The intangible nature of software assets means they can tend to be more loosely managed than tangible assets over more physical assets. Couple this with the fact that the percentage of the IT budget used to procure software assets increases year after year and it’s understandable why software license management has become a key challenge for organizations.
Understanding what license rights the organization has purchased, how many instances of software are deployed on what type of devices and then reconciling the two is at the crux of minimizing overspending, maintaining compliance and ensuring the proper tools are in the hands of the right users.
Effective software license management requires the proper blend of people, process and technology to be sure. However all the people and processes in the world without a tool that provides accurate, reliable data with a view of the future is only a “two legged stool” and will soon tip over. Certain essentials are important to include in a tool selection process to ensure success.
Software License Management Essentials
IT Asset Baseline
Without accurate, comprehensive and a routinely updated baseline inventory of software signatures and products, effective software license management is nearly impossible. To achieve maximum transparency the scope of this information must encompass hardware as well as software because of the numerous device dependent licensing models. But, it must not ignore the rapid emergence of SaaS. It is important that this baseline is also supported by an integrated normalization capability. This is necessary to account for the nuances publishers and users introduce in naming conventions that can make proper identification less than reliable. Asset Vision provides the active, comprehensive and complete discovery and inventory capabilities one needs to achieve SAM success.
For true software license management, it is not enough to make the baseline configuration of the IT estate more transparent. It must be capable within the tool to show the relationship between configuration and the deployment of software to ensure proper transparency. For example, the movement of a database onto a server that is part of a cluster may well increase costs by an order of magnitude. Understanding the interplay of licensing, virtualization, and clustering is essential if “lights on” IT costs are to be driven down and a true software license management picture is to emerge.
Being License Aware
Licensing rules are becoming more complex, not less so. There is a lack of standardization where even software providers in the same space can use the same terms to describe difference conditions. Software license management must rely on intelligent discovery that knows a running copy of SQL Server is different to an installed copy in terms of licensing, and that some products create a greater liability on an 8-processor server than a single processor server for example. Very quickly, a sweep of a network can identify those configurations that represent the greatest cost to the business. Only with tooling that understands both discovery and license rules in a unified fashion can such value be secured.
With specific support for the licensing models of major publishers Asset Vision works as an effective software license management solution that will detect those machines where the software configuration creates a liability. Further it will assess underlying hardware and virtualization configurations to enumerate the exact metric counts applicable to the assignment.
A key capability of software license management tools must then be their being license aware. Asset Vision supports multiple metrics that include seat, Operating Systems (physical and virtual), Processor/Core, consumer or geographical. This includes license rules must being tightly integrated with license metrics to ensure accurate reporting all within a unified approach.
Being Cloud Aware
Organizations tend to use 91 cloud computing services on average; shadow IT usage is up 70% and 30 to 40% of cloud based applications are used on an unsanctioned basis within companies.
Because of the rapid shift to the cloud, any tooling that remains focused on internal assets only is doomed. What should be most concerning for companies who embrace the use of SaaS is the variety in licensing metrics. They are as diverse as: company division definitions in accounting systems; lead counts in marketing systems; customer logins in support portals; sub-function enablement; back-end database sizes and much more. Pretty much all of these metrics can be exceeded without any evidence appearing outside of the SaaS system, and in many cases without a customer explicitly enabling anything.
The net of this scenario is that software license management in the world of SaaS is less about being prepared for an audit, and more about ensuring and monitoring the consumption of the various license metrics of the SaaS applications in use. This must not be relegated to a third party or external tool, but be part of the single software license management solution. Scalable’s Asset Vision is uniquely qualified to monitor these metrics and provide this unified approach.
Usage is the final piece of the software license management puzzle. Many organizations have numerous servers, holding expensive licenses, supporting non-existent workloads. Being able to identify by whom and how each of the components of business systems are used is essential in order to support decisions about decommissioning unnecessary hardware and software. Scalable’s Asset Vision Optimize delivers precise, activity based software usage metering at the level of detail needed to answer the most pressing questions of what software should you keep, what software needs to be harvested and redeployed as well as are the appropriate products assigned to the right level of user.