By Rebecca Mack
As we discussed in Part 1 of this blog series, to get control of your software estate, you should first implement a hardware and software inventory tool, understand what is installed in your environment, and lock down your machines to really help you manage what is being installed in your environment. In Part 2, we discussed implementing a Software License Optimization solution to automate the process of managing your hardware and software assets, purchase orders, and contracts as well as leveraging software license entitlements to optimize your license position. This allows you to maintain license compliance and reduce ongoing costs for software. Finally, in Part 3, we will discuss the benefits of integrating an enterprise app store with your Software License Optimization solution.
An enterprise app store provides a self-service web portal where users can request the software they need to do their jobs. The software catalog in the app store lists all of the approved applications that are packaged and ready for deployment. If the application is free, then the application will automatically be deployed, if it is associated with a license then the proper approvals take place and again the application will be automatically deployed to the end users’ desktop or laptop.
The goal of an application portal is to provide a one stop shop for your employees to go and request their software. It should be easy and fast. Since you have already packaged your applications and standardized them, you can easily put them out on the portal to be requested. Ideally, the application portal should be integrated with your license management solution so that when a software request occurs, the app store can automatically check for available licenses in the license management system. If a license is available it may be reserved for that user until all approvals have occurred and the application has been deployed to the endpoint device.
The enterprise app store should have an automated way to manage the approval process—you will set up the workflow in the solution to automatically send the request to the right manager(s) for approval. The manager should be able to see what is being requested, why the end user needs it, and how much inventory is available. There should also be a workflow process in place to request a new purchase if there are no licenses available for the requested application.
Figure 1: Enterprise solution for software lifecycle management—Package applications for deployment (Steps 1-2a/2b), request software via the app store (Step 3), check license availability in SAM solution (Step 4), reserve a license (Step 5), route the request for approval in the app store (Step 6), deploy the app (Step 7).
Another important consideration for a successful enterprise app store – license optimization solution is the ability to perform automated license reharvesting campaigns. The solution should be able to monitor usage and trigger campaigns to reclaim licenses for applications that are not being used. The app store allows companies to send an email to let users know the application has not been used for some period of time and gives the user the option to uninstall if they no longer need the application. Implementing this type of solution helps you maximize the utilization of your existing software assets. You can take those applications that are not being used and deploy them to people who need them.
Lastly, the enterprise app store should provide a mechanism for new software requests that are not listed in your current software catalog. You should have a process in place that reviews new requests and a group that evaluates whether one of your current standard applications meets those needs, or if the new software should become part of the standardized list. If it becomes part of the standardized list, it will go through the purchasing and packaging process and gets added to the catalog once the process is complete.
In conclusion, the three important pieces for gaining control of your software estate are:
- Having the discovery and inventory tools and software asset management (SAM) tools in place to gain a complete picture of the hardware and software you have in your IT environment—this requires strong application recognition capabilities in the SAM tool.
- Having a Software License Optimization solution that enables you to fully leverage your software license entitlements (product use rights) to reduce license consumption and software costs, while maintaining license compliance.
- You tie all of the processes together by packaging your applications, locking down your environment and providing an enterprise app store for self-service software request and automated approval processes. App store integration with your software license optimization solution allows your organization to proactively maintain software license compliance by checking for available licenses when a request is made, before deploying the application to the user’s device. And an automated license reharvesting process allows you to fully utilize all of your existing software to get the maximum return on your software investment.
To learn more, please view our on-demand webinar: How to Use an Enterprise App Store to Enhance the Value of Software License Optimization