Following closely on the heels of the recent Gartner IT Financial, Procurement and Asset Management Summit (see this recent blog), Gartner analysts Hank Marquis and Victoria Barber have published a research note called: Three Use Cases Can Help You Select the Right SAM Tool. The three use cases are aligned with this previous research note—Use Gartner’s Tool Decision Framework for SAM to Create Your Roadmap. (See this recent blog– Use Gartner’s Tool Decision Framework to Select the Right Software Asset Management Tool).

The three use cases are:

  1. Automating Discovery
  2. Establishing an ISV Effective License Position
  3. Optimizing Your ISV License Position

According to the report, 87% of recent discussions with infrastructure and operations teams have been focused on “how to clarify requirements and choose the best tool to meet their needs.”

We see the 3 use cases as mapping quite well to Flexera’s standard view of the Software License Optimization process as shown in this diagram:

SLO FLow Diagram - no ITSM Nov15 v2

Figure 1: The Software License Optimization Process

Automating Discovery

Discovery and inventory data are fed into the software asset management tool and processed using an Application Recognition Library (ARL) which analyzes the raw data and generates the list of software titles, versions and editions installed on each device.

The Gartner report points out that one critical area for discovery involves virtual server environments where it’s important to be able to correlate virtual machines (VMs) to physical hosts. This is necessary because, depending on the server software license model in use, information on the hardware resource allocations to VMs is critical to software license management. For example, in cases where processor or core based licenses are being used (e.g. IBM PVU, Oracle Processor, SQL Server Core based licenses, etc.)

The report also mentions the use of agents for discovery and inventory. See this previous blog post on agent versus agent-less discovery for a discussion on the advantages and best use cases for each approach—Agent-based vs. Agent-less IT Asset Inventory Collection.

Establishing an Effective License Position

We know that in order to establish an effective license position (shown as a “License Compliance Position” in the diagram), you need to also import your license entitlement data from contracts and purchase orders (POs). The PO data can be processed automatically in some Software License Optimization tools using a SKU Library to determine exactly what software has been purchased and under what type of license agreement. These entitlements are reconciled against the normalized asset data obtained from the application recognition process to determine your ISV license position.

Optimizing Your ISV License Position

As stated in the Gartner report:

Purpose: Highlights potential reductions in the number, type and expense of licenses or related resources (such as CPUs, cores and bandwidth). Provides a persistent repository for its results, and produces reports and analysis based upon its contents.

Flexera believes that various Software License Optimization strategies can be used to reduce software costs. One key approach, as shown in Figure 1, is to automatically apply license entitlements, also known as product use rights, to reduce license consumption and to fully leverage what you already own. Vendor specific product use rights are encapsulated in the Product Use Rights Library (PURL). These use rights include:

IT Asset Management icon

IT Asset Management

It all starts with knowing what’s in your IT ecosystem. Flexera One discovers even the most elusive assets whether on-prem, SaaS, cloud, containers and more.

  • Upgrade
  • Downgrade
  • Second Use
  • Virtual Use
  • Backup/Failover rights
  • Etc.

Other strategies include license reharvesting, which leverages the usage data collected by the inventory agents mentioned earlier.

The Gartner report mentions a number of additional considerations, such as:

  • Making available software for request by users via app stores, service catalogs and self-service portals
  • Integrating with other business systems and IT tools to import, export and store information related to SAM assets, such as ITSSM tools, CMDBs and procurement systems

Here’s a Flexera diagram showing how the software asset management and license optimization tool integrates with IT Service Management solutions, including CMDBs:

SLO and ITSM Integration Nov15

Figure 2: Software License Optimization and ITSM Integration