Why Are Software Asset Management Tools So Bad at Software Asset Management?
Software Asset Management Tools are all basically imperfect solutions to the challenging task of Software Asset Management. We all want to know what software has been deployed and be able to correlate that with the licenses that we own. On the surface it sounds pretty simple yet in our experience pretty much all Software Asset Management Tools are somewhat bad at Software Asset Management. Here are the top 6 reasons that these tools fail to deliver on their promises.
Reason #1. Bad Inventory Data
The old saying “Garbage in, Garbage out” holds true when considering Software Asset Management tools. Capturing accurate inventory data of what has been deployed on your network is a critical component of software asset management. Some of the common culprits that cause the process to break down include inconsistent data sources. By this I mean naming conventions. If you have good process and discipline around this, it makes it much easier to accurately identify development and test environments for instance.
Reimaging can also cause challenges as they sometimes create a custom ID Tag as part of the reimaging process. This can cause the asset to no longer be recognizable by the tool.
Reason #2. Failure to Account for Duplicates.
One of the most frustrating occurrences is when Software Asset Management tools double count the deployment of software assets. We often see this happen when updates have been applied to software, but the old installation is not completely removed and replaced with the update. As a result, many software asset management tools will count both copies of the software instead of just one.
Reason #3. Failure to Identify Development and Test Environments
A clearly defined production environment is so critical as the underlying software that is deployed is what the analysis is based upon. Mixing production and non-production instances is often confusing from an audit perspective and could lead to software asset management tools showing incorrect licensing requirements based on flawed data. We strongly recommend having solid naming conventions and, if possible, dedicated non-production environments.
Reason #4. Licensing Models Change
The only thing that is constant in software licensing is that licensing models change and sometimes with very little to no notice at all. This is a huge challenge for software asset management tools. For example, in the last few years we have seen Microsoft SQL Server change to Core Based licensing from per CPU/Per Named User/Device. In addition, traditional software licensing models are increasingly being turned on their head as cloud computing becomes and more prevalent. Remember that each and every software vendor has a unique licensing model that can change at any time. We are also seeing vendors focus on the installation of software on a server accessible by a community of users.
The point is that these models are constantly in flux and most software asset management tools are somewhat static. In order to get good data a separate optimization process is usually required.
Reason #5 Virtualization and Cloud Models Add Complexity.
On the surface it would seem that cloud computing could have the potential to make software asset management somewhat obsolete. Unfortunately, the reality is that it had increased the complexity involved in software licensing and inventory. Most mid-sized to larger organizations operate hybrid cloud environments in which workloads and assets transition from being cloud based to on premise and back again. Hybrid cloud environments are an absolute necessity for most organizations, but they dramatically increase the complexity of software asset management and licensing in general. For more information check out this webinar we recorded about it.
Reason #6 OEM and Retail Box Purchases
OEM and retail box purchases of software can also confuse software asset management tools. In the case of OEM licenses, they arrive in the environment with the purchase of new hardware. Depending on the vendor you may or may not uplift them to volume licenses or you may just let them exist as standalone installations. The problem will be that if they continue to exist as OEM licenses they will not appear in your volume licensing statements and will cause reconciliation and potentially contractual issues for your organization. The same holds true for retail box purchases. Furthermore, both OEM and retail box licenses may have very different rules in terms of usage than volume licensing.
What’s the solution?
The bad news is there isn’t a single software asset management tool that truly automates software asset management and does it well. At MetrixData360 we developed a managed service called SAM Compass which provides you with the best of both worlds. SAM Compass combines inventory tools with licensing optimisation and then adds software licencing expertise to provide a holistic solution.
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