By John Emmitt
I attended SAM Summit 2016 in Chicago about a month ago, where Flexera Software was a sponsor of the event. The event was well attended and many Software Asset Management (SAM) practitioners were there. This year’s event had six different tracks with themes including: Big Ideas, SAM and the Cloud, Microsoft Track, Hot Topics, and Oracle Track. Here’s a brief summary of what I learned at this year’s event.
The opening keynote session was presented by C. J. Ortega, formerly an executive at IBM, who was involved in their software license compliance program. CJ covered a wide range of topics, such as the main motivators for starting a software asset management program:
- Improved governance—she mentioned that this is seen as a driver in market verticals such as the financial sector (Banking).
- Mitigation of financial risk—is a strong motivator in technology, retail and other verticals
- Media Exposure / Risk of non-compliance—prevalent as a motivator in the services industry segment, for example
CJ also had a bit of a different perspective on the concept of “optimization.” Normally, we at Flexera Software think about software license optimization involving things like automated license reclamation and software reuse, leveraging product use rights to reduce software license consumption, as well as other strategies to reduce software costs. In CJ’s view, optimization also entails looking at things such as:
- Allocation of costs to the business—often known as chargeback or showback processes. SAM tools that provide good visibility into deployed hardware and software assets and usage are the first step in the process of having an accurate chargeback mechanism
- Ensuring that your software deployment plan is in sync with accounting and finance—accounting processes for depreciation of assets may start when you deploy the software
- Demand management—you need to be looking at software usage trends and demand in order to better forecast future software needs. I agree that this is important, and in fact, FlexNet Manager Suite provides the IBM Cognos tool with advanced reporting and trend analysis capabilities to help you do this.
So, we agree with the importance of CJ’s points on optimization, we just don’t usually include some of them under the optimization umbrella; but maybe we should!
KPMG and Flexera Software presented a session on “Licensing in the Cloud” that was standing room only. There was a slide on License Models in the Cloud (see figure below) that shows license compliance risk and the risk of overspend for the 3 different cloud delivery models—Software as a Service (SaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS). We see that license compliance risk is relatively low for SaaS, while the risk of software overspend is high. Conversely, compliance risk is high for IaaS and risk of overspend is medium. I would add that, when it comes to IaaS, it’s not just the risk of software overspend that you have to worry about, but also the infrastructure costs too. You can easily over buy “Reserved or On-Demand Instances” from Amazon Web Services, for example, if you aren’t tracking and actively managing these services.
Figure 1: Cloud License Models and Risk
Optimizing SaaS licenses requires organizations to collect and analyze usage data. Then you can switch users to lower cost subscription levels (for example, Microsoft Office 365 has multiple levels at different price points), that still meet their business needs. You can also reclaim licenses from inactive users and from users that leave the organization (during the off-boarding process). (To learn more, attend our webinar on “What’s New in FlexNet Manager Suite 2016 – Office 365 Optimization and More”).
Anglepoint presented a session called “Build a Strategy to Identify and Reduce Hidden Audit Costs.” In this “refresher course” on how to manage a software audit, they recommended having an Audit Response Leader who:
- Has experience responding to software audits
- Is aware of auditor tactics
- Understands software audit clauses in contracts
- Has knowledge of software license models, software license reconciliation, and knows how to defend the organization’s license consumption position
- Is the only person who directly communicates with the auditors
During the session Q&A, someone asked a question about when you should bring in your software reseller. The answer, echoed by some people in the audience, was to try to keep the audit response internal as much as possible, but that you could use the reseller as an advocate, depending on your relationship with the reseller and their relationship with the vendor.
In another session that also touched on software audits, there were some interesting ideas on audit clauses that enterprise customers can put into their software license agreements, including:
- If the audit isn’t completed within 3 months, then the vendor pays for the customer’s time to respond to the audit
- The customer dictates the resources and data that they will provide during an audit
- The vendor must sign their agreement or else there can be no audits!
Wells Fargo presented on the topic of SAM and Cybersecurity, which is near and dear to Flexera’s heart. At Wells Fargo, they were originally focused on software license compliance, but now they are focused on cybersecurity. Their ITAM / SAM team works closely with their Enterprise Information Security team. They presented a few ideas on where we need to be for SAM relative to supporting the cybersecurity initiative:
- Need a definitive inventory of all software at the patch level to know everywhere there could be a software vulnerability
- Requires independent validation that you ‘know what you know’
- Requires a tightly controlled process for escalation when software is discovered that is not authorized—SAM tools can show you where you have unauthorized software in your environment (see figure below).
Figure 2: Unauthorized Software in the Environment
NPI's session on “The Realities of Office 365: How to Optimize Your Migration” discussed the advantages and disadvantages of moving to Office 365.
A few of the advantages:
- Lower point of entry for cost
- Per user pricing
- The fact that it addresses virtualization, remote access and multiple devices per user concerns
- Per unit cost is higher
- There is less room for negotiation and customization in the contract
- There is more confusion for the IT administrator
They also shared a few observations on Office 365 migrations:
- Software audit defense is prompting many Office 365 migrations
- Email migration is painful and costly
- Most customers are choosing E3 or E5 subscription levels-- these are getting the most aggressive incentives from Microsoft
- Actual usage rates are still low
- Pricing for Office 365 is “all over the map”
- You need to have your Active Directory in good shape to move to Office 365
These are just a small sample of the sessions at SAM Summit 2016, where there were more than 60 sessions covering many topics of interest to software asset managers. I hope to see you at next year’s conference.
To learn more, please attend our webinar on What’s New in FlexNet Manager Suite 2016 – Office 365 Optimization and More.