The world of software continues to be driven by digital transformation, with software licensing trends showing vendors continuing to move from perpetual to subscription-based licensing and from simple to more complex licensing models (with cloud and on-premises options for good measure). Against this backdrop, we have seen a steady increase in the number of companies that have attained at least a basic level of software asset management (SAM) maturity, i.e., knowing what software is installed, what their entitlements are and whether they are compliant with software vendors’ terms and conditions. The question for them is, where to focus next…
Optimize cloud spend
Analyst research shows that an estimated 50 percent of enterprises that already use cloud are expected to adopt an all-in-cloud strategy by 2020, so this is one important area on which to focus our attention. Understanding and optimizing cloud spend will become increasingly critical for enterprises and therefore an essential component of any SAM solution.
The automated integration of usage data will be crucial to efficiently address “use cases” such as ensuring the:
- Alignment of users’ legacy perpetual licenses vs. cloud-based subscriptions
- Assignment of the most cost-effective plans
- Assessment of licensing renewals with subscription management, basing renewals on actual data, not estimates
Leverage software harvesting and license pool management
Simply put, you need to ensure you are buying only the software you need and using what you have bought. This is the holy grail of software spend optimization, and with the right SAM solution and experience in place, it is wholly achievable. Investment in proactive, targeted reclamation campaigns will no doubt achieve savings by identifying and reporting licenses not in use or underutilized and therefore available for redeployment or removal. This “software harvesting” exercise helps you to establish an optimized position.
However, this position will be short-lived unless the necessary processes and SAM tooling are integrated into the ongoing software procurement processes. At the time of purchase, it is essential that your SAM solution provides visibility into what other licenses may be available across the enterprise. These existing licenses could satisfy new requests and thereby negate the need for unnecessary purchases. This kind of effective license pool management facilitates the visibility into your software license estate.
Empower teams with SAM platform data
An underlying foundation of reliable and consistent data is critical for any SAM solution. Recent shifts in the marketplace regarding data provisioning should be watched with interest, as they provide an opportunity to establish your SAM solution as a central platform for providing data across the organization. The availability of quality data; whether the focus be hardware, software applications, licensing rules, financials or users, can provide a unique opportunity for the SAM team to collaborate with key stakeholders from IT, Procurement, Security, Finance and C-level management and support other important cost-saving and/or risk-reduction programs.
Be audit savvy
The threat from vendor audits is certainly not going away, with vendors increasingly relying on “the audit” as a revenue stream in its own right. It therefore makes sense that an effective audit deterrent is the ability to clearly demonstrate that you have a robust and mature SAM solution in place. This in itself will minimize the return that the vendor will see from the cost of the audit – a goal that is particularly important when it comes to the more complex, top tier vendors with their array of products and licensing models. Frequently, these top tier vendors require the deployment of their own inventory tools in your environment, thereby creating further disruption and costs. Ideally, your SAM solution would negate this disruption, as your SAM tooling should be acceptable to (and/or certified as an alternative by) the vendor.
Communicate to succeed
Don’t forget that your SAM journey is not a solo run — you need to be sure to take your passengers with you. So communicate, communicate and then communicate some more. Critical to the longevity of any SAM solution is its ongoing ROI. Therefore, it is essential to evangelize the successes, cost savings/avoidance and reduced risks that have been achieved. Ideally, SAM successes should be made available through customized management dashboards as part of your SAM solution.
Plan your SAM journey
In summary, establishing a foundation of basic SAM maturity provides the opportunity to further develop your SAM solution by focusing on additional key areas, such as:
- Controlling cloud usage
- Ensuring you are only buying the software you need by establishing license pooling and integrated procurement processes
- Positioning the SAM solution as the “go-to place” for asset information to support other programs
Being proactive also means you are prepared for the next knock on the door from vendors looking to audit your software estate.
Now is the time to determine your level of SAM maturity and where you are heading next in your SAM journey.
Jane Hanlon is the worldwide SAM Capability Lead for Software Licensing and Management Solutions at DXC Technology.