In part 1 of this series, I outlined the first 120-days of the journey to achieving compliance for your software estate – the basis of an audit defense and the foundation for cost optimization and effective software spend. So, what happens when compliance has been achieved? What additional benefits can you gain from digging deep into SAM data and automating processes such as license reharvesting and software delivery?
PHASE 2 – Leverage SAM
Having achieved an initial compliance position for software purchases, and license management having become part of daily IT management activities, Snow’s solution will continue to maintain and track your estate, monitor changes in the network, and provide insight into consumption, enabling optimization and avoiding overspend on software. At this point, the intelligence generated by Snow has reached a critical mass that can be leveraged by other parts of the business to aid decision making and plan spend. At this level of maturity, SAM starts the shift from being a tactical business process into a strategic one.
With visibility across the entire organization, SAM can provide Finance, for example, with accurate forecasts for software need, support Procurement with volume licensing opportunities, and enable IT to unleash cloud capabilities into the business by providing the insight and controls to manage risk and costs related to virtualized infrastructure, hardware upgrades, and server consolidation. The information gathered by Snow can enhance internal billing by retrieving who is responsible for spinning up cloud capabilities, enabling accurate cost center assignment.
The information gathered by Snow can support business processes such as change management (CMDB). Snow’s certified connector to ServiceNow automatically populates assets in ServiceNow with normalized software information, removing manual work, reducing errors, and ensuring the CMDB is always an accurate reflection of the environment.
SAM insight can support Security by, for example, providing information about machines that pose risk. Snow can identify software that is nearing End-of-Life (EoL), pinpoint machines that are lacking the latest service packs, and find and automatically remove blacklisted software installs.
Phase 3 – Automation
One of the prerequisites for automation is robust, accurate, and current data about the environment – which is exactly what a SAM tool like Snow provides. Snow Automation Platform enables fully-orchestrated automated business workflows, such as software request and fulfillment.
For example, using a SAM-integrated software store, users can browse and request software applications and subscriptions for their devices (desktops, laptops, and mobile). Approvals are generated and managed by the rules of the workflow. Decision-making can be enhanced by including information about cost and availability of existing licenses, and license assignment can be carried out automatically. Even temporary access rights to software can be assigned, which can be popular for managing applications that users may only need for a given time.
Automation removes time-consuming repetitive activities from the SAM manager’s workload, while at the same time providing users with an efficient automated approval and delivery process similar to consumer app stores. With Snow, any workflow can be automated – password renewals, onboarding, invoice tracking, and provisioning user accounts are typical candidates for automation. At Snow, we pre-package frequently-used workflows. For example, spinning up VMs in Azure, AWS or GCE, is a predefined workflow that includes controls for automatic decommissioning and tagging. Automatic removal avoids zombie machines running expensive software in your cloud environment, and tagging capabilities connect VM instances and their owners directly to billed line items.
With control over compliance and automation taking care of the basic workflows, the next step is to automate management – ensuring that you are using what you have purchased, pooling unused assets, and controlling virtualized environments.
Enforcing automated policies for software reharvesting, based on time passed or other configurable thresholds based on lack of use, ensures that you remain compliant, avoid overspend on new licenses, and reduce shelfware. With Snow, automated reharvesting can be carried out for all types of software consumption, as well as system-specific use, such as SAP license allocations, SaaS, and access-based software rights. By providing users with the option to check software in and out of a pool easily, they are more willing to relinquish the tools they no longer use, or need sporadically.
prepared for change
Having reached the point where compliance is managed daily and a fair proportion of your processes are automated, your Software Asset Management program has reached the point where you are prepared for change. Audit letters, platform changes, and requests for software purchasing forecasts are handled effectively, your SAM processes are functioning well, and the effects and benefits are visible for the organization.
As a SAM manager, you are no longer providing tactical insight, but delivering guidance for and influencing strategic decision-making. Today, some of the common issues facing organizations include how to manage enterprise mobility, addressing BYOD/ COPE, what are the risks associated with SaaS and IaaS, and how to manage the blurring borders between usage in the corporate and personal space. A mature SAM system will enable you to address these issues armed with insight.
I hope you have found my insights on SAM maturity, and the benefits you can expect as you dig deeper into the SAM world, useful. If you are hungry for more, I suggest you check out the webinar on Kick-starting your Software Asset Management practice with my colleague Michael Krutikov and Martin Thompson, Founder of The ITAM Review. If you want to see the technology up close, why not see if there is a Play in the Snow event near you, where you can see our solution in action and get answers to your SAM questions – check out our events page.