Avoid Over Purchasing Software

2021 Predictions: What to Expect from Software Vendors

It’s almost over, this terrible, awful, no-good year is almost over. Let’s have a recap:

  • Plague
  • Famine
  • Economic collapse
  • Pestilence
  • Violence
  • Murder Hornets

Did I get everything? Probably not but that’s all behind us now. It’s a new year and hopefully, hopefully, it will be better than the last. Last year around January, I wrote a piece about where MetrixData thought 2020 was going and a few predictions we had about trends we were noticing in the tech industry. At the time, COVID was just an outbreak in China that was steadily inching closer to my hometown. Then March struck and that piece got sidelined real quick because the future was suddenly very dark and unpredictable. Now, we’re still stuck in that turbulent time, and rolling with the punches is our only strategy because who knows what’s next? At MetrixData 360, we thought this year we’d give our tentative outlook for 2021, with a lot of wriggle room in case 2021 is as full of surprises as last year. So, what does 2021 have to throw at us after the chaotic dumpster fire that was 2020?

2021 Risks to Think About

There are a few worse case scenarios that must be taken into consideration when forecasting 2021. While 2020 has proven that it’s always best to keep an open mind about what will happen next, a few of the worst-case scenarios that could possibly play out include:

  • The virus may not be under control by the end of 2020:
    • the thought of a second year of lockdown is enough to make you cry, but it is a reality that must be taken into consideration. If an effective vaccine is not out by 2021, then that means that we might face a third or fourth wave followed by the appropriate restrictions and lockdowns. This will further postpone economic recovery and resuming our normal lives. Even if a working vaccine is announced, it will take months to distribute and to assess its effectiveness.


    • COVID mentality will not be shaken off so easily: There will likely be a transition period, while people shake off that 2020 storm-weathering mentality. Many people may choose to remain remote for fear of contracting the virus. While local tourism might increase out of a desperate desire to get out of lockdown, far-flung holidays to remote locations may be postponed until 2022 for fear of being stranded overseas. Many people and businesses will find themselves staying afloat financially only by the skin of their teeth, and for some people, their jobs will not be coming back after COVID, and so will be either unwilling or unable to flaunt any spending money.


  • 2021 recession or rebound: It might be important to keep that storm-weathering mentality and hunker down for a 2021 recession, which some economists are predicting. The US dollar has a 50% chance of doing a double-dip recession by the end of 2021. Although other economists are predicting the economy will ramp back up as businesses open again, deals that were postponed are picked up again and employees who were laid off during the pandemic are sent back to work.
Related: Want to learn how to save money on software during COVID? You can watch our video on how to save money during a pandemic.

As you can see, a lot can happen in the upcoming year, we may not be out of these treacherous waters just yet, but what kinds of things can we expect without any unexpected turns?

Tentative Return to Work

Many companies are expected to be heading back to work either on a partial basis or in a manner that allows employees to effectively social distance. If companies were not already on the Cloud when the pandemic struck, there was a hasty adjustment period, where companies scrambled to assemble some kind of Cloud infrastructure that would allow them to keep their business running, forcing companies to technologically jump several years ahead. Since a Cloud migration is typically seen as an expensive endeavor, it’s unlikely that going back to the office will result in a complete dismantling of their efforts. So, the Cloud platforms will likely stay, which could easily lead to a more flexible work environment for employees. Many analysts predict that our working situation in 2021 will look more like 2020 than 2019, as those who enjoyed working online will most likely push to remain so. What this means is that companies will now have a global pool of candidates to pick from while also have to compete for good candidates on a global scale with other companies.

Aggressive Audits

The software industry took a definite plunge over the past year, with sales reaching a vicious low when it came to licenses. The exception to this rule of course, was telecom software, with both Zoom and Microsoft’s Teams taking off in popularity. Despite this growth, many software companies experienced significant losses in 2020. This means we will most likely be seeing an aggressive wave of software audits soon. The software vendors also demonstrated significant generosity towards their customers during the pandemic, with free offers, customer packaging, and a hold on true-ups and negotiations. However, their generosity will be coming to a close soon, so it is important you clean your profiles of any programs whose free trials have expired and get started in preparing to meet a far less generous software vendor during your next true-up.

Related: Don’t let the software auditors catch you off guard with our Software Audit Checklist

IT Security Threats on the Rise

The swift migration to the Cloud during the beginning of the pandemic resulted in a lot of hasty constructions of the cloud infrastructure, basically, they just needed the bare minimum to get going. What this has left us with are platforms that may not be the most secure. Think of all the businesses that couldn’t provide their workers with their own unique devices and those employees were forced to use their own laptops, which may easily be dated or perhaps already burdened with barely contained malware. It is suspected that 2021 will see cybersecurity being one of the many daunting challenges companies will have to face, such as an increase in Ransomware attempts, phishing, and IoT attacks will all increase as businesses struggle to protect their new cloud environments.

Related: Protect your Software Environment with our article, How SAM Can Improve Your Cyber Security

Get Ready for 2021 with MetrixData 360

2021 is upon us and as we leave this awful year behind it is important to keep looking ahead and prepare for the worst but hope for the best. Nothing prepares you better than having a software environment that is organized and under control. At MetrixData 360, we provide our customers with the ability to sleep easy at night, knowing their software environment is compliant and cost-effective.

IT Security Threats on the Rise

The swift migration to the Cloud during the beginning of the pandemic resulted in a lot of hasty constructions of the cloud infrastructure, basically, they just needed the bare minimum to get going. What this has left us with are platforms that may not be the most secure. Think of all the businesses that couldn’t provide their workers with their own unique devices and those employees were forced to use their own laptops, which may easily be dated or perhaps already burdened with barely contained malware. It is suspected that 2021 will see cybersecurity being one of the many daunting challenges companies will have to face, such as an increase in Ransomware attempts, phishing, and IoT attacks will all increase as businesses struggle to protect their new cloud environments.

Convincing Your Boss to Upgrade Your SAM Strategy

Convincing your boss to bring on a team of people is no easy task. You want your boss to think you’re capable, that you’re the one-person army you promised when they hired you. However, if you’ve been handed the task of managing the software assets of your company’s entire software architecture, then you may have quickly discovered that you can’t, in fact, do it all. There’s no shame in that, especially if such a large job has been prioritized as little more than a side project to be put on top of all your other work, we’re only humans, after all. We get tired, burned-out and even the hardest working among us can’t take on the gigantic task of enterprise-level software asset management alone. So how do you convince your boss to expand and bring on a team?

At MetrixData 360, we have been in the software asset management game for many years now and we have seen the consequences of companies not having a proper SAM solution in place only to have a software audit hitting them like a shovel to the face.

In this article, we’ll break down how you can get your leadership to invest in software asset management, so the task doesn’t fall solely on your shoulders.

Convincing Your Boss a Software Asset Management Expert is Best

Software Asset Management is a relatively new industry, with few people understanding what it is and even less understanding the need to invest in it. So, if you want the help you require, you’ll need to convince your boss of  the value of bringing on software asset management expertise.

Let’s look at the various skills that are required for one person to successfully maintain their company’s software asset management strategy:

  • Legal Expertise: Licenses, contracts, and how to read between the fine print are all necessary skills when you’re breaking down software contracts.
  • Vendor Expertise: Technology is constantly evolving, and your software vendors are constantly making changes to their product line and the licensing associated with it. Vendors can make changes that will affect your licensing hundreds of times a year. Keeping pace with the changes of even one vendor is considered an accomplishment.
  • Negotiating Expertise: Knowing how to handle contract negotiations, contract renewals and software audit negotiations will be an important element of a SAM expert. There’s no point in discovering these saving opportunities if they can’t talk the software vendor into making your contracts reflect those savings.
  • Technical Expertise: It helps if you actually know how the software you’re dealing with works and how it interacts with the rest of your software architecture.

As you have probably figured out from this robust list, being an expert in any of these fields would be a full-time profession. The main appeal of seeking external SAM expertise is that you will instantly have a team of experts from the second they walk through the door.

Providing Options to Expanding Your SAM Team

It’s important that you don’t frame your proposal to your superiors as a win-lose/yes-no scenario, try to present options to your boss. When confronted with the situation of needing more manpower for your company’s software asset management goals, you have a few options at your disposal.

Hiring a Full-Time, In-House Team

Building an internal team is both costly to initiate and upkeep over the long term. You may also have trouble finding someone to fill the positions you need, you don’t have the time to train a new college grad and the seasoned veterans in the software asset management community know that they’re in high demand.

Hire External Experts

Hiring an expert offers the greatest long-term value with a reasonably smaller upfront cost since they offer a wide team of experts from the second they walk through the door and their specialization can be hand-tailored to your time frame and challenge.

While there is the issue of becoming dependent on the SAM experts’ services, MetrixData 360 counters such issues by offering training wherever possible to our customers.

Hybrid Solution

Some organizations may only need assistance in specific areas. Perhaps you already have a SAM tool installed and merely need someone to manage it or your company excels at day-to-day SAM but needs assistance in an audit. Either way, there are many SAM solutions to pick from that can accommodate your unique case.

Have a Clear Goal for Your Company’s SAM Journey

As you may have already discovered, Software Asset Management can prove to be completely overwhelming. The sheer amount of raw data your discovery tool can drag in is enough to discourage and confuse anyone whose brain isn’t built with a motherboard.
A fully optimized SAM solution also isn’t gained just with the mere installation of a discovery tool, although that is an important element to it. There are five stages of SAM maturity:


Exactly what it sounds like. There’s no visibility into your software environment, it’s anyone’s guess how many licenses you use or need. When an audit comes, there’s a lot of scrambling and confusion, with only the auditor’s findings to go on — even though the chances are that you aren’t as far out of compliance as they say. The goal at this stage should just be to gain visibility.


At this stage, you have probably had a SAM tool installed and have some level of visibility, although software audits are still a matter of damage control and you still suffer from compliance issues. Now that you have visibility, your goal at this stage is to gain compliance.

Compliance Plus:

You’ve reached compliance, you have visibility into your software environment and problems found there are corrected before they are confronted in a software audit. From this stage your next goal is to start searching for saving opportunities.


At this stage you’ve reached peak optimization, you’ve made use of all the saving opportunities you’ve found. Now the next step is to solidify your efforts and to make sure the SAM processes you set in place outlast you by making them a part of your company’s regular procedures.

Amplified Value:

You’ve now achieved the ideal software environment. You have proper visibility and can handle a software audit like it is nothing. Your software environment is as efficient as possible, and you are only purchasing what you need. Best of all, the change will now be permanent for the betterment of your company in years to come.

Now, it’s important to understand that climbing up the SAM maturity ladder takes time and it may not be necessary for your company to reach the peak of SAM maturity. Assess where you want to go and where your company is heading and present your boss with a strategy to reach that goal.

Timing Your Request

Timing is everything. This is just a general rule, try not to come to your boss with your list of suggested SAM solutions when they are upset or frustrated, it might not bode well.
Take note of any of the more pressing issues that you are dealing with when it comes to your company’s software environment and frame your argument accordingly. If your company for instance, is dealing with an unpleasant software audit, then focus on more immediate and short-term SAM solutions as opposed to anything long-term. You’ll need to make a good impression.

Related: Need to convince your team about the value of Software Asset Management? Check out our article:
Promoting Software Asset Management to Your Team.

Getting a Handle on Your Software Assets

With so many organizations new to the idea of SAM, a lot of them are still writing the rules on what that process should be like and how many people should be given the task. If you find yourself overworked and burnt out because you’re trying to run your organization’s SAM with a penny’s budget and a scant team (if you have a team at all), then you’ve come to the right place.

At MetrixData 360, we pride ourselves in being both educators (so you can learn and improve your skill after an engagement with us) and SAM experts whose whole process from start to finish involves saving you money. Given our wealth of SAM experience getting our clients to the point where they are compliant while also cutting down unnecessary costs, we can create an estimate of the potential savings and Return on Investments of SAM Solutions. If you’d like to learn more about the kinds of solutions MetrixData 360 offers and which one would be best for your organization, you can contact our director of client success and you can expect a response in less than 24 hours.

Internal Software Audit

If a software audit was to come to your organization today, do you know what they would find? Or does the idea of a surprise audit fill you with dread and a general wave of anxiety over the unknown? Running an internal software audit can help ease that anxiety and give you peace of mind.

The majority of organizations do not have any sort of software asset management solution in place and, as a result, a software audit for them would only be a matter of damage control to stop the bleeding wherever possible.

Needless to say, this is not an ideal situation to be in. Especially in these hard times, the old solution of throwing money at a software audit until it goes away is a luxury few organizations can afford.

At MetrixData 360, we have seen companies struggle to get their software environments in order at the last minute. But it is possible to get out ahead of the game.

How do you maintain a clean software environment that is compliant and under control all year round and not just when the software auditors darken your door? Self-assessments and internal software audits are an excellent step to helping you get your software environment in order.

Why You Should Perform an Internal Software Audit

Internal audits may come across as though they are nitpicking and critiquing the work of the IT and procurement departments. While it’s natural to become defensive when an audit team takes a critical look at past behavior, an internal audit isn’t meant to be adversarial. In fact, the purpose of an internal audit or self-assessment is to safeguard the company, not pick it apart.

The actual reasons for performing these software audits can be broken down into two parts:

Control: Internal audits are an excellent way to gain control of your software environment in a way that ensures that you are compliant with your software vendors and capable of cutting back unnecessary spending. You won’t be able to do that without a team who can tell you what you have to fix without making it about you as a person.
Action: Merely reporting issues will get you nowhere. Being able to tell there is a fire (smoke, alarms, the heat on your face) is only the first step in putting out the fire. You still have to figure out what comes next. Internal auditors need to be able to provide you with actionable solutions to the issues in your software environment.

When Should You Perform an Internal Software Audit?

Timing is everything in the business world. When would be the perfect time to kick off an internal audit? If you are experiencing any of the following situations, then performing an internalized software audit is an excellent idea.

  • Feeling the Threat of a Software Audit

While software audits are sometimes distributed at random, and every customer should anticipate a software audit of some kind from each of their vendors at least once a year, there can be a certain rhythm to them that we have noticed at MetrixData 360.

Some common factors that can catch the software vendor’s attention and may lead you to receive an audit sometime in the future are as follows:

  • The vendor has seen a dip in their sales and they’ll soon become resourceful in making up that revenue
  • You’ve cut back spending with the software vendor
  • You’ve let it slip to a vendor’s sales rep that you are working on some new projects that will require more licenses, but that project is unexpectedly postponed and the licenses are never purchased. The vendor’s sales team waits impatiently, and nothing happens, not being told about the project being cancelled. They will think that new projects are underway involving their software that they are not part of.
  • You’ve recently gone through a merger and acquisition (see the next paragraph for more details)

Performing a self-assessment is the best way to prepare for a software audit if you feel like one is coming. Times being what they are, software audits are expected to only increase as software vendors are desperate to make up for their lost revenue, so if you aren’t in a software audit, you have a good chance of being in one soon.

  • Going Through a Merger and Acquistion

The reason why this point gets its own section is because there are many reasons why it is a good idea to perform a self-assessment when your organization is going through a M&A and it’s not just because an M&A is the number one way to incite an audit (which it is!). Examining your own resources and the resources of the other company will give you better insight into what you are signing up for. You want to assume that the other organization is perfectly compliant and has their software licensing environment in order. However, we have often seen many organizations halt their M&A because they realize at the last second that the other organization has massive compliance issues that they will have to bear as well.

Their compliance issues become your compliance issues after the M&A is completed. Performing an internal self-assessment will not only give you the ability to check for compliance issues before the move, but it will also allow you to cross-compare which assets you can keep, which assets you can dispose of, and which assets won’t be able to move. It’s common after an M&A to have multiple pieces of software that serve the same function, and this duplication will only serve as a waste of money in your new software environment. This is the perfect opportunity to do a little spring cleaning and cut back any wastage.

It is also important to note that not every license can be transferred during an M&A, many organizations simply assume this without checking their licenses to determine if it is actually possible and they run the risk of being non-compliant. The last thing you want to do is be caught with compliance issues immediately after your M&A, it’s what the software vendors will be expecting and they will be knocking on your door with a software audit notice within 12 months of your finished M&A. You need to be ready for when that happens.

  • A Contract Renewal or True-Up Is Upon You

Contract renewals or true-ups are your opportunity as a customer to alter your current agreements to better suit your business needs. But you won’t be able to make informed purchasing decisions if you don’t have the data to back it up.

A self-assessment can tell you which licenses you need more of, which you can cut back on and the numbers for each. Simply buying based on what you’ve purchased in the past or making a rough estimation will not allow you to purchase in the most cost-effective manner, and you’re bound to lose money either by purchasing too many licenses or too few, leaving you exposed to compliance issues.

The software vendors and their sales reps do not have your business’s interests in mind when they make recommendations to you. The sales rep’s goal is to increase your spending with them and to get you to buy from them exclusively. Ensuring that you are using what you buy and making sure that you get the most value out of the product is not on their agenda, so you shouldn’t rely on their advice alone.

Having your own data to back up your purchasing decisions will put you back in the driver’s seat during your next software contract negotiation.

Related: Getting Ready for a Contract Renewal or Contract Negotiation? Make sure you are ready by checking out our article: Getting Ready for a Microsoft True-Up
  • Are You Going through a Cloud Migration?

These days, it seems like everyone in the modern business world is either already in the Cloud or heading there. Transitioning to the Cloud can be an expensive endeavor, riddled with hidden fees and unexpected costs related to rampant spending and uncensored processes. When you move to the Cloud, it is important to prioritize and only take what can and should go with you. Unneeded licenses that are just acting as a leech to your budget and untransferable licenses that will only represent a compliance gap later should be left behind.

Related: Cloud Migrations when done improperly can cost your organization a lot of money. Check out the issues you need to be aware of in our article: Moving to the Cloud? 5 Problems You’ll Need to Address

How to Perform a Software Audit Self-Assessment

Knowing that you need a software self-assessment is one thing, but knowing how to do it is quite another. Here are just a few elements that involved in creating a software self-assessment that will give results:

  1. Proactive Approach
  2. Informal Audit Activities
  3. Free-flow of Information
  4. Have the Right Team


  • Proactive Approach

It is easier to build something that is strong and stable in the first place than to go back later and fix it. Going back and reworking faulty systems is more likely to be met with resistance on the part of the IT team, who will have more work for them. Building controls upfront will help you to keep your software assets under control before they even grow into issues.

If you’d like to learn how you can create a proactive SAM approach, you can check out our article about growing in SAM Maturity.

  • Informal Audit Activities

Internal audits can involve an extensive process of granular research that may be difficult to conduct on a regular basis. Allowing your team to perform informal, less rigorous research to simply scan an environment for red flags will greatly reduce the data you will have to sift through and will allow you to cover a lot more ground on a regular basis without losing steam.

Since you are not in an actual audit at the moment, there is only the need to keep a pulse on the health of your software environment, there’s no need to dig deep and cut into it just yet.

  • Free-Flow of Information

In many organizations, there is a disconnect between the IT department and the procurement department; a communication breakdown between those who buy the software and those who use it. This is an inherent deterrent towards the goals of achieving a realized software asset management solution. Breaking down these walls by encouraging the free flow of information between departments is essential to ensuring a healthy software environment.

  • Have the Right Team

Having a messy, unorganized and unmonitored software environment is a costly luxury and an unnecessary expense when compared to the savings that could be realized with a properly implemented software asset management solution. This is why performing internalized audits and self-assessments is a great way of realizing those risks before they grow into greater issues.

Who Should Act as Your Internal Software Audit Team?

When it comes to hiring a team, you can either create an internal SAM team or hire an external source.

At Metrixdata 360, we have helped many of our customers get their software licensing environment under control, cutting down your expenses to their smallest digit.
Our goal is to save you money and if you would like to learn more about the kind of services we offer, you can check out our self-assessment page.

Buying a SAM Tool

Software Asset Management (SAM) is a set of business processes that are designed to maintain license compliance and spending efficiency regarding an organization’s software licenses. Buying a SAM tool to help gain visibility into your software licensing seems like a no-brainer, but not all SAM tools are created equally.

SAM done right can provide significant benefits to an organization, including:

  • Cost Reduction or Expense Elimination: a potential 30% savings could be found in any software environment that hasn’t implemented SAM in the past.
  • Reduced Risk: Software vendors use software audits as a source of revenue due to the fact that often in the event of an audit, companies have no way to defend themselves against the (inaccurately high) claims of the auditors.
  • Cost Optimization: SAM empowers your company to only purchase what you need and allows you to get the most out of what you purchase.

If you have decided that your company would like to implement SAM, then your next logical step would be purchasing a SAM tool. The reasoning behind this is simple: modern software architecture is quite complicated. For mid-sized to large businesses, counting your licenses manually using nothing but a spreadsheet would produce enough data to drive anyone mad. To implement true software asset management, you need to purchase a SAM tool. At MetrixData 360, we have been working in the SAM tool industry for many years now and we pride ourselves in our high customer satisfaction rate.

To ensure you have a good experience, it’s important you don’t rush into this purchasing decision. In this buyer’s guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about SAM tools: what they are, where they often fall short, and how they fit into your greater plan with SAM.

What Are SAM Tools?

SAM tools are applications that are meant to aid and assist the management and organization of your software assets. SAM tools are divided into two categories: agent and agentless, both of which come with their own advantages and disadvantages.

Agentless SAM Tools

By far the more popular option of the two, agentless monitoring relies on protocols to relay information back to a central monitoring software. Software and hardware manufacturers have built features into their products which will allow the software or hardware to relay information about itself if prompted.

Agentless monitoring simply embeds itself within the software or hardware to tap into this relay of information in order to read their operational parameters before sending it back to the central monitoring software. So, it’s technically not agentless but simply tapping into a communication network that was already there within the product.

Pros of Agentless SAM Tools

  • Deployment and installation are easier and faster, since there is less software to install compared to agent-based monitoring. With agentless tools you only need to install the central system.
  • Monitoring is always done the same regardless of the system it is monitoring.
  • Licensing and hardware expenses are low compared to agent-based tools.
  • Maintenance and updates are often easier and cheaper.
  • Only requires basic knowledge of graphs, monitoring, and analysis to use.

Cons of Agentless SAM Tools

  • Limitations in what can be monitored, some elements of your environment simply can’t be remotely monitored. Due to this limitation, monitoring is less expansive, and the analysis is restricted.
  • Monitoring protocols sometimes are lacking in security measures.
  • Requires additional network traffic for when the raw performance data is sent to the remote data collector.

Agent-Based SAM Tools

Comparatively, agent-based monitoring gives you the opportunity to collect and analyze more data from your infrastructure using agents that run on the monitored system. The agents are pieces of software that are installed to collect operational data and they will send it back to one central system. Since vendors of agent-based tools often provide their tool when you host on their platform, the increased breadth of data is expected.

Pros of Agent-Based SAM Tools

  • Flexibility for developers to define the information that is passed between the monitoring tool and the system it is monitoring.
  • Adding new devices onto the tool is very easy and doesn’t require updating the tool. You simply need to install the agent onto the new device.
  • Often provide much more detailed information compared to the agentless tool.
  • Collection of parameters are done by the agent, making it easier and simpler to use.
  • Often comes with profiling features and in-depth analysis.

Cons of Agent-Based SAM Tools

  • Monitoring limitations.
  • If your SAM tool vendor also provides you a Cloud platform, it will be difficult to ever switch platforms since it will mean losing your SAM tool.
  • Often hardware expenses and licensing expenses are higher compared to its agentless counterpart.
  • The agents that are running are added to your CPU, memory and disk space on the monitored systems, which could then in-turn affect performance.
  • You will need to install both the central system in addition to the installation of all the agents on each server.
  • Maintenance will often prove to be labor intensive, especially if the deployment process is not automated.
  • Not every system will allow the installation of the agents.
  • Often requires a level of skill to harness the full potential of all the features.

How SAM Tools Fit in with a Good SAM Maturity Strategy

Every SAM strategy needs a good SAM tool to back it up. However, reaching that peak performance of software asset management — where you are completely compliant, cutting costs and gaining complete visibility into your software licensing environment — isn’t something that you gain as soon as your SAM tool is up and running.

The 5 Stages of SAM Maturity

There are actually five stages of SAM Maturity:

  • Chaos:
    1. Your software environment is a mess, you have no visibility, no SAM tool installed, and every software audit is simply a matter of putting out fires.
    1. Simply gain visibility and get a picture of what you have.
  • Reactive:
    1. You have one or multiple SAM tools, and you are starting to gain visibility into what you have. Audits are still a matter of damage control as your company is only reacting to findings.
    1. Use the data the SAM tool has provided you to hunt down licensing issues and gain compliance.
  • Compliance Plus:
    1. You’ve reached compliance; your software environment is neat and tidy, and you have full visibility and the ability to effectively defend yourself in an audit.
    1. You can now start actively looking for savings opportunities in your software environment. * *You need to ensure compliance before you start hunting for savings since attempting to reduce your licenses and cut costs can often incite an audit from software vendors.
  • Optimize:
    1. All your licenses are in order and are cost-effective without reducing value. Software audits are no big deal because you have full visibility into your licensing environment and any compliance issues are dealt with as they arise.
    1. Solidify your hard work to make sure this SAM strategy outlasts you.
  • Amplify Value:
    1. Not only is your SAM strategy proving effective and useful to your company but now this strategy will continue in the company’s best practices. Savings should begin to accumulate at this stage.
    Pick where you want your software environments to grow based on your company’s unique business needs.

As you can see, purchasing your SAM tool is only a single step in your journey to SAM maturity, and it won’t take you straight to the later stages immediately. Now, your company doesn’t have to reach all of these stages, it may only be in your interests to reach the mid-level stages and that’s completely fine. This whole process from beginning to end represents roughly a year of effort from your SAM team.

How Do SAM Tools Work in the Cloud?

Everyone is heading into the Cloud, and for good reason, as it provides its users with flexibility and a pricing metric that is often comparatively cheaper than their on-prem counterparts.

One of the main appeals the cloud offers is the ability to use a pay-as-you-go model of payment, where you only pay month-to-month and only for what you need.

Surely this means that software asset management is no longer needed, since the confusing licensing part of it is handled by your provider and you can sleep easy at night, right? What companies often don’t realize is that SAM is now more important than ever, especially when it comes to the Cloud.

What Makes SAM so Essential?

  • Migrating to the cloud is often an expensive process as licenses are transferred, replaced with their Cloud equivalent, or purchased for the first time. We have seen many companies halt their Cloud migration or replace their original full migration with a hybrid solution simply because of unforeseen expenses.
  • Shadow IT becomes a huge risk in a Cloud environment. In the old, on-prem days, purchasing licenses often required negotiating contracts, an activity which would require weeks. Now, it’s easier than ever for a customer to purchase licenses, all they need is a credit card, an account, and an afternoon. The pay-as-you-go pricing models also makes it difficult to anticipate what the year-end cost will be.

Related: Get a comparison of the three major Cloud Platforms: AWS vs. Azure vs. Google Cloud

Why Do SAM Tools Often Fail?

Software Asset Management has taken on a slow adoption in the business world at large, with under 20% of companies worldwide having some sort of SAM practice in place, with the vast majority of them taking on SAM during some kind of event: either a software audit or when the Cloud migration expenses hit the CFO as gently as speeding freight train.

However, even looking at the percentage of companies that have SAM and don’t just take it out for special occasions, there is a vicious cycle that has become apparent.

The “Trough of Disillusionment” is what Gartner calls the realization companies experience over either 6, 12, or 24 months that their SAM tool can’t deliver, with only 25% of enterprises expressing satisfaction with their SAM tool in 2020. So, what are the causes of this dissatisfaction? There are a few things that contribute:

The Silver Bullet Solution

Companies assume that their SAM tool is the silver bullet which will save them from all their compliance issues. They are often disappointed when SAM tools fail to live up to the expectations put on them. That is because the tool is just that – a tool.

Tools need to be in the hands of the right people to get the results you want. It’s the people who drive the success, and a strong SAM strategy often requires a team of full-time professionals to get the job done.

We have seen companies who have thrown the task of the entire SAM process into the lap of some unlucky member of IT or Procurement; someone who already has a full-time position and who can’t possibly deliver the results you need using only their spare time.

When building a proper SAM team, you’ll need to consider the following skills:

  • Legal Expertise with a specialization in contracts and/or software contracts in particular.
  • Negotiation Expertise — you’ll need someone who knows how to make deals with the software vendors.
  • Software vendor specialization, software vendors are inclined to modify and update their software products and their licenses frequently (up to hundreds of times a year).
  • Experience dealing with tech would also be considered an asset.

Finding any one person who encapsulates all these skills will be difficult if not impossible.

Implementation Failures

The way that SAM tools are implemented and used can also have an impact on your overall success rate. There are a few common scenarios that are seen when companies first begin to implement SAM:

  • They don’t know what success looks like, they enter into the project without thinking of their end goal. Working backwards from a goal will help you build an implementation plan while also ensuring that you know what ‘done’ looks like.
  • They try to do everything at once, organizing your entire infrastructure will not happen immediately. You will need to set up a tight scope: start with a few of your vendors at first and eventually branch out.
  • They see SAM as a single event; however, SAM is really something that should be considered as a continued service – something that you are slowly but surely moving towards improvement.

The Shortcomings of SAM Tools

There is a reason why SAM customers often purchase their tool with high expectations and that comes from the fact that many SAM tool vendors often promise things that their tool simply can’t deliver on, giving their customers a false sense of security. SAM tools come with many potential shortfalls that you must be aware of when purchasing your SAM tool, such as:

Naming Conventions

SAM tools get confused when confronted with unique naming conventions, test/development environments, and updated licensing rules. This often results in licenses being skipped, mislabeled or counted twice.

Solution: Make sure that your SAM tool can label specific devices correctly, which may require manual intervention that requires a SAM team.

Remote Users

If you use remote server access software like Citrix then your SAM tool may only count one installation, when in fact there may be many.

Solution: You can use manual workarounds to identify remote server access and fix this issue prior to being confronted with it during an audit. You can also pull your remote access users from your Active Directory into a user-based license record within the tool.

Unique Licensing Metrics

Basic SAM tools can count users, devices, processors, or cores. If your software publisher has anything more unique than that as a licensing metric, such as CALs with SQL Servers or Sub-capacity licensing with IBM, then you may run into some issues.

Solution: This is also capable of being overcome with manual intervention, although the challenge is that these licensing metrics are extremely complicated, so you might need a licensing expert available for your particular metric. You can also check out our tools which are specifically designed to handle difficult licensing challenges.

Cloud Struggles

As many businesses are moving to the Cloud, they often find that their SAM tool struggles to accommodate for the transition. In some cases, the SAM tool will use a connector to access the company’s portals for their Cloud solutions and pull data in from there but where this occurs, it is often prone to error.

Solution: To improve your SAM tool’s accuracy you can retrieve the reports manually and upload them into your SAM tool. It’s encouraged that you do this on a monthly basis.

License Keys

SAM tools can find it challenging to detect ‘invalid’ license keys if an employee brings a software license into the company from a personal account. SAM tools may read these keys as valid, but the software vendors certainly will not. Some vendors are particularly sensitive about these ‘invalid’ keys. They will ask to review them for fear that your organization has duplicated licenses or is even pirating their software.

Solution: Suspecting that your software environment contained pirated licensing material will make any audit that much more difficult because you’ll be confronted with battling against legal penalties in addition to the audit findings. You need to create a custom script to identify invalid license keys and tag any potential issues. You can also advise employees to not bring in personal licenses without authorization as well.

Activated Features

While SAM tools are great for counting the number of licenses, they often have trouble detecting activated features of a product. Take Oracle as an example, Oracle licenses their products cheaper if features that are a part of the product are ‘turned-off,’ but Oracle has very few restrictions in place to prevent customers from using or activating these features. This can then result in heavy auditing fines if these activated features are discovered in your software environment.

Solution: Keep track of specific license edition types, set user permissions on licenses and tell your users not to activate specific functionalities without seeking confirmation from authority.

Want to more details? Check out our webinar hosted by CEO Mike Austin: The Failure of SAM Tools

How to Avoid Getting a Worthless SAM Tool

  • Learn to Verify the Accuracy of the Data
    1. One great way to avoid a worthless SAM tool is verify its accuracy within your software infrastructure. There are three ways to do this:
  • Physical Spot-Check:
    • Test a small sample of assets (e.g., 20 devices) and compare the records your tool collects on them based on manual investigations into each device.
  • Lifecycle Checks:
    • Constantly cleanse your tool’s asset data by asking your IT staff to verify asset data as a part of their ITSM daily duties. They could easily verify things like ownership of assets when a ticket is raised against it, they can also check departments, specifications or configurations.
  • Compare Asset Data with Other Sources:
    Compare your SAM tool against other large data sets that you have in your environment, such as your SCCM data or your Active Directory Accounts, which leads us into the next point.
  • Get More than One
    1. As great as it would be for a single do-it-all SAM tool to exist, we’re still a long way away from that place. We have seen that in general, installing a single SAM tool only increases visibility of the company’s infrastructure by 20%. Typically the use of a second tool is needed to cross reference the quality of data or fill in any missing gaps. This will often increase the company’s visibility to a level where meaningful action can be taken to reduce compliance exposure and licensing issues.
  • Get Someone Who Can Manage It
    1. Lastly, it’s important to have a team of people in charge of managing your SAM strategy. You can either hire someone in house, hire a third-party consultant to handle the task, or you can get a hybrid solution for your SAM needs. There are many pros and cons to each of these solutions, which we discuss in length in our article:
Hire a Software Asset Management Expert or Do it Yourself? The Pros and Cons of Each.

Introducing our SAM Tools

At MetrixData 360, we have state of the art tools of our own that we’d like to offer you, our SAM tools are unique in the fact that they:

  • Are designed with the intention of saving you money
  • Take a holistic approach to the examination of your data
  • Simplify complicated jobs
  • Come with expert assistance
  • Safe to use

The Tools We Offer

Active Directory Reporting Tool

Your Active Directory (AD) is the first and most critical step for determining your user and device counts. Although using AD is not an exact science, it is what Microsoft Auditors use as a guide to determine Qualified Devices/Users. So, you will want your AD as clean as possible, to reflect what you actually have and use.

However, your AD is often the area of your software environment that is cluttered and full of noise. MetrixData 360 has created an amazing tool which can determine qualified devices and qualified users in your Active Directory, which can be set to either standard or specific criteria and used to obtain accurate information.

Office 365 Reporting Tool

Your Office 365 license is critical for ensuring productivity for your business, but how can you be certain that your company is making the most out of the licenses they have when overspending on software is so common? Take control of your Office 365 licenses with MetrixData 360’s in-house solution to identify waste and overspend in your Office 365 Subscriptions with our Office 365 Reporting Tool.

Azure Usage Tool

Azure is an amazing platform that can offer your company streamlined productivity and versatility. However, it can also be extremely complicated. With organizations easily owning hundreds of Azure related products that they need to pay for every month, it can be a challenge to understand where all your organization’s Azure spend is coming from.

If you try to break down your cost using the invoices found in your Azure portal, you will find a nightmare of complicated data spreadsheets waiting for you – which is where MetrixData 360’s Azure Usage Tool comes in. Our Azure Reporting tool is custom-tailored to decipher Azure’s complex pricing and break it down into easy to understand and utilize information.

SQL Licensing Optimization Tool

SQL Server Licensing may be one of the most confusing license models that Microsoft has today. Even the biggest SAM tools on the market have a hard time truly optimizing SQL Server licensing. Usually, other tools will produce a simplified version of the data that doesn’t provide the in-depth analysis customers need to take meaningful action to organize their SQL Servers.

Our algorithm will provide a comprehensive view of your SQL Server Licenses, taking months of work and cutting it down to a few minutes. This is done to ensure your SQL Licensing is completed in the most cost-effective way possible, regardless of if you are on-premise, in the cloud, have Software Assurance, purchasing through an EA or a Server and Cloud Enrolment (SCE).

Windows Server Licensing Optimization Tool

Your environment is likely very dynamic and not static. You will have Virtual Windows (VMs) servers moving across VMWare hosts or VMs that are moving from on-premise to a public cloud. How do you manage these licenses?

Many organizations simply purchase licenses as they need them and never look to reset and re-optimize those licenses. Truth be told, it’s likely because it’s a very difficult thing to do. Our Windows Server License Optimization Tool has been developed to help clients quickly figure out the best use of their Windows (and System Center) licenses.

Learn More About SAM Tools

Buying a SAM Tool can prove a difficult experience because the market is saturated with tools that are only designed to sell you more tools.

It is important that you purchase SAM tools of quality. These products are the things that will keep you compliant. They will be the backbone of your defense in a software audit. They can ensure your transition to the Cloud is smooth and cost-effective. And they can give you back control over your software licensing environment.

At MetrixData 360, our goal is to save you money and get the most out of your software purchase, which is why we offer tools that are designed to save you money, time, and frustration. If you’d like to learn more about the tools we offer, you can check out our Tool Catalogue.

Stakeholder Management and SAM

Software asset management doesn’t exist in a vacuum, and software asset managers (especially if they are a part of a larger company) will spend a large chunk of their time appealing to stakeholders. In fact, some IT departments even hire stakeholder managers just for that specific task.

With so much riding on convincing this group of people that your SAM solution is a good one, what is the best way to foster a strong stakeholder relationship?

Over the years, the MetrixData 360 team has helped many companies work through their own SAM solutions and have helped manage dozens of stakeholders in the process of each engagement. so today we thought we’d share what we know about working with stakeholders, especially when they don’t know anything about SAM.

Who Are the Stakeholders?

Your group of stakeholders is composed of anyone affected in any way by your SAM project. The bigger your organization, the more stakeholders you’ll have whose job will be to either support or hinder it, depending on how they perceive your project will impact them (either negatively or positively). Some stakeholders that you might have to deal with in your attempts to implement an effective software asset management strategy in your company includes but are not limited to:

  • Senior executives that would oversee the SAM program
  • CIOs and their IT VPs
  • CFOs and their Finance and Procurement VPs
  • The Business Unit Manager
  • The Chief Compliance Officer

Having these stakeholders in your corner means that you’ll have someone who is willing to back your SAM project, defend it, and (most importantly) fund it and give you the go-ahead to begin.

Principles of Stakeholder Management for Software Asset Management

Build Your Business Case

The first thing that you’ll need to do is create a case which appeals to all the various stakeholders. Consider what’s in it for each of them, then highlight the benefits and key performance drivers.

For instance, if you’re speaking to the IT Operations VP, focus on how SAM will create labor saving potential and operational efficiency. If you’re speaking to the CFO on the other hand, focus instead on cost reductions and budgeting potential.

Clarify what you want from each of your stakeholders. Your case should accurately lay out the anticipated size and complexity of your SAM project, the amount of help and resources you’ll require and how long your project is estimated to take.

Try to put in as much detail as possible but make sure to account for the fact that SAM projects are subject to roadblocks in the form of missing data or discovered compliance issues.

Educate Your Stakeholders

It’s important to ask yourself how much each stakeholder might know about software asset management. Someone with a background in finances might not have a history working with or understanding the complexity of SAM.

If you feel like you might be greeted by a boardroom of blank faces with your business case, it might be worth it to include a quick overview of what SAM is and the general value it can provide to a company.

Related: Get your Team on Board with Software Asset Management with our article, Implementing Software Asset Management for Beginners.

Reporting Your Progress

After you’ve gotten your initial shot to try out your plan, you’ll have to prove that it was worth their trust by providing progress reports frequently. These reports should detail if you’ve hit any milestones in the project plan, if you’re seeing any return on investment etc.

It’s especially important that you communicate your progress during the early stages of the project, where confidence in your SAM vision will be the shakiest and the project is most prone to change. At this point it may be beneficial to aim for easy wins and low-hanging fruit to display results quickly.

Once momentum is gained and the value of your project is proven, then the cost of pulling the plug will be higher and you can breathe a bit easier. These reports should also include any difficulties you are facing that present the potential of slowing down the results of your project.

You’ll need to provide separate reports for each of the stakeholders, tailored to their specific interests (don’t make the VP of Procurement slosh through data on how many hours of labor you’ve removed from the IT staff) and their certain level of supervision; will they be closely managing your project? Or will they simply need to be kept informed? These reports will be vital in securing permission to advance your project into its next phase.

For this reason, stakeholder management needs to be treated as a critical aspect of your project and not given the half-hearted attention of a side task. The last thing you want to do is have your stakeholders feel like you are treating them like a low priority.

For reporting your progress, your SAM tool can easily prove an excellent resource, since they will be able to provide excellent reports and insights that each of your stakeholders will find useful.

Develop a Strong Relationship with Your Stakeholders

Without appealing to the right stakeholders, your vision for properly implementing a strong SAM solution will never get off the ground. It’s not because it isn’t a good idea, SAM is an excellent way to curb expenses, manage risk and empower companies to manage their own software licenses. And it’s important to remember that is what you’ll be able to bring to the table.

At MetrixData 360, we have helped many companies realize their goals when it comes to software asset management, we’ve removed a lot of stress and headache from our clients by taking care of the majority of the difficult work, so you can deliver great results with minimal effort on your part.

If you’d like to learn more about our SAM-as-a-Service offering you can check out our service page!

Reactive vs. Proactive SAM

If you’ve just begun to dip your toes into software asset management, you may have realized just how consuming of a job it can be. But implementing Proactive SAM measures can help to slow the chaos down and avoid it all together in the future.   Perhaps your software environment was disorganized when you started and now after weeks of struggling, data hunting, and persevering, you’ve reached a state that SAM experts like to call Reactive SAM.  At this stage, you have full visibility into your software architecture. And that really is great news! However, despite how tempting it may be to throw in your SAM towel and call your efforts good enough, there is a reason why, once you’ve reached this stage, it may be beneficial to keep going.  What’s the next step after this? And why would you even bother to continue after you’ve made it this far already?  At MetrixData 360, we have seen many companies who have made it to this stage only to have their motivation and interest dip, and so in this article, we’d like to show you the benefits of pushing forward in reaching your software asset management goals.  

The Problem with Reactive SAM  

When many companies first begin to implement SAM throughout their company, they may be tempted to assume that their job is done after they are finished running or installing their SAM tool, but it isn’t so simple. There are five stages to SAM maturity, of which the Reactive Stage is only the second: 

  • Chaos:
Nothing is monitored, there are no SAM processes in place and no SAM tool installed. Unplanned costs due to unbudgeted audits and rampant cloud spending is the norm.  
  • Reactive:
At this stage you have a SAM tool and a static view of your software and hardware inventory. Now you can start creating purchasing processes and root out compliance issues.  
  • Compliance Plus:
At this stage you’ve reached compliance and now you have greatly reduced your audit risk. At this stage, you’ve also reached proactive SAM. Your next goal will be to automate the SAM process to ensure continual compliance. 
  • Optimized:
Now it’s time to start realizing some tangible savings and negotiation authority. At this point you’ll be able to discover cost saving opportunities and scenarios. 
  • Amplified Value:
At this stage SAM isn’t just an idea but an integrated part of your company’s culture. Now SAM has a hand in procurement, data center architecture, portfolio management and vendor management. From here you can now project saving scenarios for the future. 

As you can see, while reaching Reactive SAM is an achievement, it is only the first milestone that will allow your company to reach meaningful savings. While many companies chose to halt their SAM process after reaching the Reactive stage, there are limitations in what you can do from this decision:  

  • Your organization will be stuck putting out fires: As the name would suggest, in Reactive SAM, you and your team will spend a lot of time reacting to problems as they arise and you won’t be in a position to effectively alter the root cause of the problem, so the issues are bound to keep happening. 
  • Audits will still catch you off guard: unexpected audits can be quite the slap in the face to your business and at this stage you will be stuck exhausting your resources to address the issues of an audit.
  • You still won’t be able to regulate spending or consumption: Without coordinating the efforts of your procurement and IT departments and without a complete understanding of your software estate, you won’t be able to set a budget that your company can stick to. 

What Does it Mean to Have a Proactive SAM Strategy?  

Being Proactive means that if confronted with a software audit, you will be ready to handle anything that comes your way without expending tremendous amounts of company resources. Although it will take a lot more time and energy to make it through the rest of your company’s SAM Maturity journey, there are tremendous benefits waiting for you along the way.  

Benefits of Proactive Software Asset Management 

  • Reduced Risk: this is the biggest appeal for most companies. When you employ a proactive SAM strategy you are lowering your risks for software audits, compliance issues and unbudgeted software cost. 
  • Cyber Security: cyber criminals will often use old, untracked, and unnoticed software as an entry point into your infrastructure; greater visibility will increase your ability to keep software updated and protected. If you’d like to learn more about how software asset management can help improve your cyber security, you can check out our article: How SAM Can Improve Your Cyber Security
  • Savings and Peace of Mind: Knowing what you have and knowing it is properly licensed will allow you to rest easy at night without having to always be looking over your shoulder, wondering when the next audit-shaped wrecking ball will come swinging towards your company. You will also be able to realize more meaningful savings when you build a proactive SAM portfolio as you take control of your software environment.  

Continuing Your SAM Journey

Now the next question that needs to be addressed is where do you go from here.. How do you get to that next stage in SAM Maturity? Here are a few goals to keep in mind in order to help you reach Proactive SAM:

Get the Stakeholders Involved 

Anyone who will have an influence on your SAM project should be considered a stakeholder, this includes people who are in charge of purchasing your company’s software licenses and people who manage that software. It may be difficult to balance the relationship between these two parties, since the financial side will tend to be motivated by a tight budget and may see SAM as a frivolous luxury.  Meanwhile, the tech side of things might see SAM as something of a deterrent to the effectiveness of their software infrastructure.  It may be a challenge to convince both parties to get on board with SAM, and for that reason, we’ve made a few assets to help you along the way:  

Have a Dedicated SAM Staff 

SAM is not a part-time job, if you want to make it to the Proactive stages, you’ll need someone to own the project. While the needs of every software environment are unique, when searching for your new SAM team you’ll need to take into consideration the number of vendors and the complexity of your software environment. There are a few options to pick from when it comes to hiring a SAM team, you can hire internal resources or outsource the project to a third-party.   If you’d like to learn more about the Pros and Cons of each solution,you can check out our article here!  

Anticipate Roadblocks  

Fortune favors the prepared, as the saying goes, and sadly not everyone in your company is bound to understand the inherent value of software asset management right from the get go. Expect and prepare for such obstacles like:  

  • Given a small budget for SAM 
  • Solution: Start small and find low hanging fruits that can create small savings and quick wins. These small victories will act as proof to encourage upper management to further invest in SAM. 
  • No internal resources and no one with licensing experience 
  • Solution: There’s no need for you to do this all alone, which is why you need to make it a priority for you to get the help you need.  

Keep Calm and Carry on With Your SAM Journey!  

Now that you’ve started on your SAM journey it’s important that you keep on pushing to get more meaningful results. Reaching a stage of SAM Reactive is great but it is not the most stable position and the last thing you want is to let your software environment fall back into a state of chaos and risk.  At MetrixData 360 we have helped companies at every stage of SAM maturity and have helped them reach their own goals quickly and efficiently. If you’d like to learn more about our Software Asset Management as a Service offering, check out our SAM Service Page.

Hiring a Licensing Negotiator: The Whys and Hows

There are many things to not like about negotiations: the tension, the frustration, and the feelings of being overwhelmed or outmatched. Negotiations are an unavoidable element of doing business. Hiring a license negotiator can help ease the discomfort around the whole process.

Software contract negotiations can be quite overwhelming, due to software contracts usually being hyper-complex. There is also an added strain if the software vendor you are negotiating with has mission-critical software that you will need to run your business.

This is why it’s always a good idea when confronted with a software contract negotiation to consider hiring a negotiator who specializes in software contracts. But how do you start looking and what are the qualities of a good licensing negotiator?

At MetrixData360, we specialize in helping organizations negotiate more effectively with software vendors like Microsoft, Oracle, and IBM. Having engaged in this business for many years, we know the professional standards that software licensing negotiators should be held to, which is what we want to share with you today.

Why People Hire Software Licensing Negotiators

Organizations often have talented and experienced people who are sent to sit down and hash things out with the software vendors, however, it is important to consider the following factors when you decide to use internal resources to approach the software vendors:

  • Negotiations are very time-consuming. Microsoft’s EA renewals, for instance, will require a minimum of a month to prepare, but MetrixData 360 suggests that you start preparing at least five months in advance.
  • It’s critical to have a strong understanding of the particular contract that you are negotiating. Not only are these software contracts difficult to understand, they are also subject to change hundreds of times a year when you consider how many times your vendor might update their product line, their policies, etc. For one person to be an expert on even a single vendor would be considered an accomplishment.
  • It will be difficult to successfully negotiate a software contract without a strong understanding of your company’s software assets. It won’t serve your company in the long run if your only negotiation strategy is to fight for a discount. For instance, if you are overspending on software licenses that you aren’t using and your software vendor decides to throw you a bone by giving you a 10% discount, you’re still wasting money on those licenses. Hiring a licensing negotiator will help avoid overspending on licenses you don’t need, even if they are discounted.  
  • If there is a way for you to cut back on spending on your software contracts and you go about removing licenses without the required care, often the vendors will respond by sending you a software audit shortly after the negotiation has concluded in order to make up for the lost revenue of your reduced license count.

What to Look for in a Good Licensing Contract Negotiator

If you’ve decided you need help in this endeavor, the last thing you want is someone who can’t deliver. An attorney might be a good idea when you’re shopping for someone who will have your back during this engagement but is not exactly necessary; instead, you should look for someone who meets the following criteria:

Experience with and Knowledge of Your Specific Vendor

Your negotiator should be able to come to the table having experience negotiating with this vendor before. This will ensure that they will have a strong understanding of your vendor’s current product line, their current contracts, and they can anticipate the typical escalation strategies of that vendor.

Strong Conflict Resolution Skills Paired with Excellent Escalation Strategies

There are times to keep the peace and times to throw down the gauntlets, and your negotiator should be able to tell the difference between the two and how to go about either of these approaches.

An Understanding of the Stakeholders Involved

How do you speak to a group of people when one wants to take your money, another wants to make sure you’re having a great experience as a customer, another who is here to make sure the contracts are legally sound, and someone who just stepped in to bring his boss coffee? It’s difficult, isn’t it?
Sadly though, on the other side of the negotiation table, there are people who are brought in with different goals and different levels of authority (you wouldn’t frame your argument to just please the coffee guy), and a software negotiator must be able to speak to all of them.

A Strong Personality

It takes a certain type of personality to get the right outcomes from a contract negotiation. It takes a tenacious individual who cannot be intimidated while also being able to exhibit patience and humility.
If you’d like to learn more about how you can work on becoming a strong negotiator yourself, you can check out our article: 5 Key Traits to Winning Contract Negotiations.

Your Options for Hiring a Licensing Negotiator

Hire an In-House Software Asset Manger

Many SAM experts come with contract negotiation expertise due to their in-depth knowledge of a company’s software assets. While this will allow you to have someone who shares your company’s goals and values, it will be unlikely that you’ll find a single person who will be able to master every single vendor that you have in your infrastructure. It’s more likely that you’ll need to hire a team of people, which will be significantly more costly.

Hire a Consultant

Outsourcing to a third-party is an excellent way to get experienced professionals the second they walk in the door. They are also handy because you don’t have to keep them on staff for longer than the engagement lasts, often making them a much cheaper alternative.

There is also the possibility of picking the members who will be a part of your team; you only need to pay for the people who will be directly useful to the project.

Why Picking MetrixData 360 as Your Software Contract Negotiator Is a Great Choice

At MetrixData 360, we are experts on the subject of negotiating software contracts on our clients’ behalf and have successfully negotiated over 1.5 billion dollars in software contracts.

Our clients find that bringing a MetrixData360 licensing expert onto their team changes the process dramatically and puts them in control of the software contract negotiation. We like to build multiple licensing models and provide a risk analysis of each. Not only do we have the skills, we also like to teach you what to say and allow you the opportunity to present it as your own findings to preserve the relationship with the vendor.

The MetrixData 360 Edge

When most people are faced with a difficult contract negotiation, they will often need data to prove their stance and to avoid any future audits that might be incurred from the negotiations. At MetrixData 360, we provide you with the solid information you need to present a strong offense and an impeccable defense in the event of a software audit.

The Kind of Support We Offer During the Negotiation Process:

  • We are there and have a plan for every stage of the negotiations phases.
  • Software vendors try to control the negotiation. We change the game and put you in the driver’s seat.
  • Divide and Conquer: We talk to all members of the vendor negotiation team to understand their biases and motivations​.
  • We help you establish a proposal that will meet your goals, if not exceed them.
  • We work as excellent translators for technical jargon and present it to you in a way that is easy to understand.
  • You set the approach, tone, and pace of the meetings​ and we’ll follow your lead.

If you’d like to see some of the end results of our services, you can check out our success stories here!

Hiring the Right Licensing Negotiator For You

Contract negotiations, when it comes to software, can be confusing and seemingly hopeless, especially when your software vendors hike up the pricing every year. It can feel like you have nothing you can say in response other than asking who the cheque should be written out to.

However, it doesn’t have to be like this if you have the right person backing you; someone who understands your software licenses better than the vendors do, and someone who is willing to defend your interests and your goals tenaciously.

At MetrixData 360, we like to hold ourselves to a high standard of excellence when it comes to defending our clients during a software contract negotiation and we want to make sure you find someone who also meets those standards. If you’d like to learn more about how MetrixData 360 can help you realize savings during your next contract negotiation, you can check out our contract negotiation page.

Best Software Asset Management Solution: Picking the Right SAM Expert

How to Tell if Your Third-Party SAM Provider is Giving You Quality Results

When you consider purchasing a third-party Software Asset Management provider or hiring a SAM Expert, you want to be able to tell you’ve made a good selection, but the industry is quite new and the results are barely more tangible than numbers on a bottom line or an upwards arrow on a graph, which anyone with a basic level of Excel can create. So, what sort of metric can you apply to see if these software fast-talkers and SAM tool makers are up to the task of handling your intricate software environment? At MetrixData 360, we hold ourselves to certain standards that we have noticed not everyone in the industry adheres to. So, today we’ll discuss what good third-party SAM providers look like.

Their Focus is to Get You to the End Result

There are plenty of SAM tool sellers in the market today whose tool will provide you with plenty of fancy charts and very shallow, surface-level answers. Usually, third-party SAM experts will only give you insight into the compliance of a single product, which can easily prove to be a single piece in a very large puzzle. Their main goal is to get you to sign another contract; to get you on as a regular customer, regardless of whether you have the answer that you were looking for or not. A good SAM provider needs to provide you with real, tangible results. At MetrixData 360, our entire SAM process is arranged around how to quickly and effectively get you the results you need by taking a holistic approach to software asset management. We walk you through the entire process, from gathering your data to using that data to find the most cost-effective way to buy the products you need. We provide you with a full look into your software environment, over multiple products to provide you with the answers you’re looking for.

SAM Experts that Understand the Vendors

Your relationship with your software vendor is delicate and it is mission critical that it is maintained. Many companies depend solely on their software vendor for assistance in making spending decisions and changing vendors can be difficult (think pulling-your-own-spine-out-of-your-mouth levels of difficult), if not completely impossible. If your vendor is providing you with software that is critical to your business or so thoroughly deployed throughout your software environment that you simply cannot change vendors, then contract renewals will feel like a shakedown. When you’re caught in a software audit there’s the urge to simply and passively nod your way through it.

However, this type of relationship is hardly beneficial to you, especially since the vendor’s goals are to sell, sell, sell. They have quotas to meet and they do not have the interests of your company and your business needs in mind, not when it runs up against their bottom line. It is important that your SAM experts understand the nature of this relationship and knows how to navigate it regardless of whether you are stuck in the middle of a software audit or you need to maneuver through a contract negotiation. There are many SAM experts in the market whose goal is to just keep the vendor happy, even if that means sacrificing your own interests. At MetrixData 360, we have plenty of experience handling the software vendors. Our CEO, Mike Austin, actually spent 20 years working for Microsoft, until he left and started working to help Microsoft’s customers navigate the tech giant’s impossible-to-understand licensing rules. We know the vendor, but our goals are your objectives. We act as your secret weapon since many software vendors get defensive when they learn you’ve hired a third party. They don’t even know we’re there; we just tell you what to say, give you all the data you need to effectively say it, and then it just looks like your company did it all yourself.


They Have the Technology and Skills to Back Up Their Claims

There are plenty of SAM tool vendors who, like the software vendors, just want to sell regardless of whether what they’re selling will get you the results you need. The problem is that many people do not understand what software asset management is or how it works. So, when a sweet-talking salesman offers them 60% savings every year for as long as you have their discovery tool installed, it may sound like a tempting offer. However, it’s important to take such a bold claim with a skeptical eye.

The truth is that installing a discovery tool does not create a complete software asset management solution. It is part of the solution, but it won’t take you the whole way. Discovery tools are what they sound like, they show you what is in your software environment in a very high-level sense. Imagine you are standing on top of the Empire State Building, looking over New York City and a man is standing next to you and he says, ‘there are 91,000 people in New York City who are homeless right now,’ and then he walks away. If you want to go and help those homeless people, the man has actually given you very little to work with. You don’t know where they are or why they are homeless, and you now have the entirety of New York to search through in order to find them all.

That’s what a SAM tool does, it gives you an outline of the problems in your software environment. What it doesn’t provide you with is a strategy in going about fixing any of those problems. We have seen many organizations who attempted software asset management simply using a discovery tool and found that they were completely overwhelmed by the data their discovery tool had found for them. They didn’t know what to do with the data and they eventually got too tired and quit. That is why you need someone to manage your SAM solution; someone who can take the data that the man standing on the Empire State Building gives you and say, ‘OK, first we’ll check all the parks for homeless people. Then this bridge in Queens that I know of. There are some homeless shelter workers that we can talk to who will know something. We should also consult the food banks.’

At MetrixData 360, our tools were designed not to sell you more tools, but to make sure you save money at every available opportunity. We also offer our skills in managing your tools, so that we can guide your SAM solution.


A SAM Experts’ Goal is to Empower you

In the old days, software asset management experts were only called upon during an emergency: a software audit, or an EA renewal, and their work was centered around a specific event. They would do their magic, dress up your software environment for the occasion, and then head out when the event was over, leaving your software environment to fall prey to the poor management processes and the bad inventory habits that caused you to call them in the first place. Then at the next audit, what else can you do except call them again? This type of relationship does not allow you to get a handle on your software environment; what it does mean is that SAM expert has a gig every year. You want a SAM expert that can teach you long-term good habits that can ensure the implementations of strong software asset management. Which is why at MetrixData 360, we pride ourselves in not just being SAM experts but also SAM educators. We have blogs, YouTube channels, and webinars designed to teach you about strong SAM practices and how you can get your software environments under control. During our engagement with our clients we like to explain what we are doing and to make sure there is no mystery with our magic.

Want to Build your SAM Dream Team?

It’s important that you know what you’re signing up for when it comes to hiring your SAM expert, especially if this is your first time looking into hiring a professional. The last thing you want when you are stuck between a rock and a software audit is hiring a lack luster SAM expert with half answers and empty promises. At MetrixData 360, our goal is to be different, to give you the SAM solution you need in order to get your software environment under control. If you’re ready to see real results in your software asset management solution, contact us today!

Licensing a Disaster Recovery Environment in Oracle

Nothing calls for disaster recovery (DR) more than 2020, which makes this the perfect time to consider disaster recovery environments.

However, when it comes to Oracle, it can be tricky to figure out what your contracts allow you to do when it comes to creating a proper DR environment for even the stickiest of situations.

The last thing you want is to run up against compliance issues with Oracle, who is known for their brutal software audits, especially in matters of disaster recovery. At MetrixData 360, we are experts in both managing our client’s compliance issues as they arise and proactively ensuring they never occur again.

Here’s what our Software Asset Management Experts have to say about how to properly license your DR environments.

What is a Disaster Recovery Environment?

Every business has mission-critical information they need to protect and keep accessible at all times. This is why every business should have some form of disaster recovery in place. Disaster recovery is a method of security planning with the goal of protecting that data from any significant negative events.

Common types of disaster scenarios are as follows:

  • Application Failure:

    Commonly seen as a result of hardware or software configuration. DR solutions around this scenario involve application backups or active-to-active failovers.
  • Network Failure:

    When you have a full or partial Cloud environment, losing connection to this environment could be the result of power outages or performance issues. DR solutions for this scenario involve strengthening the connection to the organization’s network or creating multiple access points to the network in order to create sufficient redundancies.
  • Data Center Failure:

    Often seen as a result of mass power outages or natural disasters, which results in the loss of connection to whole data centers or domains. Creating a DR solution for this event involves potentially deploying applications across multiple domains if you have them.
  • Region Fail:

    Most likely the result of the most severe disasters, when whole regions lose either power or connection of their network. To protect against this event, you can deploy your workload over multiple Oracle Cloud infrastructures in a variety of regions.

It is the IT department’s job to ensure that this protected data is constantly updated, maintained, and easy to access, so that the organization can continue to run as normally as possible under the circumstances. Although smaller industries may be hesitant to invest in funding for a situation that has yet to occur, it is usually better to be safe than sorry.

While Disaster Recovery as a whole involves many different working elements including a DR plan, personnel, actions for dealing with financial and legal issues etc., this blog post will only be focusing on how to license the Disaster Recovery environments that organizations have built.

How to License a Disaster Recovery Environment

Since your DR environment is only used when disaster strikes, your organization (hopefully) does not have to use it constantly, in which case it may feel like you don’t have to license the environment. However, to assess whether your DR environment needs to be licensed, consider the following:

  • Check Your License Agreement and the General Terms:

    All the rules that you need to adhere to can be found in your licensing agreement, or your Oracle Master Agreement (OMA) if you have one, and any other documents that the agreement refers to.   There may be versions of basic contracts online, but these might be out of date and may not accommodate for any unique licensing metric you may have. For instance, some companies have a licensing metric based on your company’s annual revenue or the number of employees that you have. If there is any language in the contract that is ambiguous, you should seek out clarification from your Oracle rep.
  • Remote Mirroring:

    With Remote Mirroring, your data is stored in an identical storage unit or shared disk array in a dispersed location through the use of solutions like Veritas Volume Replicator, EMC SRDF, Legato Relator, and EMS StorageEdge. In this instance, both the mirrored database and the unit its replicating will need the same licenses.
  • Standby:

    With Standby, copies of the primary database are maintained on standby servers, which are dispersed geographically and any changes or updates the primary server experiences is replicated in the standby databases. In this situation, both the standby and the primary databases need to be fully licensed using the same metric.
  • Backups:

    Backups refer to a copy of a physical database structure. In the event of the loss of the original data, the backup files will be used to reconstruct the lost information. This copy may include critical elements of the database’s physical structure like control and data files and redo logs and can be stored either on a server, a storage array, a disk drive etc. Oracle will allow you to keep these copies in a storage device without needing to purchase a license but when the disaster occurs, and the data is taken from storage and installed onto the recovery server, you’ll need a license.
  • Your Oracle Licenses Match:

    It’s important to make sure that your DR servers have the same licensing metric (Processor or Named User Plus) as the primary server that it is supporting. DRs and their primary servers must also have matching database options and packs. When it comes to this coordination, you’ll find that Oracle is particularly unyielding and so it is important that any mismatching licensing is addressed before you are confronted with it during an audit.

Situations Where Licensing Isn’t Required for Disaster Recovery

While typically Oracle requires you to license any and all environments where their software is present, there are a few exceptions to the rule.

  • Failovers:

    A failover is where a database that is running on a primary server can be moved to a secondary server in the event that the primary fails. Oracle will allow a database to be run on this unlicensed secondary server for 10 days.   This scenario is allowed when both the primary and the secondary servers exist within a single cluster and share a single disk array or storage device. In this scenario only the failover server is free and once the primary server has been repaired, the database is required to switch back to the primary server. It’s also important to note that Oracle does not equate one day to 24 hours scattered over a long period of time. If the failover server is active for an hour one day and two hours another day, that counts for two days. You are only allowed to have one free failover node per cluster for up to ten separate days even if you have multiple nodes configured as failovers. This scenario also does not apply to VMware environments. If you would like to license your failover environments, you’ll need matching licenses to the databases the failovers will be supporting.
  • Testing:

    Oracle’s customers are allowed to use tape and disk backups of databases for the purpose of recreating that database for the use of testing. You can run this duplicated database on an unlicensed server four times per year, with a time restriction of two days for each test, at which time the database must either be removed from the server or will be considered licensable in the eyes of Oracle.

Be Ready for Anything with Properly Licensed Disaster Recovery

It’s always better to be prepared, whether that is getting your software environment ready for a natural disaster or making sure your licenses are orderly in the event of a software audit from Oracle.

It would be a terrible situation to discover that the very thing that was supposed to be there to keep your business afloat could cost you a staggering amount in compliance gap thanks to under licensed servers.

At MetrixData 360, our goal is to ensure you only pay for what you need to and to fight for your best interests when you go up against Oracle. If you’d like to know more about what our services entail when it comes to your Oracle Licensing, you can check out our Contract Negotiation page for more information.