2023 Federal Tech Trends: Device Lifecycle Management Helps Compliance

Establish a holistic view of all entities

Device lifecycle management helps agencies by cataloging minute details about each device in the agency’s environment. Device lifecycle management can also be part of a larger IT asset management system involving software and network equipment.

Knowing where each device is in its lifecycle and when it might be time to update or retire the asset is a key tool for IT managers.

As far as compliance is concerned, device lifecycle management is a way for IT managers to know where the agency’s information lives and how it is secured.

“One of the biggest things is to consider safety throughout the life cycle,” says Frazier. “We still think of things as safe after the fact. We put it out there and oh, by the way, let’s make it safe. We can’t.

“As IT leaders, we have to think about everything we build, from the time we have that as a thought in our brain, we should plan what the security is for that architecture,” he says. “We have to think about the security implications.”

Device lifecycle conversations often turn to software because, as Frazier notes, “the device lifecycle is the software lifecycle,” and keeping both up to date is “an endless prospect.”

Process and policy are fundamental to IT asset management, write David Comings and Randi Coughlin of CDW in a blog post. “They can ensure that unauthorized or malicious downloads are detected on the network and help automate security and compliance practices.”

EXPLORE: Federal agencies lead other industries in zero-trust adoption.

Consider the cost of managing devices

Finances can be a limiting factor when establishing a device life cycle management system. The agency must consider the cost of acquiring new devices and the cost of managing them, including efforts to maintain security and compliance.

On the one hand, keeping devices in use longer lowers the total cost of ownership, but it expands the IT team’s energy and resources to manage them.

“The longer you hang onto devices, the more types of things you’re likely to support—the more varieties of desktop models or laptop models, the more and different nature of mobile phone platforms and operating system versions. And every time you deal with that, you add complexity of what you manage,” says Scott Buchholz, CTO of Deloitte’s Government and Public Services practice.

“Who’s going to manage them? Is it the same group if it’s a desktop or a laptop as it is for a phone or a tablet?” Buchholz continues, “It can be a real pain because it’s not just keeping things up to date on them, but it’s also fixing them when they break, servicing them and so on.”

On the other hand, limiting the lifecycle of devices will narrow the amount of time the IT team spends managing those devices, but can increase costs as devices are updated more frequently.

“How important is it that an employee has a laptop that is no more than two or three years old? Does it matter if it’s five?” says Buchholz. “What is the value of owning the hardware and maintaining the hardware versus essentially leasing the hardware for a period of time, depreciating assets, knowing that the updated life cycles are what they are?

“That’s the challenge of management: making sure you balance the pros and cons of the different areas,” he says.

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