By Randy Littleson
Enterprises today are investing heavily in applications, with software licenses accounting for as much as 35 percent of total IT spend. Driving maximum usage and optimizing return on software investment has become a business imperative. As simple as that seems, enterprises face many obstacles in their efforts to use applications effectively and gain maximum value from them through more mature software asset management (SAM) processes. Thousands of applications may be spread across multiple business units and geographies. Those applications change constantly as IT rolls out upgrades, patches and new applications. Moreover, licensing terms, conditions and software product use rights differ from one application and vendor to another, increasing the software license management challenges organizations are facing.
The continuous stream of evolving and emerging technologies only adds to the problem, placing intense pressure on the IT staff to deploy new operating systems and implement self-service models to give users convenient application access. More recently, users have begun demanding that the enterprise adopt the emerging bring-your-own-device (BYOD) model in which employees access enterprise applications using personal devices such as smartphones and tablets.
Addressing these challenges effectively will be essential to successfully guiding the enterprise through crucial technology initiatives that include operating system migrations, desktop transformation, consumerization of IT, virtualization and cloud computing, and the management of license compliance risk and software spend.
The Software Lifecycle
Global research firm IDC detailed the software lifecycle as illustrated below—starting with the application producer creating the software (including the development of the software installer), configuring it based on how they want to package/price their product and then entitling and delivering the software to their consumer, the enterprise. Once purchased, the enterprise must install/deploy the application and then control and manage it post-deployment.
The install phase of the lifecycle is managed by an Application Readiness process that helps enterprises confidently discover, assess compatibility, model, manage and package applications for reliable deployment on-premises, to virtualized and cloud-based environments, and mobile devices. An end user may initiate a software request for an approved, packaged application via an enterprise app store such as App Portal. The install process ends with deployment via an enterprise-wide configuration management solution such as Microsoft's System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM).
The control and optimize phase is where the enterprise focuses on Software License Optimization to gain visibility and control of IT assets, reduce ongoing software costs, and maintain continuous software license compliance.
Integrating Business Processes
While each of these business processes is essential in its own right, unique and incremental value is achieved by integrating them for flawless management throughout the software lifecycle. It is only through this integration that, for example, application packagers can seamlessly handoff applications directly from their toolset to the enterprise app store. Likewise, through process and product integration, end users requesting applications from the app store can see whether or not software licenses are available and proper purchase approval processes can be automated in the event they are not.
Through this unique integration, IT is able to drive greater application usage and value from software investments while meeting its needs to ensure reliable application deployments, manage software license compliance risk, achieve full lifecycle software asset management, and optimize software spend in a cost effective way.
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