By Ken Hilker
Addressing a specific challenge in your application management processes can deliver benefits; however strategically managing the entire application lifecycle can bring a completely new level of optimization. Today, I will discuss some key points to consider for each step in the enterprise software lifecycle.
With software costs now consuming around 30% of the IT budget, the software procurement process plays a strategic role in keeping these costs under control. The first tactic that should be leveraged is to ensure that your organization is only buying what it needs. For most, this means simply counting the number of licenses needed.
I recommend digging beyond simple seat counts into actual application usage. This ensures you are only purchasing the features and functionality that your users need. For example, when licenses are running low on the Professional Edition of a product, most organizations will go out and buy more Professional Editions. But could some of those users have their needs met with a Standard Edition? Or perhaps through a free open source product? Understanding application usage data is the only way to truly optimize your procurement process. With better knowledge of how applications are being used, organizations can provide alternative recommendations that drive future procurement requests.
Once a new software product is procured, or an existing product has been upgraded, it must be configured for electronic software delivery (ESD) through a software configuration process known as “packaging.” To keep up with the complex transformations that are happening in desktop computing, most IT departments are leveraging multiple packaging technologies. Packaging teams need to be prepared to leverage two or more software configuration systems, such as Windows Installer, installation wrapping, application virtualization, and application presentation.
Application installations are rarely a single file install any longer. Part of the configuration process involves chaining pre-installation dependencies and post-installation updates along with the core software. This metadata about the installation process was historically baked directly into the package, but now new deployment solutions are managing this process. This provides additional flexibility, allowing software to be deployed to a wider range of devices. One new challenge is for this application knowledge to be handed off from the packaging engineers to the deployment administrators. Enterprise packaging tools should support transitioning this metadata directly to the deployment system or bundling it into an external “wrapper.”
Software delivery requests are typically put through a change review system, scheduled, and eventually deployed during a change window. This process works very well for large scale deployments, but is cumbersome for an individual application being deployed to a single user. When making a software request, the individual may have to wait hours or days to receive the application as it moves through corporate processes. An application self-service portal makes the enterprise software lifecycle much more agile. The requesting user can start receiving their application within minutes and deployment administrators are freed up to focus on large scale deliveries and infrastructure support.
Licensing and Compliance
Software deployment processes, whether scheduled en-mass or delivered through self-service portals, should be integrated into Software Asset Management (SAM) systems to ensure software licensing remains in compliance. As some applications may have been over-purchased as a result of complex licensing models, and others may have been accidentally under-purchased due to unexpected demand, it is important to continuously try to optimize software licensing through aligning entitlements with usage data.
The ISO 19770 software tagging standard acts as a standard form of evidence to ensure Software Asset Management solutions detect and accurately indentify software products. With, Microsoft, Adobe, and Flexera Software all supporting this standard, it is critical for enterprises to use SAM solutions that are able to detect and leverage this evidence.
Due to rapid software release cycles, Windows migration projects, and business growth, the volume of applications needing to be managed has grown to a point where it is critical that all phases of the software lifecycle are managed through a centralized workflow system. Implementing a workflow management system makes it easier to scale efforts to contractors and outsourced partners and ensures standard processes are enforced and tracked. Workflow systems also can manage SLAs, report on larger projects, and provide transparency of the lifecycle processes back to the business.
So as you are looking for solutions to your immediate challenges, take a look at the larger process. The benefits realized by strategically managing the entire application lifecycle are exponential. Each phase becomes tightly integrated and smoothly transitions to the next. Users are empowered to access the software they need, while keeping software licenses optimized. Leadership and project management are kept informed of key metrics. And, engineers are empowered with industry leading solutions. It’s a step-change gain for all.