My previous post was on Understanding Software Asset Management (SAM) and Software License Management (SLM) where I gave a general overview and talked about the reasons and benefits of SAM and (SLM) practices/tools.
Continuing from there, now I will try to explain how Software Asset Management and Software License Management work together to visualize license and software usage information and can save money for organizations in different scenarios.
The implementation of SAM/SLM practices varies based on actual needs, it mainly focuses on the same objective of gathering data of installed software in organization computing resources and derive meaningful information to take respective cost saving decisions. There are tools available in market that can help collect specific data but then you need to research how you can integrate them together to gain understanding and benefit from them. Albeit, there are SAM solution providers who can give a complete end to end solution or products and there you can gain benefits quickly.
1. Software Discovery and Metering
The first and vital step is to gather the raw data about installed software assets in organization’s computers. A software discovery tool comes to ease the job and save time. The tool can search (based on given criteria), gather and store software inventory of; what software is installed, installation date, installation path, manufacturer, version, user, license information and other information that can be gathered via discovery tool and is helpful.
An interesting aspect to consider for many organizations is the software usage – also known as software metering data. These tools run in background and monitor the software usage activity. Based on tool’s capability it can record who and how many times the software has been used on the specific computer.
Discovery and metering tools scan and gather a lot of data from a computer. This data is then process by software recognition tools to make it more meaningful for end user.
2. Software Recognition
Once software asset data is gathered in raw form and stored (file or database format). The second step is to process and convert the data to something meaningful – this part is done with the help of software recognition tools. A software recognition needs to know how to identify a software executable so a rules database must be there to support it’s purpose. If a software is listed as unknown in recognition tool then tool must be configured with new rule(s) to process it accordingly – ignore it or tag it with respective software identification information. The installed (known or unknown) software can fall into two categories – not desired (part of operating system) and licensed or non-licensed software.
For example, software discovery tool reports a binary winprogtool64.exe. The recognition tool will use current rules or you need to define a new rule for winprogtool64.exe to map it as a known software with more tag details . So during the next software discovery if the same binary is listed then it will be categorized as known.
This information is then sent further to license management tool. A software recognition tool can either be integrated with license management tool or data transfer is handled separately.
3. License Management
At this stage, we have now normalized assets data containing details of installed software with respective usage and license information. The data from software recognition tool and agreements / purchased license information becomes input to license management tool. A SLM tool compares both inputs and provide insight in following two ways (there can be more as well, based on needs);
a. Audits (Compliance check)
Let’s suppose that your organization have 500 computers using Microsoft Word application but you have purchased only 400 licenses for that application. If an authorized auditor reviews your software licenses data then there is huge risk that organization is fined for non-compliance and copyrights infringements.
Another cost saving aspect for large organizations is the bundle or group licenses. Let’s suppose that an organization have purchased 100 MS Office licenses. An intelligent License management tool can report to you that 5 computers installed MS Word and MS Excel separately for which separate licenses were purchased. But those 10 licenses are not required since they are covered by bundle or group licenses and agreements. There organization can save money from a situation where they are paying more for same software application
An intelligent SLM tool can identify these gaps and save you from non-compliance and over compliance.
b. Assets’ Usage
Now on the other hand, let’s suppose that your organization has purchased 500 licenses for MS word application for 500 computers. But based on software metering information license management tool reports that only 300 employees are using it daily but rest of 200 employees are using it very rarely.
Here organization has great opportunity to investigate if those 200 employees really need it or IT asset manager can totally remove or even reduce the number of unused licenses and save money for organization for better purposes.
There is even a possibility that a computer is running different versions of same software (e.g. MS word, Adobe acrobat reader …) and organization is unknowingly paying for it but only a specific version is being used by employee. A smart license management tool can identify this gap as well and save money for organization.
Besides, visualization of software usage and license information also helps organizations to plan future investments in licenses accordingly.
Organizations can save a lot of money by tracking, monitoring and managing license cost and invest in other growth areas. SAM, SLM and other facilitating tools can visualize the license cost and guide in correct license purchase decisions. Organizations can develop own SAM solution or seek service from professional SAM solution providers.
Have you been in a similar situation of software over/under usage and compliance check, how SAM and SLM tools have helped your organization to save money, share your experience here.