Reducing costs by optimizing your software licenses

17 May 2016 | SAM/SLO

The creation of an effective license position (ELP) is only the first step on your SAM journey. Whilst the ELP will help you maintain compliance, it will not actively help you reduce licensing costs, which is an important factor in ensuring a ROI on your SAM activities.

Software license optimization (or SLO as it is referred to by Gartner) helps ensure the maximum utilization of your licenses by minimizing license consumption whilst remaining compliant. This will allow you to reduce costs and ensure that in the event of a software vendor audit you will have no nasty surprises.

Product use rights

Two key components in optimizing your license position are understanding your user rights and monitoring the usage of installed software across your estate. Let’s start by looking at user rights.

The right to use your software derives from the license agreement. This will detail specifically how you are allowed to use it in different scenarios. Although there are many different use cases, there are a number of standard ones that are common across the major vendors like Microsoft and Adobe.

These include the following types:

  • Upgrade – This allows you to install the latest version of the software for no extra cost. However, it can be very hard to manage in many organizations due to the fact that some licenses are under maintenance (which typically allow for this free upgrade) and some are not. This requires a good software license optimization tool to manage well.
  • Downgrade – Allows you to buy a later version (usually the current version) of a product that you currently use, but install an earlier version of the product instead. You would do this, for example, where you have a standard desktop deployment image that uses a version of something that you can no longer buy.
  • Server virtualization – This enables software to be installed on a number of virtual machines and only count as 1 license.
  • Secondary use – This gives the right to install an application on a desktop, as well as a laptop and only count this as a single license used.
  • Disaster recovery – Allows you to install software on a live server and a backup server at the same time using the license of only the live server.
  • Multiple installations – This enables you to install the same application on a device many times and it only counts as one license. These are usually different versions. However, older ITAM tools operating at the file scan level have an erroneous habit of picking up unclean uninstalls (where part of the program has been left behind) as a multiple installation.

Analyzing software usage

Once you understand your use rights for each vendor you will then be in a position to progress. The next step is tracking and analyzing actual software usage data to determine the optimal license type for each user.

In any organization there are likely to be a number of users with the wrong version of software installed, typically using one that is greater (and therefore more costly) than they actually need. By understanding this in relation to your use rights you will be able to reallocate these higher value licenses and save having to purchase additional ones. This is particularly the case in SAP environments – one of the most complicated licensing models.

In addition, the usage data is also likely to identify unused software for re-harvesting and subsequent reallocation to other users. Again, an important cost saving activity and a vital part of license optimization.

Storing product use right information

Different organizations will have different cut-off points for this re-harvesting. Some will draw the line at 90 days, some even longer. So, to analyze this software usage will require a sophisticated tool that can provide up to 12 months of data.

This will give you the necessary rich history that will enable you to make decisions on removing unused licenses and making them available for other users. If you combine this with an integrated corporate app portal your users will be more likely to relinquish unused software, knowing they can quickly and easily re-install it if they ever need it in the future.

The tool should also have the built-in capability to store software vendor product user rights and apply these rights to work out your optimized license position (OLP) automatically.

Fortunately, the Certero platform products do. With specific solutions for Microsoft For Enterprise SAM, IBM, Oracle and SAP applications as well as vendor specific licensing packs for Microsoft and Adobe, it covers all the major vendors. In addition AssetStudio App-Centre provides a self-service app store that quickly and easily allows users to browse, request and receive the software they need in minutes.

Find out more about the Certero platform

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