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Making light work of an audit

As sure as there’s software, there’ll be audits. And given that software can account for more than a third of an organization’s IT spend, software auditing has become big business. Software vendors today are extremely active in auditing whether or not you have the entitlement to use the licenses you are believed to be consuming. Revenue-motivated, they will pounce on any disparity, giving the vendor the opportunity to sell you ever more licenses as well as invoke punitive penalty changes.

For Software Asset Managers, audits represent disruption, pressure and unbudgeted cost. A vendor audit can be a very costly exercise to the enterprise given the sheer volume of information that is required, and the time taken alone is hugely significant given the information to be collected, such as platform and vendor independent reports, vendor specific reports, usage and entitlement mapping etc.

So, unless you have prepared for an audit and have the information needed for a given software vendor readily available, the vendor has the upper hand. At the point of an audit you could find yourself in a weak negotiating position if you need to true-up your license count. Failing to act early to ensure compliance can also subject your organization to costly fees as well as setting it up as an easy target for further audits down the line.

But just as a vendor audit relies on the baseline of software installs and usage data reconciled against the organization’s entitlements, so a proactive approach to vendor management starts with the same dataset. The difference is that you have the ability to use the SAM technology of your choice to gain the visibility you need and take the required actions without an audit team breathing down your neck.

Audit Readiness

In this blog I’ll focus on how to become proactive with SAM, remove compliance risk and be in command when the auditors do call. With insight into your compliance position and up-to-date information at your fingertips, you will be able to confidently and quickly respond to an audit request. Apart from saving time, deploying the right SAM solution can mean huge cost avoidance (into the millions) and in some cases, the ability to make significant savings on support and maintenance for software that is not used.

Transparency of Software Consumption

For any sizeable company, using a best-of-breed SAM solution is a necessity to access the relevant information on software and usage across the organization and give effective controls for software management.  Our customers concur, as a Director of SAM for a large publisher told me recently, “I’ve managed nine audits over the past 18 months and still have three that are very active.” Using Snow License Manager, he was able to quickly gauge the size of exposure and the resulting true-up costs. “When responding to an audit we’ve been able to cut the time down to a fraction of what it once was thanks to Snow.”

Audit readiness relies on the people, the processes and the quality of the data and speed at which you can determine an Effective License Position (ELP). If you are having to rely on the vendor or a third party to pull up the data and passively accept their finding, it could be an expensive mistake.

Effective audit defense is about having a proactive, continuous SAM program. It’s not just about responding to audits with a one off snapshot of your compliance position. By tackling compliance early, you can take remedial action well ahead of an audit, ensure you have the right number of licenses or remove or reassign unused software.

Managing multiple vendors and ensuring compliance is complex, there’s no denying. As many different vendors as there are, there are just as many different rules around licensing. Each vendor has different data points that must be reported on and your response to an audit request can depend on which vendor is requesting the information.

A Software Asset Management platform such as Snow License Manager can discover and inventory the whole estate - from the datacenter through PCs and laptops to mobile devices - to give organizations true 360-degree visibility of what applications are in use across all platforms and how they are being accessed by users.

And more than seeing just a list of applications that are being used, wouldn’t you like greater insight to see the required number of licenses for each install of every asset across the estate regardless of the device it resides on? Are all those applications covered by entitlements and consuming licenses?

As it’s necessary to be as transparent as possible with the vendor or third party auditor wouldn’t you like to easily demonstrate how you have determined your compliance position – and show which entitlements are covering what software usage? Wouldn’t it be great to immediately be able to show the licenses metric for every application installed, the associated license requirement, and the entitlement state?

There are so many different and complex rules around software in the datacenter, wouldn’t it be great to determine at a glance the license requirements for processors and cores, automatically taking into account the core factors in the compliance calculation?

Next month, Snow will reveal its next generation of SAM reporting in its upcoming release of Snow License Manager 8, which will automatically calculate complex metrics for effective datacenter license optimization. Here’s a few examples, specifically looking at the enterprise software vendors which account for the largest costs and risks for an organization which can be managed effectively with Snow License Manager 8.

  • Microsoft SQL Server Snow License Manager automates the compliance calculation. Taking both the virtual and physical resources into account, as well as different types of cluster and datacenter configuration, Snow License Manager can show the license requirement in terms of processor cores and details how it was calculated, plus the different user rights that were applied. For SQL the minimum number of licenses for a virtual machine is four, so even though the machine is assigned only one processor core, it would need four licenses. Snow’s License Manager’s compliance engine also takes into account the core factors for the physical server environment. That, in combination with all other use rights, such as VM use rights help organizations optimize entitlement coverage.
  • IBM For IBM, organizations are required to run IBM tools (ILMT, TADd or Bigfix Inventory) to obtain sub-capacity eligibility. Although these tools are the only reliable (and mandatory) technology to properly identify and calculate PVU/RVU requirements, IBM customers complain about the ease-of-use and lack of compliance/cost management capabilities. Snow License Manager integrates with all the different IBM measurement tools, ILMT 7 & 9, TAD4D, Big Fix Inventory and End Point Manager and adds value on different domains. This includes the IBM entitlement capabilities to properly derive the compliance position as well as advanced cost management functionalities. Thanks to this Integration with Snow License Manager, reports highlight machines at risk that are lacking the mandatory IBM agents to calculate sub-capacity requirements. This provides organizations with a mechanism to mitigate the risk of both under reporting and full-capacity license requirements on those machines lacking the required IBM agents.
  • Oracle To mitigate risks in the Oracle environment, Snow License Manager has a new view of every datacenter highlighting all Oracle deployments. This helps organizations mitigate the risks of running, for example, an Oracle database product in a VMware cluster where they would need to license the full capacity of the cluster just even if there’s only one instance of Oracle running there.

Here’s a sneak peak of how it will remove the fear and dread of an impending audit:

Watch the video on Youtube

Audit Defence with more insight than ever before

Snow License Manager 8 presents greater in-depth reporting than before, giving SAM managers the necessary transparency and insight into all software consumption across the enterprise. Snow has further developed the compliance engine in Snow License Manager 8 to deliver full transparency into the software consumption, regardless of operating platform, delivering full insight into the license requirements and entitlements coverage of EVERY SINGLE software instance. From May 16 you will be able to:

  • Access the new compliance view on each application, with detailed information on how the compliance calculation was arrived at – at an organizational, user or computer level.
  • Link the license coverage directly to the license purchase agreement
  • Track all the different assets consuming software, the licenses required for each and whether those instances are covered by entitlements or not, giving you the ability to pinpoint how entitlements are used and if there are any risks
  • Download reports (showing license tracking per user or per computer) that can highlight which parts of the organization are driving the highest software costs, which assets are consuming the existing entitlements.