By Alan Swahn
It’s good to see Microsoft announcing support for the ISO/IEC 19770-2 software tagging standard. Providing and leveraging these tags comes within a six step process, where both software publishers and Software Asset Management (SAM) / Software License Optimization tool providers must participate for customers to derive value. Here are the steps to tag utilization as part of the license optimization process:
Step1: The software needs to be tagged by the software publisher. (See Flexera Software’s announcement of end-to-end support for tagging including InstallShield 2012 support for the creation of tags and AdminStudio support for preserving tags during the repackaging process).
Step 2: The tagged software is deployed (using tools such as SCCM or Intune) to the endpoint (computer).
Step 3: The auto-discovery / inventory tool needs to be able to collect these tags from each of the devices (desktops, laptops, servers, pads…) in the IT environment.
Today, SCCM 2012 doesn’t yet provide this tag inventory capability. It will be important for Microsoft to synchronize the future release of SCCM that is “tag-ready” and the tagging of its many software products. One without the other creates a break in the chain. Likewise, no customer value is achieved if software tags can’t be collected and processed downstream.
SAM and Software License Optimization tools pick-up where SCCM leaves off. There are several more steps in license management and optimization that lead to much higher value and return on investment. Let’s take a look at the Rest of the Story, as Paul Harvey said so many times.
Step 4: Once the software tag is collected during the inventory process (future version of SCCM or other existing inventory tools—note that FlexNet Manager Platform supports tag collection now), this evidence still needs to be recognized. The capabilities required here go beyond SCCM and a SAM or License Optimization solution is required.
Tags provide richer evidence compared to other types like Add/Remove programs, but still represent fingerprints that must be processed and matched to an application recognition library entry. This recognition process produces a list of software titles per device. Now you ‘know what you have’ in your IT environment. This is the value of tagging—easing the process of accurately identifying installed software.
Step 5: A License Optimization solution (a few SAM tools provide this too) should automatically link the reconciled software titles per device to a proper set of software stocking keeping unit (SKU) numbers, where one title may have many SKUs, depending on how it was bought. The SKU number defines exactly what was purchased and how it was purchased (e.g. under an Enterprise Agreement, Select Agreement, etc.) The linkage between the title and purchase order SKUs is the key to streamlining the license reconciliation process and reporting on what was purchased compared to what was found through inventory.
This type of ‘purchased versus inventory’ report is valuable and what many companies use to defend themselves in a software license audit. However, it doesn’t account for the license entitlements that come with the software. This means that although the report is accurate from a license compliance perspective, it’s completely non-optimized, with no product use rights taken into account. In this case, you could end up paying unnecessarily for more licenses in both an out-of-compliance (audit) situation and for a new purchase scenario.
Step 6: This step is a big one, only handled by License Optimization Solutions, and disproportionate to the first five steps. It is the key to driving down spend and forestalling unnecessary software purchases. The type of agreement under which the software was purchased, the license metric/model that the vendor uses to calculate price, the software product use rights (entitlements) under the agreement, and order of license allocation are all tied together from a license/spend optimization standpoint.
Example License Metrics
- Processor Value Unit
- User Value Unit
- Resource Value Unit
- Authorized User
- Concurrent User
- Floating User
- Client Device
- Developer User
- Business Expert User
- Professional User
- Limited Professional
- Business Information User
- Employee User
- Employee Self Service
- Business Analyst User
Example Product Use Rights (License Entitlements)
- Second Use
- Multiple Install
- Virtual Environment Use
- Backup/ Fail Over/ Disaster Recovery
Example Order of License Allocation
- Standard Licenses before Professional
- Product Licenses before Suite Licenses
The license optimization solution determines the least cost outcome considering all of these variables and conditions, which are very complex and differ from vendor to vendor, physical versus virtual and even software title to title.
It’s very common for companies that reach this step to find that they are over licensed for software from some of their key vendors. They can either forestall future purchases or negotiate with their vendor and perhaps pay maintenance for only what they really need. In an software license audit scenario, the liability calculated from a software purchased versus inventory report may be greatly reduced or eliminated, after applying product use rights and generating an Actual License Position.