Volume licensing or do SAM

    In a July article on a centralized approach to software asset management, we talked about our vision of a holistic application management process that aims to optimize license costs, support, and software deployment. Having talked about preparing applications for deployment , now we would like to focus on an equally important aspect of software management, namely, on licensing compliance management, i.e. Software Asset Management.

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    Currently, the legislation provides for administrative, civil and criminal liability for the use of unlicensed software. Administrative responsibility is regulated by Art. 7.12 of the Code of Administrative Offenses and provides for fines for officials who allow the use of unlicensed software to employees, as well as the seizure of programs and computers. Criminal liability for violation of copyright and related rights occurs in the event of serious harm to the author or other copyright holder, and such violation is considered if the cost of copies of programs exceeds 250,000 rubles. Such violations also include imprisonment for up to 6 years with a fine of up to 500,000 rubles. Criminal liability is regulated by article 146 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation.

    The amount of damage is determined based on the number of illegally used copies of the software.

    The civil liability may be brought about at the initiative of the author or copyright holder, requiring damages or compensation. Based on Art. 1301 of the Civil Code of the Russian Federation, the copyright holder may demand compensation from the violator in the amount of 10,000 to 5,000,000 rubles, or twice the cost of the programs, based on the price that is usually charged for legitimate use.

    SAM is actively developing in Russia - companies understand that the risks of re-licensing and under-licensing increase significantly when a company is scaled up in the absence of proper and competent management, and the SAM approach allows you to not only sleep peacefully and not be afraid of a vendor audit, but also save significantly.

    Even in the case of client software, insufficient maturity of SAM processes in terms of their integration with ITSM and the database of configuration units can form the basis for making wrong decisions that will lead to either the purchase of an unnecessary license (with an existing license, which, for example, is not actively used) or they may result in actual unlicensing. Monitor compliance manually, tracking all changes, often in different systems (in practice, server licenses are often kept in Excel files and decentralized, and user licenses can be in a separate Asset Management database, not integrated with ITSM and CMDB) and making the right decisions when the business requires it is quite difficult. And it’s very easy to make a mistake here, because the basis of decision-making is often the information from CMDB, which may be updated irregularly or with a delay in manual processing. The lack of data links between various sub-organizations and locations, as well as the lack of processes for analyzing the use of software and the redistribution of licenses, leads to significant financial costs. For example, in different divisions of a company, local IT services keep records of licenses in different ways: some in an Excel file, others in a different Excel file, others in an ITSM system, and others use their local CMDB solution. In one of the divisions, the user raises an application for installing software. Having not found available copies of the software, the IT service initiates a request for the purchase of licenses, and in some cases, not only single licenses can be bought, but also entire volume licensing packages. In this case, perhaps unused licenses are in other divisions or even in the same division of the company - the software is installed, but the user does not actually use it in his work. Also, by consolidating all the needs of all departments in the software, one could get more savings on volume licensing programs.

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    Do not forget about Disaster Recovery - a plan to restore infrastructure in the event of an emergency. In order to quickly restore control over the licensed status throughout the environment, it is vital that the data is stored in the database and protected, and CMDB can always get automatic synchronization with another source, namely, the inventory and license database.

    In the case of integration of ITSM processes, such as Request Fulfillment (service request management) with SAM and license management system, software standardizationin terms of functionality, versions and editions - that is, software rationalization, analysis of software use in the organization, we have accurate and reliable, and most importantly, dynamic data on software and licenses throughout the company, automatically available in CMDB and in the license accounting system. And this means that all decisions are made on the basis of correct and relevant data.

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    It is necessary to begin the construction of SAM processes with the Microsoft SAM Baseline review project, which not only allows you to quickly analyze and get an accurate picture of the licensing compliance of Microsoft products, but also provides a professional assessment of the maturity level of SAM processes.

    Of course, SAM is not limited to controlling the level of compliance of software licenses, and even more so is not limited to Microsoft software, however, this is a good starting point for starting optimization in the field of your licensed economy.

    The SAM base maturity model assumes 4 maturity levels:

    • Basic - situational actions to eliminate unlicensing.
    • Standardized - there are processes, tools and standards, but the accuracy of the inventory is not high enough, and the data is not used for decision-making.
    • Rationalized - there are policies, procedures and tools for managing IT assets. The information is reliable and used to make decisions.
    • Dynamic - all license management adapts to the needs of the business in near real-time mode.

    Such a scheme implies a certain analytical work. For example, by the same rationalization of software used in the company, and by controlling the process of redistributing licenses. Although this work is rather laborious, dynamic and accurate data collected in a convenient form in one place greatly simplifies this task, and, consequently, the cost of the analyst’s resources.

    With the development of the Colibri Application Intelligence Portal, you can significantly reduce the amount of analytic work to streamline data, not only due to data consolidation, but also thanks to the powerful built-in business intelligence of this data.

    The solution has a convenient indicator panel that always keeps before your eyes, say, data on the percentage of unused applications, or other custom categories of software records.

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    Using the Colibri Application Intelligence Portal, you can save many hours of analyst work on categorizing software using pre-configured and custom patterns, automatically sort garbage, unwanted software, standardize the application on a specific version, and track application usage. Convenient data representations, such as Deciles, allow you to get immediate benefits from a software migration project: this type offers a breakdown of users and applications into different groups (10 parts): the first group, for example, will show only those applications that users use.

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    This presentation of data helps in planning outsourcing of a service. For example, based on the third decile, you can plan to create installation packages for 24 applications, and this will cover the needs of 93% of users.

    Thus, the Colibri Application Intelligence Portal is a powerful support transfer planning tool, including optimization of time costs for software rationalization, planning changes in software and hardware needed for migration projects or outsourcing application management.

    The example below shows that often software of similar functionality can be grouped and replaced by a single unit of software, if this is consistent with the requirements of the business and the real reason for installing one or another software.

    Suffice it to say that in the following case, Citrix GoTo Assist boiled down to 39 different commercial software titles (taking into account versioning, that is, a unique name-version combination), and this, in this particular case, 250 installed copies of the software - that is, licenses.

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    It is important to understand that products to provide assistance remotely may require a number of licenses that differ from the actual number of software installations. That is, for example, they can be licensed for the number of simultaneously running sessions. Here, statistics on the use of software will come to help, with which you can assess the real need for the number of licenses. It is also important to understand that by standardizing the software by functionality and version, you can get benefits from the volume of purchases provided by the vendor, as well as reduce the headache of the support service. Even writing installation instructions takes some time, so do not underestimate the indirect costs.

    If we are talking about complex licensing in the data center, on virtualized servers - SQL, Oracle, SAP - the issue of analyzing software usage statistics becomes especially relevant.

    For example, by analyzing the nature of the work or the type of transactions in SAP, you may find that users use an expensive version of the product license to perform simple actions, such as working with time sheets, for which it’s enough to highlight much cheaper versions of the license than the Limited Professional used here license.

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    So, to build the right SAM processes, the following steps are most important:

    • assessment of the current state of license compliance;
    • maturity assessment of existing SAM processes;
    • choosing the right inventory and monitoring tool for software use;
    • selection of a license control tool;
    • software inventory;
    • software rationalization;
    • Optimization of SAM processes in terms of interfaces with procurement, change management and service request management.


    If we talk about building a dynamic SAM, you can implement these measures in approximately the following sequence: The

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    upper part is aimed at the most tangible measures in the short term - eliminating the risk of fines and reducing the cost of licenses and software support by creating a list of standard software. The measures presented in the bottom row are more “long-playing”, but at the same time, root factors that will ensure the correct functioning of the SAM organism in all possible situations.

    It is worth noting here that the choice of inventory and licensing controls is very important for the successful implementation of SAM projects. There are a lot of solutions on the market right now - from simple ones that offer basic functionality to complex solutions that can fully cover licensing of client workstations and data centers, including complex licensing scenarios. Among them: licenses for simultaneous access, for the number of cores and processors, taking into account the specifics of virtualization and other types of licensing, as well as offering "advanced" analytics for the use of software. One such solution is the Snow License Manager. The system, in addition to a number of advantages, such as a daily updated database of software definitions, is also distinguished by rich integration capabilities with other inventory systems, ITSM systems, procurement management systems and the enterprise.

    In general, SAM is, first of all, a strategy for optimizing software costs in a company, and the solution lies at the junction of technology, processes, people and analytics. The key role is played precisely by understanding how these components must interact with each other to achieve the desired effect. It is an understanding of all the connections in software management that will help to correctly lay the bricks in an integrated and well-built building that will withstand any shocks in the field of volume licensing :)

    By ignatyev

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