasing tech return on investment (ROI).
This involves identifying the best source for the required IT assets. Leveraging internal and external resources, the right computers, servers, laptops, or tablets are developed, recaptured, or sourced and purchased, making the most effective use of the available IT budget.
Assets are serialized and put into active use. Assets may be deployed in departments that store and process data of varying confidentiality levels. They may be deployed remotely or on premise, in endpoint devices for staff or customers, centralized or distributed, or housed in various data centers. Deployment should follow predetermined plans and policies that direct the types of data suitable for the devices used. There should also be a process of identifying who owns the assets and who will track activities related to the asset. Both data and device protection policies should be in place.
This is the day-to-day operational phase of the IT asset lifecycle and includes the tracking and maintenance of drives and devices. Scheduled maintenance extends the useful life of IT assets, ensures smoother operations, protects appropriate data availability, and prevents data loss.
Internal redeployments and movement of IT assets are (or should be) recorded. Such movement includes issuing and receiving employee devices and reusing assets among different departments.
Within this stage of the asset lifecycle, secure data erasure should be executed before assets change hands. This is to prevent more sensitive or confidential information inadvertently migrating to less protected environments or to users with lower levels of clearance.
Should a device need to be sent outside its physical usage area for either maintenance or repair, backup and sanitization procedures should be in place so that data doesn’t travel with assets sent out of the organization.
Disposal often occurs as assets become obsolete or are deemed at high risk of failure. Servers, drives, or computers that fail unexpectedly also go through a disposal process. Assets may be physically destroyed or have all data sanitized to a Purge level using certified data erasure software.
It’s also important at this stage to set guidelines on when devices have truly reached end-of-life. This can be different from simply exceeding warranties or falling out of use at the organization. With software-based data sanitization, functional devices may be reused internally, donated, or sold, prolonging the life of that device and preventing premature disposal.
Many organizations get more value from their IT assets by employing software-based data sanitization at both the management and disposal stages. But these actions have a trickle-down effect, affecting the planning and acquisition stages as well. That’s because by securely sanitizing data from the asset before the asset changes hands, the asset’s life can be extended for greater return by:
Blancco uses techniques approved by government and international agencies to completely erase data by overwriting it using certified data sanitization technology at every stage of the device lifecycle.
Unlike simply deleting business or personal data through the Recycle Bin, using Blancco data erasure software to permanently and completely sanitize your IT assets will ensure that data cannot be recovered—that includes erasing live data from within active networks or endpoint devices or erasing data from devices at the end of their first, second, or third life.
View our brief overview of two well-known U.S. data sanitization standards: DoD 5220.22-M and NIST 800-88.