Regret… We’ve all been there and hate this feeling. I want to talk to you about regret and the software licensing assessment or pre-audit. It’s a truly terrible feeling knowing that you could have done something differently, something that could have changed the way things unfolded. Maybe, its missing a loved one’s birthday or maybe its wishing you had spoken up when you really know you should have said something. In my case it could be when I said “yes” to hot sauce on my lunch burrito…Just sayin, the software audit experience can be much more painful if you aren’t ready for it.
I feel like there are two types of regret that we commonly experience. When we regret “DOING” something or alternatively when we regard “NOT DOING” something. In the Software Asset Management world, I think we often regret the NOT DOING or not taking action earlier. We find out too late that there was something wrong… Lapsed support, changing licensing rules that affect compliance… general non understanding of product use rights, the list goes on and on and there are some serious potential consequences at play when you “DO NOTHING”. The worst part is that in almost every case, if we had only known about it we could have taken simple actions to make the issue go away.
Specifically, in the software licensing world, regret usually settles in when a software publisher notifies you that your organization has been selected for a software compliance audit or, a Software Asset Management (SAM) Engagement. Pro Tip – they are basically the same thing! The auditors come in, run their scripts and turn over their ultra conservative Estimated License Position (ELP) which reveals something you didn’t expect. Perhaps it was a server that accidentally provided indirect access to much of your organization to a software application (which they are all not licensed for). It could be that the proof of licensing entitlement that you thought was rock solid isn’t being accepted by the auditor. Maybe you didn’t implement or properly deploy a good software asset management toolor a SAM Managed Service? Either way it opens the door to a costly settlement and casts clouds of doubt on your competence as a Software Asset Management Professional. This is never a good place to find yourself.
So, What Can you Do About It?
I could write a novel about how to build a SAM practice….Oh wait we basically did on this blog, but, I’m going to assume you have some things in place. If you need ground floor guidance or just a thumbs up from a third party of experts who help others deal with or prevent the regret I’ve described, just drop us a line and we can talk. I strongly recommend a software licensing assessment.
When MetrixData 360 does software vendor assessment on a specific software publisher, we run them as closely as possible to the way the publisher themselves would run it. How do we know that we are running them the same you are wondering, Many of our internal resources are ex-auditors that have experience running hundreds of audits and understand not only the licensing but, also the internal objectives of the software publishers. MetrixData 360 will ask for the same sorts of data from you (and help you get it if you don’t know where/how to get it). We will prepare a report for you (like the one on the right) and coach you on how to bridge any licensing gaps. We do this to make sure there are no surprises in a real audit. We recently completed a software licensing assessment for a company targeting OpenText.We uncovered an initial gap that could have resulted in a claim in the tens of millions of dollar range. Luckily, we identified it and the client was able to take a few simple actions to eliminate the exposure! Do you think they were glad they engaged in a software licensing assessment? You bet they were, absolutely no regret there!
Software Licensing Assessment – What Can I Do To Learn More?
We really want to help you. Software licensing and SAM is our passion and we are always willing and happy to have a discussion with folks! Just click the button below to book some time to talk and we can just on a call. There’s no commitment and frankly the SAM community is pretty small and tight knit. We’re honestly just interested in licensing and SAM discussions.
I’ve worked in software asset management with hundreds of SAM teams and helped organizations set up successful SAM practices for almost 25 years. One thing seems to hold true. Almost all software asset managers are either Star Trek or Star Wars fans. I can appreciate Star Wars but, I’m a Trek geek at heart. Having said that, I am not here to fight the holy war of Star Trek vs Star Wars. I’ll leave that up to you. I like my Star Trek old school so I’m focused on the original series. Yeah all you kids with your new-fangled Star Trek reboots best stay off of my lawn! That being said, I can’t help but draw parallels between the world of software asset management and Gene Roddenberry’s iconic universe and the voyages of the Star ship Enterprise. So, lets boldly go where no man has gone before and look at my vision of software Asset management through the Star Trek lens.
Tools and Equipment
The USS Enterprise
Beautiful to look at and the home of her crew as they travel the universe in search of adventure on a voyage of exploration. This iconic vessel is your company and you need to defend it against audit and bad software contracts. It may not do Warp 9 but its home and it’s what we all are serving and protecting with our Software Asset Management Practices/ITAM/ITIL.
The Faithful Tricorder
I love the tricorder. It’s the ultimate Swiss army knife of a tool and still futuristic even today. It never fails, the away team beams down and likely the first tool they whip out is the trusty tricorder. Why you ask? It gives them the important data they need in order to make informed decisions. Is it a Class M planet? Is there an indigenous population? Are there specific minerals? To me, it’s like your SAM tools. You need to quickly scan your environment (and you only have limited time to install tools) and get to the data that’s important to you so you can make SAM/ITIL decisions. We really like Certero Asset Studio for Enterprise SAM. It can be installed in a matter of hours and it even helps SAM integrate with IT Service Management (ITSM).
Star Fleet Academy
When a young person joins Star Fleet they usually start their career spending some time at Starfleet Academy. Here they learn what it takes to become an effective Star Fleet officer and gain the knowledge they need to survive in dangerous situations. As a SAM practitioner knowledge is power. An understanding of a variety of software licensing models is necessary in order to keep the auditors at bay and your organization safe from the threat of non-compliance. MetrixData 360 has created a series of e-Learning modules that help you to better understand Microsoft licensing. If you are looking to get a handle on Microsoft Licensing, unleash the power and optimization potential locked up in Active Directory today.
People and Aliens
Cool, supremely intelligent and eminently logical. A green blooded scientist and a diplomat who calmly brings the, dare I say it, LOGICAL, data driven solution to the SAM/ITIL team. If you’re a SAM Manager this is likely to be the character that you kind of resemble on the team. You enjoy looking at the puzzle that is Software Asset Management and are able to tease out the patterns using deployment tools and licensing statements to find creative solutions. Live long and prosper!
The Red Shirt
Ah, the infamous disposable red shirt. Always eager to join the away team with Kirk and friends and unlikely to return to the ship without a blast mark (or worse) on their chest. We all know this person. When dealing with SAM, sometimes things just don’t go your way. Despite all your best efforts, you need a sacrificial lamb. While I would never advocate this, sometimes you just need to blame someone and a savvy SAM Manager knows who that person is.
Montgomery Scott the Chief Engineer and the only person who may love the USS Enterprise more than Captain Kirk. He complains about the urgent requests that come from the bridge crew as they ask for the seemingly impossible. At the last moment, Scotty always finds a technical solution that gives the team what they need to be successful. Stuck down in engineering away from the rest of the core crew Scotty reminds me of your server team or perhaps the DBA team. Tell me if this sounds familiar…. “You need root access in order to get your Certero AssetStudio to run properly.” You need to speak with the stressed out DBA/Server Administrators who are terrified that running a full agent based scan will slow or bring down their priceless environment. You persist, they are able to give you what you need and just like Scotty, you are able to save the day with a full and meaningful picture of the software assets deployed on your entire network.
The brave Captain of the Starship Enterprise. He’s considered a brilliant tactician (although a lot of the credit should really to go to Spock) who cares deeply about his ship and his crew. Quick witted and able to acknowledge his mistakes, Kirk leads from the front. He balances military action with diplomatic solutions and scientific research. He’s probably not unlike your CIO. Your CIO juggles reports from the SAM/ITIL team with the fiscal realities of the business unit. The CIO always tries to do what is best for your Star Ship Enterprise and cares about their staff. They realize that having a robust SAM practice is of the utmost importance. They protect and nurture the SAM/ITIL team from both internal and external elements who don’t understand or appreciate their work. In the case of an audit or a Software Contract renewal, the SAM/ITIL team may be the final and best line of defense.
I’m sure you all remember the cute and cuddly tribbles! Ohura brought one on board and they bred like crazy and soon the ship was overflowing with them. They remind me of Microsoft Visio,Microsoft Project, and Adobe Acrobat. Small ticket items that get inside your networks and then sneakily breed on the network. Often you only find out when you’ve been hit with an audit. Luckily with our SAM Compass managed service we can provide you with regular ELP’s to ensure there are no surprises!
The weapons officer who has mastered the defensive and offensive capabilities of the USS Enterprise. He waits for the command to unleash the power of his phasers and photon torpedoes at whatever threatens the safety of his ship when diplomacy has failed. Sometimes in a negotiation with a software publisher, it can be advantageous to play a bit of good cop, bad cop. This tactic can add some value in a Software Contract Negotiation or audit and we have seen it utilized in a number of circumstances. You do however, need to know when diplomacy has failed and to push back and say enough is enough. Charge up your weapons systems and hit them when their shields are down! Here at MetrixData 360 we help you understand when you need to go on the offensive and where/when you can push back.
The USS Enterprise’s navigator and pilot. His steady hand keeps her safe from harm as he punches it to Warp 8! In the SAM World the navigator is often the person who has the institutional memory around SAM/ITAM and software contracts. This person has seen it all and knows where are the bodies are buried and can tap into resources from other teams. You might say they can navigate their way around your organization. Yeah it’s a bit of a groaner, I know but, these people are indispensable once you find them. They often know the history of why an old Microsoft contract was set up the way it was or how a prior negotiation resulted in a company specific amendment to your contract. Keep these people close as you never know when you need to pick their brains.
Leonard “Bones” McCoy
The Chief Medical Officer on the Enterprise. He’s good friends with Kirk and Spock but, compared to the calm, logical Spock, he is more likely to be the voice of emotion to Kirk and crew. A brilliant doctor, he nonetheless wants to follow his gut reaction in a crisis. Kirk usually takes council from both Spock and McCoy before finding a middle ground. Sometimes, as passionately as we try to convey SAM/ITIL concerns and strategy, it lacks a certain level of emotion. Embrace SAM team members and their passion for Software Asset Management. Harness that passion for the common good!
The communications officer of the USS Enterprise. Lieutenant Uhura is well versed in many languages and maintains communication between the Enterprise, other vessels, Starfleet and pretty much handles all things relating to external communication. She reminds us of of how important it is to maintain communication during an audit and not to go radio silent. Software Auditors are trained to see a client who doesn’t respond to emails, phone calls or requests as a red flag that the audit is going off the rails and that perhaps you have something to hide regarding software license compliance. SAM Teams should also use their communications systems to celebrate their victories. Make sure people in your organization know that your team is making a difference!
Star Trek offers us such classic villains as the Klingons and the Romulans. These alien races have very distinct societies and motivations behind their actions. They usually are not aggressive in a way that is out of character with their species. Usually on some level, you can understand where they are coming from. Obviously in the SAM world the villains are any software publisher that is or potentially could be auditing your organization. You may not agree with their motivations but you can usually see what they are trying to do from a tactical perspective. When these villainous auditors rear their heads, your organization will be glad they have you and have invested in SAM. This is where you will need to use your SAM Tools, software education and all the members of your team to gain a win. You may even need to call in some extra help to make sure you emerge victorious. MetrixData 360 is here to help your team with Audit Defense and with SAM Managed Services. Just drop us a line for a free consultation.
I hope you enjoyed this lighthearted look at SAM Teams through a Star Trek Lens. Live Long and Prosper!
A few weeks ago, I was invited to attend the SAMS USA (Software Asset Management Strategies USA 2018) conference in Chicago. SAMS USA is a conference that is somewhat new to North America and brings together SAM Practitioners and Software Asset Managers to share their experience and insights. I was invited to attend as a guest of our friends at Certero – Certero is a leading supplier of the most advanced Software Asset Management solutions and services, delivering improved visibility and control of IT assets. Certero was presenting to Software Asset Managers attending on the topic of Making Your SAM Dreams a Reality. The presentation was well received by both experienced Software Asset Managers and people new to the concept of creating a SAM practice.
At MetrixData 360, we specialize in helping clients with Software Asset Management so, I’m always looking to learn more about common challenges and how we can better assist them. The SAMS USA experience was eye opening as I got to hear from SAM practitioners, and experienced Software Asset Mangers alike, about their experiences inside of major organizations from around the world.
One thing that was hammered home to me in speaking with Software Asset Managers at the conference is that it is very challenging to implement a SAM program within organizations. The larger the organization, the more complex the implementation will be. MetrixData 360 is often brought in once the organizational decision has been made to make investments in SAM but, we are not always present when the discussion starts. What I learned was that it requires a lot of planning, patience and diplomacy. Often the SAM teams and newly assigned Software Asset Managers are the newest members of a long established ITAM/ITIL team and have to tread carefully. It’s also important for the SAM team to integrate with what came before institutionally but, also to effect change as SAM is implemented. One of the software asset managers I spoke with stressed how important it is to celebrate your SAM wins internally. Don’t let them go unnoticed.
SAM teams need to compromise. If you’re reading this article I’m assuming you’re passionate about SAM. However, we have to be aware that to many folks in your organization the “new rules/potential restrictions” may be irritants. Do what you need to do but be mindful of the organizational reality. When I was started my career in software many years ago (and was far too eager) a much older and more experienced mentor I had used to always say to me “how do you eat an elephant?…….One bite at a time.” I would usually roll my eyes as he said this to me so many times and it kind of pains me to say this, but he was right. Approach SAM in this manner too.
As we all know, results from a software audit only reflect a point in time snapshot of your environment but having an agile and dynamic SAM practice can only be beneficial to the organization moving forward. Everyone I spoke to was struggling to rationalize this challenge. The key thing that you need to remember is that when you are being audited the auditor will be drawing a line and essentially freezing the data to review that moment. Business will continue during the audit and things will be dynamic in that regard, but the auditor will only be interested in that point in time when they scanned the environment.
The reality is that sometimes though you have to work with the tool that your organization already has invested in for ITAM/ITIL. Odds are it won’t be the best of breed for SAM but introducing a new tool can be sort of like pushing a rock uphill. The good news is that MetrixData 360 can work with almost any SAM tool and help you get meaningful, optimized data out of it. Sometimes that’s better than having to wait 18 months to get approval to look at a new SAM tool.
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