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A Consultant’s Story: Knowing Your Weaknesses

Apr 9, 2021

Though maybe best known as an innovator and developer of ground-breaking IT Asset Management and SAM solutions, Certero has always retained a global network of in-house SAM and licensing experts, who deliver Certero’s broad scope of independent SAM and ITAM services.

A pioneer of what we call the ‘Technology-Led Services’ approach, Certero’s consultancy team have the unique benefit of the full Certero technology platform at their disposal, to help them provide value to customers much faster and with greater accuracy than the traditional consultancy-heavy, ‘tool agnostic’ or manual approaches to delivering services.

This is because the substantial knowledge and expertise within Certero is what informs the creation of the technology and how it’s used by the consultancy team in practice, to deliver value beyond the norm – each element doing what it does best, in harmony.

In this blog series we look to Certero’s SAM team including dedicated specialists in Microsoft, Oracle, IBM, SAP and SaaS & Cloud, who discuss where the lines are between the expert knowledge and the unique insights from the solution, the value of symbiosis between the two and the knowledge they provide that will never be captured within a SAM solution…

In this second blog of the series, Certero consultants look at approaches to assessing SAM maturity and identifying where the gaps are, and how the additional capability, expertise or resources can be ‘Switched ON’.

SAM Maturity

Based on the ISO framework and the SAM processes standard, ISO/IEC 19770-1, the SAM Maturity assessment and ‘SAM Optimization Model’ has been widely adopted in various forms across the SAM industry.

Originally conceived in a basic form by Microsoft, it has since evolved into a much more thorough assessment of how robust your organization’s policies, procedures and capabilities are to manage software licensing and realize greater value from SAM investments. This again is beyond just SAM solutions, it requires the right skills, experience and senior sponsorship to perform. The Certero SAM Maturity Assessment for example, looks at the following elements:

  • Overall Management – responsibility, risk management, policies and procedures, competence, awareness and training, performance and continuous improvement, service continuity and availability management
  • Core Software Asset Management – asset identification, asset control and financial management
  • Logistics Processes – requirements definition, design, evaluation, procurement, build, deployment, operation, optimization and retirement
  • Verification and Compliance – verification and audit, license compliance
  • Relationship Process – contract management, supplier management, internal business relations and outsourcing

There are also advantages to using a 3rd party to validate internal licensing decisions and processes, Certero consultants are able to help businesses understand where they are making mistakes and the impacts of that decision making. Certero has a wealth of experience in working with businesses in this way as Peter Chance, Certero SAM consultant within the APAC region, clarifies:

“As well as supporting license agreement negotiations and true-ups, enterprise customers rely on Certero services and expertise to independently validate other internal licensing decisions. Technical teams who understandably lack the experience of licensing specialists can be making sub-optimal license purchasing requests to the business, incurring unnecessary costs and introducing audit risk. Certero advice will address this”

‘Switching On’ – Capability On-Demand

Once capability and potential weaknesses are understood, it’s then possible to identify the ‘gaps’ that need to be filled – either through technology, resources / skills retained in-house, or through the assistance of a trusted SAM partner.

A good example is retaining the specialist knowledge required to manage major vendors like Oracle, IBM & SAP alongside the desktop environment. It’s not common for businesses to retain dedicated licensing experts for all of the major vendors they use and before the advent of Certero’s single platform, there was no real technology solution to help manage all of these vendors either. With no means to manage everything holistically, SAM governance and reporting across all vendors and platforms was therefore not an easy thing to achieve.

This has now finally changed and the option is there for SAM teams to simply ‘switch on’ the additional solution scope within Certero, so that they have visibility and holistic reporting for all software vendors. However, acquiring the resources, knowledge and expertise in-house is not quite as easy.

Misunderstandings in the way vendors operate can, and will, cause significant problems; so having the trusted option of Certero expertise to hand that can be essentially ‘switched on’ to help you understand what’s happening in your estate, is vital to being able to derive the most benefit from your licensing purchases and will also help to reduce pressure on your SAM teams.

Establishing an In-House SAM Team for all major vendors

If the preferred route is to build an internal SAM team around the single SAM solution, knowing where and how to begin can be a challenge, particularly if there is no established program in place.

Skills-Transfer training is an option here and is sometimes built-in to a Certero SAM Managed Service for example, so as to utilize Certero’s capability to do the initial ‘heavy-lifting’ of establishing an Effective License Position – a valuable position of control – that is then handed over to an in-house team, trained by Certero, to manage going forward.

For many enterprises this can be the missing link when investing in SAM and helps to eliminate the risk of failure and provide the assurance of business value: controlled risks and cost savings, whilst helping to bridge the gap operationally from an often-chaotic starting position to an established and robust SAM program delivering measurable business benefits.

New Environments: Cloud vs. On-Premise vs. Hybrid

The increasing scope of environments is another area where new knowledge is required as well as the solutions that provide the essential visibility. SaaS applications and the proliferation of new Cloud infrastructure is adding to the challenge and is far from being ‘the end of needing to worry about licensing’ as many supposed.

Costs, wastage and especially unexpected bills are increasing, so it’s not just traditional on-premise licensing you need to consider, as Peter Chance has seen first-hand:

“In the Cloud, we’ve seen customers wasting tens of thousands of dollars a year by including all Windows Server and SQL Server licenses in the running costs of their compute instead of leveraging existing benefits; and the reason for their approach could be ignorance or from fear of the compliance requirements.”

Daniel Whitefield, Certero Microsoft consultant for UK and EMEA is also keen to emphasize savings can be made across all of these environments, with the right approach:
“As a SAM Consultant, my ‘raison d’être’ is to provide effective advice, help and warn of potential pitfalls. As part of a service, the presentation of suggestions around potential changes to reduce any risk and exposure present, the identification of optimization opportunities within cloud services, and different possible ways of meeting license requirements on-premise, in the cloud and in hybrid scenarios help customers navigate the many variations to achieve the same outcome, give unparalleled insights and come to the most cost-effective solution for the features required by customers.”

Michael Gray, a Certero Microsoft consultant in the US, agrees:
“Microsoft licensing continues to become more and more complex, especially when we look within the Datacenter. Understanding pieces such as Hybrid Use Benefits, how to properly license virtualized environments and ensuring individuals are licensed on the proper level of SaaS products such as Office 365 can be difficult. Many companies do not have the internal licensing expertise to navigate these complexities, often resulting in non-compliance and/or overspend on Microsoft software.

Customers may be compliant at a surface level but oftentimes do not look deeper into the environment to ensure the software deployed to end users is actually being utilized. Certero’s team of SAM/Licensing experts can help customers reduce their risks associated with software licensing/compliance by working in conjunction with them to ensure they understand what has been deployed and how it is being utilized.”

We understand that some organizations are still considering Cloud migrations but this decision is regularly offset by the need to keep legacy applications on premise, simply because they will not run in a Cloud environment or because customers are risk-averse to full Cloud. Certero think this will be an on-going challenge for many, compounded by new associated costs in keeping dedicated gateways available to share data between the two infrastructures.

Removing the worry

There are multiple reasons to engage with vendor licensing expertise, not least because we want you to have the opportunity to consolidate licensing understanding supported by our wide range of solutions, as Hazel Hopes, Oracle and Salesforce consultant for UK and EMEA, comments:
“I feel that the services ingredient is a way for us to help customers fully understand all of their estate and drive maximum value from it. Of course, it’s also a chance for them to ask us questions and get answers as well. Having someone with vendor knowledge to talk to is often more beneficial than just a raft of data and I don’t think anyone should underestimate the stress and anxiety caused in a business by vendor licensing and the impact that has on the individuals responsible for it”

We’ll leave the last word to Noel Donovan, who summarizes why using a Certero Service to enhance your vendor learning is so important:

“Engaging a third-party Subject Matter Expert (SME), as an extension to the SAM team, soon starts to make sense. The SME brings a wealth of knowledge through years of dealing with these challenges for a myriad of different customer types and sizes. This not only ensures the complexity is taken care of but also optimization opportunities are realized, not only in how the licenses are applied, but also in what types of concessions can be negotiated come contract renewal time… or, during that awkward audit process. “

In Summary

Having Certero in your corner as a trusted SAM Partner simply means that whatever the vendor, situation or challenge, Certero always have a solution available for you. It means an emphasis on delivering value – not just technology and not just point-in-time services that expire immediately. Certero enables customers to build upon a wealth of experience that is applied through technology and innovation to digitally transform IT for the modern world.

Delivering both the technology and skilled resources means you have total freedom to choose what you require at any time, to grow and adapt. Certero value isn’t just protection from audit risk, but the ability to transform the way that licenses, software, hardware and the total value from IT investments are managed – with open visibility of your data, your business intelligence and the flexibility to change scope easily, take the reins or lean on Certero to deliver, for you.

About the Authors

Daniel Whitefield, UK and EMEA: Subject Matter Expert on all aspects of Microsoft On-Premise, Online Services and Cloud Licensing. Dan has extensive experience in the LSP space as a Microsoft Licensing Specialist and made the natural evolution from Microsoft License Management to ITAM and SAM..

Hazel Hopes, UK and EMEA: Oracle and Salesforce Licensing Consultant for Certero, has worked in tech for many years and is focused specifically on deep dive Oracle Licensing and compliance, helping businesses to drive maximum value and understanding from their Oracle estates.

Kevin Barnes, UK and EMEA: Kevin brings extensive experience in IBM licensing to the team (ELPs, Audit Defense and Advice and Guidance). This is coupled with a background in Financial Services and project management which help with customers from that sector as well as in executing remediation plans.

Noel Donovan, APAC: Noel has worked within the SAM and License Compliance industry for the past 23+ years focusing on SAM process maturity and license compliance in the datacenter (Oracle, IBM, VMware, Microsoft amongst others) for public and private sector organizations. In 2015 he moved to Australia from the UK and continues to focus on these services for APAC and global organizations.

Peter Chance, APAC: Peter hails from Perth, on the sunny west coast of Australia and has twenty years of experience in managing enterprise infrastructure. In recent history, Peter became responsible for his organization’s SAM and after evaluating SAM tooling, liked Certero so much that he joined the company. He is predominantly self-taught and excels at anything he turns his hand to, if he does say so himself. As a Certero consultant Peter delivers ELP’s and optimization services to customers across the APAC region and specializes in Microsoft licensing, Enterprise infrastructure, AWS, Azure, Managed services, Support and Product Training

Steve Wood, UK and EMEA: Steve has worked within the Public Sector, Pharmaceutical, Transport, Banking, Retail and Shipping industries, as an IT Asset Management Software Professional for over 20 years. Steve brings a wide technical understanding of HAM, SAM and the Optimization of Datacenter Licenses, especially as an SME for IBM and SAP. An experienced auditor for IBM, Steve has guided many enterprise customers through audit processes, achieving savings often into the tens of millions of pounds with big-ticket vendors like SAP and IBM.

Michael Gray: Michael has extensive experience with Microsoft and Adobe licensing from both the sales and consulting sides. He has worked with customers large and small as a Microsoft licensing specialist in order to assist them in navigating the ever-changing world of Microsoft licensing. He has several years of SAM experience as both a Software consultant and Software Asset Manager for a large international organization. Michael is knowledgeable within the Datacenter and has assisted many customers in the optimization of their Windows Server and SQL estates as well as their cloud-based licensing.

 

For more information on Certero services visit: www.certero.com

User Cases:

Certero SAM Managed Service for Oracle

SAM Service: Effective License Position for SAP

SAM Managed Service – Microsoft, Oracle & IBM

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