By John Emmitt
Flexera Software was a vendor sponsor of the SAM Summit event last week in Chicago. The event was well attended and had many informative sessions on software asset management, from case studies to vendor and customer panel sessions. My goal is to provide a series of blogs on session content and lessons learned at the event. It would have been great if I could have done this closer to “real time”, but you know how that goes.
On Tuesday, I attended a session on Mastering a Microsoft Review: Insider Tips for Success by Tres Larsen of KPMG. Microsoft is, of course, one of the top 10 software vendors that perform the most license reviews of customers to ensure software license compliance and drive revenue from true-ups. During a license review, it’s important to collect all of your software license entitlements, also known as “proof of license”. As Tres noted, the gold standard for proof of license is your (paid) invoice. Another good source of entitlement information would be your software purchase orders—if these have stock keeping units (SKU numbers) for each of the line items, then next generation software asset management (SAM) tools can automatically process the PO data and determine your license entitlements. Microsoft SKU numbers define exactly what has been purchased—e.g. Microsoft Office Professional, and how it was purchased—e.g. under an Enterprise Agreement (EA).
In cases where the organization has been involved in merger and acquisition activities, transfer of license documents provide important information on license entitlements that may have been obtained as a result of that transaction. Enterprises also need to track OEM and retail licenses; Microsoft doesn’t track these, so it’s up to you to keep track of these and make sure you get credit for all of your purchases and entitlements. For example, if you bought laptops from Dell, they will have OEM licenses for the Windows operating system and possibly other software pre-installed on the machine.
Tres also discussed the need to understand product use rights for Microsoft software. His first example for this had to do with dedicated training facilities—Microsoft, in some cases, provides complementary licenses for training. But the auditors, such as KPMG, won’t know what machines are in that training facility unless your IT asset management systems are able to keep track of that sort of thing and report it. Software asset management and license optimization tools can be used to track the role of the machine (training, production, test, backup/failover, etc.), to make sure that your organization can take advantage of free training licenses.
Similarly, under the Microsoft Select (or Select Plus) agreement, you may have the right of second use (aka portable use), whereby you are entitled to have the software installed on both a desktop and a laptop assigned to the same primary user. Once again, the auditors won’t necessarily know which portable devices are assigned to which users and may not take this right into account, leading to a possible (apparent) under-licensed situation. Your software asset management and license optimization system should keep track of which devices are assigned to which users and apply the second use right (and potentially other use rights), as appropriate, to avoid this problem.
A number of other examples of product use rights were briefly discussed, including MSDN licenses, unlimited virtual use rights for SQL Server 2012 Enterprise edition, and passive failover rights in SQL Server clusters. Tres mentioned that SQL server is the most common out of compliance Microsoft product. For SQL Server running in a virtual environment, he recommended that organizations create a SQL virtual cluster licensed for unlimited virtual machines (VMs) to avoid any risk of being under-licensed.
Other recommendations included:
- License virtual environments with Windows Server Datacenter Edition, which allows an unlimited number of VMs running Windows Server. The cost difference between Datacenter edition and Enterprise edition is not that great.
- Split the license review into specific product families—Windows Server, SQL Server, Exchange, SharePoint, etc., and assign specific personnel to be responsible for each area.
- Consider hiring an outside consultant to help you with the license review; KPMG has found that about 1 in 10 companies do this.
All-in-all it was a very informative session. Hopefully this has helped convey some of the insights gained by those who attended.
To learn more about Strategies for Optimized License Management, including understanding and applying product use rights please view our on-demand webinar.