Leeds City College

Transforming software license management into a proactive SAM strategy

"By using Snow we have generated 10-15% savings on our Microsoft estate alone this year."

Graham Eland, Director of IT Systems & Strategy

 
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COMPANY BACKGROUND

Leeds City College is the UK’s third largest further education establishment with 40,000 students.

CHALLENGE

With a complex software license estate, Leeds City College needed a more robust Software Asset Management strategy that would ensure compliance, manage on-going license obligations and proactively enable license optimization across the organization. Gaining accurate visibility over all licenses is the foundation behind mounting an effective audit defense for vendors such as Microsoft and Adobe.

SNOW’S CONTRIBUTION

The college uses Snow’s SAM platform comprising Snow License Manager, Snow Inventory and Software Recognition Service, to create a proactive SAM strategy, resulting in significant cost savings and a sharp reduction in the time required to prepare for audits. The dashboards (Snowboards) provide instant insight into the license and compliance positions for all vendors.

BUSINESS BENEFITS

  • ROI in under two years

  • £20,000 savings to date through license optimization

  • Access to real-time, accurate licensing and compliance information

  • More robust audit defense capabilities

  • Significant reduction in time required to manage licenses

MANAGING A DIVERSE IT ESTATE

Leeds City College is the UK’s third largest Further Education establishment, offering a diverse curriculum to more than 40,000 students across eight separate campuses. A large IT infrastructure comprising mainly Windows PCs and Mac workstations is maintained by a team of 25, of whom three are Software Asset Management (SAM) specialists. 

It was a software audit that prompted the realization that the way the college managed its software licenses had to change. In 2014, the college was audited by Microsoft and it took six weeks for the SAM team to compile the necessary licensing information. Good historic record keeping ensured that the college was 100% compliant, but the distraction caused in responding to the audit was a turning point for Graham Eland, Director of IT Systems and Strategy.

“It was a largely manual process to reconcile the list of licenses against our actual entitlement. It was clear to me that we needed a better way of keeping on top of our obligations from vendors such as Microsoft and Adobe, especially when you consider the complexity of different licensing rules such as virtualization, servers and Software Assurance.”

DEPLOYING A SUITABLE SAM SOLUTION

Recognizing that a more automated and proactive approach to software license management was required, the college sought the advice of UK reseller and SAM managed services provider, Softcat.

Matt Ward, Head of IT Asset Management at Softcat, says: “We are Leeds City College’s trusted IT partner. When it came to suggesting a suitable SAM solution, we had no hesitation in recommending Snow. The solution is very intuitive and easy to use. I was confident the college would quickly become proficient and gain rapid benefits." 

”The college purchased the Snow solutions through Softcat. Graham explains: “Leveraging our existing relationship with Softcat reduced the time required to complete the purchase.”

TRANSFORMING SOFTWARE LICENSE MANAGEMENT

“Snow’s automated software discovery gives us accurate information that drives our SAM strategy. We can clearly see our license position across all software vendors. It is simple to identify opportunities for re-allocating licenses that are under-utilized or those not used at all. We can also see any instances where we need to buy more licenses to remain compliant.”

Graham highlights two key features of the Snow solution. “Using Snow we can quickly complete an accurate audit and inventory of our entire software estate across all the platforms in use including servers and virtualized servers.

Additionally, the management dashboards are brilliant for identifying under-licensed software and then enabling us to drill down into the detail of the license agreement to find ways to address this. It is straightforward to identify potential risks and areas for savings.

“Another example of how we have positively impacted on internal processes relates to how staff request new software via the college’s central service center. The SAM specialists have the ability to look across departments and consider the college’s complete license position. If we can see a spare license that meet the request, it can be reallocated, taking into account pending requests. This helps us to save money for individual departments by eliminating unnecessary license purchases."

“We are also confident that we are producing accurate, timely reports. These are shared with the IT Strategy Group, the Executive board and with our internal auditors.”

SLASHING TIME TO MEET AUDIT REQUIREMENTS

Since the implementation, the college has completed audits for both Microsoft and Adobe. Graham explains: “Using Snow to support a proactive and continuous SAM program we can mount a more effective Audit Defense. If you compare how we manage our audit requirements, it really is like night and day.

“Today we can respond immediately to an audit whilst ensuring that our Effective License Position is sound. We are also protected from any exposure to potential financial penalties."

“Issues such as virtualization, licenses in the data center, multiple SQL Server editions, how many cores are running on a virtualized service all add up to a huge amount of complexity but Snow simplifies this for us. We now have real-time insight into our compliance position. For the last audit, we managed to get all of the required license information in a single day.”

The college works with the Federation Against Software Theft (FAST) using their software compliance framework. “Snow has played a vital role in helping us to achieve the Bronze, Silver and Gold standards for our software licensing and asset management strategy,” says Graham.

ACHIEVING ROI WITHIN TWO YEARS

The college has reaped a number of benefits from deploying the Snow SAM platform, as Graham explains: “We have achieved a positive return on our investment in Snow within two years. There are many aspects that have contributed to this, for example, we saved around £20,000 simply by optimizing our licenses.

“We can also forecast accurately how many Microsoft or Adobe licenses we need to purchase and our total spend has reduced year-on-year. This has helped to offset the impact of Microsoft license cost increases."

“We anticipate achieving further cost savings in the future. For example, Snow gives us the ability to determine whether we really need Microsoft SQL Server Enterprise or whether the Standard Edition can be used at a fraction of the cost.”

“Thanks to Snow’s automation capabilities we can manage any audit requirement with ease and staying on top of license management requires less time. This frees up staff to work on other projects which adds to the savings that we are seeing.”

LOOKING AHEAD TO WINDOWS 10

The college plans to continue leveraging its use of Snow by optimizing the software deployed onto a new build for its PCs. The migration to the new build will be far simpler in terms of software licensing and asset management thanks to Snow. During 2017, the college will upgrade to Snow License Manager version 8 and is looking forward to taking advantage of the new features.

In 2018, the college plans to upgrade to the latest Microsoft operating system. “Snow will be invaluable in helping us define our software licensing strategy for Windows 10. Part of our Mission Statement is the relentless pursuit of excellence in everything we do” and this is equally valid for our approach to software licensing. After using Snow for two years, I genuinely couldn’t do without it,” concludes Graham.

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