By Greg Holmes
Traditionally disciplines such as Software Asset Management, Application Packaging, Deployment and Inventory/Discovery sit in separate silos in a company. While the information each group holds is valuable, IT departments struggle to link up the data so that the benefits go beyond the initial need.
These areas would benefit significantly if they knew some of the information collected elsewhere:
- Packaging teams benefit by knowing more about who uses the software and how it might be licensed, and then prioritizing work on the most utilized packages.
- Deployment teams should understand whether a deployment of software could cause a compliance risk, or whether a particular version or edition should be used.
- Inventory teams often are a part of configuration management (running tools like SCCM) and don't realize the other value of the data they can collect.
- Licensing teams can advise the editions of products that should be packaged for deployment by knowing more about license rights.
Knowing who needs the data can be difficult though—they might be in a different department, and working on completely separate processes. But, making this kind of information available doesn't require the business to restructure or add additional heads—technology can help.
- This information could be published to an enterprise service gateway to allow it to be shared and used by the appropriate teams and systems.
- Discovery data can be imported into a Software License Optimization engine, to link license entitlement to consumption.
- Application packages can be connected to the Application recognition system which can help drive improved recognition and also understand the packages that need more information about licenses.
- Deployments can be linked to license counts so that automated checks can be made at the time of request or deployment to ensure license compliance in an active sense.
- Also by packaging and deploying software with install and remove capabilities, licenses can be proactively reclaimed by understanding application usage. By closely associating the packages with the license counts, IT can detect when they are not being used appropriately and remove the software as soon as it is no longer required. Licenses can be recovered quicker by understanding how they have been used.
Organizations are only going to spend money on these links of information if there are benefits to gain. In these cases there are many strong reasons to do this. Firstly, IT can drive down cost by ensuring compliance during packaging and deployment phases. If organizations never fall out of compliance, they can save money by having fewer vendor audits, and a higher level of confidence in the organization's procurement processes for software. Additionally, this reduces license spend by maintaining smaller pools of licenses. Organizations can also get by with fewer licenses, by closely matching their usage requirements.
Task automation can reduce reliance on help desk and IT staff when employees request software or purchasing of more licenses—this works best when organizations can automate steps like compliance and approval—and the more they know about the Application Identity being deployed, the better.
Finally, having a single version of the truth, for packaging, deployment, licensing and configuration management of the software titles being used will avoid misunderstandings and incorrect usage of the software around the business.
These are great benefits, but this is just a start. In the future this information may also be able to implement further automation into other areas such as server provisioning, migration to VDI or Windows 8 platforms, driving use of tablets (or BYOD) and end user self-service. So for organizations embracing the consumerization of IT, information is power.