We first articulated our Technology Intelligence vision two years ago, and that vision continues to evolve.
In this month’s innovation blog, we’ll show you how we’re bringing Technology Intelligence to life through a selection of new and enhanced portfolio capabilities Snow introduced to the market during the first three quarters of 2023. These product capabilities provide a quick glimpse into innovations in the areas of:
- Creating IT asset visibility across the enterprise
- Public cloud visibility and cost optimization
- Working with ITAM partners
Innovation area: Enterprise-wide asset visibility, insights and risk mitigation
ITAM usage and spend optimization is Snow’s flagship domain, and we continue to offer significant new and enhanced capabilities here—especially on Snow Atlas, our cloud-native platform. The following is just a small taste of what we’ve been up to with our ITAM offerings so far in 2023.
ITAM for end-user computing
Container visibility now illuminates previous blind spots in your commercial software compliance position
Containers are isolated and dynamic environments. This makes gathering information about how they are being used or the software and applications residing in them extremely inefficient using technologies such as agents. As a result, software asset managers risk having a real blind spot in calculating their effective compliance position for commercial applications running in these environments.
To help software asset management (SAM) pros mitigate this risk, Snow Spend Optimizer on Snow Atlas provides visibility to software running in Kubernetes environments by:
- Scanning the container environment to identify commercial products that need a license. This entails scanning for commercial applications in standard, non-modified containers for Microsoft, RedHat and Oracle.
- Providing details on what license type is required for compliance. SAM pros need historical insight on when applications were deployed (start/end times) within containerized environments in order to know when a compliance vulnerability may have originated.
Currently supported environments: Kubernetes on-premises, Amazon Elastic Kubernetes Service (EKS), Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS), Google Kubernetes Service and OpenShift.
Early this year, we announced the launch of Snow SaaS Management. As SaaS expenditures continue to accelerate and decentralize, so do the costs and risks associated with shadow SaaS. ChatGPT is no exception, as we highlight below.
Manage SaaS risks by discovering usage of AI tools like ChatGPT
AI tools such as ChatGPT exploded onto the scene in 2023, and our customers are rightly concerned about the use of such technology in their organizations. Earlier this year, Snow highlighted the opportunities and risks associated with these large language model tools.
To help customers mitigate such risks, Snow added a new category—artificial intelligence—to our list of application types, so that customers can quickly identify when these tools are being used. From there, they can identify who is using these tools and remediate as needed.
Our browser-based discovery of SaaS usage makes it uniquely positioned to provide data on free and trial software such as ChatGPT. Unlike other SaaS management solutions that rely primarily on expense data to determine which SaaS applications might be in use, our discovery methodology quickly and automatically identifies usage of ChatGPT and similar AI applications.
For a deep dive into this topic, view our on-demand webinar to better understand how ChatGPT and tools like it could potentially impact your organization and what you can do about it.
Oracle: Triple verification of Snow gives customers increased control, speed and efficiency
When data regarding Oracle product deployment and usage must be identified in an organization’s IT environment (such as for a software audit or advisory project), Oracle uses their own in-house tooling to gather this data, which most often happens via their own License Management Services (LMS) consultants. This is an on-site process where Oracle LMS personnel run tooling scripts manually, server by server. This complex process impacts customer access to their production systems, possibly during office hours, which could require the alignment of several teams across many regions and time zones.
As an alternative, Oracle awards qualifying third-party vendors with official verification status to access Oracle deployment and usage data themselves. However, Oracle sets the bar extremely high for their verified third-party tool vendors because these vendors’ solutions must provide information that Oracle themselves will accept.
Snow Software is one of only a handful of global vendors verified for all three programs set up by Oracle:
- Oracle Database and Database Options
- Oracle Fusion Middleware
- Java SE
While Snow reached the first verification milestone in 2022, we’ve added the second and third in 2023.
So, what benefits and business value do these Oracle verifications give Snow customers?
- Complete visibility: Detection and reporting on exactly which Oracle features and functionality are switched on and being used.
- Increased control: Customers can get this data whenever they want (not being at the mercy of a scheduled Oracle LMS visit, with its resulting downtime).
- Greater speed and efficiency: From the Snow product interface, the verified data is speedily exported in the Oracle-verified format for the entire datacenter with the literal click of a button.
- License optimization incentive when preparing for audit/advisory projects: Customers get chances to oversee and optimize their Oracle estate as often as they prefer prior to a compelling Oracle event.
For more information on these Oracle management capabilities from Snow, check out the videos below.
Innovation area: Cloud management capabilities
Many new and improved cloud financial management capabilities have been added in 2023, including managing OpEx charge rates over time, Kubernetes cluster asset cost visibility, new cost & usage explorer dashboard, managing Azure costs with our virtual machines usage dashboard, and more. Let’s highlight a few enhancements for managing your AWS spend.
Snow Cloud Cost: New S3 recommendations for better cost efficiency
Amazon’s S3 (Simple Storage Service) is among the most extensively used AWS services. Recent enhancements to the Snow Cloud Cost recommendations engine for Amazon S3 include:
- S3 multipart uploads: Identifies unfinished S3 multipart uploads that are still incurring storage costs and consuming your space. This recommendation allows you to decide if you’d like it to be completed or cleaned up.
- S3 versioning: Identifies S3 buckets that have versioning enabled but do not have lifecycle rules defined to manage older version of your files. This helps you to implement lifecycle rules to expire or transition older version of files to reduce storage costs.
- S3 storage class: Identifies S3 buckets that are currently using the standard storage class or low-access storage class. This enables you to migrate data to more cost effective storage classes such as intelligent tiering for infrequently accessed data.
Innovation area: Partner management capabilities
Our new and improved Snow Partner Program went live mid-year in 2023. To provide context, the Snow partner ecosystem comprises a diverse array of resellers, managed service providers (MSP), global systems integrators, independent software vendors and more. These partners enhance and scale our offerings to customers around the world. Some quick examples of the ways that Snow has supported our partner ecosystem with new and enhanced portfolio capabilities this year include improved Snow Atlas partner console customer environment visibility & security, faster troubleshooting of customers’ IT environments and support for customer cloud cost optimization. Let’s expand on this partner support by rounding off this Technology Intelligence roundup through a closer look at the following two capabilities.
Managed service providers: Improved protection and service through customer system access
For Snow partners who manage their customers’ SAM environments (customers buy through a partner and grant full access to the partner), administrators can now very quickly see the specific customer systems they can sign into and access.
MSP administrators with such full control can also extend or prevent access to other users, allowing partners to identify gaps in servicing their customers, as well as prevent any unauthorized access to the customer systems.
Customer application management: Improved security and cost optimization
From the Customers overview page, Snow partners are now able to compare and prioritize high-value metrics across all their customers’ applications.
For example, they can quickly identify customers whose IT environments contain a specific number of installed yet prohibited (aka “denied”) applications. In the same way, partners can easily see which customers have applications with the following support statuses: end of support (EOS), end of extended support (EOES) or end of life (EOL).
As you can see in the bottom part of the screenshot above, the partner drills into the customer environment in question to then carry out established policies for handling these risky applications (in this example, 50 installations on Acrobat Professional 2017 reached EOS over a year ago).
And when it comes to optimizing application costs, Snow partners can also use these same views to immediately identify and uncover details regarding customers’ used and unused applications, acting accordingly to handle non-optimized applications or remove wasted software spend.
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