By: Laurent Clemot
You might approve or disapprove of the plan in Australia regarding National Broadband Network (NBN) development in rural regions, but one’s got to admit that the recent elections showed how ICT infrastructure has become strategic for the development of the country, in many respects.
For the individual and the business, the development of a better broadband network to lower cost areas directly translates into capital savings opportunities through the development of home offices and the relocation of city based data centres.
But above all, high speed brings more agility to the business, with new approaches to deploying and using software, and drastic hardware and operational cost reduction. Centralised application virtualisation, cloud computing, Software as a Service, ASP, etc., are not only the latest buzzwords, but a new ecosystem through which businesses become more agile, thanks to a lighter infrastructure.
With the fastest growing and most innovative Information and Communication Technology (ICT) industry (12% growth rate over the last five years), Australian organisations have been getting ready for this inevitable evolution, and preparing for new ways of consuming software. There is no Big Bang change or hasty adoption here, but more of a simple and pragmatic preparatory approach among the most prominent businesses of Australia. The seductive part of these modern offerings is the reduction or even elimination of the upfront capital expenditure: license cost, hardware cost, and administration cost.
The major obstacle though on the way to adaptation, for most decision makers, is the lack of visibility and the loss of control, as the offerings introduce subscription models based on estimated or measured usage of the software: “how do I know the cost of my future software usage if I do not even know today how much I own, and how much my business uses, and needs?” In effect, most organisations struggle today with hundreds of legacy perpetual license agreements, with complex licensing metrics and hard to decipher T&Cs, making decisions for new and more flexible models literally impossible.
Therefore, the first step leading towards business agility is to get a clear picture of what the company owns and of what the business really uses and needs today, in order to be in a position to negotiate a change in licensing and delivery models tomorrow. These projects introduce the need for renewed cooperation between IT procurement and IT operations to reconcile data until now disconnected, and to form some sort of “Software Asset Management 2.0” collaborative platform.
In 2009 and 2010, many large Australian organisations initiated application usage assessments and implemented systems to continuously measure their software consumption against their entitlements. This was probably driven by the increased number of software audits we saw during the global financial crisis, and might also reflect the need to spend more wisely. In effect, by better knowing their current application usage, these organizations were already able to make significant savings, thanks to a better alignment between their software needs and their rights to use.
But above all, they gained the insight they needed to drive their ICT strategy and become change ready. They now know their application usage and license position, their costs under the current conditions, and hence can forecast their costs (and benefits) under the conditions of more flexible offerings.
It is hard to predict how companies will adopt these new computing and software licensing models and how this will transform our IT landscape in the long run. However, it is fair to say that having clear visibility and understanding of the current license rights, software consumption and usage trends within the organisation is the path to an improved IT, that is business centric, cost effective, and ready to adapt.