By: Steve Bryant
Efficiency – producing results with an economy of effort and a minimum of waste. (Chambers 21st Century Dictionary, 1999)
Software Asset Management (SAM) is often seen as such a considerable challenge, primarily due to its sheer scale and the levels of complexity involved. A common initial goal for any SAM program is to gain visibility of what is present in the estate, but this in itself poses a series of challenges due to the complex nature of the modern enterprise IT landscape:
- Diverse and disparate environments
- Multiple application delivery mechanisms (locally installed, virtualised applications, virtualised desktop, streamed application, private/public cloud, etc.
- Users having multiple devices, either business owned or their own (BYOD)
The leading Software Asset Management and License Optimization solutions will offer a variety of ways of collecting the required data, applying appropriate intelligence and providing methods of grouping and managing the information. The very best solutions offer license optimization automation and clarity for the most complex sets of software licensing challenges (e.g. think sub-capacity licensed applications hosted on dynamically provisioned virtualised server clusters – multiple layers of license management headache without the right solution!)
Despite all this, we are still facing a huge mountain of SAM tasks to prioritise – what do we do first? Many organizations break this down by vendor, often determined by the next audit, true-up or license renegotiation – but is there a way we can further streamline the process to get to that starting point?
One element that hasn’t been considered thus far is the usage of applications. This information is often considered toward the end of a “traditional” SAM process, during the optimisation phase, allowing the maximum value to be squeezed out of each and every license. What would happen if this information was leveraged right at the beginning instead – by taking instances of applications that are not being used out of the estate before you look at what is installed?
The result could be that the set of applications you are left to manage is smaller, with a different (i.e. more appropriate) order of priority as determined by looking at the relative install counts around the estate. Why spend time chasing down licenses and contracts for an application that might be prolifically installed but never used??
Now we all understand that it’s not as simple as all that – if it was, most organizations would be doing this already! Two of the primary requirements are:
- A solution that can return usage data
- A method to control and manage the removal of the software in the right way
For the first point, many inventory solutions can bring back usage data even if just at simple levels such as “last run date”; the ubiquitous Microsoft SCCM, for example, can do so either through metering rules or the commonly present-by-default Asset Intelligence.
How do we deal with the second requirement? This is where an enterprise “app store” comes into its own by:
- Automating the application removal process and potentially reclaiming licenses (also known as license reharvesting) based on appropriate business rules (Look out for my next blog -
on license reharvesting)
- Ensuring transparency of activities through managed end-user communication before, during and after the application removal and license reclamation process.
- Offering a properly managed, efficient and automated method to the user community that allows them to quickly obtain applications when they actually need them through a self-service request portal
Software asset management should not be a linear process – there are multiple elements that interact as part of a SAM programme and they need not, in fact should not, just be strung along one after the other. Particularly when starting the move to the next level of SAM maturity, running some of these in parallel can save significant amounts of time resulting in faster ROI and lower costs – just what the business needs—efficiency.
To learn more about Software License Optimization, please view our on-demand webinar: Go Beyond Traditional Software Asset Management with Software License Optimization. Hear Forrester's Duncan Jones discuss how traditional software asset management is failing to meet today's business challenges, and hear A.P. Moller-Maersk's Luis Pellufo Johansen discuss how his team has implemented an IT asset management program that embodies software license optimization principles.