Flexera recently conducted a survey, with TechValidate, of our FlexNet Manager Suite for Enterprises customers. One of the questions we asked was:
What business challenges was your company experiencing with respect to software asset management?
(I should point out that these were their challenges BEFORE they implemented our Software License Optimization solution!)
The responses are shown in the chart below:
We see that at the top of the list was “A highly manual, time consuming process using spreadsheets that lacked accuracy, resulting in poor visibility and control.” We find this to be the case across a wide range of customers, even for very large enterprises. Software license optimization solutions bring a lot of automation to bear on these SAM business challenges. Here are a few examples of this automation that show how these tools reduce time and effort and increase the accuracy of your IT asset management reports:
1. Discovery and Inventory Tools
There are many tools on the market that perform this function. In fact, at the Gartner IT Financial, Procurement and Asset Management Summit in Orlando this week, analyst Patricia Adams noted that there are at least 54 tools on the market. There are a few key requirements for your discovery and inventory tool(s)–
- Multi-platform support: this is the ability to collect hardware and software inventory across Windows, Linux, UNIX and MAC platforms, as well as inventory of virtual environments (VMware, Microsoft Hyper-V, etc.)
- Agent and agentless technologies: the agent can collect application usage data that you can use to perform reharvesting of unused application licenses; an agentless approach may be needed in your datacenter server environments.
- A strong software knowledge base: what we at Flexera call an Application Recognition Library. This is what is used to process the raw inventory data and produce the normalized list of software titles, versions and editions per device. Its important for this library to be large enough to cover the vast majority of the software titles in your IT environment. Its also important for the library to be updated on a regular basis to keep up with changes in software products, packaging and new releases.
To learn more about discovery and inventory tools, read the Gartner report: “What You Need to Know About Discovery Tools for IT Asset Management.“
2. An Automated Process for Capturing License Entitlements
Basic license entitlements, meaning how many licenses of a given application do you own, can be obtained by processing Purchase Order data from your procurement system(s). A Stock Keeping Unit (SKU) library is extremely valuable here to automate this process. PO line items with SKUs can be automatically processed to update license quantities in the asset management repository, either for existing license records or newly created license records. There are also ways to automate the process for PO’s that don’t have SKUs– see this recent blog to learn more: Software asset management without SKUs. The SKU library can also link to the the detailed license entitlements you get under the terms of your software license agreement– product use rights. More on this below.
3. A License Reconciliation Engine
Understand whether you are in compliance with your license agreement, its necessary to reconcile your license entitlements with your installed software. Software License Optimization solutions automate this reconciliation process to produce a license compliance position. With this knowledge, your organization can proactively take steps to maintain license compliance and avoid costly, unbudgeted, software audit true-up fees. Additionally, the automation provided by these tools can dramatically reduce the amount of time your organization spends preparing for a software audit.
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.
4. A Product Use Rights Library
As mentioned above, the SKU library can be linked to a libary that contains the detailed license entitlements provided by your license agreement. This library provides the intelligence to apply upgrade, downgrade, second use, virtual use and other product use rights. By automatically applying these use rights, the tools can reduce your license consumption, which reduces your ongoing costs for software.
Gartner recently published another research report on How to Assess a Software License Optimization and Entitlement Tool. Read the full report to see a comprehensive list of requirements for a software license optimization solution.
As noted in a couple of places above, these automated solutions also address the other key SAM business challenges, such as over spending on software and time consuming software audits. Tied for second on the list of challenges was: “Lacked the information needed to negotiate software contracts.” Obviously, with increased visibility comes the information needed to put you in the driver’s seat for contract negotiations. We’ll delve into more detail on this topic in another blog.