By Natalie Overstreet Lias
In a workshop recently, I was asked a question I’d never considered in detail before. We were discussing a phased approach to Software License Optimization based on the software asset management (SAM) Maturity Model and “crawl, walk, run” to achieve success over the term of a SAM project. With that in mind, I’d suggested a focus on the organization’s top ten vendors. The question was, “what do you mean by top ten?”
It seems simple. Certainly, any software asset manager can typically identify, without any doubt, the four or five software publishers most critical to the organization. These publishers typically have some common characteristics: they are strategic to the enterprise and are widely deployed. They are present on most desktops or servers and underlie critical business functions. IT spending on these publishers represents over 50% of the total, and is often more like 70 or 80%. They are usually some of the biggest software vendors— for example: Microsoft, Oracle, IBM, and SAP. If an organization has a large commitment to Adobe or Symantec, these vendors may also be considered strategic by IT.
The identity of the “top ten” publishers beyond the most strategic ones may not be so obvious. IT spend on these is not a certain guide. If your organization has its top vendors under control, the metric used to identify additional vendors may not be current spend, but rather risk – this could be software audit risk or mission criticality risk. By the latter we mean that you may have some software that is mission critical for business reasons, for example engineering applications that are critical to meeting time-to-market goals. Here are a few things to consider when assessing areas of software risk:
- It’s been said that relationships govern business, and the contract is what governs it if the relationship fails. If your organization’s relationship with a publisher is not great, especially if it has recently worsened for some reason, you should consider how you would respond to an audit from that publisher.
- Some publishers consider audits a primary method of enhancing revenue. If you purchase software from one of these, even if the quantity is not large, the publisher will be aware the software is present in your environment. If the software is not well protected by individual license keys or other enforced license compliance, and especially if your environment does not have controls on who may install software, the software can proliferate. An audit in these circumstances can lead to disaster.
- Don’t neglect non-IT purchases of software. Product design, engineering, and manufacturing environments can be significant software cost drivers. I have seen organizations where the annual R&D software spend was ten times the amount spent on all Microsoft software. But even if the spend is not high relative to the overall software budget, be sure to consider all of the mission critical applications, such as engineering design tools, as discussed above.
Remember – when thinking about your next Software License Optimization target, think in terms of managing your SAM program to deliver strategic value by not only reducing ongoing software costs, but also by minimizing risk.
Learn more by viewing our on-demand webinar:
Top Tips for Surviving a Software Audit
Read previous blogs on audit trends and how to respond:
New Gartner Report Shows Software Audits Up Again in 2011
More from Gartner on Software Vendor Audit Trends and How to Respond
Notes from SAM Summit 2012—Software Audit Readiness