2023 Federal Tech Trends: Device Lifecycle Management Is Helping with Compliance

Establish a Holistic View of All Devices

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

It is a key tool for IT leaders to know where each device is in its lifecycle and when it might be time to refresh or retire the asset.

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

“One of the biggest things is taking security into account in the entire lifecycle,” Frazier says. “We still think of things as safe after the fact. We put it out there and oh, by the way, let’s make it secure. We can’t do that.

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

Conversations on device lifecycles often revolve around software because, as Frazier notes, “device lifecycle is software lifecycle,” and keeping both up to date is “a never-ending prospect.”

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

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

Consider the Costs of Managing Devices

Finances can be a limiting factor when establishing a device lifecycle 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 one hand, keeping devices in use for a longer time lowers the overall cost of ownership, but it extends the energy and resources of the IT team to manage them.

“The longer you’re hanging on to devices, the more types of things you’re likely to be supporting — the more varieties of desktop models or laptop models, the more and different nature of cellphone platforms and operating system versions. And each time you’re dealing with that, you increase the complexity of what you’re managing,” says Scott Buchholz, CTO for 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. “That 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 forth.”

On the other hand, limiting the lifecycle of devices will narrow how much time the IT team spends managing those devices, but it can drive up costs as devices are refreshed more frequently.

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

“That’s the challenge of leadership: making sure you’re balancing the pros and cons of those different areas,” he says.

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