Using Software Asset Management to make audits (almost) bearable
“We needed something that scaled, something that looked into virtual networks, and that could help us plan for our future”
Bill Genzoli, Atos Corporation
Atos Corporation is a digital services company with an annual revenue of approximately $13 billion and more than 100,000 employees in 72 countries.
The company’s regional office was stuck using in-house software, Excel spreadsheets, and Access databases to prepare for its semi-annual HIPAA audits. These tools didn’t scale, forecast, or account for virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) and cloud services licensing.
Using Snow’s Software Asset Management (SAM) platform, the company is better able to track inventory and licenses. The solution pulls user information, VDI inventory and licenses, cloud-based inventory and licenses, and regular desktop network information into one simple report. Snow License Manager’s intuitive, auto-updating dashboard enables IT staff to check licensing, forecast future needs, and develop a strategic plan for rolling out future software.
- Snow helped optimize software licenses and reduce costs through insight and control of software consumption across all devices and platforms
- Preparation for already painful audits takes significantly less time
- Forecast reports use a visual format to show executives the need for new software licenses
- Less time is spent on inventory and license tracking, so other projects get done
- Updating and maintaining the system takes less time and is hassle-free
FACING DREADED AUDITS
Atos Corp. is a digital services company with more than 100,000 employees worldwide. Its 250-person office in Helena, Montana handles Medicaid and Medicare for the state of Montana.
Maintaining HIPAA and licensing compliance is essential, so Atos undergoes internal and third-party audits every six months. If the audit shows its licensing is outdated, the company could be fined millions of dollars and lose the state’s business. “If we don’t match the audit, there is 100% chance the state will come back and say, ‘We’re not going to pay you for that year,’ or they could cancel our contract altogether,” says Bill Genzoli, Network Security Distributed Services Engineer at Atos.
The audits are complex because Atos has different levels of software licenses to match the many different compliance levels of the healthcare providers that come into the system. Then there’s the virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) and cloud services licensing, which require an added level of expertise, Genzoli says.
“Cloud services licensing gets really cloudy. You don’t know what’s out there because it’s not something you necessarily see. You’re sitting in your office behind a console, and you don’t know what people are doing with their devices.”
For example, if an executive goes to the local electronics store to download and install software he needs for a presentation, that software isn’t accounted for in Genzoli’s inventory – and Atos may not have a license for that software. Or an employee might run the virtual desktop from a hotel room, which could result in non-compliance.
All of which leads to headaches - and long days - at auditing time.
“Auditing is the bane of my existence,” Genzoli says. “Most of the time, I live in the office for the 72-hour period that I’m being audited. I literally sleep in the office. My wife brings me dinner.”
AN OLD SOLUTION THAT REQUIRED TWICE THE WORK
While the auditing process will always be painful, Genzoli has found that Snow’s SAM platform helps him prepare for it much faster.
Atos used to use in-house software, Excel spreadsheets, and Access databases for audits. These programs didn’t scale with the company needs, though; they were flat, static files that required constant manual updates and maintenance and were not intuitive or proactive. They also didn’t address virtual and cloud-based systems or provide forecast capability.
“It was labor intensive. When things broke, we had to get development to fix it and production stopped,” Genzoli says. “If that happened during an audit, God help us, because we have people we need to answer to at that point.
“We needed something that scaled, something that looked into virtual networks, and that could help us plan for our future.”
Atos got that in Snow.
A TURNKEY SOLUTION WITH FORECAST CAPABILITY
Snow’s SAM platform helps optimize software licenses and reduce costs by providing insight and control of software consumption across all devices and platforms. Atos uses it for inventory control and license tracking for its business office software, and Genzoli is building out its implementation to include VDI and cloud-based inventory.
“Snow does it all. It’s a great turnkey solution because it’s got a console that is intuitive, it updates automatically, it will go out and pull your users, it will pull your VDI stuff, it will pull your cloud-based stuff and your standard brick-and-mortar-type stuff out of regular desktop flat networks and automatically generate all the reports that I need.”
Using SAM intelligence from the past six or 12 months, Genzoli is able to forecast costs based on existing trends and usage patterns. Plus, he can develop a strategic plan for determining budgets and future licensing needs.
“The hardest thing I have to do is to go to people who are already spending a lot of money on me and my department and ask them for more,” he says. “I have to justify that expenditure. Now I can pop a report in front of any executive who wants to know what we’re going to forecast over the next year.
“It’s not just a handout to a bean counter whose job it is to keep my costs down. It’s also about maintaining compliance. The forecast empowers them and gives them solid reasons to support what I ask for.”
CREATING EXTRA TIME FOR THE FAMILY
Genzoli moved from California to Montana because he wanted a lifestyle change. He wanted to spend more time with his family in the fresh air and in nature - not in a stuffy office surrounded by computer equipment.
Since implementing Snow, he has more time to smell the pine trees. The solution saves him footwork and the groundwork in preparing for audits. It helps him configure HIPAA compliance so he doesn’t have to worry about it every time an audit comes around.
“I have things I have to do, I have things I need to do, and then I have things I want to do,” he says. “I want to build out new servers. I want to get VDI stuff running. I want to get some ESX hosts up and running for some virtual platforms. If I don’t get the other stuff done, there’s no chance for me getting to those projects.
“Snow lets me get through the have-to and need-to so I can get to my want-to list.”
And it gets him out from behind the computer more often. “Snow enables me to get more time fishing with my kids or hanging out with my wife or going to the movies, all the things that sometimes IT people don’t get to do, especially if you’re a smaller organization or a larger, 24/7 business with a lot of moving pieces.”
MAKING WORK MORE ENJOYABLE
By saving time and forecasting future software needs, Snow’s SAM platform is helping Atos’s bottom line. The benefits, though, are broader than a dollar amount, Genzoli says. “It’s allowed me to build out an entire infrastructure around Snow, so everything is connected and just so much simpler.”
He’d recommend Snow “any day of the week,” Genzoli says. “If you’re not using something like Snow, you’re really doing yourself a disservice. It’s going to help you with your job. It’s going to let you get in and out of the office quicker, and your day is more enjoyable because you don’t have to babysit the system.”