For a large cybersecurity company in Silicon Valley, the primary mission is to manage cyber risk for a global customer base – which can be incredibly complex and challenging. For Less McClain, the company’s senior manager of IT strategic planning and business operations, the focus shifts to managing the company’s own risk exposure with 100,000 software agents spread across more than 8,000 networks.
To find out more about the IT challenges large enterprises face and a successful approach to right-sizing software consumption and reducing risk, we sat down to talk with McClain.
Q: Tell us a little bit about your background, Less.
A: I’ve always had an interest in information technology. I majored in information systems and have continued my training through various certification programs over the years, including earning a CISSP designation. Most recently, I’ve worked in escalating roles within this large cybersecurity company for more than ten years now.
Q: How has IT changed at your company over the years?
A: As the company has grown, so have our IT needs. While we continually bring in more hardware and add on more software licenses to support that growth, we knew our risk exposure was rising. License compliance and cost over-runs were a few big areas of concern and we were outgrowing the old way of doing things.
Q: How were you tracking your company’s software consumption?
A: Historically, our software assets were managed manually at a business-unit level. There was no centralized control; it was nothing short of a herculean effort anytime we needed to gather an understanding of our position when it came to the usage of third-party software throughout the enterprise. This was largely due to the complexity and nature of our business.
A great deal of effort was required to collect information in order to respond to vendor requests, audits or any need from the business to understand software consumption. Too many of these types of activities were reactive — they were generally driven by receipt of some sort of vendor licensing inquiry.
Time and resource costs were high because it not only took weeks or even months to gather the information, but once we had the information, additional time was needed to manually map it to our entitlements.
We had no real way of clearly identifying whether there were financial or compliance risks to the organization. Also, we tended to over-buy licenses because we were not 100% sure of our position. Our team had no ability to provide intelligence back to the business on how our people were consuming software.
Q: What brought you to Snow Software?
A: In my role, I needed to work with almost 250 functional groups across our organization to understand and meet their specific needs. We needed a solution to help, and preferably one that would allow a rapid deployment even with our level of complexity.
Our main drivers at the time were to:
- Better manage risk and opportunity
- Create and maintain policies and processes for audits, contract management and procurement
- Ensure license compliance
- Provide the business with visibility of our IT software estate
- Consolidate software
Having true visibility of our entire IT software estate with the ability to right-size our consumption of third-party software plus understanding our risk and being able to manage it, was critical. It’s why we implemented Snow Software.
We also wanted to create and maintain policies and processes to ensure future IT audits would run smoothly. For cost efficiency, the goal was to provide contract management and procurement teams with correct usage information to aid vendor management.
Q: What value have you gained from using Snow Software?
A: Being able to report on actual software usage throughout the organization has provided an awareness that wasn’t previously possible. In some environments, it showed us we had multitude times more software than we thought.
With the business intelligence Snow provides, we are now able to instantly understand our position with regard to third-party software entitlement and consumption. This has enabled the business to not only make quicker decisions, it has allowed us to realize a great number of cost savings.
The largest was discovered during an audit with a well-known data management software vendor who believed there was a compliance gap of $23 million in license fees. Snow provided us with correct information of our entitlement and consumption resulting in an actual gap of $1.9 million and therefore a cost avoidance of $21 million.
Other great examples of these savings are illustrated by our true up with Microsoft over the past couple of years. During the year prior to the implementation of Snow Software, it took over 4 months to gather and understand our usage vs our entitlement. We needed to run a multitude of scripts, and correlate and normalize the data for analysis. Even after all that, we ended up with what we felt may not have been a fully comprehensive picture so, we ended up over-buying to ensure compliance.
After we implemented Snow Software, we had complete visibility of our position in less than 10 days — even with allowing plenty of extra time to run several “what if” scenarios. This reduction in manual data collection meant that we were able to realize savings of over $600k in labor costs.
Snow gave us the confidence to know we fully understood our position and that we did not require additional licensing as part of our true up. It allowed us to optimize the way we applied our Microsoft licensing so that, in comparison to the previous year, we were able to realize a cost avoidance of over $1.2 million.
Snow is much more than just an inventory. The software has key capabilities around business intelligence and ties our entitlements back to our consumption. And those are areas that our organization has really been able to focus on.
For more on how Snow Software provides technology intelligence across the entire enterprise to optimize, manage and transform organizations, see our customer success stories.