By Alan Swahn
The status quo for software asset management (SAM) and license management is a reactive process, where software evidence is discovered at the endpoint computer that is reported back to the SAM solution for reconciliation into a list of application titles. A few SAM solutions consider purchase order
information to get a report on purchases versus installations. This is worst case compliance, as product use rights have not been applied for each title—meaning you are over spending by not using your rights (upgrade, downgrade, second use …). This is the standard for software audits, comparing
what you bought to what you have installed; also the most expensive. Even fewer solutions have the capability to apply product use rights to minimize your license liability.
But it’s all a bit backwards. Ideally, when an application is requested, the software request portal would first check the SAM system to see if a license is required and available (Figure 1). Required has a deeper meaning than available. Where available means you have more licenses than allocated,
required implies that software product use rights are checked to see if the current entitlement permits the installation of the new software, without needing an additional license. If not, availability is then checked.
If a license is required and available, the portal would ask the SAM system to reserve a license and then trigger the software to be deployed (SCCM 2012, BMC, LANDesk…). Once the software installation has been confirmed, the reservation would be released and the license allocated. If the
installation doesn’t happen within a set period, the reservation would be released and the license would not be allocated.
On the flip side, if a license is required, but isn’t available, the portal would trigger a purchase request, which includes background workflow for necessary approvals. Once approved and a PO has been generated, the PO record would be imported into the SAM system and the portal would initiate license reservation and software deployment.
The solution described won’t stop unmanaged software downloads or full package product installs for users that have admin privileges, but it’s a way to gain control over the largest portion of your software estate. And by design, you are not only compliant (purchased versus installed) but also optimized (product use rights applied) to proactively minimize spend where it starts, at the request for new software. To ensure you aren’t buying more software than necessary, you may want to consider this proactive approach as a requirement for your software request and fulfillment process.
Figure 1: App Portal and Software Asset Management System Integration