To help you navigate the minefield of TLAs (Three-Letter Acronyms – oops, I did it again…), here’s a rundown of the top 15 acronyms in the SAM world, and what they really mean:
1. BYOD – Bring Your Own Device The concept is simple, allow employees to bring in their own personal IT devices into the workplace and let them use these devices for work purposes (some CIOs refer to this strategy as ‘Bring Your Own Disaster’!). The licensing/SAM ramification of this can be quite complex, but the jury is still out on whether BYOD is as big a problem as some would have us believe. Current research seems to suggest that CYOD – Choose Your Own Device – is both more prevalent and easier to manage.
2. CAL – Client Access License The Client Access License is a Microsoft invention and basically ‘allows’ an organization to connect users or devices to business critical applications such as Exchange and SQL databases. CALs come in different shapes and sizes, normally device-based or user-based. 3. COA – Certificate of Authority For organizations with Fully Packaged Products (FPP – see below!), the Certificate of Authority is the most commonly-accepted way of ‘proving’ the right to use a piece of software. Typically it comes in the form of a sticker either applied to the software packaging or (in the case of OEM software – see below!) attached to the PC or laptop. The COA needs to be recorded as part of the SAM process.
4. EA – Enterprise Agreement First used by Microsoft, Enterprise Agreement is a term now used by a number of software publishers to denote a volume licensing agreement, typically covering the entirety of an organization’s IT estate. Enterprise Agreements are usually fixed-term contracts and include the obligation to ‘true-up’ on an annual basis.
5. EULA – End User License Agreement The End User License Agreement is the piece of boring text that you usually skip past during the install of most software applications. It lays out the software publisher’s terms and conditions for how you can (and cannot) use their software. EULAs often include the right for the software publisher to audit you (99% of volume licensing agreements include this clause).
6. FPP – Fully Packaged Product Fully Packaged Product can also be known as Shrink-Wrapped or Off-the-Shelf software. Basically, it means software bought on an individual basis, not as part of a volume license agreement. With these types of product, the COA is critical to prove your entitlement.
7. MSDN – Microsoft Subscription Developer Network This is a scheme that enables developers within eligible organizations to use a wide variety of Microsoft products at no additional cost for the purposes of development and testing. For SAM, MSDN licenses create a licensing challenge as it is usually technically impossible to differentiate them from licensable applications. This means the organization must track MSDN users and machines separately to avoid them being counted in the organization’s license reconciliation.
8. MVL – Microsoft Volume Licensing Microsoft Volume Licensing is a family name for a number of schemes designed to both provide organizations with cheaper ways to buy Microsoft products, as well as lock them in to the vendor’s products. MVL schemes include Open Value, Select and Enterprise Agreements (EAs).
9. OEM – Original Equipment Manufacture OEM software is typically pre-installed on hardware at the time of purchase. Most often this includes the Operating System (OS), but it can also include applications such as Microsoft Office as well as utilities such as DVD burning applications. OEM licenses are normally non-transferable, meaning they ‘die’ with the hardware.
10. POL – Proof of License Maintaining the Proof of License is a responsibility of the one purchasing a license. This is important to ensure that you can prove ownership. If the POL is missing, the license is worthless. Keeping the POL is also a risk mitigation exercise. For example, in cases of unwittingly having acquired counterfeit software or indeed having installed something that shouldn’t have been installed.x
11. PUR – Product Use Rights A Microsoft-specific term but often applied to other software publishers. The Product Use Rights document details exactly how a given application can (or cannot) be used. These are often referred to as a ‘bible’ in software compliance negotiations or disputes.
12. SA – Software Assurance Software Assurance is a part of Microsoft’s volume licensing scheme that enables organizations to both receive maintenance on products they have purchased and also upgrade to new versions, for as long as the Software Assurance agreement is active. The expiry date of the Software Assurance agreement dictates what version of a product can be installed by the organization.
13. SLM / SLO Software License Management & Software License Optimization are, for most organizations, very similar and a critical component of an overall SAM strategy. SLM and SLO concentrate down on the reconciliation between software consumption and license entitlements to ensure the organization is both compliant but (just as importantly) not over-spending.
14. SKU – Stock Keeping Unit SKU is a term used in many disciplines outside SAM. For license management purposes, the SKU is used to identify the actual usage rights associated with a particular license. This is important as most products can be purchased under multiple licensing models, making it difficult to identify the usage rights based on the installed product alone.
15. VDI / VDA – Virtual Desktop Infrastructure / Virtual Desktop Access Virtualization is, of course, a hot topic in the world of SAM. VDI, or Virtual Desktop Infrastructure, is a phrase first coined by VMware that denotes the hosting of the desktop operating system on a virtual machine, hosted on a centralized server. Virtual Desktop Access, by comparison, is the licensing scheme that enables users to access their VDIs. VDA is included as part of Software Assurance (see above). This is just a small handful of the growing number of acronyms in the SAM space. Hopefully you will find these useful as you start to manage your organization’s software license optimization and compliance! Let us know if you’d like to see more jargon busters in the future.
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