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Global CIO Quick Takes: AstraZeneca Saves Millions With BDNA

Well-done global IT-asset management can turn beancounting into strategic insight—and generate big savings.

Global pharmaceuticals giant AstraZeneca needed some strong medicine of its own to fix a burgeoning IT-asset-management problem brought about by multiple acquisitions and their non-standard gear, a high-tech workforce spread across 255 facilities in 147 countries, and in total more than 67,000 employees using more than 90,000 hardware and software assets ranging from notebooks up to SAP and Oracle enterprise applications and databases.

With software vendors becoming more aggressive on audits as sales of new products are generally weak, and with greater internal collaboration requiring a more consistent set of tools to simplify processes and maintenance, the $31 billion pharmaceuticals company realized a few years ago that Microsoft's Systems Management Server was simply overmatched for the job of managing the global enterprise's complex base of IT assets.

So Microsoft recommended the asset-management products offered by a French company called PS'Soft, which is a subsidiary of BDNA Corp., a top provider of IT infrastructure inventory and analysis solutions. And in the years that AstraZeneca has been steadily getting its IT assets under control, PS'Soft has distinguished itself like few other IT vendors, according to AstraZeneca Global IT Asset lead Bernard Warrington. (The delightful Mr. Warrington retired from AstraZeneca on Dec. 31 but was kind enough to share his experiences in between rounds of golf.)

"In all my years, our engagement with PS'Soft was one of the first and only times we had an IT vendor show such willingness to work as a true partner and really try to solve our problems with us," Warrington said in a recent phone conversation.

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Referring to PS'Soft's Julian Moreau, Warrington described the uniquely open collaboration that allowed him and his team to understand the problem, design the solution, and then execute on that plan.

"Julian and I worked extremely closely together, and from there our partnership cascaded down to the other members of the team," Warrington said. "But I need to be very clear about that: in the beginning, the knowledge and expertise were clearly with them—they were teaching and we were learning."

The problem, Warrington said, is that in the increasingly strategic world of IT-asset management, "the toolset itself meets only 30% of the overall need: on top of that, you need to build the processes, understand the costs, come up with standards, develop interfaces with other major vendors, and much more—we simply didn't have all the skills necessary to cover that total lifecycle. But PS'Soft did have those skills, both in-house and through their contacts."

In addition, Warrington said, PS'Soft and BDNA had the global experiences necessary to help AstraZeneca get its arms around its global sprawl of IT gear, which was essential for two reasons:

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